Free lunch

In this column, I’ve discussed the hidden value of the drink comp for video poker play. Almost every bar and casino does it in this town (Wynn and Encore being the notable exceptions). But a couple of bars take it a step farther. How does a free lunch sound?

That’s the deal at the two Crown & Anchor pubs, one on Trop just east of Maryland Parkway and the other at Spring Mountain and Decatur. From 11 a.m.-3 p.m. seven days a week, play $20 through a video poker machine and get a free beer and a free lunch. There are no restrictions—you can order anything on the menu, including C&A’s good Brit pies (cottage, steak and mushroom, steak and kidney, or chicken and leek) and its best-in-Vegas chicken fingers. If you miss lunch, the offer is extended until 7 p.m. for a free appetizer.

With food and drink combined, you’re getting $15-$20 in value for risking $20. That’s just risking; your expected loss for playing is a fraction of that. At C&A West, for example, the best of a lousy choice of video poker schedules is 6/5 Bonus Poker, returning 97 percent with perfect play. But with this deal, bad schedules don’t matter. Playing the $20 through once (16 hands) yields a mathematical expected loss of just 63 cents. Of course, playing exactly 16 hands isn’t very good form, so go ahead and play away—50 hands will cost you $1.96, 100 will cost $3.91. Plus, these pubs are a lot of fun, drawing British expats who watch soccer, rugby or maybe just the good-looking waitresses in tartan miniskirts.

Crown & Anchor has the best lunch comp, but it’s not the only one. Currently, Ricardo’s at West Flamingo and Decatur gives you a free Mexican lunch buffet for $20 in play from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekdays (and it has better video poker schedules). You can also get two free tacos at Money Plays (and these are my favorite tacos in town). This one runs 24/7, but you have to download a specific coupon that you can get at the website listed at the end of this column.

These offers come and go (Super Mex had one until recently), so keep an eye out. I guess it’s not a completely free lunch, but a 60¢ lunch ain’t bad.

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