There is a question that has been on my mind recently and that is, ‘What is it that makes a good Advantage Player?’ Obviously, one of the potential answers to this question is bankroll, which many Advantage Players have a greater abundance of than I do, but having a huge bankroll, in a certain sense, is somewhat more of an end than it is a means. Granted, a huge bankroll gives an Advantage Player the means to potentially weather the storm of running poorly on some of the most lucrative plays that are out there, as well as the ability to finance those plays, but the Advantage Players that I am thinking of built up that bankroll somehow.
Which then led me all the way back around to the question, ‘How did they grow that bankroll?’ The answer is fundamentally simple: They embarked on plays in which they had the Advantage and those plays, taken as a whole, went close enough to expectation that they were eventually able to grow their bankrolls. However, there must be some underlying quality that enables some people to do that more easily than others. That led me to the question: What is that quality?
I have decided that Advantage Play is really more a question of mindset than anything else. In talking to fellow Advantage Players I have often found that casinos are not the only areas in which they seek an Advantage, but they are generally pretty good about seeking Advantages in other areas of life, as well. I have also done this to a more limited extent, but the best Advantage Players out there have worked angles in other areas that I have not even thought of. I’m not going to get into any of those things because they were effectively told to me in confidence, but I will talk about some of the Advantages in everyday life and the value associated therewith that I have enjoyed in order to emphasize my point.
I once wrote an Article similar to this one for our sister site WizardofVegas.com, so some of these examples will be something of a carry-over from there.
Advantage Fuel Points:
One of the grocery stores at which I regularly shop award fuel points if you use your loyalty card with the chain in question when you check out. This is obviously something that a person should be doing anyway because it is the same loyalty card that enables people to get discounts on their purchases as well as to have coupons that are at least allegedly tailored to their shopping needs sent to them by way of E-Mail or regular mail.
At this particular chain, the grocery store once offered a Promotion by which they would award 10x (or maybe it was 5x) the usual fuel points on Gift Cards purchased within the store. Initially I wanted to max out my fuel points at 1,000, (which is good for $1 off per gallon of gas on one occasion the following month) but as I was looking through the Gift Card offerings, I wasn’t sure if there were any restaurants or stores from whom I would definitely have a use for the Gift Cards.
An idea then occurred to me: Gift Cards from the grocery store itself. Of course, I seriously doubted whether or not they would actually award the multiple fuel points on their own Gift Cards, but since it would only take a total of under a minute to ask, it seemed worth finding out. It turns out that they were offering exactly that!
The result of that is that I maxed out on Fuel Points simply by buying a Gift Card for the very store that I intended to shop at, anyway. In fact, I bought the Gift Card, did my shopping, and literally used the full amount of the Gift Card on that very purchase. Furthermore, having two automobiles at the time, I ran both of them as close to empty as possible and then set off to the store to fill up both cars using the same $1 off per gallon of gas. This ultimately saved me $25 just on that one fill up for both cars the following month, and I would say that I spent about five extra minutes effectuating that, so in terms of an hourly profit (or savings) I made $300 an hour on that one decision.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. While you could only have one Fuel Points redemption on one card per household, I also had a few relatives that I knew had shopping cards there but who did not actually shop there. I explained the offer to them and told them that I would go and purchase the Gift Cards with the only caveat being that they had to tell me when they would be filling up so I could also bring one of my cars and pull up to fill up before the pump was placed back on the hook. More savings, more money in pocket!
All Six of My Checking Accounts:
Banks will occasionally compete for business by offering Checking Accounts that are not only free, but actually checking accounts that the bank pays you to take! I believe that the theory is that if you have a Checking Account with a certain bank and the result is that you have positive experiences with them, then the customer is more likely to turn to that bank first when in need of a loan or financial service.
Anyway, these offers will often be broken up into parts (and sometimes it is not feasible to take advantage of every aspect) but they often include such things as turning in checks from a previous bank, setting up direct deposit with the new bank, setting up auto bill pay with the new bank, or making x number of Debit Card purchases within y number of days.
Some of these rewards can actually be fairly lucrative, in fact, on one occasion I made $100 just because I made ten Debit Card purchases within the first 90 days of having the account. I probably spent a grand total of twenty minutes on all aspects of setting up the account while everything else was just doing the stuff that I would do anyway, so as a result, I essentially made $300 an hour for the time spent doing this.
Obviously, not all of these endeavors were so lucrative overall or even on an hourly basis, but I certainly never signed up for a deal that yielded less than $50 an hour. The best part is that you can close the checking account after the money has been added to your account. Why would you do that, you may ask: The reason why is simply because some banks will let you take advantage of their new account holder Promotion in the event that you have not had an account for six months or a year, depending on the bank. In other words, you can go in and do the same exact thing again later on. While some might argue that this is nothing more than a low-level bilking scheme, it is certainly legal and certainly valuable on an hourly basis.
Take Your Surveys!:
I’m not talking about the Online Surveys with companies like Vindale Research where the, “Estimated Time: 5 Minutes,” survey ends up taking the better part of a half hour to make a dollar something, or those that essentially have you perform an entire survey (from which they have garnered usable data) just to tell you that you are not eligible for the, ‘Full Survey,’ for one reason or another...those are straight bull! I’m talking about surveys for which the reward is known and the amount of time it will take can be reasonably anticipated.
An example of this is the Houlihan’s restaurant surveys that I like to take. They honestly take only about five minutes, especially after you have done them once already, and for that five minutes I get a Gift Code for $10 off a purchase of $30 or more on my next visit. I certainly do not bother with restaurant or store surveys that say I have a chance to win a Gift Card or Cash Prize of some amount because, since I have no idea how many people are doing those, I have no idea what my value is. I’m strictly talking about surveys for which there is a known and absolute offer that you are guaranteed to get upon completion of the survey.
The fact of the matter is simple: I think Houlihan’s restaurants are awesome. I think the food is positively delicious and that the service is outstanding. I quickly take these surveys and give the establishment all high marks not just because it makes the survey quicker, but because that also happens to be my honest opinion of my experience every single time.
In other words, these surveys offer me the chance to get $10 off at an establishment to which I will undoubtedly be returning. If the survey takes five minutes and I save $10 that I would otherwise be spending as a result of them, then that essentially translates to $120/hour on my time. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty good.
The first thing that I would like to state is that serious consideration should be made before either applying for or activating/using a credit card. I am in no position whatsoever to make any judgments as pertains to your creditworthiness or to make any judgments on whether or not taking out a Credit Card is a good decision for you either in the short-term or the long-term. I can definitely say that, if you live in the United States and plan to apply for a mortgage in the next few months, then taking out a Credit Card is a bad short-term decision.
With that said, many Credit Cards have Introductory offers or other perks that come as a result of being a cardmember, but most of these offers tend to get worse the longer that you have had the card. For example, you might get some sort of Points Bonus on your first purchase with the card, or on making x amount of purchases in the first three months that can have several hundreds of dollars in value for you, especially if you pay the card within the grace period thereby paying no interest whatsoever. Of course, that could also be theoretically detrimental to your Credit Score, but I’ll leave you to research that on your own.
If you do carry a balance on your Credit Cards, then many Credit Card companies will offer Balance Transfers either at an extremely low APR and sometimes an Introductory APR of 0%, so obviously, a person is saving money in a very direct way by taking advantage of any of those offers.
Of course, I have screwed my Credit up royally in terms of my Credit Score, and that is why it is beneficial for me to have a girlfriend with good credit! Obviously, I did not get together with her for that reason as I had no idea what her credit looked like during the formative stages of our relationship, I’m just saying that it turned out to be an added benefit.
However, having a poor credit rating can also be used to your advantage, on occasion, believe it or not! For example, let’s say that I am doing some Christmas shopping and I am at a store that will give me a 10% discount on my purchase for doing nothing other than applying for their Credit Card and a 15% discount if I am accepted and have the balance of my purchase applied to the card. In most cases, I can be pretty reasonably confident that I am not going to get approved for the card, but another thing that I am confident of is that my credit score really couldn’t be much worse and I would, in fact, like to save 10% on my transaction. The only thing I am out is the couple of minutes that it takes to apply for the stupid thing and get declined...let’s say five minutes. Okay, so if I have a purchase of $200 and I save $20 by doing this and it takes five minutes, BOOM!!! I just saved $240 an hour.
Money in pocket.
More Fun With Gift Cards:
There were a couple of different fast food establishments that I frequented more than I really care to admit that ran two different Gift Card Promotions at different times. One of the Promotions was pretty simple: If you purchased a Gift Card of $20, or more, then you would get a free burger that had a cost of $4 otherwise. That’s pretty simple, you go in, by the Gift Card, get the burger, and then go through the drive-thru and use that very same Gift Card for the other stuff you wanted to purchase from there. If you look at the entire process as taking five minutes to get the additional burger, then your overall value on that comes to $48/hour.
The other Gift Card Promotion was another no-brainer. If you purchased a Gift Card of $20, or more, then they would give you a Gift Card of $5 as an additional gift. Once again, I would simply use both Gift Cards and this was a good decision if you believed you were going to spend $25 at the establishment at any time prior to the expiration of the Gift Cards. If we again consider that it essentially took five minutes to do this, then you are looking at an hourly gain of $60/hour.
I believe that this Advantage Play mindset is inherent for some people, but I also believe it can be learned, and what I have shared above is just a few of many examples I could think of with respect to things that I have done. I have spoken to other Casino Advantage Players that have worked these (and other) angles to which my reactions have ranged anywhere from, ‘That’s pretty slick,’ to, ‘That has to constitute fraud, though I doubt anyone would ever prosecute it.’
The point is that all of the world can essentially be a stage and training ground for trying to look for angles and to get in the mindset of always trying to look for an Advantage in everything that you do. Once you get into the habit of looking for Advantages and angles that work to your benefit when it comes to everyday things, it simply becomes natural if it is not a tendency that you have already had all along. Furthermore, Advantage Play is a way of life for many professional Advantage Players and they find joy just in the act of finding value in a particular angle, whether or not that angle takes place in a casino is immaterial.
Personally, I think that looking for such angles in real life also prepares a person to be able to consider all sides of a given proposition, which is undoubtedly useful when it comes to trying to Advantage Play in casinos whether they be Brick & Mortar or Online. If you are consistently searching for value in everything that you do, as with anything else involving the need for practice, you will eventually get better at it. The majority of Advantage Players that I know are not only better than I am because they have the bankroll to find the best plays, but also because they have spent more time looking for angles and value in everyday life as well and largely finding it.
The first tip that I would give people is simple: Don’t waste your time. What I mean by this is that you have to assign some arbitrary amount, whether it be a fixed dollar amount or a projected hourly gain to everything that you do. In my case, there is not necessarily a fixed dollar amount that is either too low or too high for me, but I tend to use between $15-$20 an hour as the number under which I consider working an angle to be worth my time. I think it is important to set something like this otherwise you will find yourself actually not getting the proper value of your time by chasing angles that yield very little in the way of actual value.
The other piece of advice I would give people is simply not to give up thinking about an angle just because there are none that are immediately obvious. When it comes to working angles, it requires outside of the box thinking (who would apply for a credit card they know they won’t get?) and we have spent our lives conditioned to think inside of the box and to always work within a default set of parameters in one way or another. If you want to Advantage Play in casinos, whether they be Online or Land-Based, with any degree of success...then that is going to require knowing that the, ‘Obvious,’ best way to do something is not necessarily the absolute best way to do it.
My third tip would then be to realize that, sometimes, the obvious way to do something actually IS the best way to do it! You definitely have to have confidence in your ability to analyze a situation of any kind competently and if that analyzation lends itself to the conclusion that the obvious way is best, then you have to go with the obvious way! Playing at an Advantage and working angles is not necessarily about always disregarding the obvious way to do something, it is about finding the most advantageous way to do something! To that effect, if you are presented with a circle block, a square block, and a diamond block as well as a contraption with three holes fit to the blocks, then you don’t want to try to wedge the circle block through the diamond or square hole! The obvious choice is, sometimes, the right one.
My final tip would be to, when you have some free time, think about hypothetical scenarios that could potentially come to fruition and determine the best way that one could take Advantage of the situation under those parameters. That does not necessarily have to be limited to real-life and can also be applied to casino play. I have often looked at Promotions that were previously offered (but have not been offered for a long time) or thought of Promotions that could feasibly happen and asked myself, ‘What would be the best way to play that?’ Some people might argue that it is a wasted effort in the event that the Promotion never comes to pass, but I disagree because I believe that such, ‘Thought Questions,’ are capable of causing us to understand concepts that can then later be applied to anything similar to the, ‘Thought Question,’ we have asked ourselves. If nothing else, having thought about something along those lines at least gives us a better starting point than if we had never asked ourselves any questions about it.
Working angles and trying to find Advantages can easily become second-nature to every one of us if we spend enough time practicing it. Doing so will bring you success, in the long-run, not just in the Online or Land-Based Casinos, but could also make you some money outside of the realm of casinos, as well. Have you worked any interesting angles in your time that you would like to share outside of casinos? If so, please do tell in the Comments, and as always, thanks for reading!