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Best of Angela Sparks

A Frugal Welcome

20 June 1999

Queen: Welcome to the new website and to our area called "Notes from the Frugal Underground." Many of you may already have heard of Jean Scott, but here's a little background for newbies: I am the author of The Frugal Gambler, a no-nonsense book chock full of ways to get the most from your casino adventures - i.e., comps, promos, airline bumps, good games and good machines. My husband, Brad, and I have been visiting casinos all over the world for 16 years. I am a retired schoolteacher and have carried my love for teaching into my current life as I write, speak and teach others how to gamble more sensibly.

Princess: Even if you have heard of Jean Scott, you probably do not know about Angela Sparks, the newly-crowned Frugal Princess. I am Jean's daughter and an avid gambler myself. Mom wants to slow down her very busy life so she has asked me to start collaborating on her many writing projects. She says she wants to retire and one day "abdicate" her throne and turn it over to me.

I am married to Steve, an Army Ranger, and we are stationed at the "hard-time" post of Hawaii. We have two children, Kaitlynn, 4, and Zachary, 6, both of whom Grandma claims to be perfect in every way!

Wouldn't you know that Hawaii is one of only two states where there is no legal gambling in any form. (Utah is the other - and I used to live there when I went to college!!!) That is no problem, however, since Mom and Brad, now retired, spend more time in Vegas than they do in their Midwest home, and they always have extra comped rooms, meals, and shows to share. So Vegas is our favorite place for family visits and vacations; and, of course, it is the perfect place for on-the-job training for my new job as Mom's assistant.

Queen: Angela says I have taught her everything she knows about casinos and gambling; however, we look at casino gambling from very different viewpoints.

Princess: Since Mom and my stepfather, Brad, are retired, they spend months at a time in Vegas and other gambling areas. Our family can only go to a casino town a couple of times a year for 4-7 days at a time. When Steve and I come to Vegas, we are on vacation; there is a big difference in priorities when you VISIT a casino town rather than LIVE in it. But the biggest difference between the two families comes from the sizes of our bankrolls. We have a growing family to support on an Army Sergeant's salary - our gambling bankroll is VERY, VERY small. For example, we concentrate a lot of our gambling time on using coupons to help stretch our bankroll. Mom and Brad don't use coupons as much as they used to since they find it more profitable playing video poker and racking up points on their slot club cards.

But this difference between Mom and me is a good thing, for together we can better address the concerns of both the novice and the experienced gambler. In these next months, we will be answering questions from both types. Send your questions to me. We can't promise to answer all of your questions personally, but we will choose as many as possible to include in this monthly column and on our website that will be up and running within a couple of months.

Oh, by the way, don't get your gambling Dad that same old tie or shirt this Father's Day. Give him something that can save him tons of money, a copy of The Frugal Gambler. You might become his favorite child!!

Something to think about: Money you don't lose in a casino is money won.

Frugal Gambling Tip of the Month: To get comps, the casino must know you are gambling in their casino. How can they tell? If you play the machines, join the slot club and use your slot club card every time you play. If you play the tables, ask the pit boss to rate your play.