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Squeezing Value Out of Your Casino Dollar

15 August 1999

Last month Angela, my chip off the old block, discussed the subject of bankroll. A lot of you wanted to know more specific ideas on how to stretch your bankroll, so this month I'd like to provide you with some valuable tips.

Question: Sometimes my money just goes too fast. I don't expect to win every time, but I would like to be able to play longer. How can I do that?

Queen: If I had to choose the most important reason that I write about gambling, it would be this: to help people make their money last longer in a casino. Everyone wants to win every time, of course, but we all know that's impossible. Since most people are in a casino to have fun, you've actually "won" if you've been able to stretch out your fun time. Even if you have a small bankroll, there are a number of ideas that can help you do just that.

Go down in denomination. If you're losing your money too fast playing the dollar slots, move to quarters. If your green chips ($25) are flying into the dealer's tray with surprising alacrity, start playing with reds ($5).

Change your game to one with a lower house advantage. You might like to play the machines, but if you're tired of fighting the 8% edge of video keno, switch to video poker. Video poker machines usually have a much smaller player disadvantage.

Slow down your play. When playing the machines, don't use bill acceptors; instead, buy rolls of coins. Cash out your credits frequently and go back to feeding coins individually. If you like live games, play only at crowded tables, where the pace is much slower. I once saw a couple who stopped to hug and kiss after every 4-of-a-kind while playing video poker -- surely a fun way to slow down!

Another idea is to play the same game, but choose a better bet. In roulette, look for a casino where the roulette wheel has only a single zero. You will be bucking less than a 3% house edge instead of the 5% of double-zero games. Skip the exotic bets at the crap table, like the hardways where the casino is taking your money at a 9% clip. Stick with pass-line bets and take odds, and you can cut the house advantage to less than 1%.

Play the same game, but study to play it better. Most blackjack players use a seat-of-the-pants strategy; they hit or stand according to how they feel at the moment and they are usually giving up over 3% to the house. Being a card counter can give you a slight edge OVER the house, but you might not be able to tolerate the time, study, and concentration it takes to become a good card counter. Luckily, most people can easily learn the basic strategy for blackjack and cut the house edge to under 1%.

Also consider the time factor, rather than the house edge. This is good for a game that has a very high house edge, like live keno. Although it has a whopping 25%-30% house edge, keno is played at such a slow rate that a couple will average only about a $2 loss per hour, if betting a dollar each game. I always say that if you can't order up $2 worth of drinks or sodas an hour, you aren't even trying!

In my book, The Frugal Gambler, pp. 35-38, I include some very useful charts that were developed by Anthony Curtis. These show the cost per hour of most casino games and will help you make better choices when you are trying to make your bankroll go further.

Something to think about: The only sure thing about gambling is that it will be streaky.

Gambling tip of the month: Do your own research before booking a flight through the airlines. Sometimes by scouring newspaper ads, calling around to travel agencies, or surfing the Net, you can get a package deal that includes airfare and room for less than you would pay for the airfare alone.

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: