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What is Theoretical (or "Theo")?

August 14, 2020

One of the most (if not the most) popular question we get is “What is theoretical?”. Average Daily Theoretical (or “Theo”) is a number value that casinos use to determine your worth to them on a daily basis.

They use it to answer their question, “How do we expect Player X will play each day while they stay at this property?” Theoretical score is what’s used by casinos to determine what rate you’ll pay to go on future trips, and is how Grueninger Travel determines who will qualify for our VIP-exclusive trips.

Our agency and the casinos we work with analyze a few different key values to determine and understand how players will play. In this post, we’ll go through the most common key values including Theoretical, Tier Score, Coin In, and a few others, to help you understand why you are, or are not getting the offers you receive.


Theoretical is an average value that represents what the casino expects the player to play on a daily basis. After a trip is completed, our agency is able to look at your play for the previous trip, and going forward, able to send you offers based off your previous play. While there’s many different factors to consider when viewing someone’s play, the most important value we consider is Theo, and it’s what’s most important to casinos, and agencies like ours.

A casino’s goal with reviewing your theoretical, is to get you the most appropriate comps based off your play. Our role as your Independent Casino Rep, is to get you the best comp available.

From the Player’s perspective

Theoretical is important to understand as a Player. Understanding what causes your theoretical score to increase and decrease is important to know if you’re looking to maximize your comps, get more VIP invites, and in general, get the most out of your play.

From the casino’s perspective

Theoretical is important for casinos to accurately track because it helps them keep your comps at an appropriate level. It’s in both parties (yours and the casinos) interest to keep the comp level reflective of your play level. Under compensating players hurts the player directly in what they receive from the casino. Overcompensating players will benefit them in the short-term, but may lead to a misunderstanding and frustration when they don’t receive the same compensation in the long-term.

From Grueninger Travel’s perspective

It’s our goal as your Independent Casino Rep to make sure that you are receiving the appropriate comps based off your play level. We’re able to track your play across all casino groups which allows us to get the most accurate picture of how you play, and advocate to casino groups when you aren’t getting the comps you deserve. This is a huge advantage we have over casinos because as your host, we have the most accurate picture of how you play across casino groups that aren’t connected and don’t share data between each other.

How is Theoretical calculated for slots players

Theoretical is calculated slightly differently across casino groups (MGM, Caesars, Casinos at Sea). At a high-level view, it breaks down to the following:

(Average size of bet) x (Hours played per day) x (Spins per hour) x (House Advantage)

  • Size of bet - This one’s pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. Playing a higher average bet per spin, will net you a higher Theo
  • Hours played - The more you play per day on a trip, the higher Theo you’ll generate
  • Spins per hour - The more spins you play per hour, the higher Theo you’ll generate
  • House Advantage -This one’s a little trickier. Essentially, games that have lower win rates, will generate a higher Theo. Penny slots have an approximate 92% win rate per dollar, 8% House Advantage. High limit slots have an approximate 96% win rate per dollar, 4% House Advantage

How is Theoretical calculated for table game players

(Average size of bet) x (Hours played per day) x (Hands per hour) x (House Advantage)

  • Size of bet - This one’s pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. Playing a higher average bet per hand, will net you a higher Theo
  • Hours played - The more you play per day on a trip, the higher Theo you’ll generate
  • Hands per hour - The more hands you play per hour, the higher Theo you’ll generate
  • House Advantage -This one’s a little trickier. Essentially, games that have lower win rates, will generate a higher Theo. For example, playing perfect strategy single-deck blackjack will win at 99% per dollar, 1% House Advantage 

In summary

More important than anything, you should always play to what you can afford to play, and even more importantly, play what’s fun for you to play! There isn’t a comp available that’s worth it if it’s stressful and not enjoyable to achieve. At a very high level view, playing more, at a higher rate, on riskier machines, will generate a higher Theo than playing a little bit here and there, on table games that are less predictable than a slot machine

Theoretical vs Tier Score

Another popular question we receive is “If I’m 7-star, why do I not qualify to go on this trip?” Again, this is a great question to ask. Maximizing the value and benefits you receive from casinos is important.

Tier score is a cumulative score. As you play through the year, your tier score continues to build until it eventually resets at the end of the year. For example, Caesars slot machines reward 1 reward credit for every $5 played through the machine

Theoretical is an average value.If you think about it from the casino’s perspective, it’s the answer to the question “How much should we expect Player A to play per trip?”

A player who plays for 1 hour per day because they live near a Caesars casino, may be a 7-Star, but also have a low Theo score. This is because on average they play 1 hour per day, and casinos will estimate that if they go on a four-day trip to Laughlin or Atlantic City, they’ll play 1 hour per day there as well.

We can make exceptions for loyal players who consistently book with us, and if you have any additional question, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Something to consider and remember, is that some players may have a high tier score and a high Theo, but not all players who have a high tier score will have a high theoretical.

Coin In

Theoretical generally values consistent play more than total coin in the machine. If two players put $1,000 into a penny machine, and a video poker machine, played consistently for an hour, which do you think would generate a higher theoretical? 

If you guessed the penny machine, you’re correct! Penny machines pay out at ~92% win rate while video poker pays around ~98%. The penny machine player may generate the same Coin In over the course of an hour, but they’ll always generate more Theo over the video poker player because of the difference in House Advantage.

How you can increase your theoretical

The shortest answer to how you can help increase your theoretical score is to simply play longer, or at higher denominations. If you’re already playing at the highest level you’re comfortable with, let’s consider a few factors about how you can maximize your playing score.  

  • Playing machines with a higher House Advantage will improve your theoretical. For example, slots will generate a higher Theo than table games
  • Think about what you value most from your play. If getting the most Rewards Credit possible is your priority, then you should always play with your card, even if its just for a 30 minute stop. If maximizing your Theo is most important to you, it may not be in your best interest to play that same 30 minutes on your card. Casinos track the 30 minutes of play as 1 day, and will take that into consideration when they’re looking at how you plan on average, in 1 day.

One important note on "Days" -- If you're traveling with Grueninger on a charter or VIP trip, casinos will look at your total play per trip as a sum, and average for the total days on the trip. If you decide to play for only 30 minutes one day on a 4-day trip, that play will be counted to your total play on the trip, and ultimately divided by 4 to calculate your Average Daily Theoretical. If you find yourself playing a short amount of time the night you arrive or before you leave, or take a day-trip off-property, this ultimate won't penalize your average daily play over the course of a trip.

If you’re still reading, I hope I’ve helped paint a clearer picture! It can certainly be challenging to understand, but once you grasp the concept, it should help set a more accurate expectation about how and why you’re receiving the comps you are.

If you have any questions at all, reach out to Joe at Grueninger Travel!

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