Lessons of the road
In my advantage play travels over the years, here are some of the things that I’ve learned from experience. Of course, “your mileage may vary,” but spending a few minutes reading and thinking about these points may help you avoid wasting time and money in planning your trips.
- Spending too much time scouting casinos on cheap itineraries with little flexibility. For great opportunities, I have sometimes canceled non-redeemable flights, but often the games are just above average with little heat. Conditions may change by the time I revisit the casino.
- Not paying enough attention early on to the real cost of foreign currency exchange. Also, figuring out simple things in advance like the casino's currency and table limits. There's no sense in bringing $50k to a game that has 2 x $34 maximum bets (true story).
- Traveling too heavy and being afraid to just throw away any unnecessary things. Heavy luggage can lead to back problems, which is only worsened if you maintain "poor body posture" or have to stand for hours on end while “on the AP clock.” Most of my personal possessions are still in boxes as I recently moved to a new home, but I have learned to live comfortably and happily out of my suitcase. So can you!
- Not having a “Plan B” in place in case you quickly get backed off or flyered all over the town. The absolute worst is getting on a cruise and finding out you’re no longer welcome to play any card games, even though the cruise was comped by the casino. Can you even walk off at the first port of call and fly to another destination? I sure was tempted but made my Plan B to just ride out the cruise. What a waste of time, though I suppose it was somewhat relaxing.
- Unless you're ready to board the flight tomorrow, the latest "hotspot" being shared among AP’s is probably already burned out. If you've heard it from two or more different sources, at least 50-100 people probably know about it. If you still decide to check it out, make sure to bring a rental car and be prepared to drive to the next casino town to find similar plays.
- This item only applies to those trying to make advantage play a long-term career: Taking too many chances with playing simple count games and getting identified or databased, to the detriment of more advanced and easier-money plays.
Three things to always do:
- Help others before helping yourself.
- Network only with smart, dedicated, and trustworthy people.
- Carefully check references before becoming involved financially with anyone. Though most AP’s are trustworthy, there are some bad ones out there, too. The good ones are happy to provide references.
vagabond is a long-time professional player who travels internationally in pursuit of advantage-play opportunities. He welcomes additions to these lists from others.
Originally published on bj21.com Green Chip, edited for this format.