Walking up to a blackjack table as a novice player can be intimidating—unless that player is armed with a small plastic confidence booster called a WIN CARD. These palm-size marketing and learning tools are game-specific and designed to assist casino operators in introducing new players to live table games.
“For the beginner, WIN CARDS speed up the learning process. A new player only needs to consult WIN CARDS for a few hands until they figure out what their options are and can make decisions for themselves,” said Ted Gottlieb, president of Gaming International Inc., which is located in Lake Tahoe, Nev. Gottlieb and Pam Butler, the director of marketing, handle the WIN CARD program.
WIN CARDS were created to battle the decline in the number of people playing live games at casinos and to help casinos market their games to new players. Gottlieb, a former craps dealer, noticed crowds of people passing his table at the casino and he realized it was because no one knew how to play.
“There’s a silent crowd of people who want to learn and play but only watch or walk by,” he said. “Many people who come to the casino are not predisposed to gamble. The WIN CARDS program is designed to entice those people to try out the game. Gaming lessons seemed incomplete and I knew I needed to make a tool to capture people during lessons.”
Players turn the dial on the WIN CARD and the dial arrow points to what the dealer or dice show. Windows on the card suggest what action the player should take. For example, the blackjack-specific WIN CARD shows when to hit, stand, double down and split pairs.
WIN CARDS are designed solely to assist beginners, not to help experienced players. They will not increase the skills of existing players. The cards have intentionally limited strategies printed on them.
“Casinos should embrace these cards and the cleverly designed program to get them into people’s hands,” Gottlieb said. “We are all about assisting casinos in marketing their live table games.”
The illusion of the words “WIN CARDS” evokes confidence in players, suggesting they can play table games.
“There is still a layer of people who frequent casinos and do not play. I call them ‘lookie loos.’ They can be enticed to do so with the right effort,” Gottlieb said. “They are frequently in the company of players, and with the right tools and encouragement from the players they are with to get the WIN CARDS, they can become players themselves.”
After a new player’s first gambling experience, Gottlieb said they usually take their WIN CARDS up to their hotel room or home and compare their play with the basic strategy offered on the WIN CARDS. The player gets excited to try something new next time. It gives them a reason to return to the casino’s live games.
Gottlieb estimates that the WIN CARD program has introduced more than 10 million people to live casino games since the program’s inception in 1986. WIN CARD use on live games is approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The program has been utilized in more than 185 casinos, cruise ships, river boats and tribal casinos.
WIN CARDS are customizable and come in a three-pack that includes a WIN CARD for blackjack, roulette and craps. To purchase WIN CARDS, the casino visitor must join a casino’s players club. Casinos pay $5 per tri-pack of WIN CARDS and usually sell them for $20. The casino makes a profit of $15 at the point of sale and then gives out $30 in the special non-negotiable, free-play casino chips. The chips are valued at half of their face value. This valuation of the chips zeros out the transaction. Most players buy-in for more money after their play with the special chips, Gottlieb said. He added that the best way for a casino to evaluate the program is to track the subsequent buy-ins made by those who purchase WIN CARDS.
“The evaluation always comes up positive,” Gottlieb said. “If you can entice someone to play the live games, the small stake that they start with only lasts a couple of minutes and it sets the stage for the additional buy-ins. Simply stated, once the ice is broken, subsequent buy-ins are more likely.”
A pink slip of paper is inserted in every WIN CARDS package. It reads: “Please present this coupon to your casino dealer. It will be played with your bet. If the bet wins, the dealer will receive a $1 tip. Thank you for participating in the WIN CARDS program.” The intention of the coupon is to show beginners the etiquette of tipping the casino dealer without it costing them anything. WIN CARDS customers have stated that they felt more comfortable approaching the game knowing that they had something for the dealer, Gottlieb said.
The bottom line is that WIN CARDS increase people’s affinity to table games and encourage more people to gamble—and more gambling equals more money to the casino.