Get More Reward Than Risk at the M


M Resort is running an interesting offer for new players-club sign-ups. Join Marquee Rewards, then play for one hour on any table game and get a $25 food credit good for any of the property’s restaurants. It’s not the best offer out there, but as I said, it’s interesting. For one thing, there aren’t a lot of sign-up deals for table-game players. But more important, this is one of those cool situations where the reward is greater than the cost—mathematically, at least. If you play it right, you’ll be paying well below face value for that $25 comp.

This idea was brought to light and hammered home several years ago in the classic book Comp City—A Guide to Free Las Vegas Vacations by Max Rubin (now out of print, but available as an e-book). In Comp City, Rubin advocated the tactic of getting comps off the back of the slow pace of table games.

For example, if you play craps for an hour on a $10 minimum table, you might get 30 decisions. By sticking to the low house-edge pass or don’t pass bets, your expected loss is 30 (decisions) x $10 (bets) x 1.4 percent (house edge) = $4.20. That’s a $25 comp for less than $5 in losses.

Better yet are your odds in blackjack. If you know how to play basic strategy, the casino edge on the M’s good games runs from 0.15 percent to 0.65 percent. Even at the high end, your expected loss on a $10 table at 60 hands per hour is just $3.90. And, obviously, you can do even better.

The key is to get as little money on the table as possible, which is governed by the size of your bets and the number of hands played per hour. Of course, you should look for tables with the lowest minimums, but you also want to play at the most crowded table you can get onto, squeezing into the last open seat whenever possible. Find a full $5 minimum blackjack table—preferably one with talkative players yucking it up and wasting time—and your expected loss can drop below $1.

In these types of scenarios, the elephant in the room is always the risk—the fact that you can easily lose more than $25 in an hour. That’s another reason to slow it down. Limiting the number of hands you play not only lowers your expected loss, it caps potential losses when things don’t go well in real time.

Conversely, you can have a good run, in which case you walk away with the comp and the cash. Either can happen and to varying degrees, which is why it’s the average result that’s important—and the average result in this deal is way positive. Finally, make sure you’re being rated by the pit before you start playing, and remember: Low and slow is the way to go.

Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and