The first comp (or complimentary) that most blackjack players receive are free drinks (including alcohol). Playing at a blackjack table in Nevada you will most likely be offered free drinks by the cocktail waitresses. Tipping is always appreciated and will encourage the waitress to stop by more often. You should, of course, watch your intake of alcohol, but if you are going to consume alcohol you should get it for free. I never pay for alcohol while in Las Vegas. Neither should you.
How much do these Free Drinks cost you?
You already know how to play basic strategy and how to calculate your expected loss per hour. Let’s assume you are playing a typical blackjack game with a house advantage of 0.50%. You are betting $5 per hand and will, on average, play 60 hands per hour. That is $5 * 60 in action for a total of $300 per hour or an expected loss per hour of $1.50 ($300 * 0.50%). Keep in mind that this is your average expected loss, your real loss each hour will vary considerably over time, but will average this amount over the long-term. Also, don’t forget to hand the dealer your players club card when you start to play. You probably will not earn much in extra comps playing $5 per hand, but it never hurts. Who knows you may get on their mailing list and receive a discount room offer in the mail.
What Value should you place on Free Drinks in Las Vegas?
If you value free drinks at $2.50 each and consume 1 drink per hour, you are actually earning $1.00 per hour ($2.50 drink value – $1.50 blackjack loss). So instead of paying for drinks, you are getting them for a $1.00 discount. This is one of the ways that I originally built my blackjack bankroll. I deposited into my blackjack bankroll $2.50 for every drink I consumed for free. This more than offset the real loss from playing blackjack. I will discuss more about bankroll management in the future.
The value you place on free drinks is up to you, but I feel that $2.50 is appropriate. A good way to come up with a value for free drinks is to think about what you would pay for a drink at your local pub or bar.