I Don’t Need a Host, Do I?

Yes, you do…And here’s why

A correspondent sent me the following e-mail: “My wife and I are quarter players and we get all of our rooms and food comped through the slot club. Why do we need a host?”

Until fairly recently, we could have asked this question ourselves. A couple of months ago, I wrote about the mistakes Brad and I made over the years. That we didn’t use the host system all the time we were quarter players was one of our biggest. It was only when we started playing at the dollar level and enjoying the services of hosts that we discovered this amazing truth: Although, on our own, we became experts on how to stay and eat free in a casino, we could have gotten even more comps, and with a whole lot less effort on my part.

In the good old days before electronic player-tracking systems, a host’s primary duty was to keep the high-roller table players happy. As time went on and casinos realized that machine players were making the bigger profits for them, the casinos made the specialized services of slot hosts available to almost all who played the machines, including the formerly “lowly” quarter player.

To be considered a valuable customer doesn’t depend on the denomination of your bet. It depends on the total amount of money you place at risk. The quarter player who puts in a 12-hour day risks the same money as the dollar player who plays for three hours. And thanks to the new multi-coin nickel video slots, the casinos are no longer ignoring nickel players. Slot hosts are starting to add them to their “valuable-customer” lists.

Keep in mind that although comps are awarded according to your level of play, I can’t tell you what level you need to get any specific comp. Every casino has its own comp schedule, but it’s rarely a neat little printed list that they’ll give you. It takes time to learn about each casino’s comp system. I find that a polite, non-aggressive attitude work best. Most hosts respond willingly and cheerfully when I ask them to explain the comp requirements for various things I might want. Instead of “Can I have…,” simply ask, “How much play does it take to get [insert your comp of choice here]?”

In this article, I’ll describe the ways in which a host can help you get more benefits than you would by simply using the slot club system. These benefits are not arranged according to levels of ป๊อกเด้ง ไฮโล play. Not all levels of players can get everything that I discuss. Not all casinos even offer all of these perks. I’m merely giving you some examples, gleaned from either first- or second-hand experience. I hope they open your eyes to possibilities you may have been missing.

(By the way, hosts can be men or women. However, most of our hosts have been women, so I refer to them throughout the article as “she.” And, a lady host is never called a hostess; that term is only used in a casino for a lady who seats you at a restaurant.)

Room Comps

Let’s say you’ve been getting all your rooms free through mailed offers from the casino or by using your slot club points. What can a host do for you that you’re not already getting?

First, remember you can have your host personally make all your room reservations, even for mailed offers from other casino departments. Maybe the invitation you receive in the mail is for a specific date, but you want to go a few days earlier, later, or even in a different month. Or you get a room offer for three nights, but you want to stay four or five. Depending on your past play, the host may be able to accommodate you. Also, hosts get credit for the number of nights they book for their customers. By letting them make all your reservations and customize your stay, you’re actually doing them a favor. This is always an appropriate way to thank your host.

 

At many casinos, regular customers can get a room through the host and no points are taken from their comp accounts.

 

A host can often secure a room for you even if the regular reservations clerk claims the hotel is full. Almost all casinos hold back a block of rooms for comped players, and these can only be booked through a host.

 

Sometimes a host is able to upgrade you to a better room, or even to a suite, after looking at your play history. Or she can okay an earlier check-in or later check-out time, with no extra charge-very handy on those days when you have an early or late flight.

 

When we want to go to a casino where we’ve never played, we call up the slot host on duty and tell her other places we’ve played and at what level. Often, just chatting with the new host secures a comped room up front. Even if doesn’t, the host can make our reservations, almost always at the lower casino rate. And now knowing us, she’ll evaluate our play at the end of the stay for further comps.

 

Sometimes a host can get a room for your friends. Now that we have our own place in Las Vegas, we don’t use room comps as often as we used to, but we have a lot of visiting friends who do need rooms. I call up a host and tell her I have friends coming in and at what level they play, if I know it. At the least, the host gives them the casino rate until she can determine if they’ve earned additional comps. I’ve even explained to a host that we needed a room for non-playing friends, but that we ourselves would play enough to cover the comps. Hosts always seem to appreciate honesty in these matters. And recommending new customers to your host is another way to show your appreciation for her effort on your behalf.

 

One of my friends told me a host at her favorite Las Vegas casino comped her son, who isn’t a big gambler, a two-night stay without any play requirement at all. Hosts often have the authority to give out comped rooms “on the come.” Not all friends or relatives of frequent gamblers will necessarily become regular customers, but some will. The casino takes a shot at converting referrals to regulars with comps, and writes it off as an advertising expense.

 

Food Comps

 

In many casinos, you can go to the slot club desk and use your slot club points for meal comps. But at some, if you ask a host for the comp, she can write it out for you and no points are deducted from your account. You need to check the casino policy, and it’s quite all right to ask the host about it. Simply say, “Can you write food comps that do not come off my account or do I have to go through the booth?”

 

Even if you don’t save points, there can be an advantage to going through the host to get your restaurant comps. At the Orleans in Las Vegas, for example, you must know the exact dollar amount you’ll need for your meal if you get a comp at the slot club, because any amount not used is lost. In other words, you can’t put unused points back into your account. The best way to play it is to order and eat your meal and then, when the bill comes, trudge down to the booth, wait in line, and get a comp for the exact amount of the bill. A host, however, gives you a blank comp and the restaurant fills in the exact amount that you spent. It will still come off your points when the copy of the comp goes back to the slot club, but it saves you leaving your guests as hostages for a trip to the club desk when the bill comes.

 

The host can also make reservations for you at a restaurant that may be “fully booked.” Just as they do for rooms, casinos often hold back some tables in the better restaurants for comped customers.

 

Finally, sometimes a host can approve a comp if you don’t have quite enough points to get a comp from your slot club account. Hosts do have a bit of leeway in granting comps. This is one of the benefits of having a good relationship with her.

 

Show Tickets

 

A frequent service of a slot host is to get her customers comped show tickets. This can rarely be handled at the slot club. If you’re a good customer, she can often get you show tickets even when a show is “sold out.” Again, casinos reserve sections for comped customers.

 

It’s much easier to get a comp for a show at the property where you’re staying, but it’s also possible for your host to arrange comped tickets at another casino, especially if the two are owned by the same corporation. Since there’s been so much consolidation, especially recently, in the casino industry, this opens up the opportunity to get show tickets even in different areas of the country.

 

While it’s still possible for your host to get tickets to a show at a completely unrelated property, it’s not as easy as it used to be. At one time, when Las Vegas casinos were smaller and fewer, the hosts all knew each other and they informally swapped show tickets. Now you have to be a fairly heavy player for a host to go to the trouble (and the casino invest the hard cost) of arranging a show at a competing property.

 

If you know how the system works, show tickets can be one of the easiest comps to snag from a host, even if you’re a “light” player. Don’t try this for a popular show that usually sells out in advance. But many shows, in casinos everywhere, have empty seats every night. Performers don’t like to play to empty seats. Casinos want their performers to be happy. So wait until about 30-45 minutes before showtime, then see a host. She often has tickets right in her hand-unsold tickets that have just been released for her “to get rid of.” If she doesn’t have the tickets on her, she can easily call the box office. If she sees at least some play on your slot club card, she’ll usually be happy to let you fill up one of those empty seats.

 

I’ve often asked hosts who know my level of play for more than two tickets to a show. We can usually get two additional tickets for another couple, or even four or six extras if we have a family group in town. The host can’t always grant these requests, of course. But sometimes she may be able to arrange for you to buy the extra seats in better locations.

 

Transportation

 

Getting your transportation comped varies greatly, depending on whether it’s a low-level or a high-level property. Some little grind joint in downtown Vegas won’t have the same transportation opportunities as the latest megaresort on the Strip.

 

For example, you can ask the host if the casino provides transportation to and from the airport and if so, she can arrange it, again depending on your level of play. Sometimes it’s a limo; other times it’s a van. Whatever it is, it’s free if the host arranges it for you. Some casinos are generous with limo comps, though as always, it depends on which casino and what level of play they consider high enough to provide it. I have some low-roller friends who stay at what I would consider a mid-level casino on Boulder Highway, far from the Vegas Strip. Their host arranges a limo to take them to the mall or Downtown or to the Strip. Other friends have even gotten a limo to take them to competing properties to gamble, though this is unusual.

 

A better play, if you’re switching from one casino to another and your action qualifies, is to call the host at the receiving casino and ask her to send a limo to pick you up. Nine times out of ten, she’ll be glad to snatch you from the competition!

 

Once I was in a casino in Reno. I was planning to walk to a doctor’s office a couple of miles away. Because I love to walk, I didn’t think of asking for a ride. When the host heard about my plans, she was appalled and insisted that I take the limo.

 

At the higher levels of play, you can ask a host about getting a refund on your airfare. Slot hosts are usually not authorized to make this kind of determination, but she will talk to a supervisor about your play rating and deliver the message from on high.

 

Credit

 

In many casinos, the host takes care of you if you want to set up a credit line. Although in some casinos, you go straight to the cage and pick up the application, in the larger properties, a host will generally sit down with you so the paperwork is done quickly. We recently had a host establish a credit line for us and we never even had to leave the machine! Casinos love customers with credit lines and want you to feel like a VIP with personalized service.

 

Problem Solving

 

If you have a problem at a casino, the host can really shine.

 

Say you check into your room and something major is wrong with it, but the front desk insists no other rooms are available. A host can often make a new room appear like magic.

 

We often take a problem with coupons to our host. Expired coupons, lost coupons, even coupons that were never sent, but should have been-a good host will reinstate or produce them. Over the years, using a slot host has meant hundreds of dollars in our pockets on coupon recovery alone.

 

The same remedy has been true in promotions. One year on Valentine’s Day, a casino was giving a $200 bonus for a royal flush in hearts. Brad was playing alone that day and didn’t know about the promotion. When he got home and told me he’d hit a royal in hearts, I mentioned the bonus, which he hadn’t been paid. The next day, we both went to the casino. Chatting with the host, I mentioned that Brad had gotten a royal in hearts the day before, but hadn’t received any bonus. The host immediately brought back the supervisor who’d been on duty the day before. But she declared that she was positive that the royal had been in spades, not hearts, and Brad wasn’t 100% sure, so we just let it go. Then, a half-hour later, the host returned with the picture they’d taken of Brad and his royal, and sure enough, it was in hearts. We were $200 richer because a host had cared enough to dig through all the files of the previous day.

 

Occasionally, if I’ve been ill or had lots of family in town, we haven’t been able to put in as much playing time as we usually do when we stay in a comped casino room. After explaining the situation to a host, we’ve never been “docked” for our room and food, and it has never gone against our history of loyal play.

 

Individualized Service

 

Sometimes a host will do more for you than your actual play warrants if she knows that you have recommended her casino to other people. Hosts live by their “black book” of customers-the longer the list, the better they look to their employer. Many hosts have promoted us to a higher level of comps because we bring our friends to stay and play at their casinos.

 

We’ve had a host arrange free babysitting for our grandchildren at the childcare center in a casino. We’ve been handed more invitations to VIP parties after telling a host that we couldn’t attend without bringing our out-of-town visitors. A host has stashed free gifts we’ve been entitled to when we had to be out of town during a special promotion.

 

Recently, a host came around to ask if there was anything she could do for us, noting that we weren’t using many of the comps we were earning. I said we weren’t into gourmet dining. “Well, what about something nice from the gift shop?” I’d heard of using comps for casino gift-shop purchases, but it’s so rare that I hadn’t thought to ask. Thanks to my host, I now have several expensive new outfits to wear!

 

Sometimes a host provides concierge services, particularly in smaller casino hotels with no such specialized service. I’ve known people whose host has helped them plan their wedding-from reserving the chapel to ordering the cake. Other hosts have facilitated family reunions and group trips. Even when the concierge does these things, a host is often included in the plans to give them a more personal touch. One host told me that for a honeymoon couple, she sprinkled rose petals on their bed.

 

What Not To Ask For

 

Never ask a host to do anything illegal or against casino policy. She may be a very good friend, but you don’t want to be the cause of her losing her job.

 

Don’t hesitate to use many of the services of a host; that’s what she’s there for. But don’t abuse the privilege. I always emphasize that. Even though I’m called the “Queen of Comps,” I want all my hosts to be able to say that I underutilized their services, rather than stretch them to the limit.

 

Your Relationship With a Host

 

Some people believe the host is pretending to be their friend for purely mercenary reasons. Since the host works for the casino, which wants to take your money, the whole relationship seems artificial to them. Although the host is employed by the casino to make guests want to play there (and hopefully eventually lose their money), most hosts I’ve met genuinely like people. If you’re respectful and non-demanding, they’ll become your friends-not because they have to, but because they want to.

 

Although I tell you not to be demanding in your dealing with hosts, you do have to take the initiative in making yourself known to them. Unless you’re playing at a very high level, in many casinos the hosts will never seek you out. Hosts are there for you, but you need to be sure they know what you want. Common sense and good manners will help you walk the sometimesfine line between being determined and appearing demanding. However, as you tread carefully and slowly on this path, you’ll soon learn how to ask appropriately-and it will pay off with big dividends.

 

A good relationship with hosts has an important side benefit: Hosts tend to move from property to property fairly often, especially in this period when many new casinos are being built all over the country. In a tradition that has mostly ignored restrictive contracts and threats of legal action, a host takes her list of customers when she moves. So when one of our hosts changes jobs, we often have instant VIP treatment in a new casino where we may have never played. We don’t necessarily desert the former casino; we get a new host and continue playing there. However, for some players, loyalty to a host is more important than loyalty to a casino, and they choose their casinos strictly by where their hosts land.

 

Whales-those highest of high rollers-can ask a host for most anything their hearts desire. Low rollers may not be able to ask for everything, but they can get much more than they realize. I have received hundreds of e-mails over the past few years, telling how my magic word, “ask,” has opened the door to the hitherto-unknown amazing benefits and privileges in a casino. Who is standing at that door? Someone you do need. A host who has the “power of the pen” to make even a low roller feel like a VIP.