When Casinos Cut VP Benefits – Part 4

In the last two parts of this series, I talked about “advantage players” and “skilled players.”  Some may feel that I look down on “recreational” players.  In fact, some of my friends and relatives feel they need to “apologize” when I see them at a slot machine or a video poker game with a really bad paytable.

There is no need for such apologies.  What you play in a casino is no reflection on your character.  As is true in so much in life, understanding and accepting individual differences is the key to being a valuable member of the human race.

That being said, I guess I will never stop feeling that I would like to help recreational gamblers not lose so much money.  I am not judging them; I understand their goal is entertainment, but I want to help them be able to have more fun by showing how to make their bankroll last longer.

The current casino environment that is seeing cuts in all areas is not hitting just the skilled gamblers.  The recreational gamblers are feeling the pain in their pockets too.  But there are many ways players can stretch a casino bankroll, some that take little or no effort or study: Continue reading

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When Casinos Cut VP Benefits – Part 3

Skillful Play

(Scroll back to last month’s blogs if you missed Part 1+2 of this series.)

In Part 2  I talked about how advantage players are coping with casino cuts, and I suggested that some may decide to leave the “Advantage Play” category and move into “Skillful Play.”   They will continue to do the “good” plays whenever they can find them, but will sometimes do the under-100%-EV plays when they still want to enjoy the casino entertainment option.

There are also some advantage players who are not deliberately or consciously moving to this “skilled” category but are gradually slipping into it. Continue reading

Posted in Video Poker | 2 Comments

Happy Tax Day!

tax cartoon

Just a little smile on a day that you may not feel like smiling!

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Last-Minute Tax Help

Yes, I know – you are dreading this weekend – you can’t put off doing your taxes any longer!

Is some of this dread due to puzzling gambling issues?  Should you finally consider filing a Schedule C for your gambling “business”?  Should you take the standard deduction or itemize so you can write off your gambling losses?  What should you do about the 1099 forms you received that are connected to fantasy sports activity or casino tournaments – add them to your W-2G forms?  What about your W-2G’s from another state showing they took out state taxes – any way to get that money back?  Can I use casino win/loss statements to get figures to use on my tax return since I didn’t keep a gaming diary?

I know some of you are struggling with these questions because you are writing to me in private e-mails about them. Continue reading

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Easter Local Trip Report

For 31 years Brad and I have been chasing casino promotions.  For many of those years we could count on finding multiple-point bonuses on our video poker play on holidays.  Yesterday’s Easter was no different.  For us it was a slightly weird – but in a nice way -  holiday multiple-points day in Las Vegas.

First, we visited the Gold Coast, where we could get a 7x bonus on our first 10,000 points.  We were playing single-line $2 NSUD (Not-S0-Ugly- Deuces) – side-by-side as we always play, if possible.  Early on I was dealt 4 deuces – hurrah, that $2000 hopefully would give us enough “traveling money” for both of us to reach the max points and at least break even.   The key word here is “hopefully”!  Continue reading

Posted in Boyd Gaming, Casino Promotions, It's Personal, Video Poker | 6 Comments

Forbes Recommendation for Tax Book

Tax Help for Gamblers has received a nice shout-out from Forbes.     And Forbes contributor, Kelly Phillips Erb, is running a fun contest with the tax eBook as a prize.  Click on the link to read her article and get the details of the contest which has a simple entry question:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2015/03/30/tax-help-for-gamblers-you-bet/.  You will have to be quick – entries close at 10:00 p.m. EST tomorrow night, April 1.

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

NOTE:  On April 1 (and the mailer says “No Foolin’) everyone (21 and older of course) can feel young at heart because the usual Young at Heart promotion for the 50+ crowd is open that day to players of all ages, young and old – at all 4 casinos!   Cash drawings, discounted or free meals (depending on how many points you earn that day), and $4 movie tickets for those casinos that have theaters.

To find the rules for the Wednesday Young at Heart promotion for all 4 casinos, go to http://static.boydgaming.net/boydgaming/media/downloads/yah-rules-2015-new.pdf.  Notice the time requirements for the multipliers and also the point caps, which are not the same for all 4 casinos.

Gold Coast continues their Mondays Senior Bonus Days with specials and promos for slot club members 50 and over, including 10x slots/5x VP multipliers.   You can find other offers/promotions for the Gold Coast at http://www.goldcoastcasino.com/whats-new/promotions.  Check each casino website for other property-specific promotions.



No pull-tab or gift card promotions this month. L Instead there are hot-seat days and drawings days and gift days. Continue reading

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When Casinos Cut VP Benefits – Part 2

It has been coming for years – the rain on our parade of good video poker plays.  First a few sprinkles but we could dodge them by scampering to numerous available dryer places.  Then the sprinkles turned to showers that required that we run to stable shelters – but these were becoming harder to find.  And then came the storms and floods that threaten to permanently end the happy parades anywhere.

Players are asking me what we should do.

As I stressed in Part 1, there is no one answer to this question.  There are so many different kinds of video poker players, with such a wide range of budgets, goals, personalities, locales, and personal preferences.  So I can’t give any you-should-do-this advice.  The best I can do is to talk about what Brad and I and many others are doing to cope with this rapidly changing video poker environment.  Perhaps this will give others some new ways to make adjustments. Continue reading

Posted in Video Poker | 4 Comments

When Casinos Cut VP Benefits – Part 1

The Internet gambling forums are full of discussions about casino cuts, in Vegas and all over the country.  This is certainly not a new issue.  We have been gambling in casinos for over 30 years, and from the git-go we have had to continually adjust our Where-to-Play list.  I would say, “Never marry a casino; just have affairs until the love is gone.”   Casino A, which used to be our favorite, changed their slot club and decreased benefits, so we reluctantly said goodbye to it and moved to Casino B where the benefits were still good.  We never had played at Casino C – but a new marketing honcho came in and instituted a juicy bounce-back program and we were there in a New York minute.  Casino D was a long-time core play for us because they had good-EV video poker schedules in a format we loved, like Spin Poker.  One day we came in to do our usual play on them and found that the paytables had been cut.  We marched right back out the door.

Back in those early days, these cuts, although often very disappointing, did not cause us major financial pain.  There were good plays in other casinos to which we could move.  But gradually we were finding that there were fewer options.  We had to scout harder.  We had to add new games to our older more basic repertoire.   We had to consider changing the denominational range in which we played, either going down lower at times or deciding whether our bankroll would let us safely go higher at other times.

And then around 2008 came the Great Recession, which quickly filtered down from the general economic disaster into the whole casino business.  Good games and good benefits started disappearing so fast that heads of gamblers were spinning.  All those adjusting techniques we had been using for years had to be taken to a much higher level – we had to work much much harder.

Recent developments within Caesars Entertainment – reorganization, bankruptcy, major cuts – have now brought this problem to the forefront for many of us. Continue reading

Posted in Casino Policy, Casino Promotions, Video Poker | 8 Comments


In my January blog about promotions I reported that my EI mailer was a “mystery.”  Sad to say, for a lot of us there is now no real mystery at Ellis Island:  The details may still be a mystery, but it is clear that a slash-and-burn benefits policy is now in place.

Video poker  paytables have been cut, but that is not unusual for casinos these days – and it is not a “secret” to players who know to check VP schedules listed on the machine.  However, they have changed their bounce-back system to a “mystery” one. Continue reading

Posted in Casino Policy, Casino Promotions, Slot Clubs | 7 Comments