Always sign up for the casino’s reward program. I’ve never understood the paranoia some players have about these programs. Yes, playing with your casino rewards card allows the casino to track your play. This is very valuable information. You’re letting the casino look over your shoulder, so to speak, and observe your gambling habits. In exchange for this information, the casino offers a variety of perks: from discounts at the dining venues to automatic bonuses while you play to entries in sweepstakes and giveaways. Even if you don’t intend to stay long or play much, you should sign up for the program. Casinos always have incentives and promotions for new member sign-ups.

Here’s what the casino cannot do with the information you give us: we cannot affect the outcome of the games you play. There is no office where we sit with a big red jackpot button and decide who wins and who loses. We cannot tap into your bank account or access your social security card. And we don’t sell your information to third parties or share it with the government unless you win and we have to report it to the IRS or you’re caught laundering your drug money, in which case signing up for the rewards program probably isn’t a good idea.

Ask and you shall receive. The people who work in guest services put up with a ton of shit. If you are polite, good looking, friendly in a non-creepy way, and actually spending money at the casino and not trying to get something for nothing, guest services will bend over backwards to comp you. What does this mean? It depends on how much money you’re spending, but it can mean free meals and hotel rooms, a limo ride home, concert tickets, green fees, invitations to the tribe’s luxury box at pro sporting events, etc. Typically, only the head(s) of guest services can authorize high-level comps, so find out who they are and ask them directly. The easiest way to do this is to pick up a house phone (they’re everywhere if you look for them) and ask to speak with the director of guest services. Use your common sense: don’t ask for a free buffet on mother’s day when the line stretches out the door. And if the casino has a hotel always, always, always ask for a free night. Many Indian casinos struggle to put bodies in the beds on a regular basis and they want to keep you on the property.

Indian casinos can be dangerous places. Be extra mindful when entering or leaving an Indian casino as the guests drive like maniacs. A bad night on the slot machines can negatively impact a guest’s concentration. Worse than the losers are those whose eagerness to gamble makes them reckless with anticipation. This goes double on weekend nights at casinos that serve alcohol, particularly those in remote locations. At Thunderclap, a state road runs along the edge of the reservation, separating the casino from the shops and fast food restaurants across the street. Even though there’s a stoplight exclusively for pedestrian use, every year someone gets killed. They see the bright lights and think they’re at Disneyland and get mowed down by a pick-up truck.

Be safe with your money. You wouldn’t flash your bankroll in a 7-Eleven, so you shouldn’t do it at a casino. Don’t let the fancy chandeliers fool you. If you stood at the entrance for an hour and saw all the people they let in the place you’d watch your back a lot more carefully than you do. Casinos are reasonably safe, but remember the casino is mostly interested in the security of its own money, not yours. Case in point, if you’ve won big and you’re not a particularly attractive man and you suddenly find yourself receiving amorous attention from a beautiful young woman, you should be very suspicious.

Also, watch out for tweakers.

The best deals at an Indian casino are usually in the restaurants. Most casinos have a food and beverage department headed by an experienced chef, but they’re probably not pouring their heart and soul into preparing the menu for the buffet. (There are exceptions, however.) The best value in the house can generally be found at the fanciest restaurant. The price of the least expensive entrée is likely comparable to what you’ll pay for a trip to the buffet and you’ll have a much better culinary experience. Also, lines for the buffet can be long and time-consuming, particularly during peak hours and holidays, while the upscale restaurant sits relatively empty.

While we’re on the subject of food, find out what the casino does well. Are they known for their prime rib? Seafood spread? Do they have a pastry chef that serves up astonishing desserts? It pays to find out. While the lines for the prime rib or seafood buffets may be prohibitive, chances are these menu items will be excellent everywhere in the casino. For example, Thunderclap has a pastry chef that regularly wins awards for her cakes. She supervises the entire department. So not only are the desserts in the high-end restaurants exceptional, but the sweets at the coffee cart and in the bingo snack bar are pretty amazing, too. And they cost a lot less.

Finally, if you’re over three-hundred pounds and so is your wife and your children are well on their way to childhood obesity and early-onset diabetes, please don’t be rude to me while you ask for directions to the buffet for I will not be able to conceal my contempt for you and the decisions you make for you and your family. I’ll be honest with you, I’m not even going to try, and all of us will be worse off for the encounter.