Understanding the basics of America’s most popular player’s club
By Michael Shackleford
“At the Diamond Level, lots of perks kick in—including access to VIP lines, private registration rooms and the Diamond lounges, which provide beverages and snacks. In addition, you receive better offers, free bonus reward credits and golf discounts.”
Wherever you choose to play, understanding how the casino’s player reward program works is always advisable. Not only do you earn points for your play, which can be used for comps and sometimes free play or cash, but you can also expect to get valuable offers by mail from the casino, in accordance with the level of your play.
The better you understand how your program works, the more you can expect to get out of it. In my experience, one of the trickier programs to fully comprehend is Harrah’s Total Reward program. Base credits, bonus reward credits, tier credits…it can get a bit confusing. The purpose of this article is to explain the basics.
First, like most player reward programs, Harrah’s has a tiered reward system. The higher your tier, the better your perks are. Here are the various levels, from lowest to highest:
Gold: The entry level. New players are immediately entitled to discounts in the casino and offers based on play. All members may go to Harrah’s website and peruse a list of available offers.
Platinum: This second level affords some perks above gold, like free gifts and tournament entries. However, this is a fairly easy level to attain, so don’t expect to be treated like a VIP.
Diamond: At this level, lots of perks kick in—including access to VIP lines, private registration rooms and the Diamond lounges, which provide beverages and snacks. In addition, you receive better offers, free bonus reward credits and golf discounts.
Seven Stars: I don’t know much about this level, but I think it comes with more personal attention from casino hosts and the best offers. I’m told that members are entitled to a free cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Line.
Chairman: A little-known level that is only available to a small number of the highest rollers.
Next, I’ll explain the different kinds of credits: Base Reward Credits, Bonus Reward Credits and Tier Credits.
Base Reward Credits and Bonus Reward Credits are, essentially, worth the same. Playing just about anything in the casino (poker being an exception), as well as certain purchases, earn one or both kinds of points. The rate at which Base Reward Credits are earned tends to be open and straightforward, while it’s often a mystery for players how Bonus Reward Credits are earned. Each 100 credits of either kind is worth $1 in comps. (Personally, I think it would simplify the program a great deal to combine these two kinds of points together.)
Tier Credits are generally earned at the same rate as Base Reward Credits (poker is the only exception I know of). However, they are not cashable; they are only used to advance through the tier program. Here are the point requirements for each level:
Seven Stars: 100,000 and be in “good standing.”
Chairman: Unknown, but it is rumored that the top player at each property attains this level automatically.
There is a one-day shortcut for the Tier program: if 2,000 points are earned in a single day, Platinum status is attained, while 3,000 points in one day will bump the player to Diamond status. These rules may vary by property.
Finally, here are some details on the rate at which points are earned for different kinds of games and purchases.
Slots: Every $100 bet earns 20 Base Reward Credits, for a comp rate of 0.2%. Bonus Reward Credits are earned a rate unknown to the public.
Video Poker: Total Rewards literature says that every $100 bet earns 10 Base Reward Credits, for a comp rate of 0.1%. However, I have heard that the rate is sometimes lower for the most liberal games. Bonus Reward Credits are also mysteriously earned in video poker. I believe looser pay tables earn Bonus Reward Credits at a slower rate, down to none at all.
Table Games: In my experience, table game players earn Base Reward Credits very slowly. Based on my experience at Harrah’s Las Vegas, I earned about 3.2 base reward credits and zero bonus rewards credits per $100 dollar bet in pai gow. This equates to a comp rate of 0.032%.
Sports: Every $100 bet earns a sum of 25 Base Reward Credits and Bonus Reward Credits. I don’t know how the 25 points are divided between the two types, but either way it equates to a comp rate of 0.25%.
Racing: Every $100 bet earns a sum of 200 Base Reward Credits and Bonus Reward Credits. Regardless of how they are divided, the comp rate is 2%.
Keno: Every $100 bet earns 60 Base Reward Credits and 90 Bonus Reward Credits, for a comp rate of 1.5%.
Poker: 28 Tier credits are earned for every hour of play. So no comps for poker play, but you can move up in tier status.
Purchases: Every $100 spent earns 20 Base Reward Credits and 80 Bonus Reward Credits, for a comp rate of 1%.
Base Reward and Bonus Reward Credits don’t expire as long as you don’t allow more than a year to pass between gambling sessions. Tier credits reset to zero at the beginning of each year. A tier earned in one year will usually remain until March 31 of the following year.
A piece of advice I would like to add is that Harrah’s offers are said to be strongly correlated to a player “average daily theoretical,” which is how much a player can expect to lose per day based on his gambling activity. For this reason, it would be disadvantageous to use your card on a day when you don’t play much, since it would lower your average. A Harrah’s day does not necessarily start at midnight, but may start at any time. I’ve heard 6:01 AM is a common starting point for a Harrah’s day.
Hopefully this offers some clarity as to how Harrah’s Total Rewards works, and will help you to capitalize on this extremely program. This information is based on what I’ve been told at Harrah’s Las Vegas, and what I’ve learned from other players familiar with the system. Details may vary from property to property, so please take everything I wrote with a grain of salt.