Vegas News Briefs

I would like to encourage my readers to read the “Comments” that appear after I post a blog.  They often contain valuable information on promotions and other money-saving techniques, some that is news to me and perhaps also to many of you. For example, one of the comments on my last blog gave good details about a shuttle available for travel between Las Vegas and Laughlin.  Sometimes a spirited discussion will ensue among the commenters, and I sometimes answer questions that have come up from readers.  This sharing of helpful casino information reminds me of the phrase “It takes a village….”

It is easy to keep up without going back and forth between blogs and scrolling to the bottom of each one for possible comments.  When you are on my blog page, look for the section titled “Recent Comments” on the right side of the page and you can click on those you would like to read.   Not everyone reads my blogs or comments on them the day I post them.  But that list on the right side of the blog page will keep you up to date on current comments and those that may appear later.  (Other reasons to check on the right side of my blog page:  you can “Subscribe” so you will get an e-mail when I post a new blog, and you can also search in the “Archives” and find every Frugal Fridays and Frugal Vegas blog I have ever posted – from way back in April 2000!)


The usual free slot tournament South Point runs on senior Mondays will not be held on Monday, March 19.  Also remember the all-day Monday $4 movie promo for seniors is “not valid on holidays or special events.”

Hooters Casino Hotel has opened the world’s largest Steak’n Shake location – and with a bar and slot machines to boot.  We old-time Midwesterners would never have believed those would ever be added to their juicy hamburgers or thick milkshakes!

Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino is the latest casino company to offer a room discount to active and veteran military, police, fire fighters, teachers, and other service personnel.  Also, their new players club will give all active and retired members of the United States Military Gold Tier status, with extra benefits.  As with all casinos and players clubs, you will need to check their websites for specific requirements to get extra benefits, and more importantly, you will need to check the limitations.  Many of these special programs have tons of fine print to wade through!


My March 4 blog gave you many of the details about this fun feast of frugal information to help you save money on travel expenses and casino visits.  (I like alliteration!)

I also gave you the link to complete details of the Zorkfest event which is sponsored by TravelZork, a website covering airlines, hotels, casinos, Vegas, and loyalty programs.  There you will find the pictures, bios, and subject material of the many experts who will be speaking, and details of event schedules and registration fees.

However, I am writing about it again because the deadline to take advantage of the lowest registration fee is coming up fast – in fact it is this coming Tuesday, March 20.  You will be able to register later, of course, but the cost will be higher.  And you know me – I like to be sure my readers are aware of the most frugal options!  I truly believe that many – even most – attendees will learn a few new frugal techniques that will save them more money in the future than they invest in the registration fees.  (And when you register, be sure to add the code zorklva for extra discounts!)

The seminar speakers are experts in a variety of travel and casino fields, and more subjects have been added to the wide range that were initially listed.  Here are some of them:

-Learn the Best Travel Award Redemptions

-Expert Tips to Book Travel and Credit Card Strategies

-Casino Comps, VIP Status and Offers

-Miles & Points – Tips and Tricks

-Family Travel and Cruise Promotions

As I said in the earlier blog, Brad and I will be there most of the time during this event, both before and after I speak, and we look forward to meeting new and long-time fellow frugalites.

Posted in Casino Promotions, Comments, Food Review, Media Appearances, Online, Public Appearances, Senior Promotion, South Point Casino, Travel, Web Sites | 1 Comment

March Casino News and Promos

Watch for special promos during college basketball’s March Madness days.  And then there are always lots of St. Patrick’s Day menu specials; Brad and I will be looking for good corned beef and cabbage meals!

Again, I need to remind everyone that you should not depend solely on a promotion blog from me the first of each month to figure out where you should play that month.  I don’t always have complete information until I have actually visited a particular casino, and I stumble on news that I want to share in blogs all month long, not just early in the month.  For a long time I have been encouraging players to check gambling forum discussions and data bases as well as individual casino websites, and I have listed various helpful resources.  No one person or website can take the place of intensive and wide-ranging research on your own to keep up these days.  (One frugal hint:  If you don’t want to miss one of my irregularly-posted blog entries, it’s easy to “Subscribe” on the right side of any of my blog pages and you will get an e-mail telling you when a new one is up.)

One other note:  I don’t write just about the casinos we personally visit.  However, I do share news of other casinos  that I feel will be helpful to others.


Here are some details from a press release about their newly-revamped senior program:

50+ Tuesdays– For guests over 50 years of age

  • $5,500 Slot & Video Poker Tournaments
    • Slot Tournaments held on the first & third Tuesdays
    • Video Poker Tournaments held on the second & fourth Tuesdays
  • $3,000 Weekly tournament from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Best score will be used for tournament
    • $25 Free Slot Play bonus
  • $4,000 Free Slot Play Bonus Drawings held at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
    • 15 winners at each drawing
    • Earn one entry for every 50 points in Slots or Bingo and for every hour played at $5 average bet in table games or equivalent
    • Top prize is $1,000 in Free Slot Play
  • Earn 50 points and receive a swipe on the kiosk for cash, Free Slot Play, points, and dining
  • $100 Free Slot Play Bonus on all jackpots on Video Reel Machines (jackpot value over $1,200)
  • One free Small Rainbow pack in the electronic unit with minimum buy-in at the Bingo Room
  • $5 Lunch Buffet
  • Free Size Upgrade at Starbucks
  • 30 percent off Salon Services at Spa Aquae, plus a free foot scrub with the purchase of any massage treatment

Go to their website for details of many other promotions:  multiple-point days, an Earn & Spa voucher, Earn & Redeem buffets 7 days a week and other food specials.


On March 1, they introduced a new players club, named WOW.

VP details:  $10 coin-in = 1 point and 100 points = $1 in free play or comps (0.10%)

See other details at their website under “Casino.”  Be sure to click on two links given there for more complete information: “See Official Rules” and “Click Here for Benefits.”


More formerly closed sections are being opened up and machines are being moved around big-time.  Some MIA machines are back.  vpFREE2 is trying to keep up but you must use your best scouting skills each and every day in this very fluid major remodeling situation.

One warning if you want to have a good selection of breakfast items at the buffet.  Although you get the lower breakfast price up until 11 a.m., they start the change-over to lunch selections around 10:30 and you have to be quick to find your favorite breakfast items before they disappear.


Seems like Caesars and MGM are in a contest to see which one can make their customers hate them more.  Both have recently raised parking and resort fees.   If you haven’t checked recently, do so you won’t be blindsided by new changes.

Posted in Casino Promotions, Food Review, Palms, Parking in Vegas, Senior Promotion, Slot Clubs, Video Poker | 7 Comments

A Vegas Frugal and Fun Travel Festival

Many of you are probably already familiar with the TravelZork website as a resource for tons of frugal hints to save you money on travel – covering airlines, hotels, casinos, Vegas, and loyalty programs.  Now they are sponsoring a “travel festival” in May where you can immerse yourself in 3 days of travel frugality at the ZorkFest at Treasure Island in Las Vegas.  Brad and I are happy to announce that we have been included in the group of experts who will be sharing their practical money-saving information for all aspects of travel.

For complete information about this fun and informative event go to ZorkFest. There you can scroll down and find schedules, pictures and bios of the speakers, preliminary session subjects, host hotel rates, and registration details.  Of course, I want to tell you about all the ways you can reduce the cost of this educational and entertaining event – talking about how to get more bang for your buck is what I do!

First, remember this valuable code:  zorklva.  This will give you discounts for many parts of the registration fees.  And second, remember this still-wise cliché – the early bird gets the worm.  The Super Early Discount rate available if you register before March 20, coupled with the LVA code, will be the best bargain.  But there are other discounts for add-ons and combo offers.

Then there are special LVA promotions. Use the code zorklvaroller for $25 off the High-Roller ticket, offer good until April 30.    And here is one Brad and I are excited about because we love to chat with our fans:

ZorkFest will provide three (3) Friday VIP dinner tickets to raffle off for LVA members. Potential winners will be any LVA member who buys a Zorkfest conference ticket (with the LVA code). Those three winners will sit with Anthony Curtis or Jean and Brad Scott at dinner Friday night.  If the winner of the LVA contest for dinner already has purchased a dinner (or High-Roller ticket which includes dinner) they will get a $100 Treasure Island Casino chip, at registration.  Those who purchase the dinner (or High Roller Ticket which includes dinner) will also get a chance to sit with AC or Jean and Brad Scott, on a first- come- first basis.

I am really enthusiastic about this event because it covers such a large range of subjects of interest to people who work at being thrifty.  Of course, my niche is frugal gambling, but we spent a lot of time over the years making our travel budget smaller – think of those many airplane bumps we chased –  so we would have a bigger bankroll when we got to the casino.   And we are really looking forward to chatting with many of our frugal readers, some we have met in person in the past but many have wished for such an opportunity as this May event will bring.  Hope to see you there!

Posted in Casino Promotions, Comps, Couponing, Discounts, Gambling Resources, Hotel Information, Media Appearances, Non-gambling Activities, Non-gambling Promo, Online, Podcast, Public Appearances, Slot Clubs, Travel, Vegas Discounts, Web Sites | Leave a comment

Early March Promos and News

A new holiday!  From a press release from the Rampart Casino:

Celebrate National Blackjack Day with Free Lessons and Special Offers at Rampart Casino

 March 2 (3/2) Brings Recognition to the Centuries-Old Game and a Celebration of the Few Casinos Which Still Boast the 3:2 Odds


National Blackjack Day was created to bring attention to one of the biggest casino games – Blackjack! Not only the game, but the declining number of casinos who still offer a 3:2 payout – hence the day falling on March 2nd (3/2)!

Casino guests can join the team at Rampart Casino who will be offering the following to celebrate National Blackjack Day:

  • Free Blackjack lessons throughout the day: 8 a.m., 10 a.m., Noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.
  • A special Black Jack Cocktail will be featured at all casino bars for $3.20 – a mix of Jack Daniels, Kahlua, and Grand Marnier with a splash of Lemon Juice that can be served as a shot or cocktail
  • Clubhouse Deli (which is currently in its first phase of opening), will offer a $3.20 pastry selection


Friday, March 2, 2018

Activities beginning at 8 a.m.


Rampart Casino

221 N. Rampart Blvd.

Las Vegas, NV 89145

Social Gaming News

From Mark’s Las Vegas:  myKonami Slots is part of the myVEGAS family. In addition to all of the usual myVEGAS Rewards, they have their own special myKonami Freeplay Reward.

Bargain Movies for Seniors 50+

(Check websites for details and exclusions.)

The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, and Sam’s Town – Part of the Wednesday Young at Heart (YAH) senior promotion:  One (1) $4 movie voucher valid on the Wednesday that the voucher is printed. Valid for movies prior to 6 p.m. at properties with theaters only.  The kiosk voucher must be claimed by 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Station Casinos (excluding the Palms) – Part of the MyGeneration senior promotion – $4 Movie Matinées.  Present your Boarding Pass at Regal Cinemas or Century Theatres to redeem your offer. Valid Wednesdays before 6pm.

South Point – Mondays – part of their Prime Time senior promotion – and Wednesdays.     $4 all day both days.  (This seems to be a rather recent change for their senior movie discounts.)

Movie theater note:  Cinemark Theaters on March 1 will put in a “security and safety” measure, banning all bags or packages that measure over 12″by 12″by 6″, a maximum size limit at many sports and entertainment arenas.    Most other theaters who don’t have a specific size ban will inspect or reserve the right to inspect oversize bags.



Posted in Blackjack, Casino Promotions, Online, Senior Promotion | 2 Comments

Last-minute February New and Changed Info

Here’s a President’s Day freebie for all you outdoor lovers that don’t make casino holiday multiple points a priority in your life – and believe it or not, this describes not only many local residents but more out-of-town visitors than you might guess.  On Monday, February 19, no entrance fees will be charged to visit Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  This is an important date in that it will be the last day before a new schedule of fees kicks in on Tuesday, February 20, one that will significantly raise, even more than double, your cost, depending on how you plan to enter.  Check their website for details.

The Palms

Remember how I told you in my blog early in the month how you could double-dip at the Palms by using the same points for two promotions for certain days.  At the time I knew the casino was aware of this “problem” – for them but not for the customer!  😊  Via the grapevine I heard they were trying to close this loophole so beloved by all of us players.  Well, they kinda did a few days ago by making a “rule” for the players club employees that they could not issue gift cards AND free buffet vouchers using the same earned points.  However, many customers just went the club desk to get these at different times and there was no guidance to the employees on how to check whether the proper points had been earned.

I have talked to one casino employee who wasn’t sure how this was going to play out the rest of February with two promotions still running on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  You can try to double-dip but I don’t guarantee your success.  However, I was told the casino was going to change/adjust promotion days in March so this would definitely no longer be a player option. ☹

South Point

This is probably not a new promotion but is one that just came to my attention.  South Point movie theaters are offering $4 movies for those 50+, not just on Monday senior day, but also on Wednesdays.  This price is good for all showings on those days, except there is an additional fee for 3D and XD.  You must show a South Point players card and ID.

Another discount day, for all ages, is Tuesday, with an all-day admission price of $5.25, with the same upcharges as just mentioned above.  (This promotion is available company-wide for Cinemark theaters.)  Also note that Tuesday Openings do not have this discount.

Inspirational Advice

“What helps luck is a habit of watching for opportunities, of having a patient, but restless mind, of sacrificing one’s ease or vanity, of uniting a love of details to foresight, and of passing through hard times bravely and cheerfully.” – Charles Victor Cherbuliez, a 19th-century French novelist.

Posted in Casino Promotions, Non-gambling Activities, Non-gambling Promo, Palms, Senior Promotion, South Point Casino | 3 Comments

Tax Season Talk

I am getting many questions from casino players who are worried about the tax law changes enacted by Congress at the end of last year and how it might impact how they have to treat gambling reporting on their tax returns.

First, I need to correct some misunderstandings.  This new law will not affect how you report your gambling figures on your 2017 return, the one you are probably working on now.   You will probably follow the same reporting path as you did on your 2016 return if your financial situation, particularly the gambling details, have not changed much.

Second, the new law actually doesn’t change the basic rule for how recreational gamblers can report their wins and losses.  You put your wins under “Income” on page 1 of your return.  Then you have two choices when deciding how to report your losses.  You can add those losses to other deductions you report on a Schedule A, but there is a limit – you can only put down a loss figure that is not higher than your win figure on page 1.  However, many people will use a second option because their deductions, even including the gambling losses, is not as high as the standard deduction.  Therefore, they will take the standard deduction.  This second option has always been painful for gamblers, since that means that they will be paying taxes on their gross wins rather than the net win after they deduct their losses.  However,  for most gamblers who play at the lower denominations, they just consider this a small “entertainment expense.”

BUT – why is there always a government “but”?  Now that I’ve explained what has not changed for gamblers in the new tax law, I will need to explain what has affected many gamblers big-time!  Although this isn’t a specific change addressed to gamblers, it is something that many gamblers will need to carefully consider this year even though it doesn’t kick in until 2018 returns have to be filed.  Then that standard deduction I talked about in the last paragraph will just about be doubled.  That will make that second option a little less painful for those light gamblers with smaller win/loss figures because they will make up some of the loss they incur for having to pay taxes on their gross wins with the tax savings of a bigger standard deduction.

However, it will hit hard those heavier players with large gambling figures, especially those that are also being hit with reduced deductions, like mortgage interest or state taxes.  In our next edition of Tax Help for Gamblers (which will come out in time to help with your 2018 returns), Marissa and I will have to revise this former advice on which option to use, “Many [taxpayers] find they need to figure it both ways to see which has the lowest overall tax obligation.”  Sad to say fewer gamblers will find it better to itemize than to take the standard deduction, and they will end up paying taxes on their large gross wins.

So, what are many high-level recreational gamblers doing this year?  I’ve been talking to some of them.  This is not a happy group! Many are already being slammed in their home state that doesn’t allow deductions for gambling losses.  Now this seems like a fatal blow.  Perhaps they will just take up another hobby, they say.  More are considering dropping down in denomination to avoid those pesky W-2G’s although they are full aware that they should report all winnings whether there is a paper trail to the IRS or not.  A few think they could continue playing at high levels if they switched to the category of “professional” gambler, aware that the IRS rules for this are strict and involve gray areas that might have to be challenged in tax court.  But if they qualify, this would solve the main problem since they could net out their gambling income on a business Schedule C  – although the thoughts of this advantage would be tempered by the knowledge that self-employment taxes would be a hefty cut in their profits.

And speaking of filing as a professional gambler brings me to one notable change in the new tax law that specifically refers to this small category.  Although these professionals can still deduct business expenses related to gambling, such as travel costs to casinos, these expenses added to gambling losses can no longer total any more than the win figure.  Professionals now will run into the basic federal income tax rule that has always plagued the recreational gambler, that there is no way you can claim a net gambling loss for any one tax year, no matter how much you have actually lost.

Any hope for gambling tax breaks in the future?   Actually, there is a surprising supporter of the beleaguered gambler – casinos!

Say what?

The American Gaming Association (AGA), the lobbying organization advocating for the casino industry is putting out strong words about slot tax reform:

Outdated slot tax reporting requirements are cumbersome and costly for patrons, casinos and the government. AGA will unleash an aggressive campaign to modernize these outdated reporting requirements.

Go back to my December 22 blog where I discussed my hope  – if I can possibly live long enough – that I will someday see gambling tax relief.

Posted in Taxes | 5 Comments

Jean’s Story – Part 1 – In the Beginning

I wrote in this blog some years ago about Brad’s early journey to becoming a frugal gambler, 15 parts you can access in the “Archives” here on this blog homepage, starting in January 2011 and continuing for 7 months, through August. Many have asked if I would ever share details about my own early path.  I recently explained that I have shelved the idea of writing a whole book of memoirs, but here is the first part in “Jean’s Story,” which will be an off-and-on sharing of some of my life experiences before I became the “frugal gambler.”

Were there any clues in my early life that might give hints about my later life? I was the daughter of a minister and a former high school English teacher. I am now an author who writes books and articles that explain how to stretch your money in casinos.  Could anyone have predicted way back then that I would become widely known as the Frugal Gambler?

 “Frugal” From the Git-Go

Well, “frugal” could have been my middle name.  In fact, I wonder if I actually heard about that valuable concept when my preacher father asked the doctor who delivered me if he gave a “ministerial discount.”  (That was a common courtesy given to “men of the cloth” back in those days.) He did, and it was part of our family lore that I was a “bargain baby.”

Although the economy was doing better as the country was exiting the Great Depression when I was born in 1938, people remembered its pain, and thriftiness was the ruling virtue of the time.  My father was just starting out as a minister in a very small church with a very small salary, so I learned early from my parents the techniques of stretching your money.  My father put in big gardens and I helped my mother spent the summers canning fruit and vegetables for our winter meals.  My mother was a skilled seamstress who made all the pretty dresses for me and for my sisters when they came along later.  My father did most of the grocery shopping while my mother was busy with household tasks, and I loved to tag along to the store with him. Even at an early age I learned that “sales” and “discounts” were important words.

“Gambling” – A Big No-No

Although frugality was woven into every part of my life growing up, the word “gambling” was not only totally outside my environment, but in a forbidden zone I should never enter. My father was a minister in an evangelical fundamentalist denomination and I was raised in the closed puritanical environment of an extremely conservative church.

And being the “PK” (the preacher’s kid) I was expected to be a good example, following all the church rules and avoiding anything that was on their “sin list.”  Gambling was very near the top of that list. We had no cards or dice in our home since they were symbols of this evil. If a game that we wanted to play came with dice, we’d have to throw them away and use a spinner from one of our kiddie games instead. We weren’t even allowed to play games like Old Maid, because we were supposed to guard against even the appearance of sinful behavior. Someone might have seen us playing and thought we were engaged in a poker game!

But if you simply change the word “gambling” to “gaming,” you might have gotten a little glimpse into my future activities.

Our family always played games.  One of my earliest memories is begging my mother or father to play the “Uncle Wiggily” board game with me.  Many first-born children are resentful of their younger siblings, but not I! I was exceedingly grateful when my parents provided me with two sisters with whom to play games.  My sister June arrived when I was five and by the time she was two I was teaching her how to play “Chutes and Ladders.”

When our youngest sister Starr came along another 5 years later, June and I tried to teach her games as soon as she could talk. Then as we all grew older we graduated from the simple don’t-have-to-read-the-rules games to Chinese checkers, chess, and finally Monopoly, the ultimate of all board games, I thought.

My family played games almost every night except Wednesdays (which was prayer-meeting night); on Sundays we played religious games. My mother would pop up a big bowl of popcorn and we’d pull out a board game. When we three girls were old enough to play Scrabble, the family’s competitiveness really blossomed. Until my father developed Alzheimer’s in his early 80’s, one of his greatest pleasures in life was to get together to play Scrabble with his three girls (now a teacher, a doctor, and a lawyer) and often beat all three of us! Even though he oversaw a very strict and ultra-religious household, the gaming spirit was strong in the whole family.  Intense competitiveness, playing to win – early strong clues that perhaps made my current life not entirely surprising.

Posted in It's Personal, Jean's Story | 6 Comments

February News and Promotions

Many major casino changes continue in February, most of them painful cuts for casino customers.  It’s shaping up to be a Dog Year for many of us even if we don’t follow the Chinese calendar.


Caesars Properties

Benefits have been slaughtered for Diamond and Seven Star tier players. No longer can their Reward Credits be converted to free play at a more favorable rate than when they were at lower levels.  No guaranteed comp rooms.  The two intermediate Aspiration Levels are completely eliminated.  Go here and get the details  to determine whether you think the benefits remaining make it a good deal for you personally to put in the major play to reach those higher tiers.



An unwelcome surprise in the February mailers of many heavy players:  the number of multiple-point days have been majorly reduced while lower-level players have the usual more frequent ones.  The Palms is usually not included in the “Station Casinos” newspaper ads touting frequent multiplier dates.  You will look in vain for that Palms logo.

The Palms still does not have a senior program like the other Station casinos.  They finally do now offer the same Stations check-cashing promotion but the benefits are extremely weak.


BOYD PROPERTIES (The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, and Sam’s Town)

The long-running Young at Heart (YAH) senior promotion on Wednesdays at these properties have a new set of features.  Some former benefits have been cut, and there are new ones.  It’s a mixed bag, depending on what benefits you like or won’t want to take advantage of.  Here are the nitty-gritty details, a very long complex explanation that takes very close reading to be sure you don’t misunderstand or overlook anything.

(I have not been able to find details about YAH promotions at downtown Boyd properties online.  You will need to visit the players club in person to see if there are changes there.)

I got an e-mail from Boyd Gaming talking about a check-cashing promotion at The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, and Sam’s Town.  I’m not sure if this is a new one but here are the details.

Okay, now not everything is negative this month.  Here is more positive news.

Skyline Casino

This small but expanding Henderson casino will be starting up a players club on March 5.


Golden Nugget Casinos

Golden Nugget Casinos have announced that 24K Select Club members across its five casinos can now earn comp dollars and tier credits in one account and redeem comp dollars in any of its casinos.  Tier credits accumulate in a centralized account.

Members of the 24K Select Club can now download the Golden Nugget Mobile App to have 24/7 access to view their comp dollars, tier credits and tier level status, slot point balance and special offers across all Golden Nugget casinos, and receive mobile-only bonuses.

The five casinos are Golden Nugget Atlantic City; Golden Nugget Biloxi in Biloxi, Mississippi; Golden Nugget Lake Charles in Lake Charles, Louisiana; the Golden Nugget Las Vegas; and Golden Nugget Laughlin in Laughlin, Nevada.

In addition to the casinos, comp dollars can be redeemed in more than 600 restaurants, including any brand that falls under the Landry’s umbrella throughout the country. Landry’s owns and operates more than 40 brands, including Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Chart House, Morton’s The Steakhouse and Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse.


Caesars Hotel Discounts

Details about hotel discounts for students, teachers, active military and veterans, government employees, and first responders.  Extra 10% off lowest available rate.  The discount will be in addition to any other promotions applied to your order.


Stations Senior Program

Check their website every month because benefits do change.



The good buffet promotion I talked about in January continues in February.  Go to a detailed review written after the boss here at the LVA did the promotion personally. I want to add just a couple of notes.  First, you don’t have to actually “redeem” the points, just “earn” them.  You can redeem them later for free play, comps, or cash – so that actually is another dip on your promotion ice cream cone, in addition to any other benefits I discussed in my blog, i.e., the free movie tickets and free car washes.

Another important feature of this promotion is the flexibility of the time when you can use this food voucher you have earned.  As you see on the photo of the receipt, it is valid for 48 hours – which seems to be correct even though it says 24 hours on our monthly mailers.


I love to end on an upbeat note!


Posted in Casino Promotions, Food Review, Senior Promotion, Slot Clubs | 5 Comments

Questions and Comments

Time to do a little computer housecleaning and tackling my Must-Catch-Up file.

First, I want to thank everyone who gave greetings on our recent birthdays – Brad’s #86 and my #79.  Don’t worry if you missed mine – I plan to stick with celebrating #79 on December 29 every year for many years to come.  The seventies just sound so young these days!

Next, some comments about the “Comment” section here on my blog page.  Although I welcome many different viewpoints and encourage details from players from all denomination levels and varied goals, I do occasionally have to refrain from “approving” a comment and it will not appear.  I will not tolerate uncivil discussion.  I do often approve remarks with which I do not fully agree –  and readers must remember that they are the opinions of the commenters and not necessarily mine – when I feel they will generate some helpful information from others.  I cannot approve comments of an extreme political or religious nature since they often would plunge us into a chaotic argument that takes us far away from the spirit and purpose of this blog.

Now on to your questions.  Frequently someone will ask, “Why do you play at XXX casino; I can’t find anything good to play there?”  I have addressed this issue many times down through the years, emphasizing that not every casino gives every customer the opportunity for a “good” – that is, an advantage play.  Perhaps these good plays are at higher denominations that would not fit a lower-level player’s bankroll.  Or alternatively, good lower denomination inventory may not be attractive for those who can find options for higher level play with the potential for bigger profits.  Location plays a big part in choosing good VP plays; many serious players must travel far and wide if there are no good options locally.  And sometimes – actually almost always – much of the EV (expected value) of a play is made up of extra benefits and you rarely know how much a player is getting just by a casual look at “what they play.”  You don’t know how much coin they play through, how much free play they get in their mailers, or what special-promotion invitations they receive.

A related question Brad and I get: “Why don’t you play at XXX casino; they have good games there.”  Some of the explanation in the above paragraph applies.  But there is a bigger factor here for us.  We just don’t have the energy to “scramble” as much as we used to.  We are most comfortable with a casino schedule that includes several “days off” a week. Right now we play regularly in only 3-4 local Vegas casinos, all off the Strip and fairly close to where we live.  There may be other good plays in far-away areas of town, but unless we lose some of the nearby ones, we choose to avoid the horrendous time-consuming Vegas traffic whenever possible.

And related to the above discussion, there is one question I have been avoiding answering: “You said you were going to write a book containing yours and Brad’s personal life story.  When is that going to come out?”

I really did have a firm plan for this and actually had spent many days and weeks gathering and organizing years of notes.  But a couple months ago I suddenly “woke up” with the realization that I was tired of being on a never stopping merry-go-round, with another deadline looming when I finally met the previous one.  I love to write and will continue to do short pieces – like for this blog.  However, a book is a major project and tends to monopolize and overwhelm the author’s whole life, seeping into every spare hour and pushing out even more-loved druthers.

So, this planned book is now on my not-to-be shelf.  But don’t worry missing stories about our personal experiences, both in and outside the casino world.  I will continue to include them, as I always have, here in this blog.  Some of you will remember the 17-part series I wrote several years ago, telling the story of Brad’s gambling path that began when he was 5 years old.  If you are a newer blog reader, you can go back in the archives (Search “Brad Stories” under “Category” on the right side of the blog home page) and find that.  Actually, those archives go clear back to April, 2000, with the first article I wrote for “Frugal Fridays” and then continue every year until it morphed into the “Frugal Vegas” blog, telling of our gambling journey over the last 17+ years plus some personal details of our pre-casino life.  (You need to sometimes click on “continue reading” to get to all the articles for one particular month.)

In future blogs I will continue to talk about current subjects but occasionally I will reach into my notes and dig out some of the stories that go back 75-85 years, ones that I haven’t shared before.  Did you know I heard the word “discount” on the day I was born?  That will be the beginning of one story I am anxious to share!

Posted in Brad Stories, Comments, Frugal Fridays, Gaming Writing, Memories, Q+A, Video Poker | 8 Comments

Still Playing the Comp Game?

After I wrote about a family reunion at the Harrah’s Tahoe casino in December, I received a lot of requests for more details, specifically about comps.  I guess that should not have been a surprise for someone whose nickname is Queen of Comps.  😊  And in this present environment of major casino cuts decreasing comps is a major concern to most players.

Some of you will remember my writing many years ago when we first started casino gambling that we called comps the “gravy.”  We never counted their value in our “profit” for the simple reason that we were earning more of them that we could have paid for on our limited budget at that time.  They were just an extra that allowed us to enjoy more luxurious vacations that we couldn’t have afforded otherwise.  We couldn’t have used comps to make up any of our actual monetary gambling losses. That would have been a fast way to go broke!

Now we are in a much different time in our life; we have enough money to pay for any activity or vacation that we wish to do.  Therefore, now any comps we can use to decrease our costs become a monetary plus, adding to any profit we earn in our gambling or making up any losses we might incur.  That is very important at this time when the opportunities for advantage play are rapidly disappearing.  We still do most of our casino play only when we have an edge, but that edge is often very slim and our records don’t always end up in the black at the end of each year.  The “long term” doesn’t always have the same end as our arbitrary date of December 31. Comps are still “gravy” for us most of the time, but I predict that in the future they will become a much bigger factor in how we choose where and when we play video poker.

However, this 5-day vacation for 7 adults and 2 kiddies did require major involvement with a casino comp system and the value was quite high.  We had 3 mini-suite rooms comped for 4 nights.  We never had a food bill.  We had free ski passes for the family.  (Brad and I declined to participate in that activity but it wasn’t for the lack of free ski passes!!!  😊) A party-bus was provided for group transportation to and from the Reno airport, including regulation car seats for the kiddies. And an unexpected shopping promotion running while we were there provided $450 in the sports shop for ski equipment rental and winter clothing.  Left-over comps of $350 not used for food gave opportunity for splurging in the gift shop.

Although Brad and I had both attained Harrah’s 7-Star status for 2017 and had saved up over the year a good number of comp benefits for this family vacation, the expenses were not covered completely by comps.  It is what I refer to as a discounted comp benefit and in this case let us keep hundreds of dollars in our pockets to spend for other expenses.

I must make an important observation here.  It is unlikely that we will be able to take this luxurious a vacation and have so much comped in the future.  Caesars has made major cuts in their higher-tier benefits for 2018.  And we have found that the perks and what hosts can do for you vary greatly from one property to another even within the same company.  And it is not just the bigger Strip companies cutting comps.  Casinos that serve mostly locals are also cutting benefits right and left.

We still play the “comp game,” but just as it is for the actual casino games we play it takes more work these days to find advantage situations.  I constantly research casino players club details and look for changes that affect extra benefits.  I talk to other players, who sometimes give me little-known information about various comp systems.  And I am continuing to develop friendly relationships with hosts.  Even though at many casinos their “power” is limited, we still use the Just-Ask maneuver and at times see surprisingly positive results. Some of that is probably due to the accompanying Be-Nice-and-not-Demanding attitude.  I find that grousing to hosts about casino cuts is not an effective technique, even sometimes having a negative impact.

Gaining an advantage anywhere in a casino has never been easy.  And today you just have to work harder than ever!

Posted in Caesars, Casino Hosts, Comps, Family News, Non-gambling Activities | 10 Comments