by Jean Scott

A few years ago, Brad and I were at one of our favorite casino “homes,” The Orleans in Las Vegas, a large brightly-lit, very attractively-themed casino off the Strip.  We were playing video poker within sight of the high-limit area, where we noticed a man, sharply dressed, playing all by himself, at a $25 video poker machine.  He seemed very serious, like he was concentrating hard.  I watched him out of the corner of my eye for a while, and he looked like he was having anything but a good time.

Then I saw his machine light start blinking; he had hit a royal flush.  This being a $25 machine, the royal was worth $100,000!  Because it was in the high-limit area, which was empty at the time, this man didn’t have a crowd around him, no onlookers celebrating with him and congratulating him and getting a vicarious thrill by imagining what they would do with that much money.  He sat alone and silently at his machine, waiting to get paid, still looking so serious.

So I walked over and congratulated him on his jackpot.  He didn’t seem the least bit thrilled; he didn’t even smile.  I was more excited than he was, just seeing a $100,000 royal on the machine.

I had to ask him, “Aren’t you excited?”

And he answered, “Well, yeah, but I’ve dropped a hundred grand into these machines over the last few days.”

I later talked to a casino employee and she said that he was probably right: The royal had just gotten him even.

A few weeks later, we were in a tiny shabby casino in North Las Vegas, in a blue-collar neighborhood.  Brad and I were there only because of a valuable coupon play.  When we had entered the casino, we had passed a man, dressed in dirty working clothes, playing a penny slot machine.  We had noticed him immediately because he had a woman hanging on both sides of him and they all three were laughing and joking, smoking cigarettes, and enjoying their free drinks.  This trio was definitely having a good time.

Brad is always interested in offbeat characters, so he walked over to see what was going on.  Though you could bet up to 120 pennies a hand on the slot machine, the man was playing only one penny at a time.  Brad commented, “You sure look like you’re having fun.”

And the man replied, “We’re having a blast!  You know, your money lasts such a long time on these machines!”

The Cult of Personality – With which of the above gamblers do you more closely identify?  Or do you fall somewhere in-between?  Are you an extrovert who simply loves to play, whether it’s penny slots, craps, or the big six, always rooting loudly for your money and making fast friends with other players at every turn?  Or are you an introvert, cool and calculating, playing blackjack, video poker, or baccarat on your own terms for your own reasons?

Conversely, are you a grim introvert who stands, dark and determined, at a crap table, while everyone else is cheering and hooting, slapping high fives with their friends, and swilling and spilling beer after beer?  Or are you a flamboyant extrovert, trying to yuk it up with a blackjack table full of players trying to concentrate on basic strategy or the count?

I often thought, though vaguely, that personality types corresponded to the choice of games in a casino.  But I never realized how specifically they could correspond until I read an article in Casino Player Magazine by Henry Tamburin, called “Choosing the Right Game for Your Personality.”  Henry came up with a very clever typology (a system for classifying behavior based on universal characteristics) that casino patrons could use to determine if they’re playing the game that best suits their personality.

Henry identified 10 personality types, which he matched up with the best casino games for them.  I was happy to see a category called “Frugal,” which Henry defined as “Someone who hates to spend money and wants to get as much value as possible.” And which gaming activities do you suppose best suited the frugal gambler?  Brilliant deduction, Holmes: video poker and slot club promotions!

For “Extrovert,” Henry recommends craps, though I might add Let It Ride, where you’re all rooting for the dealer to turn up good cards, and the big six, which is so mindless that there’s nothing else to do but cheer for everyone’s number.  “Introvert” types, according to Henry, do better at slots, video poker, roulette, and mini-baccarat, though I might add poker to that list.

Henry also lists “Risk Taker,” (keno, progressive slots, and crap prop bets), “Competitive” (poker and tournaments), “Flamboyant” (baccarat, blackjack, craps), “Intuitive” (Let It Ride, Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud, and the new slot machines), “Thinking” (blackjack, video poker, poker, and tournaments), “Insightful” (card counting, video poker, and comps), and “Feeling” (slots and video poker).

Are You Ripe for a Type? – Some of these categories, of course, overlap.  Thus, Henry’s typology would identify our $25 video poker player above as a Risk-Taking Thinking Introvert, and our penny slot gambler as a Feeling Flamboyant Extrovert.  Both were certainly playing the right games for their gambling types.

I’d describe myself as a Frugal Insightful Extrovert, since I like to play video poker and focus on promotions and comps.  And I am friendly and outgoing to my fellow players — both at nearby machines and anywhere else on the floor I might wind up during my wandering breaks (as anyone who’s ever met me in a casino will surely testify!).

But what about you?  If you can apply the above typology to yourself in such a way that it fits, then you’re on the right track.  If, however, you think of yourself as a Flamboyant Competitive Risk Taker and you’re playing roulette or slots, it might explain why you’re not getting as much enjoyment as you want in a casino.

Jean Scott is one of the country’s most renowned and successful gamblers and has appeared on many TV shows, including 48 Hours, where Dan Rather gave her the nickname of Queen of Comps. Her first book, The Frugal Gambler, has been a best-selle. She also wrote a sequel, More Frugal Gambling, and a tax guide for gamblers. She provides a complete resource package for video poker players, from beginners to the experienced. She also has two other books: Frugal Video Poker, and the must-have Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide. Her Web site is www.queenofcomps.com

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