It’s Not Like That – Gambling With An Edge

In addition to being posted on, these weekly blogs are also posted on, where there is a forum for reader discussion. Recently, a man who posts as “Boris from Switzerland” wrote (slightly edited): Change of subject: Why has Boyd stopped offering multipliers to everybody, and why did they clean out their casino floors by removing their 99.50% and higher games? This is something I don’t like at all. 

While I’m not a big fan of Boyd and the gambling decisions they have made, Boris has misstated what they are actually doing.

First, at Boyd you must “qualify” to earn any slot club points — multiplied or not. And the basis for qualification is based somewhat in mystery. When you first get your card, you are “Ruby” level. To receive slot club points, you need to move up to their second tier, which is called “Sapphire.”  

The definition of Sapphire, 750 tier credits – 14,999 tier credits per qualification period, seems straightforward enough. The “mystery” part of it is how much you must play in order to earn a TC. Loose video poker, of which there is precious little, earns TCs very slowly relative to coin-in. Tighter video poker and slots earn TCs much faster for the same coin-in.

Your TCs are not displayed on the reader while you are playing. Only your “session points” are, and only then if you are at least Sapphire. If you haven’t obtained the Sapphire level, the display shows that you are earning zero points for your play. Which you are, if you’re talking about slot club points (which are different than TCs). If you go to the kiosk, however, it will tell you how many TCs you’ve earned so far and how many you need to obtain the next tier level.

Once you’ve obtained Sapphire level, your session points are displayed on the card reader, and if you pull and re-insert your card, it will tell you how many TCs you have earned today. It’s cumbersome, but the information is available.

At Boyd properties, they have a Young at Heart (YAH) program which is for players 50 years and older who are Sapphire level or higher. At Las Vegas Boyd properties, Tuesdays are YAH days, and YAH members receive 10x slot club points and some Bingo free packs. 

Some Boyd casinos offer additional 10x point days. Occasionally these multipliers are offered to everybody, of whatever age, whether they have reached Sapphire level or not. Each casino has a monthly calendar of events near the slot club booth which tells when such multiplier days are being played and who is eligible. Or you can ask at the booth and they’ll tell you.

Now for Boris, who lives in Switzerland and visits Vegas a few times a year for a week-or-so at a time, this is a distinction without a difference. He’s probably not going to be earning enough to be Sapphire level each year (especially without receiving multipliers and mailers along the way), so for him there are no multipliers ever. The fact that this upsets him is not surprising.

Insofar as loose video poker goes at Boyd properties, in addition to progressives which are positive some of the time, most of these casinos have a bank or two of machines marked “up to 99.8% return.” These can include such games as 9/5 Triple Bonus Plus, NSU Deuces Wild, and 9/6 Jacks or Better, along with several others. These are all single line games for 25¢, 50¢, $1, and maybe at a few of the casinos, $2. 

Since Boris limits his gambling to loose video poker, these are the machines that will be most attractive to him. They will earn TCs at a very low rate, but they will earn them. Whether it’s possible to earn Sapphire by playing two solid days of $1 NSU on these machines, simply because I don’t know the conversion rate between slot club points on these machines and TCs.

Should Boris ever earn Sapphire, he’ll now receive 10x multipliers one day a week should he be at least 50 years old. For video poker, a 10x multiplier converts to a half-percent. He’ll retain his status until the next calendar year, but he’ll have to keep playing at that level to retain that status.

So, back to Boris’ original question which was, “Why does Boyd do this?” Not being a mind reader and having no inside information at all, I conclude that Boyd has made a conscious decision to market to locals and not out-of-towners. And locals who are at least 50-years-old get the best benefits. Presumably Boyd has calculated that specializing in just these players is the best decision for their bottom line.

Boris, however, isn’t in the preferred demographic. He’s old enough, I believe, but is only an occasional visitor to Las Vegas. So, it’s probably a smart decision on his part to avoid Boyd casinos. There are numerous other casinos in Las Vegas which will welcome his action without penalizing him for not living close by.