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My Dinner with Jean (and Brad and John)

20 November 2001

Whenever I'm in Las Vegas, I like to check out new casinos, especially those that cater to locals and are likely to have good video poker and blackjack.

Still, at the end of a busy Wednesday, packed with seminars and a trip around the showroom floor at the Global Gaming Expo in the first week of October, I'd normally opt to relax closer to my home base at the Tropicana toward the south end of the Strip. But this was triple points night at the Suncoast, about a 20-minute drive away in north Las Vegas, and that meant the Suncoast was where I would find Jean Scott and her husband, Brad.

"We only play two or three nights a week now," says Scott, The Frugal Gambler author who pops up frequently on Las Vegas specials on the Discovery Channel. "But for triple points, we couldn't resist this."

The Suncoast plays right to Jean's strengths. Her recipe for gambling frugally is to play only the best video poker games, and to take advantage of everything the casino's comps program has to offer. The Suncoast has lots of full-pay video poker, much of it on multigame, multidenomination machines. We settle into games where you can play for nickels, dimes, quarters, 50 cents, $1 or $2, all on the same machine.

Jean and Brad make the most of triple points night, playing $2 10-7 Double Bonus Poker, a 100.17 percent game with expert play. With less in my bankroll, I play 10-7 Double Bonus for $1 and for 50 cents--and hit four Aces on each denomination. To my right, John Robison, author of two upcoming slot machine books, plays 9-6 Jacks or Better.

Now that Jean and Brad own a condo in Las Vegas, they rarely use their comps on hotel rooms, but this night is different. They're staying at the Suncoast, with room, food and beverage on the house. Better just to stay put after a long night of triple-points play. Over dinner, Jean frets about her military son-in-law, soon to be posted near Afghanistan. "It's great to wave the flag and all, but I don't want him in that danger," she says. "And then I wonder if I'm really being patriotic if I don't want him to go."

Assured by all at the table that worrying about a loved one in no way means she's being unpatriotic, Jean lets talk turn to upcoming projects. Years in the making, her follow-up to The Frugal Gambler is nearly ready for publication.

"I finally have the last chapter of Frugal II," she says. "You know, it's a lot of work writing a book."

Robison and I smile knowingly, and I ask if the title really is going to be Frugal Gambler II.

"No, that's just what I call it," she laughs. "I'm sure Deke Castleman, her editor and Anthony Curtis, publisher at Huntington Press will come up with something."

With that, we were off, I to drive back to the Trop, Robison to play for a little while more, Jean and Brad to play well into the night. After all, triple points beckoned.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: I caught up with all kinds of familiar faces at the trade show. Robison, gaming author Henry Tamburin and I took our lunch break together on the second day of the trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Robison's Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots is due out from Huntington Press before Christmas, with his Truth About Slots coming next year.

Tamburin, author of Blackjack: Take the Money and Run and many other books on gaming, is about to retire from his career as a chemist. He'll soon be moving to Las Vegas.

At the Huntington Press booth, I had a long chat with Curtis, whose empire is burgeoning with Robison's and Scott's books among many on the way, along with his monthly Las Vegas Advisor newsletter. His latest coup is as publisher of the annual Bear Stearns casino market analysis, a thick, expensive volume targeted at the industry.

Jean Scott

Jean Scott started out life as the daughter of a minister, raised to believe that thriftiness was next to godliness. In 1983, after raising her family and retiring from teaching high-school English, Jean visited Las Vegas for the first time and thought she'd died and gone to bargain heaven. Her life-long propensity for frugality was fully stimulated by the ubiquitous bargains, coupons, and promotions of the town.

Not only that, but the love of games and the competitive spirit she'd developed in early childhood were challenged in the casino. By studying the available literature and practicing intensely, Jean learned how to gamble smart -- first at blackjack, then at video poker. By trial and error and an eagle eye for deals, she figured out how to use the rating and slot club systems so well that she began getting all of her meals and hotel rooms comped by the casinos, without being a high roller. One year she and her husband Brad stayed 191 days in casino-hotels without paying a single room charge or food bill.

Finally, after 15 years of on-the-job experience, during which she and Brad learned how to win more than they lost in a casino, she combined her love for teaching and writing by penning the best-seller book The Frugal Gambler. This practical non-technical book is the leading casino guide for thrifty low rollers, in which she stresses sensible and responsible and shows how to stretch out casino fun time no matter how small a person's bankroll might be. The Frugal Gambler catapulted to #2 on amazon.com's bestseller list after Jean and Brad's story was told on a recent episode of "Dateline."

Her passion is still education while she continues as an active player in casinos all over the country. She conducts video poker classes and is a popular speaker and writer on gaming subjects. She has a monthly column in Strictly Slots magazine and a weekly Internet column called Frugal Fridays on www.lasvegasadvisor.com.

Jean Scott's exploits have been featured in newspaper and magazines articles and on the radio, not only all over the U.S., but overseas as well. She has frequently appeared on TV: on local news shows, on the Learning, Travel, and Discovery Channels, and in a travel feature on British telly. Besides "Dateline," she was seen nationally on "Hard Copy," "Extra," and "To Tell the Truth". When she won a new Mercury Mystique in a casino drawing while being filmed for "48 Hours," Dan Rather dubbed her the "Queen of Comps."

Today, Jean Scott, who, in her words, is just an "ordinary grandmother," is the world’s most famous low-rolling gambler and her fans are legion.

Jean Scott Websites:

www.queenofcomps.com

Books by Jean Scott:

Jean Scott
Jean Scott started out life as the daughter of a minister, raised to believe that thriftiness was next to godliness. In 1983, after raising her family and retiring from teaching high-school English, Jean visited Las Vegas for the first time and thought she'd died and gone to bargain heaven. Her life-long propensity for frugality was fully stimulated by the ubiquitous bargains, coupons, and promotions of the town.

Not only that, but the love of games and the competitive spirit she'd developed in early childhood were challenged in the casino. By studying the available literature and practicing intensely, Jean learned how to gamble smart -- first at blackjack, then at video poker. By trial and error and an eagle eye for deals, she figured out how to use the rating and slot club systems so well that she began getting all of her meals and hotel rooms comped by the casinos, without being a high roller. One year she and her husband Brad stayed 191 days in casino-hotels without paying a single room charge or food bill.

Finally, after 15 years of on-the-job experience, during which she and Brad learned how to win more than they lost in a casino, she combined her love for teaching and writing by penning the best-seller book The Frugal Gambler. This practical non-technical book is the leading casino guide for thrifty low rollers, in which she stresses sensible and responsible and shows how to stretch out casino fun time no matter how small a person's bankroll might be. The Frugal Gambler catapulted to #2 on amazon.com's bestseller list after Jean and Brad's story was told on a recent episode of "Dateline."

Her passion is still education while she continues as an active player in casinos all over the country. She conducts video poker classes and is a popular speaker and writer on gaming subjects. She has a monthly column in Strictly Slots magazine and a weekly Internet column called Frugal Fridays on www.lasvegasadvisor.com.

Jean Scott's exploits have been featured in newspaper and magazines articles and on the radio, not only all over the U.S., but overseas as well. She has frequently appeared on TV: on local news shows, on the Learning, Travel, and Discovery Channels, and in a travel feature on British telly. Besides "Dateline," she was seen nationally on "Hard Copy," "Extra," and "To Tell the Truth". When she won a new Mercury Mystique in a casino drawing while being filmed for "48 Hours," Dan Rather dubbed her the "Queen of Comps."

Today, Jean Scott, who, in her words, is just an "ordinary grandmother," is the world’s most famous low-rolling gambler and her fans are legion.

Jean Scott Websites:

www.queenofcomps.com

Books by Jean Scott: