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by Paul Wilson

BJI contributing writer Paul Wilson is a quasi-Renaissance man and graduate of Millsaps College. Some of his interests and hobbies include finance, consulting, travel, photography, and rock music. He's an avid baseball fan. Paul has done freelance writing and editing for gaming publications and takes blackjack, video poker, and sports betting very seriously. As we learned in the November 2014 issue, he also might have a "thing" for Wonder Woman.

Everyone loves a winner; well almost everyone. Chances are your favorite casino and many other casinos are the exception. If you are a consistent winner in your gambling forays, and in some cases, just not a big enough loser, somebody "upstairs" is aware. I've written in the past about how to look like a loser. This month we're going to discuss a particular technique that will help you do just that. Without further ado and with a little help form 80's hard rock hair band Ratt, let's get started. Kick it!


When you buy in at the blackjack table you exchange your cash for playing chips. If the pit boss is on top of things, he or she will generally step over to the table and fill out a ratings slip that includes several items, including your players' club card number if you provide your card. The amount of your buy-in is also recorded at this time. As your session rolls along, the pit boss or floor person may come by and notice the amount you are betting, which is annotated and used to determine the amount of your average bet. When you finish your session and "color up" your chips, the pit personnel will then close your rating slip by recording the time and the amount of chips you left the table with. This information is later entered into a data base and your results are recorded.

The process explained in the preceding paragraph is used to generate data that casino marketing, hosts, accounting, and other decision makers use to determine what you are "worth" to the casino. In other words, how much money does the casino earn from your losses per hour and cumulatively. I don't want to get into comp formulas and "theo" and other such definitions and topics except to say that if you are consistently taking more chips away from the table than the cash amount you bought in with, the casino is not making a profit on your play. More than ever in the post-modern version of Casino Land, this is not appreciated. By hiding a few chips and appearing to walk away with less, a player can manipulate the data that is recorded on the ratings slip and ultimately entered into the almighty computer.


The process of hiding chips is often referred to in professional circles as rat-holing. Granted the name isn't sexy and really sounds kind of dirty or unscrupulous, but it can be a valuable technique that I encourage you to consider. Why would you want to consider rat-holing chips? To look like a loser or a smaller winner as mentioned above. By looking like a loser you preserve or potentially earn more in comprehensive benefits (comps). Comps can include monthly mailers filled with promotions and freebies or discounts. Comps also take the form of free meals, hotel rooms, show tickets, match plays, free bets, and potentially much more. At the highest levels, comps can include gourmet meals; welcome gifts; limo rides to and from the airport; tickets to sporting events and concerts; gift cards to high-end department stores; even reimbursed airfare in some cases. If the casino doesn't think they can "win" your money, then you are a bad investment for them. Forget that you are willing and able to take the trouble to visit their destination property and risk your bankroll at games of chance where the casino has a house edge on every game with only a few minor exceptions. They can discourage your action or flat-out prevent you from playing your favorite casino game.

Another reason you might want to look like a loser is to camouflage your skill level. Being an elite blackjack player (like a few of you are) is worth about as much as a broken vinyl copy of "Out of the Cellar" if you aren't allowed to play blackjack in the casino, right? Granted, if you're a professional blackjack player and card-counter, you're probably playing for shorter periods and trying to stay below the radar. In this case, comps mean little or nothing to you. I get it.


Rat-holing isn't for everyone. I was explaining the concept to a much younger female acquaintance yesterday when she inquired about what I was writing about this month. After my explanation she said, it sounded rather "unscrupulous, if not illegal." After further explanation on my part, she seemed to understand, but also correctly assumed that this action was not appreciated by the casino. Like I said, I'm offering it as a potentially valuable technique. I do not endorse it or discourage you from engaging in said act. However, if you are a casual card-counter, or you play close to perfect basic strategy, then comps should matter to you. If you keep good records of your casino play, you'll realize that a large portion of your net profit may very well come in the dollar value of casino comps. Like Ben Franklin said long ago, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Comps are a great way to help you build or save your bankroll by limiting the outflow of assets.

By now you are probably thinking, "Paul, how do I hide chips?"...

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