Q. I understand how casino comps are entered by the casino floorperson for table games. They enter into the computer your average bet and length of time played and which game you played.

But, how about slot machines? If I always use my casino reward card when I play slots does it also only look at average bet and length of time and which machine? If I goof around wasting time waiting for someone and play one penny at a time for a short while am I lowering my average bet?

If I play max coins but play real slowly will that help me or harm me earn comps?

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Seems illogical that I can play max credits and hit SPIN once an hour, and that the computer will register that I played the whole time.

A. Slot machine comps are based on total amount played. At table games, operators have to use averages based on bet size and length of play because most aren’t equipped to track every wager. On a slot machine, every wager is tracked. If you make $1,000 worth of wagers, then your comps will be based on $1,000 in wagers, regardless of whether you’re betting a $5, $1 or 10 cents at a time.

Some player clubs tell you precisely what their formula is. At one of my locals, we’re told that one point is awarded for every $4 in play, and we’re given $1 in free play for every 100 points. You know going in that you’re going to get $1 in free play for every $100 wagered, regardless of how long it takes you or how large your average bet is. Others don’t let you in on the formula, but their in-house calculations all are based on your precise amount of play.

That said, modern player tracking systems and analytics can take in factors such as frequency of casino trips, playing patterns that suggest a player can be developed into a more frequent visitor, the value of their spending patterns in the hotel, restaurant, spa and other amenities. You and I might have the same wagering totals and redeem for the same amount of free play than you, but I might get more direct mail offers if the metrics determine my spending patters indicate more value to the property overall than yours do.

Q. I was playing Three Card Poker, and I got a flush and was feeling pretty good about the hand. The dealer got a straight, and then she took my bet. I said she should be paying me, not taking my money, and she said straights beat flushes in this game. Is that right?

A. The dealer was correct. Straights beat flushes in Three Card Poker.

The reason is that there are more possible flushes than possible straights in three-card hands. There are 22,100 possible three-card combinations. They include 1,096 flushes that are not straight flushes, and 720 straights. Straights are the less common hand, and so they outrank the more common flushes.

That’s the opposite of the situation you encounter in five-card poker hands. There are 2,598,960 five-card combinations, and those include 5,108 flushes that are not straight or royal flushes. There are 10,200 straights. Flushes are the less common hand, so they outrank straights. Similarly, in seven-card stud games where you make up your best five-card hand out of seven cards dealt, there are 133,784,560 combinations, with 4,047,644 flushes and 6,180,020 straights.

In the five- and seven-card games most of us are familiar with, flushes are rarer than straights. It’s the opposite in three-card games. That shows up not only in the dealer’s straight beating your flush in the ante-bet portion of the game, but also in Pair Plus, where a straight brings a 6-1 payoff while a flush pays either 3-1 or 4-1, depending on which pay table the casino offers.

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casinoanswerman.com. Casino Answer Man runs every week.


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