While I do enjoy the occasional trip to Las Vegas, or even Atlantic City, I’m not much of a gambler. My blood pressure rises to dangerous levels when my average bet exceeds, oh, I dunno, $.50 or so.
Nevertheless, there is something to be said for “comp harvesting,” the casino equivalent of gaming frequent flyer miles.
What It Is And How to Do It
As you may know, casinos give you free stuff if you play, known as “comps.” Everybody is entitled to the most basic comp, the free drink. And if you’ve never had a virgin strawberry daiquiri from Harrah’s, well, you’re not really missing out. But it’s free if you’re at a table or a machine. The sky is literally the limit. You should see how high up some of these free suites are. Free mega-suites, free first-class airfare from anywhere in the world, tens of thousands of dollars just to show up. It can all be yours. Casino rewards programs are murky, at best, and your entitlements are often negotiable.
The problem, of course, is that earning comps is rarely risk-free. The people getting tens of thousands just to come to Las Vegas are also the people who are betting tens of thousands of dollars per hand of baccarat. While their upside is in the millions, so is their downside risk.
That’s where comp harvesting comes in. Casinos will comp you based on past play, but they are also happy to give you something if they think that you will be a profitable customer down the line. The best harvesters are able to combine pieces of both to get way more free stuff from the casinos than they will give back in losses. It’s difficult work. It takes way more dedication than gathering free miles, if for no other reason than you can’t do it sitting in front of a computer. And even the best comp generators take on some risk. Sometimes, the dice/cards/whatever just don’t work at all and you get a three standard deviation event.
As I mentioned before, I’m not good at the casino comp game because I don’t have the temperament for it. On the other hand, my friend Mike, who writes the blog Travel Zork, is outstanding at it. He’s an expert at taking on a minimal amount of risk and generating a maximum amount of rewards.
I bring this all up because I listened to a fascinating Podcast at Due For A Win last night about comp harvesting in Atlantic City. Many of the same strategies can be used at other sites, as well. It’s about an hour long, but it has a ton of interesting information and gives you enough details to get the picture without holding your hand. Enjoy.
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