Updated Dec 3, 2017
Approaching the end of the year, it is a good idea to make sure you know where you stand with the Total Rewards program. Since tier points reset on January 1 and tier points determine what level you reach for the year, which you keep for 5 months into the following year, as well as which milestone perks such as Diamond Aspirations, if you are close to reaching a higher tier, you may want to put in extra play.
If you normally play poker (for example), some levels may be just slightly out of reach, but they don’t have to be!
Instead of 5 months, reaching Seven Stars means you get to stay that level for the entire next year. If you are within 15,000 tier points, it is a no-brainer as you would be unlikely to lose more than you’d receive in perks. A short list of the perks include: $500 dinner credits, Annual Getaway w/ airfare that includes $500 credit, free cruise on Norwegian minus taxes, complimentary rooms when available, amazing Bahamas package, plus others.
I’d recommend reaching Diamond no matter how far away you are for residents of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or Reno where you may take advantage of the Diamond Lounges. The Diamond Lounges amount to free drinks and a free meal every day. For other locales, it may also be worth it depending on the level of Diamond Lounge perks and your proximity to a hotel.
Diamond Aspiration I
Diamond Aspiration I is a free 4 night stay with $100 credit. This could be as valuable as $1200 depending on how it is used. There are not any blackout dates that I’ve found at most resorts in the Total Rewards portfolio. I’m using my Aspiration I for the 4 nights up to and including New Years. I’d recommend reaching this level if you are within 7,500 tier credits.
Diamond Aspiration II
Diamond Aspiration II provides the same free 4 night stay but also includes airfare which could make this even more valuable to you. It also provides you with a Diamond companion card which could make a friend very happy and the Bahamas package is a significant upgrade over lower tiers. Definitely reach this level if you are within 7,500 tier credits, but it may also be worth playing for 15,000 tier credits as well.
I just booked my 2-Night Stay Las Vegas Suite stay on the Las Vegas Strip for New Years Eve at the Cromwell. I booked it in mid-November and while a comped room is no longer available at the Cromwell, I saw some other properties where it could be used. At least keep this in mind for next year. That is a $1200 value before I even used the 4 nights and airfare.
Tips for playing without breaking your bank!
Read. Practice. Read.
I’d recommend that you never walk into a casino and gamble without thoroughly knowing the math behind the game you are playing. But I’ll get to that in a moment…
Total Rewards Multipliers
The reason I put most of the above categories in the range of 15,000 tier credits is due to Total Rewards daily multipliers. When you earn 2,500 tier credits, you will earn a 5,000 point bonus (total 7,500). When you earn 5,000, you will earn a 10,000 point bonus (total 15,000). These bonuses allow you to play a third as much as you would have to if you spread out your play over multiple days.
If you don’t have the stomach or ability to play this much, don’t do it. You must understand before entering that even though you are supposed to only lose a certain amount, you COULD lose much more, but you still have to play for the tier multiplier else it is all for nothing.
Additionally, it is pointless to play more than 5,000 or somewhere in between 2,500 and 5,000. Stop at one of the two and come back the next day if you like.
Pick the right game!
This is the most important step. I will try to explain this adequately and efficiently, though getting your best odds can be very complicated.
First, for the sake of this discussion, I’d recommend avoiding table games. Though with big enough play, you could do just fine on table games, most of us are risk averse and you would have to wager much more per bet to make it on table games.
Now, let’s say you are playing $5 Wheel of Fortune in which you earn 1 credit for every $5 you bet. Though just a guess, that slot machine probably has an earn rate FOR the casino at 20%. In other words, you are expected to lose 20% of every dollar you bet. To reach 5,000 tier credits, you will have to wager $25,000. At 20%, you are expected to lose $5000. Doesn’t sound too good just to get a $1200 trip does it?
Alternatively, sprinkled through Total Rewards casinos are video poker machines that pay back very well to the smart player. Let’s say you decide on the $1 Bonus Poker machine at the Rio. To earn 5,000 tier credits on this machine would require $50,000 to be wagered (I’d recommend splitting it up into two days as it will take a while). However, video poker is based a little on skill so the casino lets smart players have a much better pay back than uneducated players. Let’s say you studied and practiced this game at home and had your iphone app ready to tell you the proper holds. In that case, this game would only be expected to win 1% of the amount you wagered. So you would only be expected to lose $500 to earn your 5,000 tier credits.
Sounds better? It is. Not only would you earn $50 in Rewards credits and the perks of your new level, you’d also receive mailers with more cashback. I know players that manage to beat the casino in the long run by strategically using the mailers and playing perfect video poker.
The best game in all of Total Rewards properties is in Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. It is a 3 play or 5 play Jacks or Better machine with only a 0.4% hold if played perfectly.
To find a game for you, use this amazing site: VP4Free
Learn Video Poker
There is always a catch. Just finding the machine with the best pay back is not enough. If played improperly, you could end up losing as much as 10% easily.
There is no crash course I can give you, but fortunately there is plenty of software and apps that will guide you. You can even use an app at the machine to determine the best hold, the casino does not mind this. Follow the links below to learn about properly playing video poker. Please don’t decide to just go play craps until you get 5,000 tier credits! That is burning money!
Wizard of Odds – Good articles and strategy guides
Programmer needed… there are some but I don’t feel comfortable recommending any, good luck. You can always access Wizard of Odds with a browser.