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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, May 2004, #52

THE IGT CASINO CHIP PROGRAM

By Steve Bourie

 

Steve Bourie is the author of the American Casino Guide. Published annually since 1992, Steve's book is the number #1 bestselling book on the subject of casino gambling in the U.S. The just published, 2004 edition give information on more than 600 casinos in 33 states, plus it has 147 valuable casino coupons offering Free Cash, Free Shows, Free Rooms, Free Buffets, Free cruises, great room discounts, and more. The 448-page 2004 edition of the American Casino Guide may be ordered at our BJI Online Store by clicking here, at discounted price for our subscribers.

Because of the intense competition among South Florida’s casino boats some of them are involved in a special promotional program that can provide some great savings for blackjack players.

The program involves the In Good Taste (IGT) credit card which offers a discount on gambling chips purchased with the card. For many years the discount was 25%, but on May 1, 2004 it was reduced to 20%. Not quite as good as it used to be, but it's still a good deal for blackjack players looking to stretch their bankroll.

The IGT card has been around for more than 30 years and originally started as a discount credit card for use only at restaurants. You can still use the card for a 25% discount at restaurants but it now offers that same discount in other areas including: airline travel, hotel lodging, cruises, vacations, florists, dry cleaners, magazine subscriptions and more.

Whenever you make a purchase with the IGT card at a restaurant you receive a 25% discount when you are billed. They do not, however, give a discount on the tax or tip. As an example, let's say you charge a $100 dinner on the card, plus $6 tax and a $15 tip for a total of $121. When you get your bill from IGT you will be charged $75 for the dinner ($100 less 25%), plus $6 tax and the $15 tip for a total of $96. Upon receipt of the bill you also have the option of paying it by check or charging it to your Visa, MasterCard or Discover card.

You can see a list of all casino boats in Florida by visiting the following page on our website: http://www.americancasinoguide.com/florida.shtml  As of May 2004 six of the casino boats in South Florida were participating in the IGT program.

On the Princesa in Miami, you can purchase $250 in special chips with the IGT card and you will only be billed $200 by IGT, which means you are starting off $50 ahead. You can receive all $250 worth of chips in $5 or $25 denominations. These special chips can only be played on blackjack (or pass/don't pass in craps) and cannot be cashed - they must be played. If you win your bet you will be paid with regular chips and the special IGT chips will continue to remain in play until your bet loses. You are allowed to participate in the IGT program once per week on the Princesa and it is offered on every cruise.

The SunCruz boats in Hollywood and Key Largo also participate in the IGT program and each will permit you to buy up to $250 in chips, but you must choose to receive either $100 in $5 chips, or $250 in $25 chips. If you opt for $5 chips you will be required to bet a minimum of $10 each time. The rest of the program is pretty much the same with IGT billing you $80 for the $100 in chips, or $200 for the $250 in chips, meaning you are starting off either $20 or $50 ahead. You are limited to one buy-in per week on both SunCruz boats. On the Hollywood boat the offer is available anytime Monday through Thursday and Friday for day cruises only. On the Key Largo boat the offer is available once per month.

A similar situation is in place on the SeaEscape in Fort Lauderdale, except you are limited to $150 in IGT chips once per week. The chips are given in your choice of $5 or $25 denominations and it's offered Monday through Friday on all cruises.

Discovery Cruises in Fort Lauderdale also participates in the IGT program, however, they are not a cruise-to-nowhere operation as they only offer cruises between Port Everglades and Freeport, Bahamas. The ship leaves each day at 7:45 a.m. and returns at 10 p.m. With their program you can purchase $250 in IGT chips on each leg of the voyage. Therefore, you can actually buy $500 in chips during the course of the day. The program is offered on all cruises and is limited to once per week.

Finally, the St. Tropez in Ft. Lauderdale also participates in the IGT program, but with a slight difference. You may make a purchase of $150 in chips on your IGT card. However, you will receive double that amount in $25 matchplay chips and each time you bet a matchplay chip it must be matched with a regular chip. If you win your bet both your regular chip and matchplay chip will be paid off with regular chips. Regardless of whether you win or lose, the matchplay chip will be taken by the casino. Once again, when you are billed by IGT you will receive a 20% discount. You are limited to two $150 IGT chip purchases per week on the St. Tropez and it is valid any day of the week.

The IGT program is truly a powerful program because you are starting off with a major mathematical advantage over the house. Lest you forget, it is supposed to be the other way around! On rare occasions some Las Vegas casinos have special chip programs similar to this where you can get maybe a 5% edge at best - $1,050 in special chips for $1,000 - but never as high as 20% like this program offers; it's very advantageous for the players. How come it works in South Florida? Three probable reasons:

1 - Competition. There are quite a few boats to choose from so the boats have to offer something extra to get people in their casinos.

2 - Bad players. The average South Florida casino-goer is a recreational gambler and not very knowledgeable. The casino edge against these players is much higher than knowledgeable gamblers who know the proper playing strategies.

3 - Time. You're stuck on a boat for 3-1/2 hours with nowhere to go. It probably takes no more than 30 minutes to go through the IGT chips and end up with all regular chips. If you were in a land-based casino you could simply walk out and take your money home but on a casino boat you still have another three hours to go before it heads back to shore. With all that time on your hands you have nothing left to do but gamble and all of those bad blackjack players usually give it all back to the casinos.

Keep in mind that if you're a perfect basic strategy blackjack player the highest mathematical casino edge on any of these boats’ blackjack games is about one-half of one percent, so you should have an excellent chance of coming out a long-term winner with the IGT program.

The usual cost for a one year IGT membership is $48 but they will give you a free six-month membership if you live in certain metropolitan areas. Call them at 800-4-IGT-USA or visit their website at www.igtcard.com for more details.

Casino Player Magazine

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