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# Gaming Guru

### Casino comps are not free

14 November 2020

By Royal Flushes
ABBY: Getting comps is a big deal for many players. People think the casino is giving them free stuff.

CINDY: I think players actually believe that comps are free and they do not have to be paid for. I have heard folks brag about the comps they get as if the casino just likes them enough to give them a free room, a free meal, a show or whatever. Nothing could be further from the truth. Comps are earned based on a player’s theoretical loss over time. If there is no theoretical loss there are no comps. You could consider that a law of casino nature.

ABBY: I think that too many players don’t have much of an idea of how the casino establishes what a player should get in “free stuff.” It is strictly mathematical and follows a somewhat precise formula for each casino and game.

CINDY: Okay, so a player plays for \$25 per bet at a game such as blackjack. The casino floor person might figure that this player will play about 80 hands per hour. Generally, a casino will figure the player is using a form of basic strategy and also figure that the casino has about a one percent edge.

ABBY: Casinos will do this in their own way. Some might use a two percent edge for the house or a one-half percent edge. But we’ll stick with one percent.

CINDY: So, \$25 times 80 hands comes to \$2,000. Of course, blackjack does have hands that call for increases in bets or splitting of cards but using the \$25 per hand is sufficient to get the idea of figuring comps. One percent of \$2,000 is a loss of \$20 per hour. Two percent is a loss of \$40 per hour. One-half percent is a loss of \$10 per hour.

ABBY: Casinos then figure out what your average time of play is in a day. Usually they like a player to play four hours. Sticking with one percent, four hours times \$20 is \$80 in losses. The casino will give you back between 30 and 40 percent of your expected loss – meaning your theoretical loss – in comps. That’s between \$24 and \$32 in comps. Probably a comp to the café or buffet.

CINDY: The key thing to remember is that you don’t actually have to lose the money. You could win money. You could lose money. You could break even. But the casino is only interested in what your play will gain them over time. When you figure all the players winning and losing the theoretical averages tend to be quite accurate.

ABBY: All games will have their own formula. For example, in craps where there are a multitude of bets, the floor person has to judge the amount a player will bet in an hour and what the house edges are of the bets the player makes. He doesn’t figure it precisely but he estimates what a craps player’s play is worth overall.

CINDY: If you, as a player, want to know how the casino does its ratings you can simply ask them. Some casinos have no problem explaining how they go about determining comps but some won’t reveal their big secret.

ABBY: The bottom line is, no matter how you slice it, comps are not free. Take them when they are given to you but don’t play just to get them.

CINDY: And that’s the bottom line.

19 September 2020
CINDY: Everyone who plays casino games knows that sooner or later the casino will beat them unless they have extraordinary luck and win a giant jackpot at slots. That is not in the cards for just about all players. So long-term most players will be losers. That is the math, the truth, the facts, and the expectation. ... (read more)