More Q+A and This and That

Q:? In all the writing you have done over the years, I never heard you refer to Las Vegas as “Sin City.”? Why not?

A: I dislike judgmental nicknames for anything – people, places, ideas. Almost all of these negative names are either a putdown or referring to a minority number of people.? Gambling used to be considered a “sin” by the majority of Americans, but that has slowly been changing with the spread of casinos around the country. Now a wide majority of the population consider it an acceptable form of entertainment. Despite slogans like “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” I don’t believe most visitors? lower their moral standards when they hit the city limits. They can do just as much “sinning” back at home if they want to. And I never saw?fewer moral standards in the locals than you would see in any community.

No, I’m not promoting a return to a more family-friendly environment.? It’s all right to consider it primarily a good adult vacation spot. But it’s time to drop the “Sin City” label!? Let’s call it “Fun City.”

I have been repeating for years that I can’t answer most tax questions because most answers depend on individual tax and financial details. However sometime a question is general enough and is specifically addressed fairly clearly by the IRS. Here is one of those, with the answer?taken from?Tax Help for Gamblers?that included some text from IRS publications:

Q:? I have a question about table game progressives. When you hit one, do they treat the win the same as a slot progressive and tax you immediately?

A:? The most common W2-G situation and the one with which most casino gamblers are familiar is when someone hits a jackpot on a machine (slot or video poker) that is $1200 or more.? However, most players don’t know that there are different rules for when a W-2G must be issued, depending on the form of gambling.

W2-G’s are rarely issued to table-game players.? They would only receive one if it was for a single winning table-game bet if both of the following apply:

1.?The payout is $600 or more and

2.?The winnings are paid at 300-to-1 (or higher).

This usually happens only when a game has a progressive or big bonus feature, like progressives on Caribbean Stud and Fortune Pai Gow and some bonus bets on Let It Ride.

Of course, I always need to add that all gambling wins?are required to be reported to the IRS whether you get any paperwork or not!

 

Q:? I have a climate question. Having lived in IN, NV, and now GA, which do you prefer?

A:? Part of that question is easy to answer. One of the big factors, out of many, for our move from Indianapolis to Las Vegas was our desire to leave the cold winters in the north. Moving to GA had to do with health concerns and being with family, so climate wasn’t a factor. However, I sometimes do tire of Georgia rain and humidity and miss the dry desert air, even when it was fiery hot.

 

Q:? Where did you get the matching sleepwear your family was wearing in the Christmas photos, especially the dinosaur tops?

A:? My Amazon-crazy daughter buys “everything” online and she said she bought them in several places, but she thinks the guy tops were from the Children Place – though they’re probably out of stock now.

I would like to recommend what I found to be a very interesting and well-done interview on the podcast “Risk of Ruin.” Called “Two Hustlers,” Mickey Crimm and Bob Dancer shared some of the fascinating information about their early days of advantage play, taking widely different paths but both achieving great gambling success.

Finally, you might want to be sure to tune into my next blog. I have some possibly surprising news for you all. Actually, I have actually surprised myself with it. Have to wait to see how the pandemic restrictions are going …

Posted in Advantage Play, City News, Podcast, Q+A, Taxes, Video Poker | 3 Comments

Questions and Comments

Time to dip into the virtual mailbag and comment file.

Q:? What do you think about all these new quick ways you can get money to gamble with when you are in a casino? Sounds dangerous to me.

A:? It sounds dangerous to me too! Some people aren’t able to manage their money well, especially their gambling bankroll. They find it difficult when they’re on a losing streak to resist the temptation of accessing more money while they are in a casino, money that had been earmarked for necessary life expenses. If this happened back in the “olden days,” they would need to get up from the table or machine, and walk to an ATM. This would give them a little time to think about the ramifications of their decision, and perhaps good judgment might prevail.

With the pandemic pushing the use of digital-money processing system, more sanitary cashless gaming?might?make it too easy for many to avoid regulating their gambling spending. Couple this with the surge of online-gambling opportunities, available 24/7, I’m afraid we will see a major escalation of problem gambling.

Q:? ?You rarely talk about free drinks being a major comp available for casino players. Are you and Brad teetotalers?

A:? Actually, we have been for the last 15-20 years. But this has not been because of moral or religious issues. Brad had been a social drinker until his heart attack in 2003 when being on many meds changed that. I’ve always hated the taste of beer and wine, and fruity mixed drinks cause serious side effects because of my extreme sugar sensitivity.

After Brad’s heart attack, the doctor did suggest he drink one glass of wine a day. Brad used to joke, “I bet I’m the only husband in the world that has his wife send him out the door mornings, telling him to go gamble and drink!” After a few months, I did continue to send him out with a casino assignment, but he’d now been diagnosed with A-fib, so no more alcohol instructions. But we never wasted all the wine and liquor comps we got; we kept friends and neighbors well supplied. And sometime so much we couldn’t carry it all to the car, and it went to casino employees and even strangers in line!

(I guess this is the reason why I haven’t written about the recent trend of casinos keeping track of your play, with no chance of a player tipping the bartender to be more generous. Nor – horrors – that the drinks are being “watered down.”)

From the?“Comments”: Good hint in a trip report by a frugal fan: “I like to straddle months to take advantage of double comps!” That reminded me of?the powerful frugal technique we used often in the early days of our play before we were Vegas residents. Whenever possible, I planned trips from Indianapolis to start at the end of the month and go into the next month. An example of double dipping, like finding a casino having 2 promotions at the same time!

Q:? With all of the video poker and table-game filming on YouTube and other media sites, do you feel like you should have embraced this type of promotion in your career?

A:? Brad and I did appear in quite a few TV segments in earlier years. And I did some interviews for?various media sites.

But I never felt that I was savvy enough to learn the technical details for that kind of promotion on my own. Besides, between our personal gambling schedule and my heavy writing projects, I never felt I had time for?more promotion efforts. Plus, for years I was trying – but never quite succeeding – to “retire.”? Cutting down was the best I could do until health issues forced the decision.

Q:? Are you as frugal as you used to be?

A:? I am loosening up a little in this area, maybe not as “crazy frugal” as Brad used to call my antics. But this message from the “Comments” mirrors my own efforts:

Wanted to ask you if you can help me NOT be as frugal as I have been all my life? I’ve got enough $ to last the rest of my life, but I still find myself just ordering water with my meal – can’t see spending $3 for a soft drink! It is very hard NOT to be frugal!

Keep those questions and comments coming!

Posted in Bankroll, Brad Stories, Casino Promotions, Comments, Comps, Media Appearances, Q+A | 4 Comments

Taxes and Shots = Pain

First, let’s? talk? taxes. Many of you are probably doing the same thing I’m doing now, gathering up paperwork so you – or your accountant – can start working on your 2020 tax returns. I still get some questions about how to handle gambling figures, but I will give this reminder: I can’t answer most of them, because?this would involve knowing your total financial picture. Tax issues are so complex that there are almost no short one-fits-all answers.

I can suggest reading Tax Help for Gamblers and/or checking with a professional tax preparer who is knowledgeable about gambling issues. And if you don’t know one, I would highly recommend Russell Fox, who helped big time to make the?most recent (fourth) edition of this tax book very up to date, adding valuable details about new problem areas like virtual currency and fantasy sports. And here is a bit of information about Russ you might not know, thanks to a reader who left this note in the Comments: “In addition to being a tax guru, Russ is one helluva poker player. I’ve known Russ for many years. He is one of the organizers of BARGE, an annual Las Vegas gathering of poker players, mostly amateurs, although some noted pros have attended and/or come from our ranks.”

Last year’s edition of the tax book will still be helpful for 2020 return preparation.? However, one?recent clarification, which was?foreshadowed?in that book, has to do with the IRS treatment of the taxation of fantasy sports.? You can read about that in my December 12th blog.

And if you’re dabbling in that big gamble of virtual currency, you might be interested in an article with the scary title: “IRS is ‘setting the trap’ for bitcoin and virtual currency investors on 2020 tax form.”

Someone asked a question about the IRS letter-audit problem I mentioned in that same Dec.12th blog. ?The 1099-Q sent by the 529 Plan I had for my grandchildren’s education had a total gross-distribution number, which was the total of the basis (money we originally invested), plus the earnings. The IRS wanted tax on the earnings. All I had to do ?was inform them that this was all used for qualified educational expenses. They’d never questioned this in years past; why this year? I’d been surprised that they never asked for “proof” of our expenditures, but they didn’t. By the way, this was the best “investment” we ever made! Zachary got his BS; Kaity got her BS and Master’s – and there’s money left over for the greats!

Yes, Brad and I got our 2nd?COVID vaccine shots. Although a few in our building felt?lousy for a day or two, most had?few or no side effects. I had only a sore arm, just like after a flu shot. Brad was fine; minutes after, he’d forgotten he even got the shot, the only benefit of short-term memory loss. And yes, you might recognize that person?behind Brad, someone who decided to celebrate vaccine protection by becoming a gold-streaked redhead!

Several sharp-eyed friends on Facebook noticed Brad’s shirt was from the Cannery. Yes, he still has some casino logo clothes including?a few nice jackets. But none of those satin?beauties from the Westward Ho. Wish I had saved at least one!

Posted in It's Personal, Medical, Taxes | 5 Comments

Back to Basics

We can’t forget the pain of 2020 that is continuing into 2021, but I feel I must now regain my basic positive outlook and once again return to my long-term goals for this blog: providing practical ideas on how to make your casino life more enjoyable with less stress on your budget. I wish I could tell you about new and wonderful ways to make a lot of money in a casino, but to quote an old cliché, that train has left the station and I’m pretty sure that station is quickly falling into disrepair, never to be remodeled and bustling again. However, I’m still doing the research that I always did, ferreting out information that might help you lose less and thus be able to continue to have casinos as one of your favorite entertainment choices.

First, I want to remind you of the basics I’ve stressed in the past. Of course, you read every piece of casino mail that comes to you, whether hard copy or online. But like me, you’ll also have to be a constant researcher, scouring casino websites for possible promotions that can pump up the EV of your play. To help you with your searches, I point you to the “Good Websites” tab above any “Frugal Vegas” blog,?with many resources that give you valuable and current ideas about stretching your finances in a casino. Remember, bargains you find for food and entertainment options let you keep more money for your gambling bankroll. Also, you can expand your research by doing some heavy in-person casino scouting, searching for hidden plays that haven’t been shared online.

As you do your research, be aware of casino changes, especially in the players clubs. Wynn Resorts recently made major changes in theirs, with a new tier system. And because of the pandemic, you need to check on expiration changes. Many casinos, including Caesars, have extended benefits that perhaps you thought you’d lost. Check their websites for details. This also goes for travel companies. Many hotel and airline loyalty programs have also done some major benefit extensions. See many details at the practical and very useful travel section on the LVA website.

Mobile apps are a relatively new possible resource that are becoming more popular. I confess that I didn’t take advantage of them when we were still living and playing in Vegas. Why not? Mainly because we were cutting down on our play in 2018-2019 and we had enough established opportunities to keep us as busy as we wanted or were able to be. But if I were looking for new possibilities now, I’m sure I ‘d download some casino mobile apps. I’m hearing about promotions or offers that are exclusive to this medium.

And never forget the power of coupons. Remember I was the Queen of KuPon before Dan Rather gave me the Queen of Comps moniker. With fewer good plays these days, advantage-hunting players might find they have time for more high-EV couponing and perhaps doing some extra scouting at the same time. The American Casino Guide will not be putting out a new book for 2021, but check here for a list of the 2020 coupons that will be honored through 2021.

And of course, you’ll want to check out that mother of all coupon books, our own MRB (Member Rewards Book) here at LVA. As I write this, they’re being mailed out to current members and are available for pick-up at the Huntington Press office. And despite the pandemic casino limitations, they’re still a frugal bargain, close in value to the pre-COVID editions. The gambling coupons have always been a valuable feature, but with casinos drastically cutting comps, those meal and other discounts perhaps will have added value for many.

And now for the answer to the picture puzzle I gave you back during the holidays. A couple of you did guess the answer I had in mind: I’m wearing the same antlers in both pictures. I think I paid about $2 for them and they have lasted through 30+ Decembers! Maybe one of my most frugal moves!

However, I loved all your guesses, many versions of the following:

“You are still?enjoying life together.”

“You still wear glasses.”

“You still have nice smiles; they show even through the masks.”

“The two of you are still joined at the hip.”

“What hasn’t changed is your love for each other, side by side.”

As we celebrated Brad’s 89th birthday this week, I felt so blessed that those last two are still so very true. Brad’s getting so frail and his memory is failing him in so many of life?areas.? But he?feels so secure and appreciative that I’m always very near him and he has never forgotten our love for each other. This bond, forged 38 years ago, has never been stronger than it is today.

Posted in Advantage Play, Brad Stories, Caesars, Casino Hosts, Casino Promotions, Comments, Comps, Coronavirus, Couponing, Discounts, Gambling Resources, Health, It's Personal, Meal Promo, Memories, Slot Clubs, Travel, Vegas Discounts, Web Sites | 7 Comments

Looking Backward and Forward

I haven’t forgotten?the promise to give you my solution to the Christmas game in my last blog. But I was surprised that I received so many “guesses” and they’re still coming in, many many different takes. So I’ll compile them and report in my next blog.

In the meantime, a new year always inspires reflection and never more so than the passing of 2020 into 2021. Here is one I penned (typed?) for one of the many “projects” here in our senior community.

2020 – The Year Hugging Disappeared

There are a lot of things I have missed during this COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Big family reunions
  • Sit-down meal choices in restaurants all over town
  • The ability to see people’s faces to see if they’re smiling at me
  • Being able to see my regular doctor in person when I need him/her to diagnose why I’m sick
  • Visits to a friend’s home
  • Trying on clothes in a store
  • Feeling safe to fly to a vacation destination
  • Going to a salon and getting my hair and nails done

But most of all, I missed hugs:

  • When meeting an old friend
  • When introduced to a new friend-to-be
  • When someone does something nice for me
  • When seeing a long-absent relative
  • But most of all, when my three little great-grandchildren were warned that they couldn’t rush in and give me even their usual tight-squeeze “leg hugs.”

But I’m cautiously optimistic for 2021 — although not so much on the gambling front.? Anthony Curtis, in a recent QOD, quoted a Station executive as saying, when refusing to no longer be part of the LVA’s Member Rewards program, they’re “not giving anything away anymore.” And players are reporting from all over, but especially in Vegas, that promotions and customer benefits are being drastically cut. It’s hard to understand this phenomenon. Most of us had thought that the casinos would up the benefits to lure customers back when the pandemic restrictions were lessened.

Maybe in 2022?

There is one positive?note?for gamblers, although it’s accompanied by a big IF.? The American Gaming Association, the lobbying group for casinos and gambling in general,?is optimistic about the prospect of the IRS raising the threshold for slot payouts, saying that it is “better than ever.” You can read about it here. However, I tell you that I’m not putting any money down on this maybe proposition. I would never bet on any IRS issue!

I do plan to stay hopeful about life in the future. Here is another short submission I wrote for the Legacy Reserve, our senior home, to be put in a buried time capsule.

???????????????????? End of 2020 – Start of 2021

Not enough negative adjectives in the English language to describe 2020: so much deadly racial violence, so much political nastiness, so much loneliness while trying to avoid the suffering and death from COVID-19.

But I am a little more optimistic for 2021. The COVID vaccine should bring down the hospitalizations and death toll and I am encouraging everyone with whom I come in contact to trust the scientists and get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them.? And until the pandemic is truly over, I will continue to take the advice of health authorities and follow their recommendations, including wearing a mask to protect myself and others.

I am cautiously hopeful for 2021.? Hope that new government leadership will be able to bring ALL Americans a little closer together, no matter the differences in ethnic or racial backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, cultural mores – and yes, even political views.

I want to do better myself in being more tolerant and showing more love. The spreading of more human love may be the biggest need to make 2021 better than 2020.

Posted in Casino Policy, Coronavirus, Holiday Greetings, It's Personal, Stations, Taxes | 7 Comments

The Burning Question Answered

Most of you are probably busy with holiday celebrations right now and perhaps have temporarily set aside your interest in casinos and gambling in general. So maybe this is a good time to address a common query I hear from so many of my frugal friends: Do Brad and I miss Vegas and the casino life?

It may surprise you that we can answer that with a resounding “No!”

Perhaps I need to give you some background for this answer.? Although for years we worked hard pursuing advantage plays, the fun factor?was just as important as the profit goal. People asked us if we considered gambling our “job” – and I?replied that?we couldn’t call it that, because we were having so much fun! What wasn’t to like about making money while enjoying such an exciting life?

However, as the good plays were oh-so-quickly drying up, so was the fun factor. To be honest, for the last couple of years, I’d grown tired of what I called the “casino rat race.” We had to work twice as hard for half – or less?– the financial return. But I was willing to do it as long as?Brad was still enjoying our usual casino routine; doing things together was still my greatest joy in life. However, by mid-2019, I was noticing that Brad’s enthusiasm was also decreasing. He seemed happy when I announced that we didn’t have to go to casinos as often,?given that there were fewer good playing opportunities. And when we did go, he often was the first to say that he was ready to quit and go home – a change from all those years when I was the one who got tired first.

And there was another factor, a sad one: I could see that Brad was making many strategy mistakes in his VP play. It was obvious that his physical health was deteriorating, as he was becoming very frail, but it was harder to recognize – and accept – something I’d suspected for some time – that he was also suffering serious cognitive decline.

I had to make a major decision.

We thought we’d live in Vegas the rest of our lives. But I knew we were looking at a lot of medical issues in the future.?Brad had already needed one long emergency hospital stay.?? My family in Georgia was strongly urging us to move near them, so they could help us as needed.

It turned out to be not only the right decision, but also the right time to move. We’d just gotten settled in Georgia, down the road from my daughter Angela and son-in-law Steve’s house when the pandemic struck, and they were able to take care of all our needs while we had to shelter in place for months. Also, when I had to turn in the car keys, they helped us with the decision to move into the independent-living apartment at a senior center, choregraphing all the moving arrangements and doing all the heavy lifting of getting us settled. We couldn’t have done it without them! We’ve now been happily settled in our new home for two months.

Which brings us back to the question I introduced at the start, and the answer. No, we don’t miss Vegas, but we haven’t forgotten it. We couldn’t even if we wanted to. Most of the staff and many of the residents here are online and they’ve googled us. And you probably won’t be surprised that they all want to talk about our “exotic” life as gamblers. A few have visited Vegas, but to most, it’s a fairy-tale city they’ve only seen in movies. And now they?wanted to get all the exciting details from new neighbors who’ve lived that life. We always have a string of visitors who want to come and see our “Vegas apartment” and take a pull on?the antique slot machine in our “Vegas corner.”

And everyone, staff and fellow residents, was excited, though not surprised, when we gave each of them a little gift. Instead of Christmas cards, we passed out lottery scratch tickets!

Speaking of?being surprised, myself most of all, one group activity that I’m enjoying here is playing a rummy-type card game called Phase 10. No money involved, just some fun trash talk.

The first 35 years of my life, as I’ve often written about, I was from a family of avid non-gambling gamers, from Chutes and Ladders to Scrabble. However, once ?I started playing for money, these social games no longer interested me. I guess you never lose your competitive spirit – you look for a challenge wherever you are!

Now for a Christmas game for all you readers. Here are 3 pictures, the last 2 taken 20 years after the first one. What is the one thing that hasn’t changed?

?

The answer in my next blog.

Warm holiday greetings to all of you from two happy seniors who live in Columbus,?Georgia, on Queen Bee Drive.

Yes, that is our address. I couldn’t believe it myself!

Posted in Holiday Greetings, It's Personal, Memories, Non-gambling Activities, Q+A | 19 Comments

Taxing Issues for Gamblers

I just got a nice letter from the IRS saying no, I didn’t really owe the $6,122 that on Feb. 24 they had said I did after they looked at my 2018 return.? Thank you, IRS,? for the early Christmas present!

For once, this was not a gambling issue about which I had to “educate” them, as I have had to do so many years in the past. This time I had to explain to them their own rules about taking money out of a 529 for granddaughter Kaitlynn’s last year in her master’s program.? But I used my experience as a teacher of high school slow learners, wrote a simple but not aggressive letter — using no big words — to explain why their own tax codes did not support their position.? It took almost 9 months, but some human finally read my letter and decided that I was right. Another victory in my column!

But this got me thinking that tax season will be coming up before we know it, and we will have to deal with it in spite of election turmoil and a pandemic taking much of our brain space. 2020 will be a strange year for Brad and me taxwise, the first time in 30+ years that we won’t be working with gambling figures.? But many of you will have to deal with them, and I want to steer you to some resources that might help you with possible thorny tax problems.

Russell Fox, a super knowledgeable tax preparer I highly recommend and a major contributor to the last edition of my Tax Help for Gamblers, writes a very useful blog for gamblers, “Taxable Talk,” tackling the perplexing issues you might face when dealing with the IRS. Recently he discussed in detail the new IRS memorandum dealing with the question of whether Daily Fantasy Sports is gambling, a subject that had been a gray area and subject to personal and profession interpretation since its inception.

Also, I recommend? a helpful article by Russ called “GAMBLING AND TAX GOTCHAS.”? ?This is an extremely good review of possible tax trouble spots for any gambler, some of which you might not be aware since they are new for 2020.??You also might find it helpful to go to Russell’s home page?and start browsing – he has great information and money-saving tax advice not just for your gambling issues but for all parts of your financial life.? And you might like to check out the recent “Gambling with an Edge” podcast, where Russ answers many questions that listeners have asked.

 

Posted in Taxes | 4 Comments

A Welcome Surprise Pop-Up Promotion

I hope you all had a safe and blessed family Thanksgiving get-together, following the CDC guidelines.

We wondered how we could do that.? Legacy Reserve, the senior facility where we are now living in an independent apartment, is not on lockdown as many are around the country.? However, they strongly recommended that we not visit family this year for traditional Thanksgiving reunions – and if we did, quarantine for 14 days when we returned to our apartments. We were definitely on board with the concept that we needed to help keep all our senior neighbors safe.

However, our daughter and son-in-law, Angela and Steve, figured out a safe plan for our family.? A?few days ago, they planned a big bonfire in their woodsy back yard.? It was a beautiful slightly cool evening, cozy around the fire. The 3 great-grandkids love to hear ghost stories and gobble down hotdogs and chips.? And everyone – adults and kiddies – decided that roasting wieners and making s’mores out in the fresh air was just as good – and maybe better – than a turkey dinner around the dining room table!

Here is a smoky picture of the fun:

I even learned a new recreational skill – axe-throwing!

——

And now for a good casino-promotion alert, something I love to share.? For the last month or so, I’ve been talking about how it pays for players who want to find good-value opportunities to check as many resources as they can. Here is one I found, even though I’m far away from Vegas.

South Point Casino is extending their November gift card promo through December 13th.? Get the details on their website.

And you could have learned of it – wherever you are – if you had joined the new vpFREE-Archives.? (I gave the instructions for signing up in my last blog.)

Keep scouting, my dear friends!

Posted in Casino Promotions, Family News, Health, Holiday Greetings, South Point Casino, Video Poker | 7 Comments

More on Resources

After 3 weeks of unpacking and organizing, we are finally settled in our new home at the beautiful just-opened senior-living Legacy Reserve. We are enjoying the nice warm swimming pool, floor-to-ceiling windows that make us feel we are outside among the tall Georgia pines. An urgent medical issue of Brad’s popped up and a driver immediately took us to the doctor’s office, then waited as we filled an antibiotic prescription at CVS. ?And the dinner menu for tonight in the dining room is for rib-eye, baked potato, and Brad’s favorite dessert, pecan pie. ?Life is good!

Now I have more free time to continue the discussion about techniques that we would be using if we were still in Vegas and wanting to play with an advantage.? And the first thing I would have to say is that this would be an extremely difficult situation, even for someone like us with our 35 years of casino experience. Many casinos are not even trying to fool gamblers anymore with doubletalk; they are actually specifically mentioning ?in some of their news releases their reduced marketing efforts – easily translated – ?that you shouldn’t expect as much free play as in the past. Here’s an example from Boyd Gaming, reported by CDC Gaming Reports:

By tightening operating and marketing costs while managing a varied casino portfolio under COVID-19 restrictions, Boyd Gaming was able to show positive cash flow during the summer months. CEO Keith Smith said some of the operational changes Boyd instituted are expected to remain in place for the long-term. “The world had changed, and we had to change with it,” Smith said Monday during the company’s third quarter conference call. “We have established a more efficient and more focused business model over these past several months, and we are determined to sustain higher margins going forward. Today is our new normal.”

I’m sure their “focus” is not to make the advantage player happy.

Anyone who is trying to look for an advantage will have to be VERY flexible. You may not be able to play as much as you would like.? You might have to play at different times during the day from your past routine.? You might have to choose new casinos that aren’t as convenient as your old favorites. You might not be able to play the games you really like, and you might have to learn the strategy for new choices.

In my last blog I talked about the need for intense scouting to look for plays that aren’t generally known. There are going to be very few casinos anymore where there would be many “good” opportunities from which to choose. Your job will be to find the very few “nuggets.”? A recent example is the just-opened Circa.? One reader commented, “You didn’t miss out on anything at Circa, 6/5 everywhere.”

I checked vpFREE2.com and found that there were a few better games.? And I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t a few “nuggets” that some scouts found but not sharing that information. And remember, that not everyone has the same standard for a good play.? Some not only will check out players club benefits to pump up the EV of a game(vpFREE2 helps with that info too) and stay alert for promotions but might play a while to see whether the comp benefits might make it a good value for them. ?They also might check on some of the not-so-good games to see if there was a progressive that might sometimes put them into the good category. I used to love when someone posted on a forum that there were no good plays at Casino XXX.? Perhaps that information was accurate, but I knew that if I found something good there that it might stay my secret longer!

If you want a list of resources I recommend, click on the tab labeled “Jean Scott in the Media/Good Websites/Software” at the top of my blog page.? There is help there for both recreational and advantage players, for both high rollers and low rollers, and for all kinds of casino?visitors??who want to stretch their bankroll for more entertainment time.

One important note about vpFREE on that list.? It will be moving to a new home after Dec. 15, when Yahoo Groups shuts down.? So here is the note from the administrator about how you can join it at the new location:

How to join vpFREE-Archives using a free Google Gmail address:

1. You can get a free Google Gmail account (if you don’t already have one) at:?https://tinyurl.com/y75ms8mr

2. Go to:?https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/vpfree-archives

3. Click on “Join group” and then follow the prompts to set up your membership.

How to join vpFREE-Archives using any email address other than Gmail:

1. Go to?https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/vpfree-archives

2. Click on “Subscribe to this group” and then follow the prompts to set up your membership.

3. If you join with a non-Gmail account, you’ll only get access to posting and reading posts via email and won’t be able to post or read messages on the website.

If anyone cannot successfully join the group, send a private email to me at [email protected]??and I will add you directly.? I don’t see any provision for changing your email address after you join, except unsubscribing and then rejoining with the new email address.

And now, until I type some more rambling thoughts here again, try to?concentrate on some of the good things in your life that you can be thankful for this Thanksgiving season – in spite of the fact that we all can’t wait to have 2020 behind us.

Some of you might remember my talking about little grandson Zachary some 20+ years ago and how much fun it was when he and his sister Kaitlynn came to visit us in Vegas and we took them to all the kiddie places, like Circus Circus.? How time flies.?Here is a capsule view of what brings?us such joy these days – the 3 greats that Zachary and his wife Taylor have presented to us – and #4 expected in April will add to that joy!

Posted in Advantage Play, Boyd Gaming, Casino Promotions, Comps, Family News, Gambling Resources, Slot Clubs, Video Poker | 2 Comments

Another Major Move

Whew! Just catching my breath after another move, hopefully the last one for a good long time!

During the last month, medical issues for both Brad and me necessitated some major decisions.? First, my eyesight – a decrease in peripheral vision and space perception – was making me a menace on the highway, so I had to give up driving. Brad’s mental and physical condition is continuing to decline and I needed to give more attention to his needs. And seemingly good timing, a new senior-living facility just opened not too far from family – with wonderfully frugal pre-opening prices!

So here we are moved in –?though not fully unpacked yet – in an independent-living apartment at Legacy Reserve at Old Town, with many helpful benefits included.? Breakfast and a gourmet dinner every day. Housekeeping once a week and maintenance whenever needed.? Free transportation to stores and doctor appointments. And our favorite perk – a large heated indoor swimming pool available 24/7 – which we enjoy most days.

We love it here.? We are on the ground floor with a patio facing the large courtyard square, the fountain right outside our door. Lots of opportunities for group socialization, and we are making friends quickly.

Taking a hayride during the Fall Festival put on by the employees of our new home at Legacy Reserve.? They do a good job of making Brad smile.

There is another section in the building with assisted-living apartments and a separate locked memory-care unit.? Hopefully, we won’t need those, but?they’re options if we need?either or both in the future.? With no cooking or transportation responsibilities, right now I have the time and energy to take good care of Brad. ?However, VA can provide home health visits if in the future Brad needs more care than I can presently give. I am learning to take one day at a time!

I still plan to share gambling and casino information in this blog space as long as I have something helpful to say; however, it will be on a more irregular schedule. If you want an email when I do post, go to the LVA website and on the right side of my blog, you can sign up for post notifications.

Today, I want to continue to expand on the same subject I covered in my last blog – looking for information resources.? Although looking in books, magazines, and Internet gambling websites and forums is useful, there is nothing like being eyes-on in the casino.? If we still lived in Vegas, we would have to be scouting even more than in the past.

Obviously, if there was a new casino opening, I would want to check every VP machine in the place.? I would be?at Circa today!? And I would check back many days after!? If I read that a casino had a new players club – like the Sahara recently – or a casino modified the benefits – like the Stations did post-Covid closures – I would check the new details.? Then I would check the VP games to see if there were any that, combined with the players club benefits, might become a good play or had fallen out of that category. Sometimes when there are changes in the club, some of the games have been changed also. Also, if you hear that a casino has new management, new executives are apt to make new changes.

You might argue that you can find out all this information on the Internet.? Yes, you should check online first, like at https://www.vpfree2.com/ which not only gives the “good games” but also players club information.? But although this website does a pretty good job of keeping current, sometimes the information is not complete.? And occasionally there is a too-good opportunity that scouts just don’t want to share with the general public.

Casino scouting is a fine art – and very time-consuming. Old hands at VP often make up teams, with individuals assigned a more doable number of casinos to check out.? Then they all share their information.? This is often done by those that chase progressives since they need constant updates.? But it also works for those who are looking for good opportunities, what I call mining for “gold nuggets” of information that the general public doesn’t have.

I wrote a whole chapter on scouting in my book Frugal Video Poker, listing scores of hints on how to ferret out good games. Although some of the specifics in this book are outdated, it has a wealth of still-usable information for those who are new to video poker or just wanting to up their play and need more help.

A last note:? Welcome to all of you who have become ?“friends” ?on my Jean Scott Facebook page.

Posted in Advantage Play, Book Recommendation, Gambling Resources, Health, It's Personal, Medical, Slot Clubs, Stations, Video Poker | 21 Comments