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A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES: KASEY KAHNE’S PIT CREW

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MARCH 2014 Vol. 16, Issue 2 SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

SOUTH BOUND ON THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI:

VISITING

NATCHEZ

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SPIN IT WIN IT TO

Big Brands with Bally Technologies Including

ZZ TOP

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March 2014

CONTENTS

ON THE COVER

Tips & Columns

Highlights & Hotspots

10 Spin It To Win It:

14 Video Poker:

36 Horsing Around with

Big Brands with Bally Technologies including ZZ Top

Tax Tips

21 Craps: Turning Bad Bets into Good Bets

FEATURE ARTICLES

28 Blackjack:

16 Hot Slots of 2014

52 Poker:

2014 Casino Slot Guide

The Skinny On Spanish 21 Mathematics in PLO and Phil’s Flaw

22 Slot Floors of the South:

Michael Beychok: 2012 National Handicapping Champion

42 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi: New Tower Has Platinum Power

48 A Look Behind the Scenes: On The Inside Track with Kasey Kahne’s Pit Crew

Top Places To Play

32 Finding the Focus:

A Valuable Horseracing Lesson in the Art of Multi-tasking

38 Down The Stretch:

Handicapping the 2014 Triple Crown Series

38

44 South Bound on the Mighty Mississippi: Visiting the Charming City of Natchez, MS

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44

SOUTH E R NGAM I NG.COM

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LETTER

from the Publisher

UP FRONT with G. DOUGLAS

PUBLISHER

Bisig Impact Group CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Larry Bisig PRESIDENT & CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Did you know over 70 percent of American gamblers prefer slot machines to table games? And, 60 percent of slot players say they prefer small, more frequent payouts to larger, sporadic ones? I find this interesting because we all want to win big, right? In an article from VegasInc.com, author Ron Sylvester references a study that says the expectations of slot players is shifting from purely winning, to playing the machines for other reasons such as to relieve stress, for entertainment or to kill time. While the study shows that more females feel this way than males, in the end it’s all about the value of time versus money and your predetermined expectations. When I say time versus money, I am not talking about hiring someone to cut your grass instead of doing it yourself. I am talking about what you want to get out of your time at the machines. While we all want to win big, in the end there will be more losing slot sessions than winning ones. It’s about stretching your dollar as long as possible for the time you are playing. Say your bankroll is $200 and you plan to play for two hours. You don’t want it all gone in 20 minutes. Even if you’re ok with losing it all that night, you want your bankroll to last the full two hours or you will end up sitting at the bar waiting for your friends or hitting the ATM for more cash. So if you are expecting a losing session, you can at least expect an entertaining session that leaves you 4

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feeling like you got value from your investment. Casinos and slot manufacturers provide this feeling by bringing slot players some of the biggest names in the world. Michael Jackson will sing for you when the reels line up correctly. Hugh Hefner and his Playboy bunnies will grace the screen when you get a bonus. Or, walk with the cast from hit TV shows like Star Trek and Walking Dead. Every year the machines get more interactive, with more bells and whistles, and this year is no exception. This year, some of the biggest names are back with ZZ Top, Back to the Future and more. On page 16, slot guru John Grochowski highlights some of the top slots of 2014 that will all give great entertainment value with every gaming session. Besides having great games to play, the environment in which you play is another factor in entertainment value. Casinos go to great lengths to create welcoming slot floors, considering everything from aisle width to lighting and chairs, because they know the more comfortable you are, the longer you will play and the more entertainment value you will get from your gaming session. Be sure to check out some of our favorite slot floors of the South on page 22. Whether you are playing in Tunica or Biloxi, these hot spots for slots won’t let you down! This issue also includes a new feature that gives an insider’s look at different professions and what it’s like to do what they do on a daily basis. And, we give you a behind-the-scenes look at one of the hottest pit crews in NASCAR, Car No. 5 for Kasey Kahne. To compete at this level, it takes more than a great driver. It takes a great team. Check out the article on page 56. We hope you enjoy this issue, as it is once again loaded with great tips, articles and reviews! If you can’t be good… be lucky!

G. Douglas Dreisbach

GENER AL M ANAGER

Chip Dumstorf GENERAL MANAGER

G. Douglas Dreisbach MANAGING EDITOR

Roger Angel ACCOUNTING

Peggy Harris CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS

Linda Boyd Beth D'Addonno Bruno Dejulio Eric Floyd John Grochowski Phil Hellmuth, Jr. Bryant Long Frank Scoblete Henry Tamburin Bridgette Varone Letters to the editor, address changes and other correspondence should be sent to: SOUTHERN GAMING AND DESTINATIONS

640 South Fourth Street Louisville, Kentucky 40202 (502) 583-0333 Fax (502) 583-6487 e-mail: editor@southerngaming.com The goal of this publication is to help drive awareness of the evergrowing popularity of the gaming industry and to assist the gamer in enjoying their gaming experience to the fullest. Southern Gaming and Destinations is published for those who seek the best in gaming and in life, and is produced bimonthly by Bisig Impact Group of Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright 2004 by Bisig Impact Group. All Rights Reserved. This publication is printed by Publisher’s Printing Co., Inc. of Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Postage is paid in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky. Opinions of columnists are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor does Southern Gaming and Destinations assume liability for claims of advertisers. POSTMASTER: Send

address changes to Southern Gaming and Destinations, 640 South Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202.


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MACAU 2013 CASINO REVENUE ROSE TO $45.2 BILLION It looks like the billions of dollars invested in Macau by the world’s leading gaming companies will pay off sooner rather than later. Further proving the Chinese market is the largest casino market in the world, Macau’s 2013 casino revenue was $43.2 billion, a 19% increase over 2012. This compares to $6.4 billion reported by Las Vegas, and that is with a 3% increase. In addition, the forecasts predict another 20% increase in 2014, with revenue hitting $77 billion by 2017.

SOUTHERN GAMING'S BEST BITES: Great Food Finds of the South OLD COUNTRY STORE

18801 Highway 61 S., Lorman, MS 601.437.3661 John Lovitz

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comedic trio’s combined résumés include regular appearances on SNL, as well as an array of comedy specials, movies and live performances. This will be a night to remember, as IP Casino’s entertainment never disappoints. Showtime is 8:00 PM and doors open one hour prior to the show. Tickets start at $30, plus taxes and convenience fees. Guests must be over 21.

If you’re driving Hwy. 61 between Natchez and Vicksburg, don’t miss out on some of the best fried chicken in the South. It might not look like much from the outside but the Old Country Store dishes up chef Arthur Davis’ delicious fried chicken – perfectly light, crisp and oh-so-juicy. Chef Davis keeps it coming with small batches prepared throughout the day, so what you get is always piping hot. Alton Brown described it as “Colonel Sanders pole dancing.” Now that’s pretty darn sexy for chicken, but trust me on this one, you have to try if for yourself.


ASK THE EXPERT CRAPS: FIVE COUNT PLAY Dear Frank:

Fallen Oak Golf Course

SIPS WITH SOUTHERN GAMING: Devil’s Cut by Jim Beam

MISSISSIPPI GULF RESORT GOLF CLASSIC RETURNS TO FALLEN OAK MARCH 20-23

2014MGRC.com | 228.896.6365 The boys are back in Biloxi! Don’t miss your chance to see some of the top golfers on the PGA Champions Tour compete for a purse of $1.6 million at one of the top golf courses in the region, Fallen Oak. Last year’s champion, Michael Allen, took home $240,000 for his efforts and full field is expected again this year. Fred Couples won the event in 2012. The event began in 2010 and has generated over $55 million for the regional economy, and over $750,000 in assistance for local non-profit community charities. Tickets are only $15 and children under 15 are free.

DEVIL'S CUT BY JIM BEAM

Age: “Extra-aged” 6 year old Jim Beam Bourbon Proof: 90 Retail Price: $24.99 (750 ml) Manufacturer: Beam Global Devil’s Cut by Jim Beam might be one of the most unique bourbons on the market. This is the first bourbon that we know of that uses a method that pulls out whiskey that has been trapped deep inside the wood of the barrel after it has been dumped. This extracted bourbon is then added back to the barrel to age another 6 years! The result is a flavor with fire, spice and sweetness for a well-rounded, oak and nutty finish. For more bourbon reviews, visit SouthernGaming.com or check out what our friends have to say at BourbonBlog.com.

SOUTHERN GAMING’S DERBY POKER CELEBRITY BOURBON BASH IS BACK!

DerbyPokerChampionship.com 1.877.582.9478. If you play poker or are looking for a great Derby party, Southern Gaming has an event for you! Don’t miss our Derby Poker Celebrity Bourbon Bash hosted by Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum and Poker pros Phil Hellmuth, Jr. and Robert Williamson III. Held on Thursday, May 1 in Louisville, guests will enjoy an evening with premium bourbon bars, themed food stations and a lively dance floor, not to mention the poker pros, celebrities and race fans who will be playing poker for cold hard cash! Tickets start at $100 and include food, a premium open bar and full access throughout the event. Proceeds benefit Blessings in a Backpack and Thoroughbred Charities of America. Tickets are on sale now so don’t miss out.

I like to play the Pass Line plus odds, and two Come bets plus odds in craps. How would I use the 5-Count method? Do I play the Pass Line with no odds and wait for the 5-Count, and then play odds on the Pass Line and then my two Come bets plus odds? Or should I wait for the 5-Count and then play three Come bets plus odds, or play the Pass Line plus odds and then wait for the 3-Count and start to play my Come bet plus odds? Thanks, -Tim Dircksen

Hi Tim, You can use any of the methods you mention in your letter but I have become extremely conservative over the years. Here is what I would recommend: Wait until the 5-Count is completed and then put up a Come bet (or Pass Line if the shooter is on a Come Out after the 5-Count). Then you can continue with Come bets until you have the number of bets you desire; in your case that would be three. By waiting for the entire 5-Count before you wager anything you will be cutting down the number of random rolls you face, thus reducing your losses immensely. You will, as always, be on any of the long rolls should a shooter get hot. All the best in and out of the casinos! -Frank Scoblete Frank Scoblete is one of the world’s leading gambling authors with best-selling books, Beat the Craps out of the Casinos, Golden Touch Blackjack Revolution, and Beat the One-Armed Bandits. Find out more at FrankScoblete.com

Got a gaming question? Email your question to editor@southerngaming.com and one of our gambling experts will give you the answer!

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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FACTS & FUN

DID YOU KNOW

2 3 4 5 6

WHAT IS THE NAME GIVEN TO A POKER PLAYER WHO MAKES HIS LIVING AT THE CARD TABLE? A. Rounder B. Winner C. Hooker D. Gambler

WHY DO SLOT MACHINES HAVE FRUIT SYMBOLS? A. Fruit signifies luck B. To determine what flavor gum the winner received C. To attract players’ attention D. Fruits provide more color variety to machines

Got a fun quote, joke or fact? E-mail it to jokes@southerngaming.com for your chance to win casino coupons from The Comps ClubTM !

WHAT IS A ROW OF SLOT MACHINES CALLED? A. Row B. River C. Bank D. Line

THE LIGHTEST JOCKEY ON RECORD WEIGHED IN AT: A. 67 lbs. B. 84 lbs. C. 56 lbs. D. 49 lbs.

The average number of years in a racehorse’s career

Probability of an overall win in blackjack

42%

The average number of spins one slot machine can play per hour

3

830,000

25

Number of slot machines located across the United States today

A BLANK SPOT ON A SLOT MACHINE REEL WHERE THERE IS NO SYMBOL IS CALLED (A): A. Empty B. Ghost C. Blank D. Phantom

IN BLACKJACK, THE SEATS POSITIONED AROUND THE DEALER ARE CALLED: A. Bases B. Home C. Seats D. Points

“Did You Know” Answers: 1. A-Rounder 2. B-To determine what flavor gum the winner received 3. C-Bank 4. D-49 lbs. 5. B-Ghost 6. A-Bases

8

-OVID

| SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

THE SUDOKU PUZZLE

4 8 3

2

Complete the grid so that each column, row and block of nine squares includes numbers 1 through 9 only once. Answers on Page 52

3

9

5

1

8

Up to the challenge?

6 9 4

5 8

2

4

8 7

2 1

9

1

9

1

7

4

Game courtesy of Sudokutoday.com

1

?

“A HORSE NEVER RUNS SO FAST AS WHEN HE HAS OTHER HORSES TO CATCH UP AND OUTPACE”


BEAT THE HOUSE

wiTh The comps clubTm and Southern GaminG & DeStinationS Live the good life as a seasoned gambler with The Comps Club™ from Southern Gaming & Destinations Magazine— your one-stop shop for all the latest in gaming news and highlights. Hit the jackpot with tips and insights from the most esteemed gaming experts! Enjoy property reviews, as well as special offers and discounts at your favorite gaming locations throughout the South, all for just $29 a year!

C C SUBSCRIBE and receiVe: • One-Year Comps Club Subscription • 6-issues of Southern Gaming and Destinations Magazine with great gambling tips, articles and casino property reviews. • 6-Member Coupon Paks loaded with special offers and discounts to casinos and gaming properties throughout the South. • Special invitations to events throughout the south.

TM

GeT Coupons in:

TuniCa-MississippiLouisiana-GuLf CoasTindiana-fLoRida and Mo Re!

subsCRibe Today foR JusT $29!

• Travel advice and property recommendations.

To subscribe, scan This code, or call 1-877-582-9478 or VisiT SOUTHERNGAMING.COM


2014 CASINO

SLOT

GUIDE

Spin It To Win It BIG BR A N D S W I T H B A L LY T E CH NOL O GI E S I NCL U DI NG Z Z T OP ! by

L

ICENSED THEMES HAVE long been a small part of the mix of games at Bally Tech nolog ies. So when Bally decided to expand its presences in the segment – boom! It did it in a BIG way. Michael Jackson King of Pop. Grease. NASCAR. Pawn Stars. And, of course, Betty Boop: Fortune Teller. Some of the biggest, brightest, glitziest, bonus feature-laden games have been coming out of the design studios at Bally. And now, you can add the new ZZ Top Live From Texas, Grease Pink Ladies, Titanic, and the Magic of David Copperfield to that mix – big titles, done in a big way. Just ask Jason Stage, Bally’s director of game development, about ZZ Top. 10 |

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

JOHN GROCHOWSKI

There’s no hiding his enthusiasm when he describes the Live From Texas free spins event, which puts the player right in the middle of a ZZ Top concert crowd. It’s on the V22-32 cabinet with a 32-inch video screen on top of the 22-inch screen for the base game, and with Bally’s special chair providing SurroundSound, excitement builds through sights and sounds of the concert. “There are three free spin events; you’d have to call Live From Texas the marquee event,” he said. “The player gets to choose volatility. You can win six free games with a five times multiplier, or 15 times two – it depends on how you want to take your risk. During those free games, there’s a fully rendered concert scene where the

perspective is as if you’re at a ZZ Top concert. We have a band digitally of ZZ Top off stage, and on top we have the Jumbotron, which shows footage of the ZZ Top Live From Texas concert. It’s fully synced in SurroundSound, and it’s fully synced in video.” Bally figures the game will make a big splash, but then, making big splashes with themed games is a regular occurrence for Bally. “Those games have really taken off,” said Mike Trask, corporate communications manager for Bally Technologies. “In fiscal year 2013, gaming operations brought in $400 million. That’s a 27 percent increase over 2011. In two years, we’ve seen that 27 percent increase in the game operations segment, and that’s


certainly been aided by titles like Michael Jackson King of Pop and NASCAR, which have brought some new eyes to Bally Games.”

Top Live From Texas, and Titanic.

Fortune Teller uses Bally’s U-Spin technology in some bonus events. U-Spin has become a staple in Bally’s premium slot products, with an onscreen wheel to touch, drag and let go to give it a big spin. Fortune Teller also uses the iDeck that turns button panel space into an extra touch screen. Maybe you’ll get your palms read. Maybe you’ll choose among healing crystals or zodiac signs – the technology allows Bally to offer a slew of choices for players within the bonus package. It’s no wonder Betty Boop slot fans are flocking to get their fortunes told.

out, Michael Jackson Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, which looks and feels a lot like the first game, but we added some new songs. That one is performing very well, too, and we’re getting tremendous feedback from players.”

“Most importantly, it’s been an exciting game for the players. The U-Spin technology allows people to spin the platinum record [to see what bonus event BETTY BOOP The image of iconic cartoon flapper Betty they’ll be playing]. The free spin games Boop has been part of the Bally family pay out well. They’re exciting. To be able to experience a song like ‘Smooth Criminal’ since the 1990s, gracing threeor ‘Beat It’ in that chair reel games before moving onto with the SurroundSound video slots. Betty and Bally have “Some of the pumping up the volume been an ideal match for each biggest, brightest, while you’re winning other, right through the current m one y c e r t a i n l y i s hit Betty Boop: Fortune Teller. glitziest, bonus something players are Fortune Teller dresses Betty in going to enjoy.” A followfeature-laden seer’s togs for a five-reel video up game, Michael Jackson slot packed with special features. games have been Wa n n a B e S t a r t i n’ There are three progressive jackpots and 15 different bonus coming out of the Somethin’ is keeping the winning beat alive. events. The top progressive can design studios at be connected to Bally’s Cash “At the end of the day, it’s Connection wide-area link so Bally.” the players who decide play in different casinos feed into how long the games are the same, large jackpot. Fortune on the floor, and that one Teller can also be set to link only jackpots has been out for well over a year,” Trask within one casino. said. “Now we have the second game

Betty has done great things for Bally, but Bally’s themed-game success really took off with the 2011 unveiling of Michael Jackson King of Pop, another slot on the Cash Connection. MICHAEL JACKSON

“First of all, it’s Michael Jackson,” Trask said. “He’s probably the most famous pop artist in American history. Not only is he extremely popular in the United States, he’s popular around the globe, so the game has translated very well to Latin America and other regions around the world. Michael Jackson King of Pop was the first with the SurroundSound chair. Since then we’ve taken that chair and used it on a variety of games – Grease Pink Ladies, ZZ

Bally has been parlaying its biggest themes with its Cash Connection, which makes million-dollar-plus jackpots possible through its wide-area links. Three of the hottest new Bally titles – Grease Pink Ladies, Titanic, and The Magic of David Copperf ield – are a ll Cash Connection games. ZZ TOP LIVE FROM TEXAS

Then, of course, there’s ZZ Top Live From Texas, which will you have rocking through its collection of bonuses and music. Stage, who plays in a rock/blues band himself, has a special affinity for ZZ Top. “First and foremost, when we looked at the brands and the success that we had with Michael Jackson and the entertainment of such a powerful musical property, when ZZ Top came up it was amazing to see the power and the reach of their brands,” Stage said. “They’ve been a band since 1969, and they have the rock and the blues age demographic that fits right in the sweet

spot with casino gaming. You look at their tours and how much they were playing at casinos, and how much their music has become classic, a part of our fabric. A lot of that is soundtrack to our lives. We were excited when were able to work with the property.” As exciting as the theme is to work with, game designers still had to make it work as a game of chance. Stage said he was most proud that ZZ Top is an excellent slot game. It’s a 30-line video slot with a high hit frequency. Bonuses unlock with an additional 20-credit bet, so on a penny machine, you’re looking at a 50-cent bet to cover all the paylines and be bonus eligible. “Bonuses go into a whole map of events,” Stage said. “One of them is Bally’s proprietary instant win – we call it the Just Got Paid feature. Just Got Paid is either SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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2014 CASINO

SLOT

GUIDE

and the U-Spin bonus wheel resembles the ship’s helm. When players spin it, it will determine their bonus. There are two different free game features, a pick’em feature, as well as a safe bonus.” Bally Technologies continually finds new ways to use its U-Spin technology. Titanic is all decked out in U-Spin features. Bonus events are selected through a representation of the engine order telegraph – the wheel-shaped ship’s control marked off in segments including stop, slow, half and full. For game purposes, the segments correspond to awards and events. Land on the segment marked “safe,” and you go to the Safe Bonus that Trask mentioned. Use U-Spin again, this time on the combination dial on the ship’s safe. One possibility is entry to a finely appointed ship’s stateroom for a pick’em bonus. When you win big, the celebration includes the famous moment in the movie when Leonardo DiCaprio, as Jack Dawson, stands on the prow and shouts, “I’m king of the world!” while coins fly across the screen. THE MAGIC OF DAVID COPPERFIELD

an instant win or a backdoor into the free games. With three bonus icons on the reels, you get the ZZ Top Wheel [a U-Spin event]. You have a chance at either getting a cash-spin – we call it the money wheel – or the Sharp Dressed Man free games, the Legs free games or the Live From Texas free games. It’s not just an experience with the graphics and the animations; the audio in our games is the best in the world. The experience of sitting in that sound chair and having that experience like you’re in there, that to me was the essence of what we wanted to get in the broad scope.” Whether you’re a ZZ Top fan or not, the game is built for entertainment. That’s what Bally is striving for as it makes its licensed-theme games. TITANIC

“Titanic is the second highest grossing movie of all time,” Trask pointed out. “The game includes scenes from the film, the music from the film, including ‘My Heart Will Go On.’ You’ve got to have that in there. The game includes U-Spin, 12 |

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

The popular stage magician is the star of the game, which includes two free spin events and two mystery bonuses to go with the progressive jackpot. Some of Copperfield’s most iconic illusions come into play. In the Death Saw Bonus, you touch the screen to switch on the saw. In other events, the Statue of Liberty disappears and Copperfield flies over the reels to leave wild symbols. “David Copperfield is a worldwide phenomenon,” Trask said. “He’s still selling tickets every night here in Las Vegas. People love him. Many of the bonuses are released through what we call the Death Saw. We promise, no death for anybody the game, but it’s a fun little feature where instead of a wheel, you have a saw that spins around. It awards credits, where you can get the progressive jackpot, as well as a pair of free-game features. Each feature has clips from some of his legendary performances.” GREASE PINK LADIES

“This is our second Grease game, and it is really an entirely new look and feel for us

to use on the Grease franchise,” Trask said. “The first game did fairly well. But this one looks and feels completely different. It is on our Pro 22-42 cabinet. So it’s on our biggest cabinet that we’ll use for our premium games, with a 22-inch high-def screen and a 42-inch high-def screen stacked on top of that – just a beautiful looking game. The 42-inch screen comes with a façade on it that is bright pink and really captures players’ attention. “There are several bonuses within the game. It was developed by a fairly new studio of ours in Reno. We’re really excited about it. It’s going to look great on casino f loors. Grease includes all the great songs from the movie, all the characters from the movie and it will have three bonus experiences. It has random wilds, multipliers, and it will be a Cash Connection game. There are a few pick’em bonuses that players will experience throughout the game.” To find out more about Bally Technologies and their products, visit BallyTech.com


Cash Wheel™ featuring Quick Hit™ delivers the fast-paced fun of Quick Hit, plus the thrill of Cash Wheel. The Cash Wheel Bonus awards a Quick Hit pick’em feature that can lead to one to three Cash Wheel spins for generous credit awards! You can also win up to 12 Free Games, multipliers, or one of five Quick Hit-style progressive jackpots! Two proven player favorites combine to deliver outstanding entertainment and multiple ways to win!

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| BallyTech.com © 2014 Bally Technologies. All rights reserved. Images are for illustration purposes only and are subject to change.


PLAYER STRATEGY

M

VIDEO POKER: Tax Tips

ARCH IS A WONDERFUL TIME of year, especially in Southern states; however, if you didn’t get ahead of the game by completing your taxes in February then you may be stressed over finding all the data needed for tax preparation. States differ over whether or not you can write off your losses to the extent of your winnings, but it’s the same for all on federal returns. FORM W-2G

If your game is video poker or slots then you’ll get a W-2G form any time a single jackpot is $1,200 or more. A matching copy, of course, goes to the IRS. If your game is keno, then the W-2G is given for Jackpots of $1,500 or more. For pari-mutuel pools, including horse and dog races, your winnings are subject to withholdings, but only if the amount is both more than $5,000 and at least 300 times as large as the money bet. Be aware that the IRS is onto a collection of losing racetrack tickets that have shoe tracks on them, especially if they come from tracks far apart on the same date. FORM 5754

Sometimes gamblers are sharing either lottery tickets or jackpot winnings. If there are two or more in on the pool then nobody wants to be stuck paying taxes on the entire amount, so if you’re the one holding the hot potato make sure you complete a 5754 form. You will only owe taxes on your share of the jackpot. CP 2000

The IRS sends this paper audit to you when the income and/or payment they have on file does not match the information you reported on your tax return. Your taxes could increase or decrease, or may not change at all. After I received this unpleasant news I supplied additional information and owed no additional tax on my gambling winnings. I did, however, assume that the IRS also sent the corrected information to Arizona and got a bad surprise a few years later when this turned out not to be the case. It took several weeks and many communications to unravel this mess. U.S. CITIZENS AND RESIDENT ALIENS

There’s both good and bad news for gamblers who reside in the United States. Although the 14 |

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by

LI N DA B OY D

withholding rate is only 28%, that’s neither a maximum nor a minimum. If you keep good records you can subtract your losses from your winnings and only owe taxes on the difference. The laws may change from year-to-year, but if you’re a really big winner, say the lottery, then you could end up owing a lot more than 28% or 30%. NON-RESIDENT ALIENS

If you’re a foreign citizen residing outside of the United States, both the tax rate and thus the withholding rate are 30%. The IRS already knows that you’re unlikely to file a special U.S. tax return so they make sure they get their money up front. In other words, if you win $25 on video poker or a slot machine the casino will deduct $7,500 from your jackpot and pay you $17,500. Be aware that you’ll probably be taxed by your own government as well. Because this is like a double whammy for gamblers, some countries have signed treaties with the U.S. protecting them from paying twice. RECORD-KEEPING TIPS

The IRS doesn’t just take your word for it that you lost the same amount or more than you won. Even though this remains a gray area in terms of what’s absolutely acceptable, it’s best to have as much substantiating data as possible. Here are some tips for keeping track of your win/loss data. 1. P lay With a Slot Card. Some players still insist they can’t win with a slot card inserted in the device. Not only is this untrue, but it could cost you money if you have a big win and want to write off your losses on your return. The casino only has win/loss data for those playing with a card. 2. Session Data. You may have noticed some players writing information after they finish a session of play. That’s another record that substantiates your gambling outcomes throughout the year. 3. Casino Statement. Most casinos will provide you with a win/loss statement for the year upon request. This is best when you stick to a few casinos since getting the record from dozens is impractical. 4. Save W-2G Forms. Remember that you can only fade your losses against your winnings.

Linda Boyd, a long-time table game player and knowledgeable video poker player, writes for Southern Gaming, Midwest Gaming and Travel and Arizona Player. Watch her videos on YouTube or on American Casino Guide’s website. Her book, The Video Poker Edge, includes free removable pay schedules and her free strategy cards for the most popular games. The 2010, second edition is on amazon.com and in various bookstores. Kindle edition is available.

“STATES DIFFER OVER WHETHER OR NOT YOU CAN WRITE OFF YOUR LOSSES TO THE EXTENT OF YOUR WINNINGS, BUT IT’S THE SAME FOR ALL ON FEDERAL RETURNS.” FOR MORE FREE TIPS, VISIT SOUTHERNGAMING.COM


PLAYER STRATEGY

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SOUTHERN SNAPSHOT: Shreveport, Louisiana • Marilynn’s Place for a Beignet and a Bloody Mary in the morning, or a great Cajun-inspired entrée at night. (318.868.3004, Marilynns-Place.com)

HREVEPORT – BOSSIER CITY IS LOCATED in northern Louisiana, just a few miles from the Texas border. Home to a handful of casino properties, a racetrack, great local restaurants, as well as plenty of parties, festivals and Southern hospitality, you owe it to yourself to make it a stop on your summer getaway. Whether you are looking for a Mardi Gras celebration or the chance to zip line over alligator infested waters, you will find it here.

STAY AND PLAY:

• Margaritaville Resort Casino is Jimmy Buffet’s latest creation. With its tropical atmosphere and contemporary rooms, you can’t go wrong. (855.346.2489, MargaritavilleBossierCity.com) • Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino is a regular winner of Southern Gaming’s Readers’ Choice Awards and another sure bet when it comes to great rooms, food and gambling. (877.429.0711, SamsTownShreveport.com)

Be sure to check out Shreveport-Bossier.org for attractions and more information about the area. Here are a few of our favorites to get you started: EAT:

CHECK OUT:

• L ilah’s Bakery at The Outlets at Louisiana Boardwalk for King Cakes and other tasty treats. (318.564.2831)

• Gators and Friends Alligator Park and Exotic Zoo for zip lining over alligator infested waters (318.938.1199, Gatorsandfriends.com)

• 2John’s Steak & Seafood for an elegant meal or relaxing live jazz in the lounge and bar area. (318.841.5646, 2JohnsRestaurant.com)

• Great Raft Brewing for locally brewed craft beer (GreatRaftBrewing.com)

• Wine Country Bistro for fresh Louisiana-inspired dishes with locally sourced ingredients and a vintage cocktail menu. (318.629.9463, WineCountryNet.com)

• Tubbs Hardware for unique, authentic Louisiana items (318.746.0311, TubbsHardware.com)

Where Luck Comes Your Way Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana

Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side is the ideal southern gaming destination with six riverboat casinos and one racino. The newest casino - Margaritaville Resort Casino - is situated steps away from the Outlets at Louisiana Boardwalk. Anticipation is mounting for the grand opening of Horseshoe Casino and Hotel’s $3.5 million tropical swimming pool called DARE set to open this summer. In addition to the gaming action, visitors love the fabulous entertainment, local dining scene, shopping and year-round festivals. To plan your trip today, request a Visitor Guide by calling 800-551-8682 or order one on www.Shreveport-Bossier.org. LouisianasOtherSide

@sbctb

1-888-45-VISIT

www.shreveport-bossier.org


HOT SLOTS of 2014

by

JOHN GROCHOWSKI

“...IF THE PRODUCT IS REALLY GOOD, IT’LL BE GROUNDBREAKING IN ITS OWN RIGHT, A SPIN ON SOMETHING OLD THAT’S BECOME NEW, DIFFERENT AND EVEN MIND-BOGGLING.”

S

OMETIMES SLOT machines are about bringing something new, different, even mindboggling to players. Sometimes they’re about putting players in their comfort zone with something familiar. After all, old favorites became favorites for a reason. Often, they’re about putting a new face on something that’s been around for a long time. And if the product is really good, it’ll be groundbreaking in its own right, a spin on something old that’s become new, different and even mind-boggling. 16

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Take TournEvent, the slot tournament system from Multimedia Games that’s one of the hottest new products around. Slot tournaments have been with us for decades, but they’ve long been low-tech affairs. Hosting tournaments required maintaining an area of special tournament machines, or changing games on the fly at tournament time. The setup needs to have all the contestants playing the same game, and installing tournament chips so the big winning combinations come up more often is part of the fun. With TournEvent, casinos no longer have to tie up floor space with tournament

machines that are non-productive outside tournament times, nor do they have to spend time roping off games of different themes so they can have game chips replaced and, in the case of mechanicalreel games, have the reel strips and glass displaying the game theme replaced. Instead, TournEvent allows casinos to convert linked machines from regular play to tournament mode in just 10 seconds. Casinos can run tournaments at any time, even in high-traffic areas of the casino instead of shunting them to the dark corners where the setup won’t get in the way of regular play.


MULTIMEDIA GAMES Multimedia Games has had TournEvent products since 2009, but the continual upgrades make it something new every year. It brings standings updates in real time, has camera capability for streaming video of contestants and the newest version has a Pop’n’ Win feature where players physically have to hit balloons or targets on the screen for additional points. Instead of just continually tapping the play button a la old style tournaments, players have to be ready with a two-handed attack when the balloons appear. With a national TournEvent of champions that culminated with a $100,000 winner in Las Vegas last April, TournEvent is well established and something new at the same time. Other new products we’ll be seeing in casinos in 2014 feature superhero favorites, Hollywood glitz, a touch of skill and plenty of life from the undead.

BALLY TECHNOLOGIES Bally consistently has some of the hottest themes around and this year is no exception, with Grease: Pink Ladies, Titanic, The Magic of David Copperfield and ZZ Top: Live in Texas (prominently featured on the cover of this issue!). The first three are on Bally’s Cash Connection, offering a lifestyle changing, wide-area progressive jackpot. All also have multiple bonus events playing off the sights, sounds and thrills of the Grease and Titanic movies, David Copperfield’s magic extravaganza’s and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top’s concerts. For more, see our cover story on page 10 where we highlight the games more in-depth. Bally has long been a leader in providing systems and management tools to casinos and players, especially with their DM Tournament System. Operated through Bally’s iView technology suite, Bally tournament games can run full-screen on machines from any manufacturer. That capability was used to wow the crowds at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut last year when the Guinness Book of World Records certified a 3,001-player event as the world’s largest slot tournament with the most machines running the same game simultaneously.

There are eight DM games designed for various tournament formats, including both video slot and video poker games. Machines can be converted instantly from regular play mode to tournament mode, complete with real-time leaderboards. So far, all DM tournaments have been at casinos that use Bally’s floor management system on their slots, but coming soon is a version that will allow Bally tournaments to be run through other manufacturers’ management systems.

WMS GAMING Much of the excitement at the WMS centers on Beetlejuice and Iron Man. Under its Beetlejuice license, WMS developed a game as quirky as the film, with both free spin and pick’em-style bonuses. The playing field is six symbols across and 10 deep. Film character symbols are oversized, taking up two spaces across, with most also being four symbols deep. Beetlejuice himself is six symbols deep with a 2-by-6 Beetlejuice taking up 60% of an oversized two-reel set – the look is striking.

screens, involves the player with direct and indirect emotive lighting, offers smoother reel animation and even brings video streaming capabilities to the slot floor. One ice-hot game for the Blade is Cool Jewels, a cascading reels game where wilds next to each other lock and move down the screen together. In an exploding jewels event, the value of the explosions increases as the round continues. In a trial run at the max bet level, each jewel was worth 20 credits early in the round, but 500 at the end. That can make for some hugepaying spins. Another new WMS concept is called Mega Symbols. In Baby Dolls, the game’s three characters are a rock band, with a blonde lead singer and two guitarists, one with red hair and one with blue. There are six reels,

The bonus package is where the film elements really come to the fore. One event that starts with a spin of a wheel on the screen has a giant fly leading the way to the graveyard. There, you pick from funeral cards marked “deceased” to collect bonuses. Watch out for Beetlejuice, though. He’s hiding under some of the cards and if you pick him three times – Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice – the bonus round is over. Iron Man has plenty of images, sounds and clips from the movie. Bonus rounds are iconic. Slot players will love seeing the Jericho missiles fired onto the screen to create winners. The playing field has 5 reels, each 12 symbols deep. The center 5x4 section is the bonus zone. You need the bonus characters to land in the zone to launch the bonus events. When Black Widow shows up, you want her in the bonus zone. Beyond the big licensed titles, WMS is rolling out games for its new Blade slot cabinet, which shortens the distance between its two high-resolution video

HOT SLOTS

of 2014

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2014 CASINO

SLOT

GUIDE

with the first and last being three symbols deep, and the other four each being four symbols deep. When a Mega Symbol hits, it fills all four middle reels. In one test, the blonde singer Mega Symbol came up, and a single image of her face filled 16 spots. Mega Symbols games pay both left to right and right to left, so if you have the Mega Symbol, a matching symbol either on the first or last reel will bring a big winner.

INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY If there’s a niche in the market, IGT always wants to have a product, or six, to fill it. Take Winner’s Choice. It’s a multigame extravaganza where players get four sets of reels at once. If they choose to use a four-game format, players can play the same game four times, or they can mix it up and play four different games. Available in the first release are Cleopatra, Treasure of Troy, Siberian Storm, Dazzling Diamond Queen, Super Lotus Flower and Wolf Run. There is a two-level mystery progressive jackpot with some really cool extra features where the player can customize their experience, like changing the music. In one bonus event, a wheel shows the silver and gold progressives, as well as icons for each of the six games. You could win one of the jackpots, or you could win free spins on any game – even one you don’t have active. IGT hopes that this will introduce players to unfamiliar games, and maybe even get some new fans. Centipede has a skill-based bonus. IGT went for an old-school video game feel, and it really came through. In the bonus event, you use a joystick to move into position, then use one of four buttons to fire at the crawling centipede, eliminating some segments for bonuses and sending the remnants on their separate ways. Destroy the centipede, and you level up for a more challenging round, bigger rewards and a ton of fun. Megajackpots games always are a highlight at the IGT, and the new Megajackpots thriller, Avatar, based on the film favorite, is no exception. One version is on the Center Stage platform with a huge dual screen overhead. It has multiple bonus

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features, including free spins, credit awards and scatter pays. Players can customize the games, change the sound and reel backgrounds, and earn experience points to unlock bonus events. You can create a log-on identity so you can pick up where you left off the next time you play. A second game, Avatar Treasures of Pandora, is on IGT’s Crystal Core cabinet with a 42-inch LCD display. The button panel is also a touch screen – a dynamic button panel – with one physical button called the Super Button. It’s a versatile device. You can push it like a button, move it like a joystick or spin it around. In one bonus event, Willow Glade, you can touch areas on the panel to move to different areas of the glade to make pick’em bonus selections. There are options aplenty. Back to the Future kicks off IGT’s Enhanced Content line with a concept that’s sure to attract attention from operators as well as players. Video slots’ peak popularity usually lasts only six months or so. IGT is moving to maintain popularity by building the sequel game into the original release. At first, only Marty’s Game will be available. But after six months, operators will be able to unlock Biff’s game. At that time, default graphics on an idle machine will be Biff’s game, but players will be able to choose either variation.

INCREDIBLE TECHNOLOGIES Incredible’s biggest hit has been Crazy Money, with different denominations of currency as reel symbols and unique angle pays. Titled bills form diagonal paylines, and since it’s the biggest denomination bills that get tilted, the diagonals signal big wins. Crazy Money is back in a new version called Money Inferno, with a $.15 minimum bet and a $.90 max. It keeps the dollar symbols and diagonal pays, and adds a devilishly humorous host to guide you into his Inferno nightclub to collect bonuses. The second King of Bling game, Iced Out, is a blast, with a couple of new features. One is Iced Out, triggered by diamond symbols on the first two reels. The diamonds are held, and everything else goes into re-spin mode. The diamonds dance, bounce, sway and spin in time to the music, and the

tempo picks up as the wins mount. The re-spins continue as long as they bring more diamonds, which lock into place. The goal is to ice out the screen, covering it in diamonds. The Bounce 2 Nite feature involves bouncing a flashy car. Touch the front left bumper, and it raises and bounces down with a crash, revealing bonus credits. Touch other areas of the car, and they bounce too. The awards are random, not determined by where you touch the car. Focus groups just liked making it bounce.

ARISTOCRAT TECHNOLOGIES The popular themed machines continue with Aristocrat Technologies’ Walking Dead. It is loaded with unquiet features including a Reel Growth format that adds extra spaces to create more potential winners. During normal play, there are six video reels, each four symbols deep. The middle four reels can grow to five, six or seven symbols deep. When the reels grow and the zombies start walking, you can anticipate a little gore, which actually turns out to be good for the player! In The Horde Bonus, the horde invades the


THE COMPETITION IS SWEET,

BUT ULTIMATE GLORY IS

GUARANTEED CASH PRIZES

The National TournEvent of Champions速 tour is back and BIGGER, BOLDER, and LOUDER than ever as it hits the road in the South! Visit www.TOURNEVENT.com to see where our tour takes us next! Check out these participating Southern United States casinos and be a part of TournEvent速 history!

SOUTH E R N GAM I NG.COM

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2014 CASINO

SLOT

GUIDE

Deal or No Deal has been Spielo's biggest game. The latest iteration, Deal or No Deal: In It to Win It offers a variety of new choices of games.

screen and leaves wild symbols behind. During a demo, one zombie took a shot in the head, splattering blood – and wild symbols – across the reels. When the blood starts flowing, so do the wins. With plenty of video clips and imagery from the TV show, Aristocrat anticipates this to be the start of a series of slots. A new game based on season three, which aired on AMC through March 2013, is in the development with release expected late in 2014. Also new is a Wonder Wheels series, with Batman among the first games. This one is based on the 1960s TV series starring Adam West. Side-by-side machines each have a wheel above to spin for bonus launches, then one large wheel that serves both machines for the big prizes. Land on Batman or Robin on the first wheel, and it takes you to the big jackpot wheel. Video and animation will take you right back to the days of the campy Caped Crusader. The Dynamic Duo climbs up the wall as bonuses mount. Along the way they confront old enemies – Julie Newmar as Catwoman, Cesar Romero as the Joker and Burgess Meredith as the Penguin. It’s flashy, over the top fun. 20

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GTECH Sphinx 3D is spectacular. Sphinx has been a great title for the company formerly known as Atronic, then Spielo International. In the new version, the 3D effects are spectacular. Coins from a big win seemed to jump right off the screen. Watch others play a bonus event – everyone seems to reach out for those virtual coins. Stacked wilds here are really stacked wilds. Coin-shaped discs depicting a scarab stack up on the same reel position. As the stack grows, it increases the number of times a winner is collected. If a stack of five scarabs is included in a winning combination, you collect once, and a scarab is taken away. Then you collect again, and again, and again, and again until the stack is gone. It’s a new way of stacking wilds that would work effectively only with great 3D. In a new play mechanic called Trigger Tiles, Spielo showed a game called Jungle Riches. The background on each symbol has a clay tile look until you start winning and shattering the tiles. On winning spins, the background behind the winning

symbols shatter, eliminating the tile look. Once all tiles on the screen have been shattered, you got to a bonus event. You know just how well you’re progressing toward the bonus by how many tiles remain on the screen. And you’ll learn to love scatter pays when they eliminate tiles on the fifth reel that otherwise would stay intact until five-of-a-kind pays. Deal or No Deal has been Spielo’s biggest game, and the latest iteration of the community-style Deal or No Deal: In It to Win It includes a choice of games. You can pick The Ladies, where the wild symbols are Wild Stacked Ladies, or the Howie game, with wilds surrounding Howie Mandel symbols. There also are twists in the briefcase bonus round. You could get a sneak peak, eliminate the lowest-paying case, turn two spaces into top jackpot spaces, and other perks. While it is hard to play all of the new games out this year, we hope you get to play some of these exciting new releases at a casino near you! Good luck!


PLAYER STRATEGY

CRAPS: Turning Bad Bets into Good Bets

M

OST GAMBLING WRITERS, me included, love to discuss house edges as if these are the be-all and end-all of what you need to know to play the games. If the house edge is higher than 2 percent I generally tell players not to make the bet.

one time when 3:3 is thrown and loses six times on the 7 and eight times on the 4:2, 2:4, 5:1 and 1:5. Therefore, you have 10 ways to lose and one way to win and are paid 9 to 1 if the bet wins. That gives the house a 9.1 percent edge over the player. The true payout should be 10 to 1.]

Superficially, not making bets that have house edges over 2 percent is a good thing, but what if you have a bet that has a 1.5 percent edge for the house and a bet that has 9.1 percent for the house – is there any way for those bets to reverse themselves? That is, can the higher house edge bet become a better bet than the lower house edge bet? Yes, such a thing is not only possible but it happens all the time, usually without players realizing it.

Why do craps players make such a terrible choice as betting the Hard 6? Because there is an emotional underpinning to those Hardway bets – they pay off at great rates. The Hard 6 (or Hard 8) pays 9 to 1, so if you bet $5 on the Hard 6 you stand to win $45 dollars, should that Hardway hit. Such a windfall gets the juices of many craps players flowing.

There is a way of looking at house edges, not in traditional terms but in money-lost-per-hour terms. We can also look at bets in terms of the number of decisions the bets have during the course of an hour and – here is the truly radical notion – how different amounts wagered affect such hourly loss rates. For some reason gamblers think they have to bet equivalent amounts to establish which bets to make. They don’t. If we take a look at the game of craps, we can see a multitude of bets coming in with house edges ranging from 1.41 percent all the way up to 16.67 percent. That is indeed some range, going from decent to totally lousy. So let’s take a look at two bets, one in the low house edge range and one in the high house edge range. The placing of the 6 at craps has a house edge of 1.5 percent, while the placing of the Hard 6 (that is a dice decision with the white pips showing 3:3) has a 9.1 percent house edge. On the surface there is no doubt that the placing of the 6 is the far better bet. Now, many craps players will place the 6 and then throw out a Hardway bet on the number as well. They stand to lose 1.5 percent of all the money they bet on placing the 6, while losing 9.1 percent of all the money they bet on the Hard 6. [As a point of information: The placement of the 6 wins five times and loses six times when the 7 is thrown. That gives the house a 1.5 percent edge over the player. The placement of the Hard 6 wins

Many craps players rejoice in such payouts, not realizing they are taking a serious hit on their bankroll by doing such a method of betting. If you like making Hardway bets you can have your cake and eat it too – if you are willing to use a little discretion in placing those bets. A place bet on the 6 (or 8) will lose you approximately 46 cents per $30 wagered. A bet on the Hard 6 will lose you approximately 91 cents per $10 wagered. Your combined expected losses making those bets will be approximately $1.37. To me, that is somewhat of a bad hit on your bankroll. Why not take down the bet on the Hardway to $5 and take down the bet on the placement of the 6 to $18? You are still in the action but now you face far less risk – and you still get the thrill of going after that Hardway payout. What is your risk in my betting scheme? An expected loss of $.27 on the placement of the 6 and a loss of $.46 on the Hard 6 adds up to a loss of $.73, far better than a loss of $1.37. By cutting back a little on how much you wager, you decrease the hourly hit on your bankroll tremendously. You still get action; you still get the thrill of going after the Hardways.

by

FRANK SCOBLETE

Frank Scoblete is a bestselling casino gambling writer. His newest book is Confessions of a Wayward Catholic. Frank’s books are available on amazon.com and Kindle, in bookstores or mail order. Call 1.800.944.0406 or visit frankscoblete.com.

“BY CUTTING BACK A LITTLE ON HOW MUCH YOU WAGER, YOU DECREASE THE HOURLY HIT ON YOUR BANKROLL TREMENDOUSLY.”

In essence, I am merely recommending reducing the total amount you bet on both good bets and bad bets to rein in your possible hourly losses. If you are the type of player that needs the thrill of a possible big payout, then going with a Hardway bet at a lower rate and reducing the bet on the place bets gives you the best of both worlds. FOR MORE FREE CRAPS TIPS, VISIT SOUTHERNGAMING.COM/CRAPS OUUTTHHEERRN NG SSO GA AM M IIN NG G..C CO M

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2014 CASINO

SLOT

COOKI NG

GUIDE

with Trisha Yearwood

Palace Casino Resort, Biloxi, MS.

Slot Floors of the South T H E MO S T E XC I T I NG PL ACE S T O PL AY

S

LOT MACHINE PLAY is at an all-time high, and casinos know it. Whether you’re enjoying the reels at a casino in Indiana or winning big on a glitzy Vegas floor, you will find that the machines once known as “one-armed bandits” are now centered around some of the most popular themes in the world, including chart-topping movies, games and music icons.

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Today, the slot machine manufacturing business is booming. As more casinos open and existing properties continue to expand around the world, everyone is looking to get their hands on the latest and greatest machines that they know their players love. So, where are the best places to play? While it ultimately up to each individual player, we have highlighted a few of our favorite casino floors and are sharing them in this article. We hope you agree!

PALACE CASINO RESORT

Biloxi, Mississippi 1.800.PALACE.9 PalaceCasinoResort.com Number of slots: 900 (+) Casino Size (square feet): 36,000 Why it’s a great place to play: Open 24 hours a day, Palace Casino Resort is the first and only smoke-free casino on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hot new slots include, Wheel of Fortune Triple Cash, Iron Man, Footloose, The Twilight Zone and more.


Hollywood Casino

HOLLYWOOD CASINO

Tunica Mississippi 1.800.871.0711 HollywoodCasinoTunica.com Number of slots: 1,200 (+) Casino Size (square feet): 54,000 Why it’s a great place to play: With more than 1,200 machines of today’s latest and most exciting slots to choose from, you can’t go wrong at Hollywood Casino in Tunica. And, it’s the first casino in Tunica to have Bally’s Hot Shot Cash Wheel Progressive – talk about awesome!

Gold Strike Casino Resort

Rising Star Casino

GOLD STRIKE CASINO RESORT

RISING STAR CASINO

Tunica, Mississippi 1.888.245.7829 GoldStrikeMississippi.com

Rising Sun, Indiana 1.800.472.6311 RisingStarCasino.com

Number of slots: 1,400 Casino Size (square feet): 50,000 Why it’s a great place to play: At Gold Strike, guests quickly learn that everything here is the best of the best. And the casino is no exception. With more than 1,400 of everyone’s favorite video poker, reel, video and progressive slot machines, it’s no wonder Gold Strike’s casino has been voted “Best of Slots, Tunica,” “Best Reel Slots,” and “Best Video Slots” two years running.

Number of machines: 1,200 (+) Casino Size (square feet): 40,000 Why it’s a great place to play: Rising Star Casino features an endless selection of nearly 1,300 of the most popular slot machines. Players enjoy everything from traditional reels and progressives, to video poker and video keno, with varying denominations including pennies, nickels, dimes and dollars.

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BEAU RIVAGE RESORT & CASINO

Biloxi, Mississippi 1.888.567.6667 BeauRivage.com

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino

Number of slots: 2,100 Casino Size (square feet): 85,000 Why it’s a great place to play: Boasting more than 2,100 of the most in-demand slot games available, the floor is always a thrill. Denominations range from penny slots to $100, and there are a variety of choices, from classic reels and video poker to new interactive favorites. Sam's Town Hotel & Casino Shreveport

Paragon Casino Resort

Sam's Town Hotel & Casino Tunica

SAM’S TOWN HOTEL & CASINO

Shreveport, Louisiana 1.866.861.0711 SamsTownShreveport.com Number of slots: 1,100 Casino Size (square feet): 30,000 Why it’s a great place to play: If you haven’t yet been to Sam’s Town in Shreveport, you’re missing out. There are over 1,100 slots, covering three floors of the spacious casino, and more, new hot slots arrive every week! SAM’S TOWN HOTEL AND GAMBLING HALL

Tunica, Mississippi 1.800.456.0711 SamsTownTunica.com Number of slots: 1,250 Casino Size (square feet): 66,000 Why it’s a great place to play: With two floors and more than 1,200 slot machines offering up to $25 denominations, you will definitely find the game you’re looking for. Video keno, video poker, or reel – Sam’s Town in Tunica really does have it all when it comes to slots. 24 |

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

PARAGON CASINO RESORT

Marksville, Louisiana 1.800.946.1946 ParagonCasinoResort.com Number of slots: 1,800 (+) Casino Size (square feet): 64,048 Why it’s a great place to play: With everything from the latest and greatest to your favorites classics, Paragon’s slot floor is always sizzling with excitement. The casino’s newest machines include Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Mummy, Back To The Future, and Let’s Make a Deal.


VOTED BEST CASINO THEME!

At Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, we strive to bring you the most rocking experience in Biloxi. Slots, table games, special drawings—we’ve got it all. With the addition of our new hotel tower, there’s even more room to rock. We also offer a wide variety of restaurants for every palate: everything from delicious American fare at Hard Rock Cafe and fine dining at Ruth’s Chris Steak House to fresh sushi, succulent steaks and local seafood at VIBE. And no Hard Rock Casino would be complete without bringing you the best in music and entertainment. Jazz up your evening at The Record Company, rock the night away at Road House Live or turn it up with all of today’s top performers at Hard Rock Live.

WINNERS PLAY HERE H O M E O F T H E L A R G E S T J A C K P O T I N M I S S I S S I P P I $1 4 , 3 8 7, 9 5 0

777 BEACH BLVD., BILOXI, MS 39530 | 2 2 8 - 3 7 4 - R O C K | HARDROCKBILOXI.COM


DELTA DOWNS RACETRACK AND CASINO

Vinton, Louisiana 1.800.589.7441 DeltaDowns.com Number of slots: 1,600 (+) Casino Size (square feet): 15,000 W hy it ’s a great place to play: Delta Downs features an extensive collection of over 1,600 of the most popular slot and video machines, including a separate high-limit lounge. With its exciting gaming action and friendly service, Delta Downs is the ultimate destination for slot aficionados.

Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO

Biloxi, Mississippi 1.877.877.6256 HardRockBiloxi.com

IP Casino Resort Spa

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PLAYER STRATEGY

BLACKJACK: The Skinny on Spanish 21

S

PANISH 21 IS A VARIANT of the traditional game of blackjack. Instead of the usual 52 cards per deck, the game is played with a 48-card Spanish deck: a standard 52-card deck with the four 10s removed.

**Because of the lower number of 10s, the insurance bet in Spanish 21, with a 2-1 payoff, has a much higher house edge than it does for blackjack. In fact, it is one of the worst bets in the casino.

Playing blackjack without the player friendly 10s is not good for players (the house edge zooms to roughly 2 percent). However, to compensate for the removal of the 10s, the playing rules for Spanish 21 are much more liberal than for blackjack. For example, if you get 21, you always win, even if the dealer has 21; you can surrender anytime, even after doubling, pair splitting, and hitting; and some hands, such as a five-, six-, and sevencard 21, pay a bonus.

If you’re getting excited about playing Spanish 21, listen up. If you play it like you play blackjack, you will get hammered. Why? Because with all the 10s removed, the ratio of low cards to high cards in Spanish 21 differs from blackjack. Normally, four out of 13 cards in blackjack are 10-value cards (30.8 percent). In Spanish 21, this ratio is reduced to three out of 12 (only 25 percent). In addition, if you get a 21 in blackjack, you don’t have a guaranteed win, whereas in Spanish 21, you do. The bottom line: these major differences in rules have a great affect on the playing strategy.

The table below summarizes the Spanish 21 playing rules and compares them to the traditional game of blackjack. *Spanish 21 is known as “pontoon” in Australia. The rules are similar to Spanish 21, with these notable exceptions: The dealer does not receive a hole card, you can redouble up to three times, and the Ace in pre-doubled hands counts only as one (instead of one and 11). Redoubling is a very player-friendly rule: after your initial double-down, you have the option to double-down again (up to three times).

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Here’s a concrete example: If you have a stiff 12 through 16 in blackjack and the dealer shows a 2–6, you simply stand (except you would hit 12 against dealer’s 2 and 3). With Spanish 21, hitting becomes more attractive because you have less chance of busting (remember, there are fewer 10-value cards) and if you hit to 21, you automatically win. Therefore, some of the traditional “stand on stiffs” becomes “hits” in Spanish 21, when your stiff


by

H E N R Y TA M B U R I N

PLAYING RULES: BLACKJACK VS. SPANISH 21* Number of decks

Blackjack

Spanish 21

1, 2, 4, 6, 8

6 and 8

Can hit or stand

Can hit or stand

Blackjack payoff

3-2 or 6-5

3-2

Player blackjack

Always pushes when dealer has Always wins, even if dealer has a blackjack a blackjack

Dealer soft 17 rule

Player 21 Doubling-down Double after pair splitting Late surrender Re-splitting pairs Insurance Bonus hands

Always pushes when dealer Always wins even if dealer has 21 has 21 Only after initial two cards

You can double on any number of cards

Usually allowed

Always allowed

Sometimes allowed

Always allowed; you can also surrender after doubling, pair splitting, and hitting

Usually up to three to four Up to four hands, including Aces hands, but not Aces Pays 2-1

Pays 2-1**

Rarely

• Five-card 21 pays 3-2. • Six-card 21 pays 2-1. • Seven-or-more card 21 pays 3-1 • 6-7-8 and 7-7-7 (mixed suits) pays 3-2 • 7-7-7 of the same suit pays 2-1 • 7-7-7 in spades pays 3-1 • $1,000 Super Bonus paid if player bets less than $25 and has suited 7-7-7 against any dealer 7 • $5,000 Super Bonus paid if player bets $25 or more and has suited 7-7-7 against any dealer 7. In addition, all other players get a $50 “envy bonus.” (Bonus payouts apply even if the hand was the result of a split, but not as a result of doubling.)

hand contains four, five or six cards. So, whereas the traditional basic strategy tells you to stand (or double) regardless of the number of cards in your hand, in Spanish 21, the number of cards in your hand can influence whether you play a hand one way or another. If you’re beginning to think the basic strategy for Spanish 21 is more complicated than it is for blackjack, you’re right. However, it’s not something you can’t master; it just takes a little more time to learn, compared to blackjack’s basic strategy. You’ll find accurate basic-strategy tables

for h17 and s17 on wizardofodds.com (Spanish 21 page). In addition, there is an excellent book on Spanish 21 written by Australian, Katarina Walker (The Pro’s Guide to Spanish 21 and Australian Pontoon), which also contains basic strategy tables, plus a detailed explanation of the strategy, including tips on how to learn it. (The house edge using the Spanish 21 basic strategy is only 0.38% for a six-deck game with s17, and 0.79% for h17.)

Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. He is the host of smartgaming.com and editor of Blackjack Insider newsletter (for a free three-month subscription, visit bjinsider.com/ freetrial). For a free copy of his Casino Gambling Catalog, which contains books, strategy cards and software for casino players, call 1.888.353.3234 or visit smartgaming.com.

“INSTEAD OF THE USUAL 52 CARDS PER DECK, THE GAME IS PLAYED WITH A 48-CARD SPANISH DECK: A STANDARD 52CARD DECK WITH THE FOUR 10S REMOVED.”

Note: Card counting works for Spanish 21; see Walker’s book for the details. FOR MORE FREE BLACKJACK TIPS, VISIT SOUTHERNGAMING.COM/BLACKJACK SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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H O R S E R A C I N G STORIES FROM A HANDICAPPING PRO

Finding the Focus

A VA L U A B L E H O R S E R A C I N G L E S S O N I N T H E A R T O F M U L T I -T A S K I N G by

BRUNO DEJULIO

Y

OU WOULD THINK AFTER some 23 years of clocking, watching and analyzing horses I would know everything there is to know but the truth is, I am still learning. I feel that as a workout analyst (or clocker as some call it), handicapper and bloodstock agent, owner/breeder, I have done my best and most competent work as of late. What makes me confident in my own personal assessment is my understanding of horses and what they do, think or feel. Now I feel I see things I didn’t see before, and the key to my progress and work ethic being much more advanced today is in understanding the true dynamics of an equine athlete. I cut my teeth in California and there was no better horse to learn from than Zenyatta, a super horse who won 19 of 20 races from 2007-2010, including back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Classics in 2009 and 2010. She had the ability to do just enough in the morning workouts, much to the dismay of her trainer, John Shirreffs. She would draw alongside her workmate, The Green Cat or El Vino, get in front in the upper stretch and then idle. Almost propping as her job was done, finished. She needed to multi-task. One horse was not enough for her. One horse bored her. John Shirreffs, in his own brilliance, gave her what she wanted and would send two workmates to deal with Zenyatta. The first would make her work early. She would go after that one into the turn, but if allowed to stay on course, she would put away that mate and idle and get nothing out of her work. So, Shirreffs threw a second workmate to jump into the work at the quarter pole, which would make her focus again and work hard to the wire. Sometimes, even that wasn’t enough, as she would get lead in deep stretch and then idle out. Zenyatta became a better horse because of her ability to multi-task, 32 |

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“I CUT MY TEETH IN CALIFORNIA AND THERE WAS NO BETTER HORSE TO LEARN FROM THAN ZENYATTA, A SUPER HORSE WHO WON 19 OF 20 RACES FROM 2007-2010, INCLUDING BACK-TO-BACK BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSICS IN 2009 AND 2010.” which helped her gain fitness and mental soundness. I had a different experience in level of focus at Saratoga this past summer where on the Oklahoma Training track you can actually see the ‘whites of their eyes.’ At Saratoga, the training track area is used for overflow parking, and on the weekend it fills quickly by 9:30 AM, which is also the last training break of the morning. A team of Chad Brown’s Deanaallen’s Kitten and Can’t Catch Kate worked right at 9:30 AM, while cars were being parked on the grass next to the stretch run from about the furlong pole to the wire. I could easily see through my binoculars, Can’t Catch Kate, following a car parking with her right eye, she completely lost focus of her job at hand. Deanaallen’s Kitten had the benefit of Kate blocking her view of the cars and hustle and bustle of early morning parking, and was much the best in the lane and galloped out five or six in front. Kate didn’t regain her focus and looked lost late. Kate showed immaturity, lack of focus and was easily distracted. You wonder if that had anything to do with her taking a long time to break maiden. She maybe had the talent, but not the mind to go with it, unlike Zenyatta who had the ability to handle two workers at a time, and later in the afternoon, could multi-task through full fields of top horses.


Zenyatta won 19 of 20 races from 2007-2010, including back-to-back Breeders' Cup Classics in 2009 and 2010.

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Left: Will Take Charge commands the track during a practice run. Right: Mucho Macho Man in full stride before the 137th running of The Kentucky Derby.

That’s the difference between class and no class in a horse. Not even two minutes later, the queen, Royal Delta came through the lane. Again, cars were being parked, people were moving about. She watched with her right eye, followed a car for a few seconds as she went through the furlong and 16th pole, but she never lost focus and went about her business, finishing strongly without missing a beat.

he went out of his way to get it. Young horses are very much like that; they grow confident in front and in control. Empire Road and Ellie’s Prince went quickly, early in 11.4 and 23.4. Prince inside had his head in front, and on cue Empire Road, began his move to get his head in front inside the 3/16 pole, but this time, he got a curve thrown at him. A Kiaran McLaughlin runner (I believe named Kate Greenaway, owned by Darley) ranged up three-wide, two off Empire Road’s right flank.

What I learned from that experience in is, cheap horses seem to lose focus quickly and for a prolonged period of time, fail to maintain high rate of speed. The good horses, Stakes or multiple winners with heart and desire, have the ability to maintain focus and concentrate on the task at hand while traveling at top speed. Coincidentally, that is the main attribute of any professional athlete. The ability to hold that focus and determination is the stuff that superstars like Jordan, Brady, Manning, McEnroe, Sampras and Gretzky are made of.

I watch and record works from the third floor of the employees dorm building at Palm Meadows, between the 3/16th and 1/8th pole, so I see a lot of horses turning for home – their mannerisms, and how focused, or lack thereof, they are. Empire Road, in full stride after a split of 23.4, actually took a peek behind him – you could see his right eye following the McLaughlin runner ranging outside. Empire Road was now forced to multitask, keeping an eye on Ellie’s Prince while managing the late run of the Darley runner.

Which brings us to a January 9th work at Palm Meadows. Empire Road, a Corinthian colt out of a Storm Cat mare that I purchased for our Galen Ho’o Stables and trained by Brian Lynch, worked in company with another Racingwithbruno Bloodstock purchase, Ellie’s Prince. Both can run, Empire Road is further along than Prince, but both have ability.

You don’t get too many chances to observe a horse multi-task in the morning, unless something like this happens. Empire Road’s rider sensed Road’s re-direct of focus and went to a hand ride, thinking the horse needed it but in my opinion, Road was fine just processing what was happening. Meanwhile, Ellie’s Prince, inside of Road, never saw the Darley runner. His sole focus was on Road and was well within self, I wonder how he

I got the sense that Empire Road liked his head in front in the stretch, almost like 34 |

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would have multi-tasked. The Darley runner never got by either one, so Empire Road’s first multi-task work was a success. It was a close match between Empire Road and Ellie’s Prince at the wire in :48.3 on my watch. You hear riders comment on how they "didn’t see the winner until too late," a great example is Will Take Charge’s late run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita, when he fell short by a nose with Mucho Macho Man winning by the slimmest margin. Will Take Charge got past Declaration of War, and then you could visually see him gather himself and go after Mucho Macho Man. Some horses rely on their sight to establish moving targets, and at times the leader is out of line of sight. A horse like Will Take Charge relies on his ability to see his foe and reestablish his focus. Empire Road was a case study in multitasking in the morning and seemed to handle it well. A more experienced rider may have attempted to regain Road’s focus on Ellie’s Prince, but all in all, it proved to be a nice experience for the horse and myself. You learn something every day and many times it is at the least opportune moment. This should help us all learn to multi-task better. Thanks to Zenyatta I got to see a terrific, dynamic in horses and feel I am so much better for it. For exper t race predictions a nd analysis for racetracks nationwide, visit RacingwithBruno.com.


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HORSING AROUND with Michael Beychok E XCL U S I V E I N T ERV I E W W I T H T H E 2 01 2 N AT ION A L H A N DICA P P I NG CH A M P ION

W

H EN IT COM E S TO handicapping a horse race, t here are many approaches you can take. Pick a number, color or name, and cashing a winning ticket becomes as simple as playing the lottery. Or, maybe your buddy calls you with a “sure bet,” that he says, “can’t lose” and you take the bait. But there is a more advanced way to go about finding the right horse in the right race at the right odds. By evaluating everything from recent workouts and past performances, to track conditions and more, professional handicappers have more information at their fingertips than ever before. We recently caught up with one of the top handicappers in the world, Michael Beychok, who took home first place in the 2012 National Handicapping Championship, as well as a cool $1 million prize, and is a regular in the biggest handicapping tournaments in the land. A political consultant from Louisiana and seasoned handicapper, Beychok is also featured on Horseplayers, a new horseracing reality show on Esquire Network. He continues to hone his handicapping skills through a variety of resources, including Southern Gaming’s favorite, Twinspires.com. Southern Gaming: At what point did you realize you had a knack for handicapping and decided to take it to the next level? Michael Beychok: I thought I knew what I was doing the first year of being at the track, having picked a few winners. I started handicapping when I was 13 or 14, but didn’t become a winning player until I was in my 40s. I could pick winners, which didn’t seem difficult. It was making money on those winners that was the really difficult part. 36 |

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SG : What do you mean by, “picking winners but not making money”? MB: I think we all get into the trap, or most of us do, of overestimating the value of having the winning horse. If you’re there on a social basis with your buddies or trying to impress people with, “Hey I had the winner of that race,” where is the value when the winner of that race paid even money or 6/5? As my friend Matt Bernier says in the new Horseplayers show on Esquire, “There ain’t a man alive, that can pay the rent on 4/5.” You just can’t make money that way. So it really comes down to picking fewer winners but having them pay more, which is the crux of value betting. When I became what I call a “value bettor,” I became a winning player. SG: What are some things you look at when handicapping a race and how do you identify a value bet situation? MB : First you need to look at what information is available to the public. For example, Twinspires.com and Churchill Downs will give you the Brisnet past performances. Most people will look at that, simplify it, and say “Who ran the best in their last race?” – which is represented by a number. That number is a speed figure and most people will pick the horse with the best speed figure, except that horse is usually not going to be a value horse. The horse that is going to be valued in those types of races is the one you can make a story for, a horse that ran a bad last race or two bad races in a row, but is telling you that he or she is going to come back and run his or her best today. SG: So if a horse performs badly in a past race, what factors do you consider to determine if he is going to perform well today?

MB: It’s complicated. Sometimes a horse that ran poorly last time is in a bad form cycle and will continue running poorly. But there are little things that might trigger a second look – like if a trainer or owner decides not to drop a horse down into claiming, so that they are running in cheaper races. If they do drop the horse down to cheaper races, you have to ask “why are they doing this, what are they trying to tell me?” That would be a trigger for me. Or, if the horse is coming back in the same type of race. There are other things as well, the horse may have just had a bad trip last race, or he may have run into some traffic and he couldn’t extend himself, or he may have run against another speed horse and that factor hurt his performance, but today there may not be another speed horse. There are so many little things. SG : How has the advancement of technology changed handicapping for both the professional and amateur handicapper? MB: To me it is a double-edged sword. I t hink most would say t he more information, the better. You are able to process more information so your decisions should be better… right? I don’t think that is necessarily true. The amount of information we have been presented over the last five to ten years has just exploded and it makes it harder to make good decisions. You just get too much information. There is a point of no return and you just can’t process all of the information available. SG: I read that you don’t like to spend too much time handicapping a race, maybe three to five minutes. Why? And does that change when you are in a tournament setting?


MB: That is my preferred method of handicapping. I think I trust my first instinct much more today than I did 20 years ago when I over analyzed things. I like a three to five minute look at a race. I think it is quite enough for me. SG: If you had to limit your information to just a few things, what would they be? MB: I would have to say the first thing would be solid speed figures. My preference is Thorograph. I could beat the races using that alone. The second thing I would have to have is good workout information. Anyone can buy them, but most don’t. If I have information that other people don’t have, that is very important because it gives me an edge. My preference for workouts is Bruno DeJulio, which Twinspires.com sells on their site. The third thing would probably be having access to videos of past races so I can go back and watch, which Twinspires.com also provides for race entrants. And, of course, I would have to have a reliable outlet to make my bets, like Twinspires.com, because if you don’t have a bet placed, it’s all for nothing! SG: You are considered one of the best handicappers in the world. You regularly play in the National Handicapping Tournament and took home first place and $1 million in 2012. Tell us about it. MB: I have qualified seven times in a row for the National Handicapping Championship. The year I won it all, I qualified late in the year on Twinspires. com, in one of their tournaments. I am a political consultant and we work most of the summer and all of the fall until Election Day, so I usually qualify later in the year. The year before I finished 23rd, so I knew I had what it takes to win. For the championship, I had two really good days. The first day I hit a long shot, using workout information from Bruno, that was 45/1, which put me in a good position. The second day I got really hot and won four or five races, but nothing too long. Going into the final race of the whole tournament, I was in second place and just $11 behind the guy first, so I had to find the winner of the race. I had to make sure that winner was 3/1 or more, and I also had to hope that the guy in front of me didn’t have the same horse or didn’t have the horse finishing second. Well, all of these things lined up like Pluto going behind Jupiter and the horse won by a nose

Michael Beychok, winner of the 2012 National Handicapping Championship, with his $1 million prize.

and I won a million dollars by a nose and a dollar. It was pretty dramatic.

How have you enjoyed being a part of the show so far?

SG: And you bought the horse that won?

MB: I have really enjoyed it. I don’t enjoy being away from my family on the weekends, but overall it has been great. I have a great time with the guys, and it’s fantastic seeing all of the great venues like Delmar, Saratoga, Gulf Stream and Keeneland. It is just a dream for a horseplayer, not only to visit these places, but to visit them as an insider – to go to the backstretch, to meet the trainers and jockeys, to interact with the horses. All of that has been great.

MB: I did, I bought her, Glorious Dancer. I wanted to buy the horse and race her, so we did. It just sounded cool. We raced her for four or five starts and she won a race and that was fantastic. But then she got hurt, as cheap horses do, so I decided that she had done enough for me. We didn’t want to take a chance that she would get hurt even worse. The previous owners had dropped her to her lowest level and she had not performed that day, so they would have dropped her to the lowest level at the track, F o r r a c e p i c k s f r o m M i c h a e l , and after that she would be off the track. betting strategies and more, visit There are a lot of different places you can BeychokRacing.com! go when you’re off the track, and some of them are very dark and not C C very good, so I certainly didn’t THE COMPS CLUB want that to happen to her. That’s why I bought her. So I retired her. Today, she resides in Louisiana as a polo pony for a nice doctor named Lori Sign up today at TwinSpires.com and receive Summers. She is doing great.

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SG: The new show on Esquire Network, Horseplayers, has been a great inside look into the sport of handicapping and you play a role in the series.

a $100 bonus. It’s free to sign up and there are no wagering fees.

1-877-SPIRES-1 TWINSPIRES.COM

EXPI R ES: 5/15/2014

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H O R S E R AC I N G

The Triple Crown

2014 marks the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky

Down the Stretch H A N DICA P P I NG T H E 2 014 T R I PL E CROW N SER I E S by

J

UST AFTER 6 P.M. ON MAY 3, Stephen Foster’s compositional masterpiece, “My Old Kentucky Home” will serenade one hundred thousand emotionally charged zealots situated underneath the famed Twin Spires of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Subsequently, 20 optimum three-year old thoroughbreds w i l l w a r m up over ou r nat ion’s most hallowed granular oval before attempting to commandeer the 140th Kentucky Derby. In 1872, Col. Meriwether Clark Jr. (grandson of William Clark from the famed Lewis and Clark expedition) traveled to England and France where he witnessed Europe’s two most eminent horse races, the Epsom Derby and Grand Prix de Paris. Wholly inspired, 38 |

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E R I C F LOY D

Clark established the Louisville Jockey Club upon his stateside return and with it, Churchill Downs; the world’s most recog nized t horoug hbred horseracing cathedral. The first Kentucky Derby unfolded in front of ten thousand souls on May 17, 1875, and like the Epsom Derby and Grand Prix de Paris, was contested over 1½ miles of ground. A colt named Aristides triumphed in a field of 15 that day, and while the original “run for the roses” was a relative success, Churchill Downs foundered financially until it was purchased by a Louisville-based syndicate headed by Col. Matt Winn. It just can’t be overstated that handicapping the Kentucky Derby, along with the rest of thoroughbred racings’ Triple Crown

series, resolutely remains every punter’s stiffest challenge. Regretfully, each year at the end of May’s first Saturday, a majority of horse players go to bed dreaming of “what might have been,” but if it’s true that experience is a great teacher (and I whole-heartedly believe that it is) then perhaps my twenty-year romance with the Sport of King’s preeminent sequence can help exponentially develop your bankroll this spring. Although it’s entirely impossible, try to approach the Kentucky Derby as if it were just another horse race. Somehow, someway, ignore the media’s infinite hype and opinions. Additionally, guard against hunches, omens and superstition. Instead, focus on finding a racer who legitimately belongs, because chasing down the roses is every horseman’s fantasy and thus, there


will invariably be contestants harboring (at best) flimsy credentials. When referencing matters of the turf, there is no infallible equation, yet a plethora of recent runners who either vanquished all or outlasted most of their Kentucky Derby rivals certainly seem to flaunt a distinct pre-race profile. That being said, utilize the following time-tested criterion for before you enthusiastically motor towards the pari-mutuel window. • Seek out contenders with a solid twoyear old foundation. Thoroughbreds that successfully race at least a mile against Graded Stakes Company during their juvenile campaign typically possess enough “class” to be The Aristides statue at Churchill Downs pays tribute to the Kentucky Derby's very first winner, back in 1875. competitive inside the Triple Crown’s initial jewel. Key juvenile preps include the Champagne Stakes, Delta Jackpot up to the Derby. For comprehensive this priceless artifact is presented to the and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. analysis of all workouts, follow Mike winning owner(s). Welsch’s Clocker’s Report on DRF. • Seasoning and Derby success go com. Welsch correctly selected Orb to Without question, the Preakness Stakes hand-in-hand. No horse has won the consistently runs closer to form than the win the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Kentucky Derby without racing as a Kentucky Derby. Therefore, if you have a two-year old since Apollo in 1882, and Two weeks after horseracing’s newest mind to wager significant capital on any though many of today’s horsemen plot exemplar is adorned with exaltation high profile race this year, make it the out a lighter prep schedule than in years in Louisville, the Triple Crown Series Triple Crown’s middle jewel. Once again, past, it’s a dicey proposition to back an m ig r ate s to P i m l ic o R ac e c ou r s e here are some tried and true fundamentals entry with less than five career starts. (nicknamed Old Hilltop) in Baltimore, capable of rendering an advantage to • Never base your decision on one Maryland. Opening day at Old Hilltop in punters playing Pimlico’s feature on spectacular performance. 1870 featured the Dinner May 17. In 2005, Bellamy Road “IT JUST CAN’T BE Party Stakes, won by a won the Wood Memorial OVERSTATED THAT colt named (you guessed • The Kentucky Derby Champion or a vengeful “also-ran” habitually by 17½ lengths, yet was a HANDICAPPING it) Preakness. In memory wins the Preakness. Since 1997, only well-beaten favorite in the THE KENTUCKY of t he a c h ie vement , three non-Derby starters have worn Kentucky Derby. On any DERBY, ALONG Pimlico’s 1873 spring the blanket of Black Eyed Susan’s: given day, a track bias or WITH THE REST OF meet was highlighted by Red Bullet (2000), Bernardini (2006) favorable pace scenario can THOROUGHBRED a three year-old stakes and the acclaimed f il ly, Rachel make an ordinary runner RACINGS’ TRIPLE competition bearing this Alexandria (2009). look spectacular, so make CROWN SERIES, name. The inaugura l sure your Derby horse RESOLUTELY • Gauge the Derby champ’s strength Preakness Stakes featured boasts multiple genuine REMAINS EVERY by how many “also-rans” enter the My Sheba galloping home accomplishments. Preakness. If only a few “Louisville PUNTER’S STIFFEST by 10 easy lengths, a record losers” try their luck in Baltimore, • D e t e r m i n e w h i c h CHALLENGE.” margin which stood until chances are many connections fear contestants are bred to 2004 when Smarty Jones another pummeling. If a slew of “alsogo the distance. Since the majority bested his closest rival by 11 widening rans” enter the Preakness, it’s a sign of entries will be making their first lengths. the Derby champ might be vulnerable. start at 1¼ miles, identifying equines The Preakness Stakes was run at various genetically equipped to last the • Play the exotics. An assurance of 20 Kentucky Derby’s entire distance is distances before the current length of horses being loaded into the Kentucky key. For pertinent information on 1 3/16 miles was settled on in 1925. Derby’s prolonged starting gate makes bloodlines and dosage index investigate Moreover, when it comes to tangible exotic betting a virtual nightmare. Kentuckyderby.com, NTRA.com, bounty, Old Hilltop’s feature reigns Conversely, Preakness exotics are supreme within the Triple Crown series. DRF.com and Equibase.com usually rather predictable. In 2012, The Tiffany and Co. crafted Woodlawn the Kentucky Derby exacta (I’ ll • Attentively appraise all pre-Derby Vase, which dates back to 1860, is the Have Another, Bodemeister) repeated workouts. Exceedingly more important most valuable trophy in American sports, verbatim in Baltimore to the tune than a thoroughbred’s final prep is and following the Preakness, a replica of how they breeze in the weeks leading SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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Left: Oxbow in the winner's circle at the 2013 Preakness Stakes. Right: The starting gate at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

of $18.60 for a $2 wager. In 2013, the Preakness superfecta (Oxbow, Itsmyluckyday, My Lute, Orb) consisted of the Derby champ and three “alsorans,” yet paid $1817.80 for a $1 wager. Three weeks after the smoke clears in Maryland, Horse Racing Nation diligently eyes Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. If an equine happens to land in the Big Apple, boasting Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes’ dominance, they rest just 1½ miles away from horseracing’s Holy Grail but alas, the Belmont Stakes’ arduous distance remains the primary reason why only eleven thoroughbreds: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978), can be identified as “Triple Crown Champions.” Inaugurated in 1867, the Belmont Stakes (or “Test of Champions”) was originally contested at Jerome Park Racecourse in the Bronx, New York. This now defunct hippodrome was the brainchild of one Leonard Jerome, a powerful late 19th century financier otherwise known as the “King of Wall Street.” Leonard Jerome’s closest confidant, an influential politician and avid racing enthusiast named August Belmont, offered invaluable assistance concerning racetrack operations and was thus granted personalized association with Jerome Park’s marquee event. Subsequent to the closing of Jerome Park in 1890, the Belmont Stakes was held at nearby Morris Park Racecourse until it found a 40 |

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permanent home at Belmont Park in 1905. The Belmont’s distance varied between nine and thirteen furlongs (one furlong equals an eighth of a mile) for the first 59 years until the infamous 1½ mile length was permanently settled on in 1926. National anti-gambling legislation led to the cancellation of the Belmont in 1911-1912 and during Belmont Park’s vast renovation, which lasted from 1963 to 1967, the Triple Crown’s third jewel was held at Aqueduct Racetrack. The first ever American “post-parade” (which is a procession of competing thoroughbreds in front of the grandstand before a race) occurred prior to the 1880 Belmont Stakes and up until 1921, the “Test of Champions” was run clockwise like the majority of today’s international competitions. Grizzled horseplayers who have their noses buried in the Daily Racing Form seven days a week seldom encounter a 1 mile race, so one can only imagine how far removed the novice is from efficiently handicapping a twelve furlong trial. Alas, here’s the best advice yours truly can offer any punter bent on bullying June 7’s Belmont Stakes. • Take up with an experienced rider. Seldom do I obsess over which jockey will pilot my chosen horse, except when it comes to the Belmont Stakes. Practically every racetrack in the continental United States measures one mile in circumference, however “Big Sandy’s” (Belmont Park) scope is 1½ miles. Riders unaccustomed to working this expansive oval often

launch a premature move, then find themselves foundering mid-way down the straightaway. • A ny equine capable of obtaining an uncontested early lead is live. Numerous Belmont victors have gone “wire to wire” because closers wary of moving too soon often let front-end types set soft opening fractions. A prime example of this occurred in 2008 when a 38-1 shot named Da’ Tara loped along for a mile before pulling away to win by 5¼ lengths. • Consider fresher horses. It’s a huge understatement to say the Triple Crown Series physically taxes a three year-old thoroughbred. Normally, horses don’t participate in three different races over three different surfaces within a fiveweek period, so even an extremely fit equine will be fatigued by the time they reach New York. The last eight Belmont Stakes Champions have sat out the Kentucky Derby and/or the Preakness Stakes. Worth mentioning is the fact that some people who don’t watch another horse race all year long still opt to fervently bet on the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. This enormous inf lux of uneducated money makes thoroughbred racing’s three-year old championship sequence an excellent investment opportunity. For those readers who’ve never given the “Sport of Kings” a chance, I cordially invite you to share in the 2014 Triple Crown experience. It’s a given that when the Kentucky Derby field turns for home, your heart will be racing faster than the horses!


YOUR TRIP BEGINS HERE

Southland Park Gaming and Racing, West Memphis

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The Ridges at Village Creek, Wynne > James Beard award-winning Jones Bar-B-Q Diner, Marianna > Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs > Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, Hot Springs


CR OO P KE IN P RG TY PROFILE H a r dTrisha R o c k Yearwood Hotel & Casino with B i l ox i , M i s s i s s i p p i

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is situated on Beach Boulevard and circles the luxurious tropical-style pool

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, Mississippi N E W T OW ER H A S PL AT I N U M P OW ER by

B

ET YOU DIDN’T THINK Biloxi knew how to rock ‘n’ roll? Well, as Eric Clapton would say, “We got the boogiewoogie right down to our very soul!” Considering Mississippi is the “Birthplace of America’s music,” it is fitting that the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi is rocking a lot harder after investing $32.5 million in a captivating hotel that is unlike any of its kind on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Named the Platinum Tower, the hotel is themed and decorated with memorabilia from only platinum recording artists. 42 |

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B R I D G E T TE VA R O N E

Shakira, Bette Midler, Meatloaf, Brett Michaels and eight other artists each have floors dedicated to their talents. Each floor is decked out with costumes, photos, paintings and quotes throughout the halls and smoke-free rooms. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino President and General Manager, Duncan McKenzie says, “The addition of the Platinum Tower shows that we and our owners believe in the city of Biloxi and that is why we chose to create a $32.5 million investment. Hard Rock is a great brand with worldwide recognition that will only enhance the growth of tourism in the market.” There

is great opportunity on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for gaming and entertainment. The architect firm, Bergman Walls & Associates, created the curved design of the hotel to provide stunning panoramic views of both north and south facing rooms. The 154-room hotel is situated on Beach Boulevard and circles the luxurious tropical-style pool, calming cabanas and relaxing floating beds. The seven Cabana Suites are located on the first floor of the hotel while the top floor has seven Sky Suites. All suites overlook the pool and offer breathtaking views of the Mississippi Barrier Islands and the Gulf


Inside the Hard Rock Hotel, there are seven Cabana Suites on the first floor and seven Sky Suites on the top floor, all of which have floor-to-ceiling windows and offer breathtaking views of the Mississippi Barrier Islands and the Gulf of Mexico.

of Mexico with floor-to-ceiling windows lush tropical landscaping. The hallway into and individual balconies. The suites are the casino includes three memorabilia furnished with oversized Australian round cases that were chosen by a “Rock the soaking tubs, which are filled with water Vote” contest. Hard Rock executives chose streaming from ceiling faucets. a Sammy Dav is, The 140 standard rooms are “CONSIDERING Jr. s t a ge pi e c e , anything but typical, with bed MISSISSIPPI IS THE Facebook fa ns and bath areas offering floorchose Johnny Cash, “BIRTHPLACE OF to-ceiling views of the Gulf of a nd employees Mexico to the south, while the AMERICA’S MUSIC,” IT chose pajamas worn north facing rooms overlook IS FITTING THAT THE by M ississippi ’s t he cit y of Biloxi and its own Elvis Presley. HARD ROCK HOTEL Back Bay. There is a short walk between your AND CASINO BILOXI IS The interior is impeccably room and getting designed by Tandem out of ROCKING A LOT HARDER l u c k y… i n t h e Las Vegas. The hotel is a true AFTER INVESTING casino that is. With testament to their work, as it over 1,300 slots and is “contemporary and classic, $32.5 MILLION IN A 50 table ga mes, luxurious and practical, swank CAPTIVATING HOTEL Hard Rock Casino and minimalist.” Plush wallBiloxi continues to THAT IS UNLIKE ANY to-wall headboards, custom offer their guests furnishings, accent lighting and OF ITS KIND ON THE extraordinary mural artwork complete the MISSISSIPPI GULF gaming. Once you rooms in a way to make Hard knock ‘em out on Rock Hotel & Casino guests feel COAST.” the gaming f loor, like rock stars. there are over seven dining choices ranging from casual to Are you looking for a room tip right about fine dining. In case you need to update now? My best advice is to book early. The your attire to reflect your new rock star Platinum Towers sold out the first night it status, there are several shops available was open to the public. Additional ground – after a visit to Taunt, we’re sure you’ll parking will be available soon, and the be signing autographs. After a fun-filled bordering sidewalk will welcome you with

day of gaming, treat yourself to the Rock Spa or play a round of golf at one of eight partnering golf courses, then experience a kick-ass concert in Hard Rock Live. In case you work as hard as you play, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino continues to offer nearly 20,000 square feet of meeting room for any occasion. Hard Rock Live has 13,000 square feet of space, including a 9,000 square foot theater. The Record Company and Rock & Roll meeting rooms also offer distinguished meeting spaces. Opportunity is growing, as many gaming properties are reinvesting in this tourism destination, like Margaritaville, Palace Casino, and the renamed Harrah’s in Biloxi. Now is a great time to visit the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a vacation, and if you need more than exciting entertainment, the area has unique shopping, dining, historical landmarks, and museums with unparalleled Southern hospitality. For more information on the Platinum Tower and to book your stay in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, visit HardRockBiloxi.com. The time is right to take a journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’” in Biloxi. For information and reservations, visit HardRockBiloxi.com or call 228-374-RICK today!

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T R AV E L

THE SOUTH IS IN BLOOM

South Bound

MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI on the

V ISIT I NG THE CH AR MI NG CIT Y OF NATCHEZ , MISSISSIPPI by

B E T H D ’A D D O N O

N

ATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI IS THE PLACE to visit for a real dose of Gone With the Wind charm. The oldest settlement on the Mississippi River, Natchez once boasted more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country, including New York. Although its plantation economy crashed and burned after the Civil War, the city’s impressive mansions – there are more than 1,000 historic buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places – remain a huge draw for history buffs and tourists. Located three and a half hours from New Orleans, and less than two hours south west of Jackson, Natchez offers a slice of American history with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality on the side. NATCHEZ VISITOR RECEPTION CENTER

640 S. Canal Street visitnatchez.com | 800.647.6742 If you’re new to town, make your first stop at one of the most attractive welcome centers in the South. At the Natchez Visitor Reception Center, there’s an introductory history film, which puts the city’s Civil War-era attractions in helpful context. Interactive exhibits, displays and maps add more back-story, and of course there are the usual brochures and a gift shop staffed by helpful locals. NATCHEZ SPRING PILGRIMAGE

natchezpilgrimage.com | 800.647.6742 Spring is an ideal time to visit this charming town, situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. If you can, visit during the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage when 27 antebellum mansions, most of them private residences, open their doors

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The Delta Queen at Sunset

“LOCATED THREE AND A HALF HOURS FROM NEW ORLEANS, AND LESS THAN TWO HOURS SOUTH WEST OF JACKSON, NATCHEZ OFFERS A SLICE OF AMERICAN HISTORY WITH A HEALTHY DOSE OF SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY ON THE SIDE.” to visitors March 8-April 7. Hoop-skirted family friends and descendants of the original owners lead the tours, spinning tales as real as the bricks and mortar in their hearths. Each house has its own unique 18th and 19th century furnishings, porcelain, silver, clothing, tools, documents and diaries. Built by planters, lawyers, doctors, bankers and merchants who made enormous fortunes following the invention of the cotton gin, a few of the more popular homes for touring include Rosalie, built in the early 1820s and operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution as a museum. Overlooking the Mississippi, the Federal-style mansion is flanked by a lovely 4-acre span of gardens. Longwood, a National Historic Landmark and a site on the Civil War Discovery Trail, is the largest octagonal house of its kind in the


Monmouth Plantation is just one of the many beautiful historic mansions located in Natchez.

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Left: Magnolia Grill was built to look like the saloon that originally occupied the same spot. Right: Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp from Magnolia Grill

country. Although it was never completed because of the Civil War, the 32-room home is worth a visit. Many of the builders of these impressive homes were laid to rest in the Natchez City Cemetery, a hauntingly beautiful swath of green space that offers a peaceful setting for an interesting stroll. Under the shade of live oak trees are graves dating back to the 1700s. Visit Natchez National Historical Park to tour Melrose Estate, the lavish abode of John McMurran, a rich lawyer who once owned or held an interest in five plantations worked by more than 300 slaves. Walk through extensive gardens and take in exhibits about the life and times of the people who lived and worked on these 80 acres. NATCHEZ MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE

301 Main Street visitnatchez.org | 601.445.0728 For a much different perspective on local history than you’ll get at the mansions, pay a visit to the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture. Besides shedding a light on the life and times of enslaved Africans during the 19th century, the museum’s knowledgeable staff and director can also discuss the beginning of the civil rights movement in Natchez. The museum has limited hours, so call before you visit. 46 |

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EVERYDAY ADVENTURE

334 Main Street nps.gov/natr/index.htm | 601.392.3079 Once you’ve spent enough time indoors, rent a bike from Everyday Adventure and cycle a section of the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, known for its exceptional views. Used by American Indians, “Kaintucks,” settlers, and future presidents, visitors can enjoy the beautiful scenery by hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping along the way.

E A T & DR I N K Dining in Natchez is solidly Southern, soundly American and quite tasty. The candlelit Restaurant 1818 in Monmouth Plantation is one of the town’s finest white tablecloth experiences, delivering top notch steaks and even some local seafood. Breaud’s on Main Street is popular with locals for its steaks, chops and New Orleans-style cuisine. For down-home fare, try the Carriage House Restaurant at Stanton Hall for Southern specialties and homemade buttered biscuits. Or check out some redhot blues tunes and saucy barbecue at Biscuits & Blues on Main, with live music most nights of the week. MAGNOLIA GRILL

49 Silver St magnoliagrill.com | 601.446.7670 Dine with a view of the river at Magnolia Grill located on Silver Street in the

infamous Natchez Under-the-Hill. Once a red light district known for its gamblers, prostitutes and drunks, the section of town closest to the river catered to the steamship paddle wheelers back in the day. Have a fine meal at Magnolia Grill – I suggest trying the crawfish chowder and fried Gulf shrimp – before heading over to the Under-the-Hill Saloon for a nightcap. Located under the hill with a great view of the Mississippi River from its front porch, this colorful nightspot plays host to characters galore, live music that sounds better the more you drink, and a décor at the intersection of salty watering hole and dive bar. Love this place – it’s a taste of Natchez you certainly won’t find on any house tour in town.

SL EEP OV ER If you want to feel like a true Southern plantation owner, book a room at one of the mansion hotels. Monmouth is the most elegant with 30 rooms and suites located in the mansion itself and in the eight outbuildings. Your stay includes breakfast and a morning house tour. Natchez Eola Hotel in the heart of downtown Natchez, combines Southern charm with modern amenities. There’s also a Hampton Inn and Suites and numerous bed and breakfast options downtown and around the city’s outskirts. The Isle of Capri Casino also offers hotel stays. For more information about Natchez, visit visitnatchez.org


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A LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES

WHERE

SECONDS COUNT

ON THE INSIDE TRACK WITH KASEY KAHNE’S PIT CREW

HINK OF AN NFL quarterback facing a two-minute drill with 90 yards to go. Now, drop that down to 14 seconds, and those 90 yards to 250 miles. No disrespect, Peyton, but that is pressure.

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crew of the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, it’s less about pressure and more about performance. Each race week, the crew rehearses its moves like a dance company so each pit stop is an effortless replay of practice.

In a sport like NASCAR, where winners are decided by tenths of a second, absolutely everything – a missed lug nut, a dropped gas can, a loose cap – counts and can cost your team a race. That’s what the pit crew of Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team faces every week during the season, which began in Daytona in midFebruary and runs through November. Yet, for crew chief Kenny Francis and the

“Pit stops are really completing a certain number of tasks in a choreographed sequence. After the stop, it feels like it was a little chaotic, but it’s really a very thought-out, deliberate process,” jackman Trey Burklin said. Routine or not, the adrenaline gets pumping every time the car rolls down pit road. “Time only stops for me if something goes wrong,” rear tire carrier

by

B R YA N T L O N G

Ben Fischbeck said. “Even though this is my 11th year being a tire carrier at Hendrick Motorsports, I still have the same adrenaline I had when I went over the wall for the first time.” “That rush of energy is quickly replaced by a singular purpose – getting each individual job done,” Burklin said. “People tend to overthink pit stops. It’s very similar to a golf swing. You perform the same motion over and over. When you start over analyzing every detail instead of having confidence that you are doing the right thing the right way, you tend to slow down.” The relationship between driver and car


is symbiotic – that’s what thousands of laps together will do. And since the crew keeps the car going, their relationship with Kahne needs to be just as solid. “We have a great professional relationship,” said gas man Chris Fasulka. “Come race day our game faces are on, and our entire No. 5 Farmers Insurance team is focused on getting a win.” For the pit crew, the majority of race week is spent practicing and training at the Hendrick Motorsports facility in Charlotte, as they don’t arrive at the track until the day of the race. While they are preparing in North Carolina, the mechanics are at the track setting up the car. It’s tweaked during race week and into the qualifying runs that determine the driver’s start order. Final adjustments are being made as the pit crew arrives at the track. “Some days have more pressure than others. Showing up at the racetrack and knowing the car has the ability to win the race puts pressure on the pit crew to not make mistakes,” Burklin said. “Showing up knowing the car might need a little work puts a different pressure on us to still be fast, but to also make a few adjustments during the stop which can change the choreography of our pit stop. It’s a performance-based job so at the end of the day, performance what really matters so you learn how to deal with the pressure.” In addition to knowing every move of a pit stop, the guys need to be in top shape as well. To stay in peak performance mode, the crew works on its flexibility with yoga and aquatic exercises – but you’ve seen

Ben Fischbeck, Pit Crew

these guys, it’s obviously not all downward dog. The No. 5 crew also trains three to four times a week during the season with cardio and weights. In addition to actual coaches for the pit crew, Hendricks Motorsports has a team of strength and conditioning coaches and a full-time trainer. These guys are athletes in their own right and many competed collegiately in other sport – Burklin walked on as a quarterback at the University of Miami and played during the 2005 season.

That said, you don’t have to look far to find a gearhead. A Missouri native, Fischbeck grew up loving cars and raced stock and late models. He won over 100 features before he turned 17. Then he moved to Charlotte and joined Hendrick, where he’s been for 12 years. In addition to hauling tires for Kahne, he also serves as the fabricator for Kahne and Jeff Gordon, meaning even in the offseason, he’s still on.

“Our coaches do a great job of incorporating different types of conditioning, like yoga and pool workouts,” Burklin said. “We usually have one day where we are outside doing dynamic movements on our performance training facility field, which is when we work on our agility and explosiveness.”

“Take away the car, the garage and the smell of burning rubber, and the pit crew is like any other athletic team, constantly practicing and perfecting its moves to be better the next time out.”

That explosiveness is put to the test on race day when the crew will leap the wall for a pit stop an average of seven times a race. But with a goal of completing each stop in under 11 seconds, that gives the crew just over a minute with the car during an entire race. That’s hardly enough time to make a major change but plenty for a major mistake. Despite their time and efficiency in the pits, not every guy on the crew is a lifelong grease monkey. In addition to his time as a QB, Burklin has a degree in finance and is the son of two accountants. Fasulka was never into cars as a kid but played plenty of other sports. He went to his first race and was hooked. He got started through his brother in law, Peter Sospenzo, a veteran NASCAR crew chief who is now with the Randy Humphrey racing team.

You could call Fasulka a converted car nut. In addition to putting gas in the No. 5, he is the suspension and brake man in the shop for Kahne and Gordon. “I never imagined I’d make a career in racing, he said. “I’ve now been at Hendrick for 12 years.” With the combined experience in racing, these guys have seen it all. Burklin recalls flaming car parts preceding the cars down pit road, while Fasulka tells of a time a car spun out down the pits and got stuck in the wall in front of him. But Fischbeck has perhaps the most harrowing memory. “(It was) getting hit by a car on pit road,” he recalls. “It broke my leg, thumb and gave me a concussion.” Yet after recovery, there he was back out in the pits. Whether they started with the love or not, they’ve got the NASCAR bug running fast through their veins now. Take away the car, the garage and the smell of burning rubber, and the pit crew is like any other athletic team, constantly practicing and perfecting its moves to be better the next time out. Better and, of course, faster. “We’re not in the business of slowing down,” says Burklin. For more on Kasey Kahne, his pit crew and other teams under the Hendrick Motorsports umbrella, visit HendrickMotorSports.com


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HAL’S THE STEAKHOUSE (ATLANTA) 1-404-261-0025

CHURCHILL DOWNS (LOUISVILLE) 1-800-283-3729

ROCKS ON THE ROOF @ THE BOHEMIAN HOTEL

JACKS RESTAURANT & LOUNGE (LOUISVILLE) 1-502-897-9721

(SAVANNAH) 1-912-721-3901

6 INDIANA

THE TRELLIS ROOM RESTAURANT (MOBILE) 1-251-338-5493

DERBY LANE RACE TRACK (ST. PETERSBURG) 1-727-812-3339

BELTERRA CASINO RESORT (VEVAY) 1-888-BELTERRA

3 ARKANSAS

SHULA’S STEAK HOUSE (TAMPA) 1-813-286-4366

TROPICANA EVANSVILLE (EVANSVILLE) 1-800-342-5386

MARDI GRAS CASINO & RACING (HALLANDALE) 1-877-55-SLOTS

RISING STAR CASINO RESORT (RISING STAR) 1-800-472-6311

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & TOURISM 1-501-682-7777 THE FADED ROSE RESTAURANT (LITTLE ROCK) 1-501-663-9734

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WATERMARK GRILLE (NAPLES) 1-239-596-1400

GALT HOUSE HOTEL & SUITES (LOUISVILLE) 1-800-THE-GALT GOLF COURSES OF KENTON COUNTY 1-859-371-3200 JEFF RUBY’S STEAKHOUSE (LOUISVILLE) 1-502-584-0102 KEENELAND RACECOURSE (LEXINGTON) 1-800-456-3412 LASSING POINTE GOLF COURSE (BOONE COUNTY) 1-859-384-2266

NEVEL MEADE GOLF COURSE (LOUISVILLE) 1-502-228-9522 PAT’S STEAK HOUSE (LOUISVILLE) 1-502-896-9234 PORCINI ITALIAN RESTAURANT (LOUISVILLE) 1-502-894-8686 SEELBACH HOTEL (LOUISVILLE) 1-502-585-3200

8 LOUISIANA CAFÉ GIOVANNI (NEW ORLEANS) 1-504-529-2154 DELTA DOWNS RACETRACK & CASINO (VINTON) 1-800-589-7441 PARAGON CASINO RESORT (MARKSVILLE) 1-800-946-1946 SAM'S TOWN HOTEL & CASINO (SHREVEPORT) 1-877-429-0711 SHREVEPORT/ BOSSIER VISITOR’S BUREAU 1-888-45-VISIT


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GOLD STRIKE CASINO RESORT 1-888-24-KSTAY HOLLYWOOD CASINO TUNICA 1-800-871-0711 THE HOLLYWOOD CAFE (OLD HWY 61) 1-662-363-1225 SAM’S TOWN HOTEL & GAMBLING HALL 1-800-456-0711

10 MISSISSIPPI PEARL RIVER RESORT (PHILADELPHIA) 1-866-44-PEARL

11 MISSOURI CIELO RESTAURANT & BAR (ST. LOUIS) 1-314-881-2105 LUMIÈRE PLACE CASINO & HOTELS (ST. LOUIS) 1-314-881-7777 RIGAZZI’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT (ST. LOUIS-HILL DISTRICT) 1-314-772-4900

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RIVER CITY CASINO (ST. LOUIS) 1-888-578-7289

12 LAS VEGAS (NEVADA) ARIA RESORT AND CASINO 1-866-359-7757

PARIS LAS VEGAS 1-877-796-2096 THE VENETIAN 1-877-283-6423 WYNN LAS VEGAS 1-888-320-WYNN

THE BELLAGIO 1-888-987-6667

WILD WILD WEST HOTEL & CASINO 1-800-6-STATIONS

CAESARS PALACE 1-800-HARRAHS

13 LAUGHLIN (NEVADA)

FERRARO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT 1-702-364-5300

AQUARIUS CASINO RESORT 1-888-662-5824

GOLDEN NUGGET 1-800-634-3454

GOLDEN NUGGET LAUGHLIN 1-800-950-7700

GOLDEN GATE HOTEL & CASINO 1-800-426-1906 HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO 1-800-473-7625 MGM GRAND 1-877-880-0880

HARRAH’S LAUGHLIN CASINO AND HOTEL 1-800-427-7247

14 RENO (NEVADA) ATLANTIS CASINO RESORT 1-800-723-6500

MANDALAY BAY RESORT AND CASINO 1-877-632-7800

CIRCUS CIRCUS RENO HOTEL & CASINO 1-800-648-5010

MIRAGE LAS VEGAS 1-800-627-6667

ELDORADO HOTEL & CASINO 1-800-879-8879

PALMS HOTEL 1-866-942-7777

BOUND’RY (NASHVILLE) 1-615-321-3043 CHEROKEE VALLEY GOLF COURSE (MEMPHIS) 1-901-525-4653

PEPPERMILL RESORT SPA CASINO 1-866-821-9996

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9 TUNICA (MISSISSIPPI)

17 TENNESSEE

HYATT REGENCY RESORT SPA & CASINO (LAKE TAHOE) 1-800-233-1234

15 OHIO

FOLK’S FOLLY (MEMPHIS) 1-901-762-8200

BLUE ASH GOLF COURSE (CINCINNATI) 1-513-745-8577

GAYLORD SPRINGS GOLF LINKS (NASHVILLE) 1-615-458-1730

ELKS RUN GOLF COURSE (CINCINNATI) 1-513-735-6600

HALF SHELL RESTAURANT (MEMPHIS) 1-901-682-3966

JEFF RUBY’S STEAKHOUSE (CINCINNATI) 1-513-784-1200

THE PEABODY HOTEL (MEMPHIS) 1-901-529-4000

MONTGOMERY INN BOATHOUSE (CINCINNATI) 1-513-791-3482

RENDEZVOUS BARBECUE (MEMPHIS) 1-901-523-2746 VANDERBILT LEGENDS CLUB (BRENTWOOD) 1-615-790-1300

16 SOUTH CAROLINA AUNT CHILADA’S EASY STREET CAFÉ (HILTON HEAD) 1-843-785-7700 ARTHUR HILLS GOLF COURSE AT PALMETTO DUNES (HILTON HEAD) 1-866-380-1778 BLOODY POINT GOLF CLUB & RESORT (HILTON HEADDAFUSKIE ISLAND) 1-843-341-3030 CQ’S RESTAURANT (HILTON HEAD) 1-843-671-2779 GOLDEN BEAR AT INDIGO RUN (HILTON HEAD) 1-843-689-2200 HARBOUR TOWN GOLF COURSE (HILTON HEAD) 1-843-363-4485 HILTON HEAD NATIONAL (HILTON HEAD) 1-843-842-5900 SALTY DOG CAFÉ (HILTON HEAD) 1-843-363-2198

18 WEST VIRGINIA HOLLYWOOD CASINO AT CHARLES TOWN RACES 1-800-795-7001 THE GREENBRIER (WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS) 1-800-453-4858 MARDI GRAS CASINO & RESORT 1-304-776-1000 MOUNTAINEER CASINO RACETRACK AND RESORT 1-800-489-8192 WHEELING ISLAND HOTEL, CASINO & RACETRACK 1-304-232-5050

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PLAYER STRATEGY

POKER: Mathematics in PLO & Phil’s Flaw

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OR MORE THAN A FEW YEARS I played PLO very badly, in the sense that I wasn’t seeing one basic mathematical principle of the game. I can’t believe that I missed it all those years, but no one was coaching me on how to play the game. After playing PLO for more than seven years, I finally learned something while watching “Houston Sammy” play one day. Sammy is considered the best PLO player in the world, and one day in a big game in Tunica, Mississippi, I watched him get involved in a big pot. Sammy had 6-8-9-J in his hand, nothing suited, and the board came down 5-7-K. Sammy had f lopped the nut wrap straight draw (all the straight cards that he could hit would make him the best possible hand). A car dealer from Dallas had been killing the big PLO game for a couple of weeks and had won more than $500,000. The car dealer bet out $2,000 and Sammy just called with his wrap straight draw. Now the third player in the game check-raised the pot to make it $8,000 to go. The car dealer hesitated and then called the bet. Now Sammy called the $6,000 raise as well. The next card was a jack, and the third player bet out $24,000 into the pot. The car dealer folded his hand, and Sammy called $18,000 of the bet all-in (Sammy had a right to call $18,000, if that’s all he had left). Later, I asked Sammy why he hadn’t moved all-in on the flop, and he said, “Well Phil, I didn’t want to have the board pair on fourth street and be drawing dead against my opponent’s full house. I knew that I would have to call a pot-size bet if the board didn’t pair, because I had a wrap draw. With my wrap draw I would have at least 13 wins, which meant I would have to call a pot-size bet on fourth street.” Then it finally hit me why I hadn’t been doing better in PLO side games in the past. You see, I never understood that with 13 possible wins I had to call a pot-size bet! If I have 13 wins with one card to come, this means that my opponent has roughly 29 wins. In the hand that Sammy played, I say roughly 29 wins because I know that 13 cards will win for him, four more are on the board, two of his opponent’s four cards are probably pair cards (like K-7 or K-K or 7-7), and there are four more in my hand. Therefore, we add Sammy’s 13 wins to the eight cards that we can see (his hand and the four on the board) and the other two that

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we assume are in the opponent’s hand. This adds up to 23 cards out of 52 cards in the deck, so the other 29 cards win for the opponent. If you’re still confused about 29 versus 13 wins, note that an example is coming right up. This means that I’m roughly a 2½-to-1 underdog to win the pot. When someone bets the size of the pot, then I’m getting exactly 2-to-1 on my call (if the bet is $2,000 into a $2,000 pot, I can call $2,000 to win $4,000). And I’ll get to bet out on the end if I make my hand and win still more money if I’m called. The fact that I can bet out on the end after hitting my hand, and perhaps get called by my opponent, adds “implied odds” in favor of my calling here. It all suddenly made sense to me, but why hadn’t I seen this simple mathematical principle earlier in my career? Any pro reading this is probably saying, “Duh, Phil, how could you not see that right away?” One major reason that I had been losing at PLO was that I didn’t understand the basic math in the game! I wasn’t making the calls I was supposed to make. As for what happened to Sammy in this pot, he and his opponent agreed to deal the last card twice. (Sometimes, players in big PLO pots choose to deal the final card twice – for half of the pot each time – in order to lower the luck factor in the hand.) Sammy hit an eight for the straight to win on the first card, and the other player won it on the second card when a ten came up. So they split the pot.

SUDOKU

Sudoku Answers from page 8

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PHIL HELLMUTH, JR.

Phil Hellmuth, Jr. is a 13time World Series of Poker Champion, leading all other poker players in the world. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers and his latest book, Deal Me In, is also widely popular. Visit phillhellmuth.com to check out his clothing line, blog and exclusive gaming tips.

“FOR MORE THAN A FEW YEARS I PLAYED PLO VERY BADLY, IN THE SENSE THAT I WASN’T SEEING ONE BASIC MATHEMATICAL PRINCIPLE OF THE GAME.”

FOR MORE FREE POKER TIPS, VISIT SOUTHERNGAMING.COM/POKER


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