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The Match-Play Coupon Circuit

Part VI

So at 4 in the morning I’m reclining in the Jacuzzi of my demi-suite at NYNY.  At that time of night, craps tables all over town are nearly empty, and solo shooting opportunities are cheap and plentiful.  Normally this would be around the time I would be getting up, but after a long day on the match-play circuit, sleep was the only kind of action that I was looking for. 

My cellphone abruptly rang at 9 a.m.  The Coupon-Rustler was over at Monte Carlo, signing up for their free Daily Slot Tournament.  That tournie is good for at least a free mug, if nothing else, even if you come in last.  If anything is free, you’ll likely find the Rustler somewhere nearby.  He uses freebies like that as an “incentive” for the trades he conducts with eager-for-a-deal tourists.   He also had some Grand Slam breakfast coupons for Denny’s at Casino Royale, and wanted to know if I was up to spending another hectic day under his wing. 

I told him it would take me about three-quarters an hour to feel partially human again, so he decided to head over to the Trop to cash-in a pile of their $15-for-$10 Matchplays that had been scooped out of a heap of tourist magazines, and then go on to the Aladdin to score a few of their $15-for-$10 WinCards, before meeting up with me at Casino Royale for some mid-morning Grand Slam® eggs-over-easy fueled dice action.

Day Four Begins…

Our Casino Royale Session

I was surprised that the Crapshooter sit-down game at CR wasn’t totally full when I got there.  For a complete report on this table and the playing conditions here, please have a look at my Mad Professor's Mini Tub Tour - Part II article.   

In a low voice, he told me that the lone dealer/stickman who was handling the game was “juiced-in with us” and would let us play as many mp’s as our little hearts desired.  The unspoken understanding of course, was that we would also tip to the dealers little hearts contentment, which we did.

While the Coupon-Rustler doesn’t actually take up two chairs, his body sort of overhangs and intrudes into the next closest players personal space.   This isn’t really a problem unless you are into the annoying habit of swinging side to side on the rotating Crapshooter stools as though they are some sort of cheap amusement-park ride.  However, when I was shooting, I had to reposition myself so that his girth didn’t infringe into my personal-space comfort-zone.

Although I didn’t get to sit at my favorite table spot, I was nonetheless in good position to the opposing backwall.  While I couldn’t throw directly into the far (54-inches away) corner (from my #6 chair position), I was able to hit the wall where it flattens briefly to make its transition into that corner.  Even the cocktail-waitress commented upon my being in a different spot than normal as she brought our drinks.   I responded by toking her and saying, “maybe it will bring me good luck.”  She smiled and said, “I thought I was the one who brought you good luck?”  My mind gave me a perfect, hormonally-inspired response, but my conscience thought the safer retort was a silent, but enticing smile. Damn conscience!

Casino Royale Results

Our session was terrific as far as redeeming a ton of $5 mp’s, and was really gratifying (read: profitable) for my own Precision-Shooting.  The Rustler also threw two substantial hands that both approached the 20-roll range.  Afterwards, I told him that that was the best I had witnessed from him in nearly 30 or so sessions that we had played together.  He agreed, and said that he had been wanting to speak to me about doing more of what I do (playing craps for a living) instead of him having to rely mostly on match-plays to fuel his own, less lucrative gaming lifestyle.

That particular discussion fed our conversation for the balance of the day.

When we cashed out our winnings at the cage, I was headed for the rear parking lot exit, but the Rustler remembered that he had a few “2-for-1 Natural Blackjack payout” coupons and promptly sat his ass down at an empty $5 game (all of the other $2 and $3 tables were packed).  Instead of standing there like someone who was actually interested in the game, I wandered over to the two “big” tables (any craps table that comfortably accommodates 20-players is a BIG table in my books). 

One thing that I don’t like about the way the CR pit is set up, is that if you want to move from one big table to the other, you have to go around the entire tables-games pit to get to the other side (instead of being in it’s own self-contained craps-pit area).  Sometimes, by the time you get there, the shooting-spot that you had your eye on has been taken by someone else.

I was only able to unload one additional match-play there, because the Table Game Supervisor (or the sometimes non-existent boxman) has to do the “drop” instead of one of the dealers (like at the sit-down game).  I marked down another $10 in mp-profits on the “win” side of the ledger that I was using to keep separate track of my progress.  When the Rustler approached and said that he was ready to go, I sardonically asked if he had run out of CR coupons.  He laughed and said that he still had a pocketful of 4-of-a-Kind Double Bonus vouchers for video-poker, but he didn’t think I had the patience to stick around while he was looking for Quads-of-anything on vp.   He was right.

From there, we headed over to the hip trendyness of The Palms Hotel-Casino.

Phanthom Stays

When I booked into the Palms at 3:30 am earlier that morning (at the end of Day Three) I redeemed a $50 cash-voucher and validated two corresponding match-plays of equal value.  I was also tempted to book into the Riviera, Harrah’s and Bally’s for a similar “phantom-stay” to further subsidize my match-play revenue.  If I hadn’t been so tired from nearly 18-hours of running around town, I probably would have done it.

A “phantom-stay” is where you currently stay at one hotel, but you book into one or more additional places so that you can take advantage of their “free stay with match-plays and/or cash-voucher” offers.

These phantom-stays are one way to get and use more “guest-only” match-plays without actually staying there.  Some savvy players will actually check-in to two, three, or even four hotels simultaneously, all in the pursuit of the freebies that come with the comped room-night offers that are becoming ever more popular with the big gaming-corporations.

Tempted, But Saved by My Conscience

Since I still had a large mound of $7-for-$5 mp’s for the Riv, I also saved that room-comp with the corresponding $75 match-play bonus (along with the offers from Harrah’s and Bally’s) for later in the week.  I subsequently found out that I could have booked into The Riv, then checked-out the next day, and then checked back in again the following day, and they still would have given me the $75 bonus each time I checked-in (the offer was for three separate “up-to-four-nights-stays” per month, excluding convention blackout periods), even if I made the same move three times in one-week. 

Though that would have been a little bit of overkill, I was still tempted.  My conscience got the better of me and I decided that I didn’t want to ruin this “Golden Goose” of benefits either.  I don’t have any regrets, although my daily-win average would have probably increased markedly if I had taken them up on that particular loophole.

The Palms Session

I had a lackluster session at The Palms that I will blame on their micro-fiber table-felt (for a full explanation about this, please see my Conquering Micro-Fiber Table-Felt article).  In actual fact, the blame for that uninspiring session rested squarely with me.  I hadn’t played on their micro-fiber tables for a number of days, and was therefore out of sorts for the first number of tosses.  I should have either taken a few practice tosses before I got there (as I did in the above-noted article), or waited to use both $50 match-plays until AFTER I had the table dialed-in.  

Nevertheless, I was able to harvest one win (and one loss) for a net $50 gain.  At that moment, I was not entirely pleased with myself for having squandered a $50 chit simply because I was not properly prepared.  I quickly regrouped, but promised myself that if faced with the same situation again, I would definitely play it much smarter next time.

It Pays to be Yearned For

Often times, I’ll get a letter or promotional card from a casino that I haven’t played in for a while.  In fact, I still get letters from a couple of obscure casinos that I’ve only played in once or twice over the last ten years.  It’s one of those “please-come-back-and-lose-some-money” come-on’s that casinos use when they mine their data-base of customers.

Sometimes you’ll get the same type of offers just by signing their website guest-book or applying on-line for their Players Card.  In other cases, a one-time visit with nominal play will bring invitations for a comped, or at least match-play/cash-voucher return.

In the case of the Gold Coast Casino however, it was none of those reasons.  I had received a letter signed by both Niall Glennon (Executive Host) and Alan Scano (Casino Manager) inviting me (well, bribing me is a more appropriate term) to their place to see the then-recent renovations and expansion that had just been completed at Gold Coast.   The bribe…er…invitation came with three $25 match-plays along with the de rigueur three free nights stay.   In the gaming business, it definitely pays to be yearned for, or at least to be in as many customer data-bases as possible.

My Gold Coast Session

I had no problem playing all three of the mp’s, and did much better with my shooting here than I did at The Palms.  GC’s $2 and $3 tables were busier than John Wayne in a B-movie bar fight, but the lone $5 game only had a total of six players once I joined in the melée.  I’ve long said that the Gold Coast layouts are some of the sweetest rolling tables in Las Vegas, and as I’ve also mentioned, they have the EXACT same bounce, bite, and roll characteristics as the tables at Mirage (even though the felt is totally different).  Most savvy Precision-Shooting pro’s will use a short session on the GC tables as a sort of warm-up or tune-up for their toss before tackling the more expensive (but much more tolerant of high-profit wins) situation at The Mirage.

After going three-for-three in the mp win-column, the Rustler had to stop at Seattle’s Best coffee-bar near the side of GC’s escalators which lead up to their massive Bingo Hall and equally massive 70-lane Bowling Center.  He said that he needed to pick up some of the “premium stuff” (a Javanilla White Chocolate Caffe Mocha, whatever the hell THAT is) because we were going to meet up with one of his most talented advantage-coupon “partners”.

“Pssst…Wanna Good Deal?”

One of the Coupon-Rustlers “partners” hangs around the Players Booths at the six Station Casinos that are scattered throughout town.  His “specialty” is that he asks people who are signing up for their Boarding Pass Players Card for the first time, if they are table-game players.  If they aren’t, he asks them if they would be willing to trade their newly acquired match-plays coupons for additional food and drink vouchers.  Surprisingly, most people are quite willing, especially when enticed with some free shrimp cocktails, hotdogs, pizza, micro-brews or free daiquiri coupons at various other casinos. 

He does this during the busiest sign-up times during the day and early evening, and especially mid-day on the weekends.  In his “off-hours”, you’ll find him at the Boulder Station, Palace Station, Sunset Station, Sante Fe Station, Texas Station etc., craps and blackjack tables.  He is a decent enough Precision-Shooter (and a lousy card player), but I can tell you that if he wasn’t making the match-play routine part of his game-approach; then his income would hardly ever approach it’s current $60 per hour average.

This chap manages to get about ten of these “new sign-up” mp’s per hour (of trying).  He then goes to the tables and ATTEMPTS to spend them.  Sometimes the Pit Boss will shoe him away like the annoying flea that he is, but mostly they tolerate him if he doesn’t make a nuisance of himself. If they won’t let HIM use them, he’ll ask a current player if they’ll let him piggy-back the mp under their own line-bet (or spot-bet in BJ).  He also sells off some of the excess coupons to his fellow coupon-traders who call Las Vegas, home.  And THAT is his ENTIRE daily routine.

I watched him do his thing over at Palace Station for the better part of three hours.  Although he is fairly friendly when he talks to his “new card candidates”, I couldn’t help thinking that a more personable (and cleaner) individual would have much more success in such an endeavor.  The pit-guys at the Palace tolerate him as long as he doesn’t try to jump from table to table in hopes of squeezing in front of the current shooter in hopes of being the next player to throw the dice, or as long as he doesn’t pester the customers too much for his piggy-back move.  If he behaves, they’ll put up with his activities.  If he’s boorish or pushy, they’ll by-pass him with the dice when it is his turn to shoot.  That pretty much straightens out his attitude and behavior for a reasonable period of time.

“Want Some Free Money?”

Have you ever been stopped by one of those timeshare-selling people in the lobby of your casino/hotel or on the street in front of one? 

These are the irritating sales people who start off their spiel with an innocuous question like, “Where are you folks from?” and they follow it up with, “How long are you in town for?”  Then they tell you about the free show tickets that they have for you to see the Blue Man Group at Luxor, or Celine Dion at Caesars, etc.  Some of the timeshare companies also offer $50 or $100 meal vouchers to some of the finer, most popular “high-profile” restaurants in Vegas.  

This is all done in an attempt to get you to sit through one of their timeshare condominium sales presentations.  For some people, this is as pleasant as a root-canal performed in the garage of a recently “certified” correspondence-school dental graduate, or as much fun as a 37-hour clothing-not-optional interrogation by elite members of the Paraguayan secret police.  However, some people are willing to sit through this type of presentation if they are genuinely interested in buying a timeshare, or in the case of the Coupon-Rustler, because they want to get their hands on the “thanks-for-attending” vouchers. 

In any event, the Coupon-Rustler uses his out-of-state (still current) drivers license from Texas to actually sit through as many of them as he can.   He brings his wife with him to fulfill the “spouse-must-attend” requirement.  The free gifts for enduring one of these presentations ranges from free top-line show tickets and/or free dining coupons at some very nice restaurants, all the way to match-plays and/or coin vouchers.

At any given time, there are 50 to 70 timeshare projects actively being hawked to LV’s 40-million annual tourists.

In most cases, the Rustler sells his show and restaurant vouchers back to various ticket agents who have booths set up around town.  They simply resell them to the tourists who frequent those booths.  For a list of where some of the ticket-booths are, take a look at Part I of this series.  In other cases, he’ll resell them (at less of a discount) directly to tourists whom he befriends throughout his daily travels.  He says that waiting in line for a buffet is the BEST place to meet potential “clients”.  So even though he may have a line-pass which would let him jet past the hungry hordes of waiting masses, he’ll intentionally stand with the crowds just so he can hawk his wares.  

I was actually surprised at the large number of people who are always on the look out for a good bargain when they are on vacation in Sin City.  To the Coupon-Rustlers mind, he is simply helping to fulfill a need that most vacationers have, and that is, to get a great deal at a fair price.   Actually when he puts it in that perspective, I can see why he is so successful at what he does, and why there is never a shortage of “customers”.

By getting various ticket agents to buy (and then re-sell) those $50 or $100 vouchers for places like Emerils Fish House, Delmonicos, and Monte Carlo Steakhouse, etc. or the $100 BMG, $85 Gladys Knight, or $100 Mamma Mia show tickets, he’s able to yield about 50% of the face value (the ticket agent pockets the rest).   But when he resells them to ready-to-pony-up-the-cash vacationers, he’s able to reap a much higher 66% to 75% profit off of the face-value.

By Now You Might be Thinking…

Is MONEY the only thing that the Coupon-Rustler thinks about? 

Well, the short answer, appropriately enough, is YES!   From the moment that he walks into a casino until the time he gets back into his Expedition to head on home for the night…he is continually on the hustle to buy, sell and trade coupons.  That is what he does, and he certainly does it quite well.

Hitting 27 Casinos in One Day

We spent the rest of the day by hitting one casino right after the other.  I got to all six of my “targets” out on Boulder Highway and another four of them down in Henderson.   I made my appointed rounds to seven downtown spots, plus six additional objectives in North LV and Summerlin.  Hitting 27 casinos in one day gives a whole new meaning to the old hit and run, “get in, get up, get it done, get gone” approach to gaming.

Admittedly I was tired, but there was still two more things to do before I bedded-down back at my base of operations in NYNY.    

“Who The Hell Stays at Circus Circus?”

I checked-in through the VIP lounge at Circus Circus to take advantage of their comped-room offer and generous $200 in cash with an equal amount in match-play (four books of ten $5 coupons each, plus their regular Funbook). 

Again, these “phantom stays” are necessary to take full benefit of “guest-only” m-p offers.  They didn’t have a limit-per-use-per-day restriction, so I could use them all at one time if I chose to (and if my Precision-Shooting was zeroed-in). After I got my cash-voucher and match-plays, I ventured into the rearmost northern section of the Skyrise Casino to see if their satellite mini-tub craps table was open.  Just as I expected, it was not, so I settled for their regular-length tables in the main casino.  For a detailed look at their mini-tub, please refer to my Mad Professor's Mini Tub Tour - Part VII article.

I had walked by the Energy Drink Challenge sampling-booth near the Grand Slam Canyon’s Adventuredome that was unmanned at this late hour, but I figured all the kids in the West Tower would still be cranked up and wide awake until at least the next lunar eclipse.

I knew if I actually tried to sleep at Circus Circus, I’d be up all night listening to the thundering herd of over-amped kids as they burnt off their final 14-billion megawatts of caffeine from their all-day taste-test binge-drinking of Jolt Cola, Piranha, Monster, Shock, Whoop Ass, Buzz Water, Tunnel, Bawl’s Guarana, and Sky Rocket. 

To answer the age-old question of “Who the hell stays at Circus Circus?”, the truth lays deeply buried in the “Parents with 11,973 unruly kids who are still rampaging through the hotel at 3:17 a.m.” answer.

The craps tables in the Main Casino were still quite busy, and I ended up squandering five of my vouchers on some random-rollers.  Calculating the true cost of impatience came when I had to deduct those R-R losses from the otherwise excellent results that I got from my own shooting.  Even with match-plays, the whole discipline thing on ANY random-rollers is not something to be trifled with.  It’s important to remember that match-plays are just like real money, and should not be wasted.  After playing all of today’s comp-offer m-p’s along with a few of the regular CC $7-for-$5 coupons, I headed out with a healthy, but somewhat diminished profit. 

 From One Extreme to the Other

From CC, I headed over to the HardRock.  For a detailed look at this place, I would invite you to read my Home at the Hard Rock Casino - Hotel article.  It was on this evening that I found out that their formerly-famous unlimited match-plays had been phased-out entirely in favor of the much cheaper (and less riskier for the casino) “Six-Pack” coupon alternative that was worth a measly $10.

As I had at Circus Circus, I also checked-in here for what I intended to be another phantom-stay.  I got $30 in free play, $50 in sign-it-to-your-room food comps, plus another $10 Six-Pack sheet.

The French-doors on my suite overlooked the topless Blue Lagoon portion of the legendary pool area.  The balcony is the size of a small suitcase.  Okay, I exaggerated; it’s the size of a VERY small suitcase (or a large laptop computer case).  However, nothing says “good morning” quite like a cup of coffee and an eyeful of no-tan-lines bounteous breasts at rest or at play on the beach below.

Based on the fact that I was dead-tired (and NOT based on the approaching daylight’s “boobies in the sun” reason), I decided to crash here for the night.  I always keep a “bug-out” bag in the car in the event that I have to improvise, adapt or overcome for a few days (for virtually any situation or reason), so I had an adequate change of clothes in there.  As opposed to Circus Circus, I didn’t have to count sheep, mammary glands or coupons to drift off to sleep in this place.

Until Day Five,

Good Luck & Good Skill at the tables, and in Life.


The Mad Professor

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