4 tips for making the most of your money at a casino

1. Be a high roller—for a few minutes

When you enter a casino and start playing for the first time, make your initial bets higher than what you would normally use as a minimum bet. The pit boss assumes that this is your usual betting pattern, and will use it to calculate your comp eligibility — that is, what kind of freebies the house might offer.

Not surprisingly, the hotel's generosity when it comes to meal and room discounts is a direct function of how much it thinks you're going to bet per hour. You can always settle into your more modest wagering habits as time goes by. The pit bosses rarely have time to check in on you later.

4 tips for making the most of your money at a casino

2. Understand that player’s cards won’t jinx you

One of the myths in Atlantic City and Las Vegas is that players who use their casino-issued gaming cards to play the slots are at a disadvantage. As you may know, the cards are used to track your play, and then the casinos are able to offer you deals and discounts in order to keep you in the casino and get you back to the gaming floor.

The prevailing theory is that if you're doing too well at the slots, the machine and the card will recognize this, and your three cherries will turn into a bunch of blank spaces. Don't believe it.

According to one casino executive, slots are always 100 percent random; if they weren't, these gaming meccas would quickly lose their licenses. Use your player's card, no matter how little money you're gambling with.Even $100 poured into a slot machine will garner you freebies in the mail, from free meals to free money.

3. Bump your bet up at just the right moment

It's easy to rack up points for free meals, rooms or entertainment on your casino card when you're playing the slots. It's much harder when you sit down at any of the gaming tables, like blackjack or poker.

As a general rule, expect to have to play $25 hands for about four hours over the course of your trip to start to see the free offers come your way.

There's a way to beat that system, according to one casino executive: bump up your bets when you see the pit boss come around. His job is to track who's betting what. So if you're betting 10 bucks a hand, and you see the pen and pad coming your way, bump your bet. The higher the better. This way, it will appear you're a high roller when, in fact, you're just taking advantage of your good timing.

4. Negotiate your “comp” points

Casino executives won't ever tell you this, but it's possible to get casino points on your card just by asking. Virtually all casinos run their comp programs the same way: with frequent play, you accumulate "points" on your comp card and your points are then converted to free perks. Well, mid- to top-level casino employees — basically, everyone in the casino who is not a dealer — have discretionary "banks" of points they can dole out to players.

So if you're looking for a free room, it's worth asking the pit boss if he could spare some points for you. And after you get that free room? Lounge around and hit the nickel slots. They won't know what hit them.

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