IF YOUâ??RE A FREQUENT PLAYER you already know all casinos are not created equal. Since individual priorities differ, you should take some time to consider whatâ??s important to you and find the casino that is the best match.

Nowadays many casinos have a variety of card levels based on your play. Of course there are better benefits for the higher levels than for the lower ones. For this reason youâ??re better off patronizing one or two casinos rather than spreading your play around. But how do you know which to choose? Here are just a few comparisons to help make your decisions.

 

VIDEO POKER GAMES

To me this is the most important factor for choosing a casino. If you check Southern Gamingâ??s archives you will find pay schedules along with their expected return (ER), variance and hand frequency tables for classic games available in almost every casino. You will want to play those with the highest ER and a personally acceptable variance. Some players are looking for a high-risk game and others want one thatâ??s not so volatile. Make sure you know the gameâ??s basic strategy by practicing on tutorial software before you play in the casino. (I recommend Dean Zamzowâ??s WinPoker, although there are other products on the market that will teach you the correct holds.)

 

COMPS

Sometimes several nearby casinos have your favorite video poker games but there are differences in the comps. Make sure youâ??re going to use the free benefits resulting from your play.

 

AMBIENCE

All other things being equal, make sure the surroundings are comfortable for you. For example, some people think entering through the casinoâ??s front entrance is unlucky, although Iâ??m not sure why.

The MGM in Vegas had a â??double curseâ? at one time because the front entrance required that you walk through the mouth of a lion. (The MGM lion is an iconic reminder of the film industryâ??s early days.) This had to be changed and at great expense to the casino because too much business was lost. Another casino in Vegas had fabulous masks on the walls, but some players complained that this New Orleans-themed environment frightened them, and the masks were eventually removed. (This was a sad decision for me because I really loved them.)

So, if something about the building or décor really bothers you, find another spot to play.

 

RESTAURANTS/ROOMS

Itâ??s nice to earn food comps through your play, but you should choose a casino that has restaurants you like. The same thing is true for comped rooms; itâ??s a worthless perk if youâ??re not going to stay there because youâ??re local or donâ??t like the accommodations. (Personally, I enjoy staying in nearby casino resorts and using their spa and other amenities, but itâ??s not for everybody.)

 

OTHER OFFERS

Nowadays casinos are creative about freebies for their best customers. Examples are show tickets, special events, extra drawing tickets, gift cards, gas and the list goes on. As a player choosing a casino you should ask a host or staff member about their benefits for frequent players before making a decision.

Keep in mind that youâ??ll get mail offers based on the level of your play. Youâ??ll receive more bounceback cash (money to get you into the casino, which must be redeemed in person) if youâ??re a frequent player.

 

CHANGING CASINOS

Sometimes your favorite casino downgrades pay schedules, changes their slot club rules or does something else that you just donâ??t like. Then itâ??s time to look around for a new â??house.â? Remember, youâ??re not married to the casino. I suggest that you contact management or your host to let them know that youâ??re going elsewhere along with the reasons for making the change.

BY LINDA BOYD