BY: Steve 'Heavy' Haltom
Have you ever played Cashless Craps? No, it’s not some new proprietary game played with debit cards and cash-out slips. Nor am I talking about opening casino credit and taking markers. I am talking about one of those time-honored “local player” traditions - the coupon run.
Just about every casino in the world offers free coin, cash or match play coupons as an enticement to players. To get your share, all you need do is join the casino’s players club and give them a little action from time to time. Next thing you know, your mailbox will start to fill with “free money” offers. Is it worth the trouble? Absolutely. There are few things better taking the proceeds of a coupon run and beating the casino with their own money.
On a return trip from Tunica awhile back, I made a 70-mile side-trip to Shreveport for the express purpose of cashing out a few coupons. I had accumulated $100 in coupons from Harrah's, $25 from Hollywood, $10 from Boomtown, $25 from the Horseshoe, and $20 from the Isle of Capri. All together, it added up to $180, and that did not include the free food coupons I had tucked away.
My first stop was Harrah's, where I locked up $100 then cruised the pit to chart tables. There were two tables open - both ten-dollar games and both full. Time to move on. I stopped by the promotions desk on the way out, picked up a free golf shirt from their current promotion, then walked next door to the Hollywood Casino.
The Hollywood’s craps tables and cage are on the ground floor. I hit the cage first, then circled the craps pit. There was one five-dollar game and one ten-dollar game. There was an opening at the ten-dollar game, but the crew looked lifeless and the box woman sullen. I elected to head back to Harrah’s self-park for my car and check out the action across the river.
I took the Texas Street Bridge across the Red River to Bossier City and the Horseshoe. There were several $5 games open, but like Hollywood - the energy level in the casino was all negative. The dealers, pit staff, and players all appeared to be equally unhappy. Every table was choppy and every player was losing. I went to the cage and locked up another $25. Then, as I headed toward the exit, I noticed a streak of numbers in a repeating sector on one of the roulette games. The sector was 35 - 16 - 33 - 21 - 6. I decided to buy in for $25 I had just cashed and try five spins on that sector. On the first spin, the 21 rolled. Color coming in - and a net $31 win.
After stopping by the cage to cash out my win I walked back to the car, drove over to the Isle of Capri, and walked up to a $5 game with just one player. I watched for a few minutes as the lone player shot from the Don’ts and knocked himself off number after number. He tried to recoup his losses by doubling up on his bets. I shook my head at this fallacy as I strolled over to the casino cage and cashed my $20 coupon.
Back at the table, I took up the stick left position. “Change please,” I said, dropping $150 of “free money” on the table. A local player I know, an elderly African American woman who limits herself to just one bet walked in, caught my eye and said, “Hey, the Field Man is here.” She has seen me toss the dice enough to know what my signature numbers are. Before the dice came to me, she had bought in for $20 and had $5 in the Field.
My first toss was an eleven. I stacked my winnings on the Pass Line. My friend stacked hers in the Field. I tossed the dice again and set the nine as the point. I took ten dollars in free odds. My Field playing friend locked up five dollars and pressed her Field bet to fifteen. I set and threw the dice - nine again - and locked up a total win of $30 counting my initial Come-out natural. My Field playing friend picked her winnings too - also $30. Meanwhile, down at the other end of the table, the Don’t player was looking uncomfortable.
The next come-out roll was the four. I took $5 odds, placed $17 on the even numbers and set the dice on the “V-2” arrangement. I tossed the nine again to the delight of my Field-playing friend, followed by the ten, the six, then the four - hard. The Don't player handed his chips to the dealer and said, “Color coming in.” Meanwhile, I continued to set and toss the dice for another twenty minutes or so - scoring six passes before sevening out on a point of nine. When I cannot hit the nine - one of my signature numbers - it is time to call it a session.
After tokes, I cashed out a $360 win, more than doubling my buy-in. Then I hit the Tradewinds Deli and swapped a $10 free food coupon for a take-out bag stuffed with “homemade” cookies for the kids.
Flush from my win, I drove over to Boomtown, redeemed another food coupon and enjoyed a complimentary platter of fajitas at the cantina. Comfortably stuffed, I strolled into the casino and cashed my last $10 coupon before heading home to Texas. When it was all said and done, I’d cashed $150 in coupons, locked up almost $400 in winnings, picked up a free shirt, a bag of “treats” for the kids, and enjoyed a great meal in the process - all with no out-of-pocket risk.
Some people call it a “coupon run.” I call it “Cashless Craps.” No matter what you call it - there is nothing like beating the house with their money. In fact, it is one of the smartest “advantage” plays around.
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