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Volume 13  |  Issue 3  |  MAY 2011

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Larry King

Life Beyond the microphone PAge 10 PLUS TIPS ON BLACKJACK • CRAPS • Texas Hold ’em • Video Poker • Sports & MORE! C o v e r i n g F l o r i d a   |  I n d i a n a   |  L a s V e g a s   |  L o u i s i a n a   |   M i s s i s s i p p i a n d t h e e n t i r e S o u t h !

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Cover: King: 10 Larry Life Beyond the Microphone

Feature Articles: Crown triumphs: 12 Triple Dreams of Destiny Thoroughbred Ownership: 18 The Derby Dream Price Tag Hot Summer Travel: 28 Festival Fun in Gaming Regions Splendor: 36 Southern Luxury Gaming Destinations Caribbean Hot Spots: 42 Tropical Treats for Gamers Boardwalk Empire: 50 The New Atlantic City

Southern Splendor: Luxury Gaming Destinations | 36

Tips & Columns:

16 Horseracing: Handicapping Thoroughbreds

Returning from a Layoff

22 Slots: 26 The Great Myths Golf: 34 Practice with a Purpose Video Poker: 40 Understanding Variance Best Blackjack Games: 46 Finding the Edge Craps: 48 Frequently Asked Questions Poker: 64 Reading your Opponents

Poker Players Alliance: Get in the Game

Caribbe an Hot Spots: Tropical Treats for Gamers | 42

B o a r d wa l k E m p i r e : The New Atlantic City | 50

Highlights & Hot Spots

24 A Better Wagering Experience Property Profile: 56 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino,

Biloxi, Mississippi

Southern Gaming Traveler: 58 Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

S o u t h e r n G a m i n g T r av e l e r : Aria Las Vegas | 58 Vol um e 13  I ssu e 3  



Since 1999, Southern Gaming and Destinations has covered the best casinos, racetracks and gaming facilities in markets from Indiana to Florida as well as destinations like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, the Caribbean and more. These markets are home to more than 100 gaming facilities ranging from ultra plush resort-style properties boasting amazing amenities to the more local joints that offer a one-of-a-kind “Cheers”-like atmosphere. Every year, new properties pop up that peak the interest of gamblers and travelers alike, resulting in memorable adventures that last a lifetime. With so many choices, Southern Gaming strives to assist in identifying some options we feel our readers can rely on to make their overall experience even more fulfilling. That is why we have themed this issue as our “Annual Travel Guide for Gamblers.” When it comes to planning a gaming getaway, there are several things to take into account. One thing we always like to emphasize is the alternative entertainment options outside the casino. Many of the Southern Gaming markets are filled with great festivals and events that offer live music, food and the local cultural experience. We highlight many of these festivals on page 26 that range from Reggae in Louisville to crawfish on the Coast. We encourage you to consider adding non-casino entertainment excursions to your next trip itinerary. Also in this issue, we are excited to showcase some of the ultra-premium properties of the South, as well as hot spots of the Caribbean and Atlantic City. This issue also focuses on the peak time of the year for horse racing. Each year, the best thoroughbreds from around the world descend on Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May and the start of the Triple Crown. Followed just two weeks later in Baltimore with the Preakness Stakes and wrapped up in New York with the Belmont Stakes on June 11, the Triple Crown trail should be added to any gambler’s bucket list. On page 10, horse-racing columnist Eric Floyd gives his own Triple Crown outlook with insights on what has made the racing series withstand the test of time and so special to so many horse-racing enthusiasts. Once you get the “horse-racing bug,” it is hard to let it go. The thrill of watching the horse you wagered on crossing the finish line first is one of the best feelings on earth. The only thing that could top it would be to own that first-place horse! On page 16, Floyd takes a look at what it takes to own a racehorse and how to get involved. What once was reserved for royalty and the upper echelon is now available for those who may not want to take out a second mortgage to fulfill their ownership dream. Be sure to check out the article and contact some of the groups we recommend to make that first step to being a horse owner. Last but not least, if you haven’t joined The Comps Club by Southern Gaming, what are you waiting for? Check out page 9 for more information. Get signed up and start cashing in today! If you can’t be good … be lucky!

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So u thern G aming and De s t in a t io n s

Publisher Bisig Impact Group Chief Executive Officer Larry Bisig President & Creative Director Chip Dumstorf General Manager G. Douglas Dreisbach Marketing Coordinator Courtney Bisig Accounting Peggy Harris Copy Editor Sara Havens Contributing Authors Linda Boyd Robert Chapman Eric Floyd Vince Hanson Lynn O’Rourke Hayes Phill Hellmuth, Jr. Felicia Niven Henry Tamburin Frank Scoblete Rudi Schiffer Colby Wolitz Letters to the editor, address changes and other correspondence should be sent to: Southern Gaming and Destinations 640 South Fourth Street Louisville, KY 40202 (502) 583-0333 Fax (502) 583-6487 e-mail: The goal of this publication is to help drive awareness of the ever-growing 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. ON THE COVER: World renown talk show host Larry King talks about life after television on page 10. Southern Gaming and Destinations 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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on the Web ... Southern Southern Gaming Magazine is THE gaming authority of the South, and our website proves it by offering a wide variety of resources for the gamers of the South. Gaming-related news is posted daily, along with lotto results, sports odds, weather, concerts and more! Be sure to check out the new digital version of Southern Gaming and Destinations Magazine by visiting

Best New Bytes: Here are a couple of stories we posted on

Indiana Live Casino! Supporting Good Causes As a business that employs nearly one thousand people, Indiana Live! Casino in Shelbyville, Indiana is a community in itself. That is why the staff at Indiana Live has made it a priority to support each other and the different communities that their team members come from. The team takes pride in reaching out to others, and believes it is important to be an outstanding corporate citizen. Always looking for new opportunities to support local and national communities, Indiana Live is proud to be the sponsor of two wonderful charity events this year.

This month marks the first in the exciting, Egyptian Adventure expansion in Reel Deal LIVE! Now available in the LIVE Casino, you will find: Chapter One of the Egyptian Adventure expansion as well as a Level Cap increase by five, from 60 to 65! This new Level Cap will allow for further expansion and the ability to further upgrade your favorite characters in Reel Deal LIVE! Following in the footsteps of the previous Adventure Quests, Zodiac and Pirate Adventure, this month’s quest packs an all-new experience outside of the LIVE! Casino. Head out into the desert to interact with fun new NPCs on a mysterious and exciting trip that involves tons of new games, new slots and content that you cannot find on the casino floor – it’s literally out of this world! Coming to you on May 22, join other LIVE! players on your out-of-casino adventure. Ally yourself now. Available only through Phantom EFX at

Just last month, over 100 Indiana Live! Casino participated in the Susan G. Komen “Race for The Cure,” an annual event that raises money for Breast Cancer research. A corporate sponsor of the event, the casino is proud to have worked to make a difference in the lives of Breast Cancer patients and survivors, a community that consists of millions of people across the nation. For the first time, Indiana Live! Casino is also a title sponsor of the Miracle Ride, a charity event that raises funds for Riley Hospital for Children. Around 7,000 motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to come from several states for the Miracle Ride, which takes place on June 4-5. Indiana Live! Casino is the official ending location for the event.

Want More? Southern Gaming’s Got It!

Don’t forget to visit for the latest gaming news, hot giveaways, gossip, entertainment and great tips. Don’t miss out... stay connected at !


So u thern G aming and De s t in a t io n s

Concert Calendar M ay:

13 14 14 14 20 20 20 21 21 27 27 27

The Fray Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Bob Newhart Belterra Casino Resort (Vevay) 1-888-BELTERRA Larry the Cable Guy Pearl River Resort 1-866-44-PEARL Ronnie Dunn Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Larry King Hoosier Park Racing & Casino 1-800-526-7223 Whitesnake Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Kris Kristofferson IP Casino Resort Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-946-2847 Tracy Lawrence Gold Strike Casino Resort 1-888-24-KSTAY Blue October Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Ruben Studdard Beau Rivage Casino Resort & Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-566-7469 Live’s Ed Kowalczuk Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Cedric the Entertainer IP Casino Resort Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-946-2847

28 28 28

Here are some of the best upcoming concerts at your favorite casinos in the South. Visit and use our Concert Connection Calendar to find concerts near you. You can search by location or date, and even buy your tickets! Reba McEntire Pearl River Resort 1-866-44-PEARL Bret Michaels Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Billy Currington IP Casino Resort Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-946-2847

June: 3 3 4 8 10 10 11 15 17

Sinbad Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Lorrie Morgan & Pam Tillis IP Casino Resort Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-946-2847 Larry King IP Casino Resort Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-946-2847 Collective Soul Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 B.B. King Pearl River Resort 1-866-44-PEARL Tesla Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Larry the Cable Guy IP Casino Resort Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-946-2847 Earth, Wind & Fire Beau Rivage Casino Resort & Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-566-7469 Jerry Lee Lewis Pearl River Resort 1-866-44-PEARL

17 17 17 18 18 24 25

Credence Clearwater Revisited Beau Rivage Casino Resort & Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-566-7469 Mountain featuring Leslie West & Corky Laing Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Jamie Foxx IP Casino Resort Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-946-2847 Credence Clearwater Revisited Gold Strike Casino Resort 1-888-24-KSTAY Gavin DeGraw Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Sugarland Pearl River Resort 1-866-44-PEARL Pat Green Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256

1 8 9 22

The Wailers Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Earl Thomas Conley Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256 Jeff Dunham IP Casino Resort Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-946-2847 Peter Frampton Beau Rivage Casino Resort & Spa (Biloxi) 1-888-566-7469

J u ly:

Want more? Southern Gaming’s Got It! Visit for all your gaming needs. Vol um e 13  I ssu e 3  


Facts and Fun Riddle of the Month Answer: Some poor horse is walking around in his socks.

"Did You Know" Answers: A) Sir Barton B) D) All of the above C) Mudbug Madness D) Wind Creek Casino & Hotel

Did You Know?

Riddle of the Month:

1. Which horse was the first to win all three legs of the Triple Crown?

What does it mean if you find a horseshoe?

A. Sir Barton B. Secretariat C. Gallant Fox D. Citation

2. Which of the following is now the largest horseracing advanced deposit wagering site in the nation?

A. B. C. D. Got a joke or fun fact? E-mail it to for your chance to win casino coupons from The Comps ClubTM!

3. Which of these casino resorts can be found in Puerto Rico?

By the Numbers

A. Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa B. El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa C. Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel D. All of the above


4. Which of these festivals was started in 1984 by a group of Shreveport locals?

A. Cajun Food & Music Festival B. Bay Bridgefest C. Mudbug Madness D. MargaritaFest

Percentage of horse-racing wagers made using an off-track betting system


Time (in minutes) of the fastest Kentucky Derby finish, held by Secretariat

A. Belterra Casino Resort B. IP Casino Resort & Spa C. Pearl River Resort D. Wind Creek Casino & Hotel

Number of equines who have become Triple Crown Champions


5. Which luxury gaming property is home to culinary wonder Fire Steakhouse and its own cooking studio?

155,804 Attendance at the 2010 Kentucky Derby

"Did You Know" answers, below left

9 3 9

1 5

8 2





The Sudoku Puzzle


7 8




Up to the challenge?


8 4 7







The answer is listed on the bottom left corner of this page.

So u thern G aming and De s t in a t io n s

5 6

Complete the grid so that each column, row and block of nine squares includes numbers 1 through 9 only once. Answers on page 57

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larry king: life beyond the microphone By G . Douglas Dreisbach

Few people can say they have mastered their industry or trade. Even fewer can say they have mastered it for fifty years. One of the few who has accomplished this scarce feat is Larry King. The man who made a living interviewing the biggest names in show business, politics, social circles and just about every super star you could imagine. When he signed off on his final ‘Larry King Live Show’ on CNN last December, he left us with the words “Instead of goodbye, how about so long.” Well King is back…and he is coming to a casino near you! Southern Gaming caught up with him despite his remarkably busy schedule to get a look at life beyond television. Southern Gaming: Since 1985, the show Larry King Live has brought perspective on the lives of high profile people to millions of households worldwide. What were some of your favorite guests on the show? Larry King: What I liked the best was not so much the subject, but the quality of the guest. What I always wanted in a guest was someone who had passion for what they did, who could explain what they did very well, who had a sense of humor and a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. When you can combine those four things, it didn’t matter if it was a ballet dancer or a politician, it was great. Frank Sinatra had all four things. When you are lucky enough to get someone like that as a guest, it really doesn’t matter what the subject is. When I can get that magic occurring, that’s the best. I want the person more than the subject. The subjects will always fit in. SG: You are famous for getting the most out of your guests. How do you prepare for an interview? LK: I never approach the guest with an agenda. I never sit down and say, “Boy, I’m going to nail this guy.” I just try to learn. I try to ask good, short questions and listen to the answer. I never sat down wondering if it would make the newspapers tomorrow. I have been doing radio and television since I was 22 and I always looked at it as a learning experience. “I” didn’t count. I felt the


Southern G aming an d De s t in a t io n s

word “I” was irrelevant in an interview. Who cares what I think? If you make the guest count, you are going to get a lot out of them because the guest will feel that. That’s the way I work. My staff would give me bullet points for up-to-date information on a politician’s latest committees and votes, but they didn’t give me questions to ask. Nor have I ever sat down really knowing where I was going. Interviews begin and they flow. I got my start at a restaurant in Miami Beach called Pumpernik’s. There was no guest booked, no producer, people just dropped in. I would interview visiting salesmen and waiters. Suddenly it caught on and one day Bobby Darin came in. Another day, Jimmy Hoffa came in because there was a Teamsters Convention across the street. He came in for breakfast and sat on the air with me. So I was lucky enough to start that way, which taught me that since I couldn’t prepare I could work well off the top of my head. SG: Last December, you filmed your last Larry King Live show on CNN and closed with the memorable sign-off of “Instead of Good bye, how about so long”. You also mentioned doing some other things with your post CNN career. One of those has come to fruition with live performances and we are excited about the shows May 20 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino in Indiana and then on June 4 at the IP Casino Resort & Spa in Biloxi, Miss. What made you want to do these performances and what can fans expect to see at the shows? LK: They can expect to laugh. If they don’t laugh then I have bombed. I have been speaking at conventions and events my entire career. Ever since I was a kid, I was always funny and liked to tell stories. In fact, if I was starting my career today, I would probably do comedy. So, when the show ended at CNN, my nephew, who is a top Broadway producer, said, “Why don’t you do an act?” I liked the idea and we did a test market last year in Las Vegas at the Wynn Theatre. My wife opened for me, she sang, and it went over great. People laughed and came up to me after the show and said that I obviously loved doing it and that I should keep doing it. So, we put together this tour. My father-inlaw, Carl Engleman, who used to manage Marie Osmond, is my

a major speech at an international convention in which I will be interviewing the former president of Brazil. I will be funny there. But only about ten minutes of funny and then a serious interview, that is totally different than what I am going to be doing for the shows. SG: Since we are a gambling magazine, I have to ask if you ever visit the racetracks or casinos? LK: I really like the casino atmosphere. I love the racetrack, I always have. Bill Hartack, the legendary jockey, was a close friend of mine and with him I got to like that community so I like horseracing. At the casino, I get really frustrated at blackjack because I get mad at the dealer, which is a stupid way to approach it. But when I get five or six cards to get to twenty, and the dealer hits three cards and gets twenty-one, I blame him or her personally and I feel like they are out to get me. I am fascinated in watching craps, although I don’t really know how to play. Slot machines are fun but I really just like the buzz in a casino. I also like the sportsbooks. I really think Louisiana and Mississippi should consider getting them, they are a great source of income and the sports fans really enjoy them! I like to put a bet down on a team or on a horse, I don’t find anything wrong with it. There is too much involved and it’s not like they are really throwing games anymore. They don’t need to ban cell phones. You can’t post bet a race. So, if I had a vote in Mississippi, or Louisiana, I would vote to have sportsbooks. But, I love the buzz at the casino anyway. SG: Southern Gaming is based in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby. Have you ever been to a Derby? road manager and it’s me for about 80-minutes telling jokes and stories with some crowd participation. We hope that if the show is at 8:00, then at 9:20 the audience can go out and say “Boy that guy is funny!” When we test marketed it, people really laughed. I feel very comfortable at casinos, I really like the atmosphere. SG: So, the show is basically a recap or extension on what you have been doing your entire life? LK: Yes, but much more professionally put together. My entire life, if I was booked at any given convention, I would go on at say, 8:15. There would have been a speaker before me. There will be another speaker tomorrow. And I have my 40-minutes and am expected to go out and entertain, which I would do, but that was pretty much it. There was no act. I would just throw stories together as I felt them. But, these shows are professionally put together and are acts with a meaning for every story I tell. One story follows the previous story and it has meaning to it. We are not just throwing things at an audience. This audience is paying to be there and they deserve to get a show that is a show. If you are at a convention you expect to hear a good speaker that will make you laugh. For instance, in May I am going to Portugal for

LK: I have been to two Derbies. The Kentucky Derby is my favorite single event to attend. Bill Corum (a former New York Times Sports Journalist and president of Churchill Downs in 1949 - 1958) wrote once, ‘There is nothing as thrilling in sports as the horses turning for home at the Kentucky Derby.’ The way the Derby is handled with the glamour and the parties and the beautiful women, it is magnificent. When Louisville gets a nice day, in the upper seventies with a light breeze and no clouds in the sky, and these magnificent steeds come onto the track, with the Twin Spires towering above, it is so romantic. It just puts together so many things that make horseracing such a wonderful sport. Jockeys are such talented athletes. I like the whole drama about it. I love everything about it and Kentucky is one of my favorite places. For tickets to Larry King Live: Standing Up on May 20 at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, call 1-800-526-7223. For tickets to Larry King: Standing Up on June 4 at IP Casino Resort & Spa, call 1-888-946-2847. For a full list of show dates, visit

Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  










triple crown triumphs: dreams of destiny By Eric FLoyd

At the exact moment Super Saver started to fade on the far turn of Pimlico Racecourse in last year’s Preakness Stakes, a collective anguished sigh erupted from the multitudes of turf enthusiasts who dwell across our land. Another season had just been added to the most prolonged Triple Crown drought in history, and those holding vigil in wait of thoroughbred racing’s next immortal equine were left to reap a harvest of despair. To say that life in the United States has drastically changed since 1978 would be an abhorrent understatement, yet since that time, a racehorse named Affirmed has been waiting to pass on a sacred torch that remains clutched in his teeth. America’s Triple Crown Championship of Thoroughbred Racing is arguably the fiercest gauntlet to maneuver in modern-day athletic competition. The contest reigns over a five-week period that commences on the first Saturday in May underneath the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby has been colorfully coined the “Run for the Roses” and “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” yet these clever monikers could never encompass the significance this race holds for the dedicated race tracker. A 1¼-mile endeavor that transcends the sport itself, the Kentucky Derby sits on its own summit and awards spoils capable of transforming paupers into sultans. Two weeks after horse racing’s newest exemplar is adorned with exaltation in Louisville, the Triple Crown Series migrates to Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore. Drenched with a rich history, the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes primarily serves as the Kentucky Derby Champions’ litmus test of legitimacy. Here at “Old Hilltop” (Pimlico Racecourse) resides a trap race ready to humble those proud contestants who are prematurely focusing on the Triple Crown’s final hurdle that lies due north. Twenty-one days following the presentation of black-eyed susans to the Preakness Champion, every equestrian devotee worth their salt diligently eyes Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. A runner who arrives here having dispatched the Triple Crown’s initial pair of encumbrances stands 1½ miles from sipping out of thoroughbred racing’s holy grail, but alas, the Belmont Stakes is not a crusade for those who waver in the eye of the storm. This race’s history is saturated with shattered dreams, and the Belmont’s torturous 12  

Southern G aming an d De s t in a t io n s

T r i p l e c r o w n W i n n e r S e c r e ta r i at is considered the greatest of all time by many distance remains the primary reason why the title of “Triple Crown Champion” remains more elusive than the map to King Solomon’s mines. Understanding the parameters for Triple Crown participation doesn’t exactly require a doctorate in astrophysics, but the rules that govern the series are moderately complex. Equine age is imperative, and only thoroughbreds who have reached their third birthday may compete in the Triple Crown series. Runners must also be nominated to participate, and nomination fees vary depending on how early they are paid by ownership.

every walk of life routinely attempt to run through the raindrops when they spend millions at major thoroughbred auctions in Kentucky, California and Florida.

( Credit- NYRA / A dam Coglianese)

The inauguration of the Triple Crown’s oldest race occurred in 1867 when the Belmont Stakes was contested at Jerome Park Racecourse in the Bronx, N.Y. This now-defunct strip was the brainchild of a powerful financier named Leonard Jerome, otherwise known as the “Wizard of Wall Street.” Politician and avid racing enthusiast August Belmont was a close confidant of Jerome, and his invaluable assistance in racetrack operations led to his name being attached to the oval’s marquee event. After the closing of Jerome Park in 1890, the Belmont Stakes was held at nearby Morris Park Racecourse until it found a permanent home at Belmont Park in 1905.

19 7 8 w i n n e r , a f f i r m e d is the most recent Triple Crown champion. These required monies exponentially rise as the year trickles by, and the 364 parties who took advantage of 2011’s early deadline (which closed on Jan. 22) found their savings accounts a mere $600 lighter. The tardy nomination period for those who discovered a late bloomer in their barn closed on March 26 and required a check for the amount of $6,000. After this date, it is still possible to supplement a thoroughbred into any Triple Crown Race for the following tags: Kentucky Derby $200,000; Preakness Stakes $100,000; Belmont Stakes $100,000. In 1975, the governing body of Churchill Downs decreed that the Kentucky Derby starting gate would forevermore be limited to the 20 racers who possess the most Graded Stakes earnings. This charter ensures the field’s overall quality. Victors in a prestigious Grade 1 Derby Prep — such as the Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby and Bluegrass Stakes — automatically punch their ticket to Louisville. Field size for the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes varies from year to year, but if more than 14 horses are entered, the graded stakes criteria is again put into place. Any thoroughbred must obviously outrun long odds in order to gain Kentucky Derby status, but there is reason why a Kentucky Derby Champion commandeers choice adoration. Thirty-thousand thoroughbreds were nationally foaled in 2010 (incidentally this was the smallest crop in 30 years), and it is safe to say that only 50 percent of them will be training in 2012 as 2-year-olds. Around 350 of these 15,000 runners will be nominated to the Triple Crown Series in 2013, and out of those, a mere 20 will enter the starting gate for the 139th Kentucky Derby. This lottery-like probability should not promote a healthy optimism among potential buyers of horseflesh, yet souls from

The Belmont’s distance varied between nine and 13 furlongs (one furlong equals an eighth of a mile) for the first 59 years of its existence until the infamous 1½-mile length was permanently settled on in 1926. National anti-gambling legislation led to the cancellation of the race in 1911-1912, and during Belmont Park’s vast renovation, which lasted from 1963 to 1967, the third jewel of the Triple Crown 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 at the 1880 Belmont, and up until 1921, the “Test of Champions” was run clockwise like the majority of today’s international competitions. Nineteen horses have had their Triple Crown Championship dreams thwarted at “Big Sandy” (Belmont Park) after arriving with the first two jewels of the series in their saddlebags. The most recent collapse occurred in 2008 when the previously unbeaten and perceivably invincible Big Brown pulled up at the head of Belmont Park’s homestretch. This marked the seventh time since 1997 that a thoroughbred was poised to etch their name on racing’s platinum scroll before eating the competition’s dust. Real Quiet came within a nostril of becoming the 12th Triple Crown Champion in 1998 but was inched out in the shadow of Belmont Park’s wire by the late flying Victory Gallop. Smarty Jones also seemed equipped to finally put the sorrows of the sport to bed in 2004 but was upset by a 36-1 shot named Birdstone in the 136th Belmont Stakes. The Preakness Stakes might currently rate behind the Kentucky Derby on a scale of raw prestige, but in the early part of the 20th century, this race was more celebrated than any other in America. Opening day at Pimlico Racecourse in 1870 featured the Dinner Party Stakes that was won by a colt named Preakness, and in the racetrack’s spring meet of 1873, the highlighted 3-year-old stakes competition bore his name. In the inaugural Preakness, My Sheba galloped home easily by 10 lengths, and this record margin of victory stood until 2004 when the aforementioned Smarty Jones bested the field by 11 lengths. Pimlico’s main event was held before the Kentucky Derby on 11 different occasions prior to 1931, and in 1930, when Gallant Fox became horse racing’s second Triple Crown Champion, he found triumph in Maryland seven days before marching on to Louisville. The Preakness flirted with various distances that ranged from 1 to 1½ miles before settling on the current length of 1 3/16 miles in 1925. In both 1917 and 1922, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were held on the same

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day rendering any sweep of the Triple Crown Series impossible. When it comes to tangible bounty, the Preakness easily trumps both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. The Tiffany and Co.-crafted Woodlawn Vase, which dates back to 1860, is the most valuable trophy in American sports, and a replica of this priceless artifact is presented to the ownership of the Preakness Champion. If one could take all the other horse races on Earth and combine their pageantry, regality and splendor, the amassed equity would be diminutive when measured against the 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. Upon his stateside return, Clark established the Louisville Jockey Club and used land donated by his relatives (John and Henry Churchill) to erect what has become the world’s most recognized thoroughbred racing cathedral. The Kentucky Derby was first held at Churchill Downs on May 17, 1875, in front of 10,000 souls, and in accordance with the Epsom Derby and Grand Prix de Paris, the race was contested more than 1½ miles. A colt named Aristides triumphed in a field of 15, and while the initial meet was a success, Churchill Downs foundered financially soon thereafter and had to stave off periodic bankruptcy until 1902. It was not until Col. Matt Winn of Louisville roped together a local syndicate to purchase Churchill Downs that the facility found lasting prosperity. What truly sets the Kentucky Derby apart from every other race in the galaxy is the multitude of traditions that accompany it. One could definitely draw the conclusion that there is a discernible social stratum in place at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, and representing “steerage” are the hoards willing to ante 14  

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up a few hundred dollars so they can party on the infield lawn. In contrast to this communal atmosphere is Millionaire’s Row, where society royals, dignitaries and owners dressed in tailormade to fit garbs look down on the proceedings like ancient Roman Lords. So many customs transpire on Derby Day that an attempt to list them all would be ludicrous, but distinguished ladies in ornate hats, the blanket of roses, mint juleps, singing “My Old Kentucky Home” and burgoo stew are, metaphorically speaking, the major pillars that support Derby culture. The consequence of the Triple Crown Series undeniably grows with each passing year, but I dare say so does the mystique of every equine who somehow managed to slay it. All 11 Triple Crown Champions now reside in heaven, and while I could pen infinite volumes on each of their accolades, current parameters only allow for an abbreviated roll call:

Sir Barton (1919) — Owned by Canadian Navel Commander

J.K.L. Ross, Sir Barton was winless entering the Kentucky Derby and only secured a spot in the mix to serve as a “rabbit” for stable mate Billy Kelly. Once the flag dropped though, Sir Barton went to the lead and never looked back, easing under the wire by five lengths over a sloppy track.

Gallant Fox (1930) — With legendary conditioner “Sunny” Jim Fitzsimmons and jockey Earl Sande in his corner, the “Fox of Belair” vanquished all comers in the Triple Crown Series even though he had the peculiar habits of purposefully letting his competition get a head start and slowing down once a lead was secured. Omaha (1935) — Sired by Gallant Fox and also trained by

Jim Fitzsimmons, Omaha stood an impressive 16½ hands and is the only Triple Crown Champion to race abroad. “The Belair Bullet” compiled a two-for-four record in England and missed

( Credit- NYRA / A dam Coglianese)

t h e 14 0 t h Be l m o n t S ta k e s i n 2 0 0 8 is the most recent year that a Triple Crown was on the Line.

winning the Ascot Gold Cup by just a head.

War Admiral (1937) — This stout son of Man O War who preferred to race on the lead routinely held up post time due to an abhorrence of the starting gate. His darkest day came on Nov. 1, 1938, in a match race against Seabiscuit where he was bested by four lengths. Whirlaway (1941) — Affectionately nick-named “Mr. Longtail,” Whirlaway was handled by Eddie Arcaro, who I firmly believe was the finest jockey of all time. Early in his career, this eccentric equine bolted to the outer rail at the start of races and often let the competition gather lengthy leads before kicking into high gear. Count Fleet (1943) — Owned by the wife of John D. Hertz

(founder of Hertz Rent-A-Car), Count Fleet won all six of his 3-year-old starts and secured top honors in the Withers Stakes in-between the Preakness and Belmont. This horse’s 25-length margin of victory in the Belmont Stakes stood as a record until 1973.

Assault (1946) — As a yearling while playing in the fields of

King Ranch in Texas, Assault stepped on a surveyor’s stake and permanently deformed his right front hoof. The “Club-Footed Comet” tested sterile after retirement much to the dismay of those wishing to breed him.

Citation (1948) — Ridden by Eddie Arcaro (who is the only duel-winning Triple Crown jockey), “Big Cy” was the most versatile thoroughbred from the first part of the 20th century and won 19 of 20 races as a 3-year-old. Regarding Citation, Jim Fitzsimmons was once quoted as saying, “He’s the best I’ve ever seen … and I saw Man O War.”

Secretariat (1973) — Considered the greatest of all

time by many turf historians, Secretariat authored the most magnanimous chapter in the annals of horse racing with a 31-length conquest in the Belmont Stakes. The only thoroughbred to simultaneously grace the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated.

Seattle Slew (1977) — Though he completed the Triple Crown Series undefeated, Slew was soundly beaten in the Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park in his first post Belmont start. This son of Bold Reasoning triumphed over Affirmed by four lengths in the Marlboro Cup Stakes held at Canada’s Woodbine Racetrack, which was the first race to feature a pair of Triple Crown Champions. Affirmed (1978) — If it wasn’t for his archrival Alydar, Affirmed would have easily coasted through the 1978 Triple Crown Series. After finishing second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Alydar seemed poised to capture the Belmont after taking a head lead in the homestretch, but under a gutsy ride from Steve “The Kid” Cauthen, Affirmed came back on the rail to win the race and secure his place in turf history. As referenced earlier, the probabilities of owners landing their silks in the saddle come the first Saturday in May are rather long indeed, but there is equal hazard waiting for those opting to invest at the Churchill Downs mutual windows. The pure size of the Kentucky Derby field tends to beget humongous bewilderment, and every year key contenders are compromised by myriad traffic problems. This unfortunate element of the contest is simply a fact

of life and must be looked at as collateral damage, so it is best to focus on only what we as bettors can control. Many handicappers have taken an aggressively modernistic approach to figuring the Kentucky Derby, and while it’s undeniable that the plates of thoroughbred racing continuously shift, I still believe in adhering to traditional principles. Thoroughbreds with a solid 2-year-old foundation and a Grade I victory under their belt have something horseplayers call “class,” and this element separates contenders from pretenders. Always look for a runner who is bred to go the 10-furlong distance and has at least five lifetime starts, preferably three as a 3-year-old. Experience is paramount at the Derby, and runners who have formally faced adversity automatically acquire an edge over unseasoned ponies. Finally, look for a contender who works fast in the days leading up to the race, and don’t become smitten with a horse over one big performance. There can be no better experience than cashing a ticket on May 7, 2011, but even if plans go awry, a legitimate chance to right the ship will be at hand two weeks later. The Preakness consistently runs closer to form than the Kentucky Derby, and when the land’s top 3-year-olds migrate to Maryland, the cream typically rises to the top. If a bettor has the mind to wager significant capital, then the Preakness is their race, and though I am no equine soothsayer, eight out of the last 14 Preakness Champions have padded my bank account. A legitimate Derby Champion or beaten Derby favorite that was the victim of a horrible trip in Louisville habitually wins the Preakness. In turn, note that new shooters seldom crash the Preakness — since 1997, only three non-Derby starters have worn the blanket of black-eyed susans. Grizzled horseplayers seldom encounter 12-furlong races while thumbing through the Daily Racing Form, so one can imagine how far the novice sits behind the eight ball when attempting to handicap such a trial. I seldom cite the importance of jockeys when distributing mutual investment advice, but when it comes to the Belmont Stakes, that creed flies out the window. Most every racetrack in the continental United States measures one mile in circumference, but the Belmont strip lasts for 1½ miles, and you had better back a thoroughbred whose pilot is familiar with it. Bear in mind, too, that since riders in this race’s top flight tend to post soft opening fractions, the majority of equines who acquire the August Belmont trophy race either on or near the lead. For those who are currently on the outside looking in, I cordially invite you to share in the 2011 Triple Crown Series. The only legitimate mainstream media focus on horse racing this year will be from May 7 to June 11, and within this precious window of time resides the best opportunity to enlist new fans of the turf. The Triple Crown embodies the very best of what the “Sport of Kings” has to offer, and if you take my word for it, I promise that when the Kentucky Derby field turns for home, your heart will be racing as fast as the horses!

Eric Vaughn Floyd is a turf writer for various gaming publications and consultant to several nationwide media outlets in regards to the Triple Crown. Excerpts from his gambling memoir, “The Backstretch (My First Decade Playing the Game),” can be viewed at

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You would naturally assume that a student who takes trumpet lessons once a week for two years would be able to play their instrument with a moderate level of proficiency. What would be the result, though, if over the next 12 months, the student only bothered to practice half a dozen times? You guessed it — this player’s level of expertise would dramatically recede. The same axiom of deterioration through complacency applies to thoroughbred racehorses, and when these animals spend extended periods of time away from the oval, an erosion of skills is inherent.

Eric Vaughn Floyd is a turf writer for various gaming publications and consultant to several nationwide media outlets in regards to the Triple Crown. Excerpts from his gambling memoir, “The Backstretch (My First Decade Playing the Game),” can be viewed at

Horseracing: Handicapping Thoroughbreds Returning from a Layoff


Thoroughbred racehorses are physically gifted equine athletes, and like any competitor, they remain susceptible to the rigors that their craft distributes. Minor injuries are common, and while a fair percentage of equines have competed with a bump or bruise, runners with serious afflictions usually require an extended vacation in order to regain soundness. Owners spend vast amounts of money to buy thoroughbreds, and trainers depend on equine success to put food on the table. Due to these monetary consequences, the last word either party ever wants to utter is “retirement.” Even if a thoroughbred seems destined for the breeding shed, a hiatus will almost always be furnished by the connections until any hope of recovery has been extinguished. This period of optimism typically has no expiration date and may be significant if the equine is in the early stages of their career and has not yet had the opportunity to reach full potential. Handicapping a horse race in which a key contender is coming off an extended layoff often rates as problematic. One may search the work tab for answers, but most seasoned handicappers know that even if these numbers read solidly, the animal may still be lacking prime fitness. A thoroughbred will usually not fire their best shot returning from a layoff that stretches past three months, and, in most cases, it is suggested to let such a beast get a race under their belt before backing them at the mutual window. Now, most handicapping ideologies contain exception clauses, and with that said, I do believe a player can capitalize on a prodigal runner who possesses a significant class edge. If I could only teach you one thing about betting the ponies that my 15 years of experience has taught me, it would be that CLASS WINS RACES! The term “class” may be initially difficult to get your mind around, but for our purposes, a “classy” racehorse will demonstrate the willingness to win in fast company. The classiest horses regularly run in stakes races, and in descending order of prestige, these contests rank: Grade 1 Stakes,

Grade 2 Stakes, Grade 3 Stakes and Non-Graded Stakes. It would now be pertinent to cite a few examples that lend creditability to the claim that “backclass” is a power ful handicapping angle, and Eric Floyd as fate would have it, two perfect illustrations just happen to be festering in my frontal lobe. On Feb. 5, I visited Tampa Bay Downs to view the 21st running of the Super Stakes, and while figuring the feature, it became apparent that though a field of 10 was set to go post ward, only two runners warranted consideration for win honors. See I A had won the non-graded Pelican Stakes in his last start at Tampa and sought a sixth consecutive triumph, while morning-line favorite and Grade I winner Capt. Candyman Can was returning to action off a 15-month layoff. Deciding between these entries was perplexing because the local equine was performing at an astonishing level but was outclassed on paper by his rusty rival. My quandary was only augmented after a glance at the tote board revealed that both runners stood at odds of 2-1, obviously my fellow patrons straddled the fence as well. Even though I always preach the importance of “class,” in the end I became smitten with See I A’s string of victories. This transgression ultimately cost me, and after Capt. Candyman Can rallied to win by half a length, I came to the realization that betting a former claimer to best a runner who had participated in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint was a poor decision. Held on March 5 at Aqueduct Racecourse, the 1 1/16mile Gotham Stakes was headlined by Kentucky Derby contenders Toby’s Corner and Stay Thirsty. Toby’s Corner entered the Gotham off an impressive score in Aqueduct’s non-graded Whirlaway Stakes a month earlier, while multiple Grade I Stakes participant Stay Thirsty was making his return to action off a four-month layoff. “Back-class” was again the deciding factor in this race, as odds-on-favorite Stay Thirsty won easily by 3¼ lengths. It is important to note that while the examples given pertain to stakes horses, the “back-class” angle can also be used in handicapping other levels of racing. Competitive allowance types descending into the claiming ranks always deserve consideration, as do equines who fall from Maiden Special Weight into Maiden Claiming. Remember that the aim in this game is to simply find the fastest horse, and they reside in one place — the head of their “class.”

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thoroughbred ownership: The Derby Dream Price Tag By Eric Floyd

this cup along with the blanket of roses draped over Silver Charm’s shoulders suddenly became the aim of my entire existence. This year marks the 15th anniversary of my affliction with “Derby Fever” which I can say quite confidently is a plague that blankets a fair percentage of race trackers. The primar y symptom of this ailment is a reoccurring vision of a ridiculously impossible and Ho r s e S y n di c at i o n laughable dream; owning is the most prudent avenue for the potential thoroughbred owner. the thoroughbred that wins the Kentucky Derby. The first thoroughbred horse race I ever wagered on was the Believe me friend, aside from eternal life, owning a Kentucky 1997 Kentucky Derby and while it’s embarrassing to admit, the Derby Champion is all that I will ever really want. Keep your only reason Silver Charm received my backing was because his money, mansions, automobiles, yachts and diamond crusted alloy laden title spoke to me. During this era I was twenty-three Rolex watches because these possessions as a whole are still years in age and making $7.00 an hour but partial poverty didn’t radically eclipsed by triumph on the “First Saturday in May”. prevent a hard day’s pay from being attached to the nose of this You may scoff at this sentiment but countless souls inside the innocent grey colt. I’ve often referenced the immeasurable impact game of horseracing share a similar outlook and contend their this edition of the Kentucky Derby had on me because when personal yearning for dominion over Louisville is unmatched. Silver Charm collared Free House in mid-stretch then gamely Yet in the end if any of us are going to succeed in living out the staved off the late flying Captain Bodgit to win “The Sport of “Derby Dream” one very pivotal occurrence must transpire… King’s” preeminent prize, my life’s priorities eternally shifted. we’ve got to buy a horse! Naturally the 4-1 payout on my flutter was quite handsome but money wasn’t the force that had stirred a previously hibernating sector of my soul. When the infield winner’s circle at Churchill Downs was shown on TV I couldn’t seem to break my gaze towards the Kentucky Derby Gold Cup that Silver Charm’s owner (Bob Lewis) clutched in his hands. Fashioned after the “Golden Jubilee Trophy” originally presented to Mrs. Rosa L. Hoots, (Owner of 1924 Kentucky Derby Champion Black Gold) 18  

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Have you ever wondered why thoroughbred racing is often referred to as “The Sport of Kings”? Well it’s because ponies aren’t cheap brother and traditionally only the wealthy have participated in the practice of equine ownership. The price tag of our aforementioned “Derby Dream” is especially ludicrous and each year hundreds of millions of dollars are spent by turf zealots seeking to find that one beast whose nose is destined to tickle the Kentucky Derby’s wire.

Now don’t believe for a minute that financial solvency automatically dictates success when acquiring a thoroughbred. At Calder Racetrack’s 2006 Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of two year-olds in training an equine named The Green Monkey was sold for $16 million dollars but never even won a race for his connections. While some cite this disaster as reason to keep the purse strings drawn, others counter that the $4 million dollar price tag on 2000 Kentucky Derby Champion Fusaichi Pegasus proves that when acquiring equine racers, you get what you pay for. The majority of those who deem themselves ready to plunge head first into the world of thoroughbred ownership are not royals, sheiks, magistrates or barons and must honestly access what strata of racing they are suited for. This boils down to a matter of cold hard cash and while it is possible to catch lightning in a bottle (1999 Kentucky Derby Champion Charismatic sold for a mere $17,000) one shouldn’t expect to snag a Triple Crown contender for a few grand. Don’t believe for a moment though that a person of modest means can’t dwell among the sport’s elite; they must simply be willing to coexist with some teammates. Most individual parties don’t have $40,000 to spend on a thoroughbred racehorse but what if I told you that a share in an animal of this quality could be acquired for just a few thousand dollars? Well if this sparks your interest then listen up because thoroughbred syndication is a type of joint venture that makes this possible! Syndication not only entices people to enter the world of horseracing that would otherwise never consider ownership but many veterans of the game including Pocket Aces Racing manager Marc Wampler agree that, “For the potential thoroughbred owner yearning to get their feet wet, syndication remains the most prudent avenue.” Inside these syndicates multiple participants purchase shares in a single thoroughbred (Pocket Aces Racing shares range from 4% to 5%) and while some may adamantly proclaim “Wait a minute, I want a racer of my own!” remember that sole ownership also entails shouldering the entire financial burden presented by the beast. Inherent fiscal risks go far beyond a horse’s initial purchase price and include but are not limited to: feed, shoeing, shipping, veterinarian exams and trainer compensation. These “maintenance fees” can total into outlandish sums so it is recommended that when syndicating one aligns with a partnership that outlines a schedule of such capital outlay in advance. In the case of Pocket Aces Racing a standard (and might I add very economical) quarterly maintenance fee of $300 is employed. The most famous thoroughbred syndicate in recent memory involved a group of six gentlemen who had been good friends dating back to high school. Except for one member which owned some harness stock, the group’s collective knowledge of the races was rather opaque but that didn’t stop them from pooling $75,000 to purchase a thoroughbred named Funny Cide. This New York bred gelding turned some heads with a second place showing in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack before hitting pay dirt in the 129th Kentucky Derby four weeks later. Funny Cide went on to capture the Preakness Stakes and might have improved upon a third place result in the Belmont if not for an extremely sloppy racetrack. Funny Cide’s owners dubbed the “Sackatoga Six” reveled in being “everyday guys” and while many owners insisted on having chauffeured limousines, this

contingent arrived at each of the 2003 Triple Crown Races in a yellow school bus! Thoroughbred racehorses are acquired in a variety of ways at various stages of their career. The most traditional and dare I romantic alternative when it comes to such a purchase is the public auction and thriving inside this unique commerce are yearling sales, two year-old sales and two year-old in training sales. Presently yearling sales (which offer runners of either sex between the ages of one and two) remain the most prominent in the industry and bring in heavy hitters with deep pockets from all around the world. Risks magnify when buying a yearling or two year-old thoroughbred for no one can be sure of the horse’s true ability and many buyers never recover one red cent of the purchase price. Marc Wampler of Pocket Aces Racing adds, “Only half of all thoroughbreds purchased ever start in a race and just a median percentage of those ultimately visit the winner’s circle.” The majority of yearling sales transpire from late summer to mid-fall and from 1943 to its conclusion in 2002, the Keeneland July Selected Yearling Sale was considered the world’s most prestigious thoroughbred auction turning out a total of 11 Kentucky Derby Champions. Keeneland currently holds its yearling sale in September due to what CEO Nick Nicholson cites as “consigner preference”. Two year-old in training sales that showcase racers primed for competition have steadily grown in popularity over the last several years for it is naturally easier to gauge the aptitude of these sophomores than say a yearling who has only thus far frolicked in the fields. Dealing with younger equines also means a longer waiting period for competition and due to a lack of patience many parties find this prospect undesirable. Since the general public has access to all workout figures at two-year old in training sales one shouldn’t expect to “steal” an exceptional two-year old at a discounted price but conversely, the chances of coming up with an empty sack are equally tapered. Any buyer who attends a public auction with serious intentions had better do some homework beforehand and having a detailed knowledge of the sales catalogue is a step in the right direction. This text is a portfolio of all equines offered and includes lineages from both the sire and dam (mother and father). These bloodlines will assist in determining genetic traits like speed or stamina that might have been generationally passed down and while no technique is flawless, pedigree will be the primary factor that drives a thoroughbred’s sale price. Catalogues will also include a plethora of other details including the conditions of sale. These terms should be reviewed extremely carefully so all parties involved in a transaction realize their inherent responsibilities such as post-sale boarding and transportation. Many times an interested party will request a veterinary exam or x-rays of a horse slated for sale and while these accompaniments incur added expenses on prospectors, they may very well morph into an invaluable insurance policy. The pre-sale period is also a time where clients and their advisors may decide to inspect a runner’s physical characteristics or “conformation”. Thoroughbreds are naturally built vastly different from each other and being able to recognize a sound animal on appearance alone is truly an art form. First time buyers rarely have an eye capable of properly Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  








A trainer may also serve as an agent of equine selection but will most likely expect to handle the conditioning duties of any purchase they advise you on. Even if a trainer is not sought initially, the services of one must be secured eventually and when choosing it is important to hear opinions from many present and former clients. Trainer rates vary and some factors that determine fees include experience, winning percentage, barn size, reputation and location. Conditioners who head their class regularly charge $100 per horse per day while other competent but lesser known individuals may receive only half that amount. Be aware that thoroughbreds rarely remain in training year round and routinely need time away from the races to unwind. Boarding houses that provide such services are plentiful and owners should expect to pay nominal weekly fees to utilize them. Claiming a runner from the track itself remains the fastest way to become an owner of a thoroughbred that is immediately ready to race. The pages of the Daily Racing Form are routinely saturated with claiming races where each participating thoroughbred is for sale at a predetermined price and by grouping equines of similar caliber together, the racetrack ensures their contests remain competitive. If the claiming method wasn’t employed then a trainer could run a superior horse against a sub-par crop to pick up a quick purse but in actuality no conditioner would think of entering a racer worth say 100K into a 10K claiming race (just as you wouldn’t sell a dollar bill for a dime). Claiming rules vary 20  

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P u bl i c A u c t i o n s are the most traditional form of purchasing a racehorse. depending on the state but an owner’s license from the state you are claiming in and enough money on account with the track to pay the claim is standard procedure. The claiming process has to be finalized before an appointed juncture (usually ten or fifteen minutes before post-time) and involves depositing a signed form in the “claim box” located near the race secretary’s office. Buying a thoroughbred through the claiming process has some drawbacks including the fact that there is no entitlement to a veterinary exam and the previous owner retains any purse monies won in the race the horse is claimed in. Also be aware that if claimed, new ownership receives the horse “as is”, sadly enough more than one person has experienced claiming a dead racehorse. On a lighter note, many “claimers” that have changed ownership and conditioners vastly improve thus netting those who put faith in them a healthy profit. The thoroughbred Lava Man will forever remain one of racing’s greatest rags to riches stories for after being claimed by trainer Doug O’ Neill for $50,000, this son of Seattle Slew went on to win seven Grade I races including the 2006 $1,000,000 Santa Anita Handicap. Whether a new owner has to wait years or just a few weeks, eventually race day will arrive on the horizon and that moment of truth is unequal to any other. Standing in the paddock while your very own thoroughbred is being saddled will create a unique sense of euphoria and substantiate all time and monies invested. Most owners prefer to have their runners compete at nearby ovals so they can be in attendance but in the long run it is more important to vie inside a venue where your purchase can be competitive. Pocket Aces Racing manager Marc Wampler’s stance on this matter is emphatic, “Every equine proprietor longs for that whopping purse but we refuse to get in over our head by running a horse where they don’t belong.” Like any investment, acquiring principal in a thoroughbred racehorse has its risks. What an interested party has to ask the

P h o to Cre di t: Tea mCo yl e/ Keenel a nd

appraising an equine’s conformation so drafting a teammate who can assist is an intelligent decision. Blood-stock agents are t he t horoughbred owner’s consigliere (that’s for you Godfather fans out there) and they will analyze the sales catalogue while bearing in mind total budget and overall goals. As a blood-stock agent for both Equine Analysis Systems Inc. and Classic Thoroughbreds Inte r n at ion a l (w h ich was a self formed enterprise) Pocket Aces Racing manager Marc Wampler has appraised thoroughbred racehorses for private sa le at 31 domestic racetracks and served affluent clientele in Dubai, Germany, France, Engla nd a nd Irela nd. When I spoke personally to this guru of horseflesh he reflected on how these international crusades had provided invaluable experience for his current venture with Pocket Aces Racing, “The opportunity I had to evaluate some of the world’s finest breeding stock, racing prospects and racehorses drastically honed my eye and ensures our investors achieve the maximum potential for every dollar spent.”

Ph o to Credi t: Tea mCo yl e/ Keenel a nd

Th e K e e n e l a n d J u ly S e l ec t e d Y e a r l i n g S a l e turned out a total of 11 Derby champions. person in the mirror before considering involvement is, “Do I truly love the game?” If the answer is “yes” and syndication sounds appealing then priority one has to be locating an organization worthy to share in your dream. Options inside the world of syndicated thoroughbred partnerships are bountiful but in the end solid results build lasting reputations and that is why Pocket Aces Racing located in Lexington, KY has flourished since 2004. Managed by partners Marc Wampler and Jared Shoemaker, Pocket Aces Racing offers affordable opportunities to purchase thoroughbred shares without giving up perks that owners have traditionally relished. Partners in every acquisition receive race tapes, winner’s circle pictures, paddock access and communication with trainer Joseph Deegan who is a former award winning European jockey and one of America’s foremost horsemen. If you are the type that heeds only what the balance sheet proclaims then consider these numbers; every single horse syndicated by Pocket Aces Racing has made it to the track (remember the industry average is only 50%) and except for a lone racer with only one career start, every runner syndicated by the group has visited the winner’s circle. The duel tier management philosophy of Pocket Aces Racing has undoubtedly contributed to their fruitful success and the capability of Jared Shoemaker (M.B.A Sports Business Management) to oversee the business operation sector of this empire leaves ample hours for his partner to do what he does

best…purchase talented thoroughbreds. Marc Wampler has selected numerous young racing prospects that developed into conquerors within the “Sport of Kings” and a current member of the Pocket Aces stable named Dixie’s Hope boasts over $66,000 in earnings! Other notable racers Mr. Wampler has selected for his clients include: Diamondrella (Grade 1 Champion), Waltzerkonigin, Artemus Sunrise (Grade III Champions), Tiberius Caesar, Chan Chan, and Three in the Bag (Stakes Champions). We at Southern Gaming and Destinations continually advise responsible involvement in every aspect of leisure including thoroughbred ownership. With that said I beg of you… please do not spend principle savings, mortgage money, a child’s college fund or the 401K on a racehorse. The “Sport of Kings” is fraught with peril and its creatures are delicate- only invest discretionary income and do not wallow in overzealous expectations. Following these vital axioms will make any ownership experience incredibly rewarding and in the end who knows; maybe fate will select you to raise the Golden Kentucky Cup towards the Heavens! Eric Vaughn Floyd is a turf writer for various gaming publications and consultant to several nationwide media outlets in regards to the Triple Crown. Excerpts from his gambling memoir, “The Backstretch (My First Decade Playing the Game),” can be viewed at

Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  





Poker Players Alliance

Robert Chapman is the Deputy State Director for the PPA in Kentucky, cohosts the “Poker Night Radio Show” on WXBH-92.7 FM and writes for Poker in Kentucky at

Get in the GAme By Robert C hapman

The Poker Players Alliance is a large and growing organization built for and by the poker playing community. With more than 1 million members nationwide and growing, the PPA mission is to favorably impact poker legislation in America. While most poker players easily recognize the PPA as a national group with the goal of “legalizing online poker,” only a small percentage know that the PPA is working in your state right now. The PPA is in fact a huge group with a daunting task, and you would be surprised to find out just how the small full-time staff gets anything done. Volunteers like me, that’s how. The PPA is a true “grassroots” organization with a volunteer board, volunteer state directors, volunteer area representatives and lots of local volunteers just like you. As we draw closer every legislative year to some sort of federal regulation of online poker, the PPA knows the fight will shift to the state capitols and town halls. Our opponents at the federal level and the Department of Justice have done a good job polluting the debate with falsehoods, lies and misdirection. After a couple of events, we quickly determined that local representatives and patch-wearing members need a set of basic talking points beyond press releases. Below you will find my talking points developed over the last 52 weekends at regional poker events wearing a PPA patch. What are the PPA benefits? The PPA website at has tons of information. However, being a premium member has significantly more advantages. Here is a short list of what is available today: • Free memberships, action alerts, Daniel Negreanu’s newsletter, tools to write your local politicians, and access to the PPA forums. • Premium Memberships: • PPA membership swag such as a chip protector, decals, hat or T-shirt • The PPA Litigation Network and Legal Support Team if you need legal advice • Ability to contribute to the Poker PAC (Political Action Committee) • Discounts on PPA Gear and accessories • $50 off on Card Player Cruises • $300 off on the WSOP Academy • Many invitations to PPA-endorsed events and benefits for charity Isn’t the PPA just about Internet poker? No. While the PPA formed as a result of UIGEA, its leadership quickly realized the battle for poker rights is fought everywhere, every day. From the living room to the White House, the PPA has pledged to fight for our right to play poker. The PPA in 2010 was involved directly, either in court or the legislature, in at least six states. 22  

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I don’t put money online, why should I care about UIGEA? You should care about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) because it was a ‘Midnight Rider’ attached to a ‘Must Pass’ bill at the last second without proper debate, discussion or thought into its affect on the banking industry. Unintended results of the regulations has hurt the horse racing, credit card and banking industries by adding more levels of bureaucracy, increased cost of business and reduced ability to freely transfer money. There are volumes of documented instances where checks, deposits and credit card transactions between legitimate and legal business activities have been blocked. The UIGEA made the banks be the police, and they cannot be sued for enforcing this law. Once we get online poker legalized, the PPA will disappear, right? No, the PPA will not go away as long as there are issues to be lobbied, legislated, litigated or discussed. Even when online poker is regulated, there will almost certainly counter actions from the opposition. The PPA signed up for the long haul. The PPA does not care about state stuff, do they? Of course the PPA cares about the states. The entire federal battle is in essence a “state’s rights” issue. Every piece of federal legislation that has gone anywhere has included an “Opt In/Opt Out” clause that will give each state the choice to participate. These will be decisive battles held in local town halls across the country — the PPA will need you, me and whoever else we can find to show up and support the cause. My state is going to start its own poker site. Why should I care about “International Player Pools”? When New Hampshire passed the first lottery law in America years ago, they thought they had found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, they quickly realized that as neighboring states started their own lotteries, the prize pool began to shrink. Eventually and slowly, the individual states banded together to form the Powerball system of combined player pools in order to offer that $300 million jackpot. The horse racing industry works much the same way. Without a very large player base to generate large prize pools, small states will have a difficult time earning enough revenue to make Internet poker profitable. What do I get for being a state PPA member? Well, every state director has developed their own statewide membership campaign. In Kentucky, we have sponsored a local radio show, the State Poker Championships and travel statewide to meet players on the felt. You get to bend our ear and tell us face to face what the real poker-playing population wants. As an organization, the PPA has proven to be extremely flexible, responsible and surprisingly upfront on a number of issues. The PPA is surprisingly up to speed on more issues and politically astute than I ever imagined.

Your Game. Your Freedom.

Your Alliance!

Poker has a target on its back. Even as the game skyrockets in popularity, lawmakers and others are trying to close you out from playing poker at your computer table, your kitchen table and even at charity events! Don’t let them do it.

JOIN THE POKER PLAYERS ALLIANCE The PPA has been fighting to protect your rights to play poker and to preserve this historic American pastime. Great progress has been made by the over one million PPA members nationwide, but we need your help. JOIN US TODAY. Visit and grab a seat at the table to protect poker.



*With your $20 annual premium membership






irection A better wagering experience By Vance Hanson

A day at the races is no longer like it was a generation or two ago when betting on horse racing was virtually restricted to wagering at the track where live racing was being held. A boom in simulcast offtrack betting (OTB) locations brought the action closer to home to where more than 90 percent of wagering on horse racing is now done away from where live racing is taking place. An ever-growing share of that percentage is now done online in what is the only legal form of online wagering in the United States.


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Photo Credit: T, a wholly owned subsidiary of Churchill Downs Incorporated and the official online wagering site of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, was T w i n s p i r e s M o bi l e launched in May 2007 to tap provides access to wagering and video streaming on mobile into this growing market. After devices such as iPhone, iPad and Droid. acquiring AmericaTab in 2007 and merging with Youbet in bet but don’t have the time to visit their nearest racetrack or June 2010, TwinSpires is now the largest advanced deposit simulcasting facility. Customers have a wide range of choices on wagering (ADW) site in the nation with more than 200,000 how they make their wagers, including online or over the phone, customers that placed over 80 million wagers last year. and the introduction of the TwinSpires Mobile now allows for For a society busier than ever, TwinSpires is at the forefront of easy access to wagering and video streaming on mobile, iPad, making wagering more accessible to those who would like to iPhone, Droid and other devices.

Photo Credit: Twin Spires . com

books/magazines to Brisnet handicapping products. Players can earn points online at or at any Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) track or offtrack-betting location including Churchill Downs. Prior to their merger, Yo u b e t . c o m a n d were both leading ADW companies offering innovative products. Now players can access the best features of both sites at TwinSpires. com. TwinSpiresTV offers the highest quality live streaming video T w i n S p i r e sTV ex perience on t he I nt e r n e t , a s w e l l offers high quality live videos and Brisnet handicapping tools. as progra mming information, Brisnet handicapping tools, “There is very little that beats the thrill of experiencing live stats, data, expert selections, race replays and up-to-the-minute racing, and what we are trying to do with is race results. Players can also view the video feeds from as many bring as much of that experience as we can to players wherever as five tracks at one time, thus turning TwinSpiresTV into a they may be,” said vice president of marketing horseplayer’s personal OTB. Weekend previews and other Jeremy Clemons. “The convenience of betting online and racing-related videos, as well as entertainment videos, are through mobile devices such as an iPhone or a Droid allows another prominent feature of TwinSpiresTV. players to engage in racing on days and from locations where they never thought it possible.”

While wagering convenience is a primary goal, providing horseplayers with the tools they need to make those wagers is another benefit to those with a TwinSpires account. Free Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances and free selections are available to account holders, as well as free live video and race replays. To help develop new fans and break down barriers for those new to horse racing, TwinSpires also provides free video tutorials on how to sign up, fund, wager and use past performance products. “Getting started with is easy,” added Clemons. “Players can get signed up, fund their account and start playing the races in less than 10 minutes.” Another benefit of TwinSpires membership is free deposit and withdrawal methods, including the popular EZ Money option, which allows players to easily transfer funds in an out of their bank account. TwinSpires players are also eligible to enroll in the Twin Spires Club, a customer-rewards program where players can earn points redeemable toward various prizes, from merchandise and

TwinSpires Express is a highly informed program layout users of will be familiar with. This data-rich program offers the ability to drill down into information within the program to access detailed race, horse, trainer and jockey statistics. TwinSpiresPro, meanwhile, is a lightning-fast, single-pane wagering interface that saves players’ time and clicks with its streamline design and “copy runners” features allowing players to quickly make multiple exotic wagers. Bringing together the very best features of and those original to allows TwinSpires the ability to innovate more quickly and bring new features to the market, all for the long-term benefit of horse racing.

Vance Hanson has been associate editor of since 2008. A graduate of the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program, he’s also a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association.

Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  


Move over, you monsters. Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman are merely minor real-world myths that can’t hold an RNG to the myriad reel-world myths that have developed about slot machines. Here is a slew of the myths coupled with their truths — to disabuse any of you who are true believers in this falseness.

Frank Scoblete’s newest books are “Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machine” featuring advantage-play slots that give the players the edge; “Casino Craps: Shoot to Win” that comes with a DVD showing unedited controlled throws; “Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players”; and “Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge.” All books are available at bookstores, from or by calling 1-800-944-0406. If you would like a free month’s subscription to Frank Scoblete’s private site and/or a free brochure, e-mail or call 1-800-944-0406.


Slots: The Great Myths


The Myth: There will be no more jackpots after a big one has been hit so the machine can make sure it meets payback percentage. The Truth: The hitting of the jackpot is not determined by a recent hitting of the jackpot. The machine does not say to itself, “Oh, that player just hit a jackpot. I better stop all future jackpots until I make back the money!” The statistics of the machine include jackpot hits, and should randomness hit a second jackpot right after another jackpot, that is no big deal. The reason people think the machines tighten up after a jackpot is simple: Jackpots are long shots, and hitting them in close succession is highly improbable, yes, but not impossible. The Myth: Older slot machines are much tighter than newer machines, because players in the past were far stupider than they are today. The Truth: The old Las Vegas probably had looser machines than it does today, because it was far less expensive to operate a casino in those days. Table games brought in so much more money that casinos didn’t have to worry about charging for rooms and meals. Comps were far more generous. Were players stupider than they are now? I doubt that, too. The casinos cater to a wide range of human intelligence — from ploppies to geniuses. It just seems like many of the players are stupid because of the gambling decisions they make. The Myth: Slot-machine symbols each have an equal chance of being hit. The Truth: No. The RNG determines what comes up, and the symbols do not have an equal chance of coming up; some come up more, and some come up less. The Myth: Someone just hit a jackpot on the machine you just left. If you had stayed, you would have hit that jackpot instead of that rat who replaced you. The Truth: Since the RNG is working in tenths of seconds, where it picks this or that sequence of numbers, which relate to the symbols you see, even a split-second difference in hitting the play button between you and that rodent will change what combinations come up. So between you getting up and that rat sitting down, the RNG has gone through thousands of symbols. In short, the rat didn’t steal your cheese.

The Myth: Casinos can loosen or tighten the slot machines by flipping a switch, which is either inside the cover or in back of the machine. If you can locate the switch in the back, you can make the machine get much hotter.

Frank Scoblete

The Truth: Slot machines work on computer chips, and these chips are put in the machines at the factory. They are expensive to replace and require all sorts of paperwork in most jurisdictions to do this. So it isn’t just flipping a switch. When slotmachine companies sell their products to casinos, they offer the casinos various payback percentages, and the casinos pick which ones they want. The Myth: The IRS is everywhere hunting people down to take their money. If you use a player’s club card, the IRS is sent all the information about how much you’ve won on the machines. That is a prime reason not to use a player’s club card when you play on the machines. The Truth: The slot club card doesn’t report anything to the IRS. However, if you win $1,200 or more in a single spin, then the casino will report that amount to the IRS. It doesn’t mater whether you used a player’s card or not. Now, the casino does not report smaller wins to the government agency. Players must do this themselves, and I am sure there must be a couple of players out there who would actually do such a thing. By the way, in some countries, gambling wins are not taxable. It used to be this way in the United States, but no more. The Myth: The more I play a machine, the more likely I am to win. The Truth: Just the opposite. This myth only looks at the idea that with more decisions being played, the better the player’s chances for hitting a jackpot. This is true — to an extent. Keep in mind that each individual decision is random. Yes, the statistics of the game show how often a jackpot is supposed to hit, but those statistics can’t tell us when the jackpot will hit. Unfortunately, with more decisions, the more the house edge is grinding and hammering away at your money. While doing hundreds of thousands of spins might allow you to hit a jackpot, the fact is that your overall losses will not be changed by such a hit. This fact is inescapable: The longer you play, the better the chance that you will be behind. The longer you play, the better the chance that the casino will be ahead — whether you hit a jackpot or not. The only exception to this rule is the advantage-play slot machines where the more you play, the better your chances are of being ahead.

For more free slots tips, visit




hot summer travel Festival Fun in Gaming Regions

Louisville Slugger Museum can be found right around the corner from some of these recommended events. Kentucky Reggae Festival (Louisville) May 28-30 1-877-582-9478 The Kentucky Reggae Festival has been the predominant Louisville-area event during Memorial Day weekend for the last 20 years. Reggae music, ethnic foods and the Caribbean market bring the flavor of the islands to Louisville. Abbey Road on the River (Louisville) May 26-30 1-216-378-1980 Abbey Road on the River is the largest tribute festival to the most popular artists Kentucky Reggae Festival in the history of the world — The Beatles. May 28-30- Louisville, Kentucky Marking its 10th year, it is still growing as more than 40,000 Beatles fans came to As part of our Summer Travel Guide, Southern Gaming wants to Louisville for the 2010 event. The festival stretches over five days provide you with the top gaming destinations and special rates and combines more than 75 bands, delicious food and art all offered by your favorite casinos. We know that when you plan overlooking the beautiful Ohio River. With eight entertainment your summer vacations around gambling, many of you travel to stages, everybody will be dancing in honor of The Beatles. The areas such as Tunica and the Gulf Coast to find countless gaming 2011 event will be held at the Belvedere Festival Park. venues. While on your trip around these cities, we invite you Blues-N-Barbecue Festival (Louisville) to take part in the other fun festivities the communities have July 8-10 to offer! Get a taste of the local cuisine and culture through a series of music and food festivals, all in close proximity to your 1-877-582-9478 ultimate gaming destinations. Occurring in mid-summer for the last 13 years, the Louisville Blues-N-Barbecue Festival will be held at the Water Tower on the Home of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville Ohio River. Endless barbecue and the sounds of New Orleans is a breeding ground for gaming. Churchill Downs is located and Memphis create a relaxing yet fun environment where guests minutes from downtown Louisville and features horse racing’s can enjoy the great Southern traditions of summer. Admission if finest thoroughbreds all summer long. Also in the Ohio River $6 before 6 p.m. and $9 after. Kids under 10 are free. Region are two fabulous casinos — Horseshoe Casino and Belterra Casino Resort. Both casinos are in short driving The home of stars like Aretha Franklin distance from the city. Outdoor festivals are very popular in and Elvis Presley, it’s no wonder that the state of Tennessee is Louisville during the summer, with the Ohio River’s Water home to what people call Music City. Nashville is a hot spot for Tower being a common gathering place. The Water Tower is country stars and other popular music artists, and the tunehome to the Kentucky Reggae and Blues-N-Barbecue festivals, lovin’ crowds continue to spread across the region honoring presented by Bisig Impact Group. Abbey Road on the River is the their favorite entertainers in festivals year after year. While on world’s largest Beatles Festival (along with the sister festival in your trip to the nine beautiful casinos in Tunica, don’t miss out Washington, D.C.), drawing more than 40,000 Beatles fanatics in on the non-gaming entertainment happening all summer long! over a five-day musical tribute. Many tourist attractions like the




Southern G aming an d De s t in a t io n s

ELVIS WEEK August 10-17 - Graceland, Tennessee. at Tom Lee Park in downtown Memphis, hundreds of teams will compete for more than $110,000 in prizes. Teams adorn their grill stations with themed décor and past trophies to show off for guests and other competitors. Memphis in May closes the month with its oldest event — AutoZone Sunset Symphony! An all-day music event is followed by a commemorative air show, the sounds of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and a fireworks show to top it all off!

Memphis in May April 29-May 28- Memphis, Tennessee. Attracting everyone from Grammy-award winners to Elvis fanatics, these music fests are sure to heat up your summer travel plans. Find national headlining entertainment in Chattanooga and Memphis while enjoying barbecue and Beale Street, and finish off your summer with a tribute to The King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Elvis Presley! Memphis in May (Memphis) April 29-May 28 901-525-4611 Memphis in May attracts locals and visitors alike, all of whom come out to enjoy music, dancing, delicious barbecue and more. The event kicks off with the Beale Street Music Festival, which brings in artists from all 50 states as well as international sensations. This year’s acts include Ke$ha, Stone Temple Pilots, Buckcherry, Slightly Stoopid and many more. Following the music festival is the Salute to Belgium, featuring cultural traditions of the storied land such as world-renowned waffles, lace and chocolate. Perhaps drawing the largest crowd is the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest May 12-14. Located

Riverbend Festival (Chattanooga) June 10-18 423-756-2211 For 30 years, the Riverbend Festival has been an internationally award-winning music festival stretching over nine days in Chattanooga, Tenn. More than 100 bands will play on five stages, with music entertaining an annual attendance of over 650,000 people. This year’s entertainment includes several Grammywinning acts such as Grupo Fantasma, Brian McKnight and Miranda Lambert. Other sources of entertainment include a children’s area, mobile exhibits, the Bluecross Run and Walk, Marketplace, and a grand finale fireworks show, just to name a few. Elvis Week (Graceland) August 10-17 Elvis Week 2011 will be held at Graceland in Memphis as a weeklong celebration of The King’s life and legacy. This year marks the 55th anniversary of Elvis’ “Heartbreak Hotel” hit and his first movie, “Love Me Tender,” so there is much to commemorate! Elvis Week 2011 will feature several new events, including Elvis Presley Live — The King in Concert on the 13th. This event features bands and vocalists surrounded by the King of Rock ’n’ Roll projected on unbelievably large LED screens. Production crews have worked to make it appear and feel as if Elvis were on stage again at this magical event. Other activities throughout the week include the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Art Contest, Conversations on Elvis, documentary screenings and outdoor concert events. Honor the King for an entire week in Memphis. Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  



Atlanta is one of the most accessible destinations in the country, with 80 percent of the U.S. population within a two-hour flight. While there are no casinos in Atlanta just yet, it is a short trip away from Alabama casinos in Atmore and Montgomery. Watch the famous Atlanta Braves play at Turner Field, visit Centennial Olympic Park, and come out for the Virginia Highland Summerfest! Enjoy the neighborhood’s renowned shopping and dining scene while enjoying local traditions in the form of music and dance! Virginia Highland Summerfest (Atlanta) June 4-5 The 28th annual Virginia Highland Summerfest is centered around the Va-Hi neighborhood but open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors will explore the historic avenue and browse the locally famous shopping and dining scene. Celebrations include dancing, music, art and delicious food. There will be numerous children’s activities as well as one of the best artist markets in the region.

Louisiana Most people think of one thing when they

picture Louisiana: Mardi Gras. However, the annual Mardi Gras festival is just the kick-off for an amazing summer in the state of Louisiana. Festivals and Cajun food abound, you are sure to stay busy in the summer months. Home to some of the best gaming facilities such as L’Auberge Du Lac and DiamondJacks Casino, it’s a gambler’s dream to vacation here. Whether in Lake Charles or the world-famous New Orleans, you will find events seeping with local culture. Soak up some Cajun flair in Lake Charles at the Cajun Food & Music or Marshland festivals. Hit up New Orleans for a taste of “Greece on the Bayou,” and end your summer in a shrimp-filled affair in Delcambre. Hot summer events happen from May-August, providing entertainment no matter what time you decide to visit!

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (New Orleans) April 29-May 8 504-410-4100 With 12 stages of soul-stirring music, the Jazz & Heritage Festival is known as one of the best musical festivals in the world. Focusing on artists from Louisiana, the festival has grown to include international sensations such as Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Willie Nelson and many more. A variety of musical tastes combine with crafts, cuisine and culture to create an unforgettable event year after year. Mudbug Madness (Shreveport-Bossier) May 26-29 318-929-2834 Mudbug Madness was started in 1984 by a group of Shreveport locals who wanted to pay homage to the ultimate in Louisiana institutions — the crawfish boil. Since then, it has grown into one of Louisiana’s most popular Cajun festivals, stretching over four days during Memorial Day weekend. Nationally recognized 30  

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Mudbug maddness May 26-29 - Shreveport, Louisiana. by the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 event, the festival features world-renown Cajun, Zydeco, blues and jazz artists, along with delicious Cajun cuisine and contests for all ages. 2011 entertainment acts will include The Blues Brokers, Matthew Davidson Band, Bourbon Alley and many more! Greek Festival (New Orleans) May 27-29 504-282-0259 Eat, drink and dance all Memorial Day weekend long at the 38th annual Greek Festival in New Orleans! Experience “Greece on the Bayou” with authentic cuisine, drinks and entertainment for the whole family, all with a unique New Orleans flair! The ever-popular festival drew more than 20,000 guests in 2010 and expects even more this year. Don’t miss the Hellenic dancers, toga contests and prize packages happening all weekend long. Cajun Food & Music Festival (Lake Charles) July 16-17 The Cajun French Music Association is an organization whose sole purpose is to preserve Cajun music and culture whenever possible. The Lake Charles chapter presents the 24th annual Cajun Food & Music Festival, where thousands of locals and visitors gather for a weekend of specialty Cajun dishes and the sounds that accompany them. Arts and crafts, two step dance contests, accordion contests and several bands make for a familyfriendly environment. Marshland Festival (Lake Charles) July 29-30 Celebrate a foot-stompin’ weekend of fun at the 22nd annual Marshland Festival. Started by a group of parents and teachers to fund youth programs in Hackberry, La., the festival is directed toward supporting youth organizations in the region. Food booths, crafts, exhibits, games and musical entertainment are all a part of this Cajun celebration, open to the funloving public.

Me Tarzan. You play.

It’s jungle meets jackpots! Tarzan® Lord of the Jungle™ brings you bold graphics, big wins, and amazing bonus features that’ll make you go wild. Look for Tarzan on your favorite slot floor today – because when it comes to fun, this game doesn’t monkey around. It’s not just a game. It’s an Aristocrat game.

Tarzan® is a registered trademark of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and used by permission. ©1983-2011. All rights reserved. ©2011 Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Limited. All rights reserved.

Delcambre Shrimp Festival (Delcambre) August 17-21 337-685-2653 Always the third full weekend in August, the Shrimp Festival honors the city of Delcambre, which is home to one of the area’s most productive shrimp fleets. Events include a shrimp cook-off, queens pageants, fais-do-do Cajun dance parties, food booths, carnival rides and much more. Fun for the entire family can be had, and you will certainly be leaving with a full stomach!

Gulf Coast Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and

the world’s longest man-made beach in Harrison County, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is home to some of the nation’s most popular casinos. Biloxi, Miss., is a hot spot for gamblers nationwide, bringing in hundreds of thousands of gaming enthusiasts every year. With world-class golf courses and seafood that is to die for, you are sure to satisfy your vacation cravings in the Gulf Coast. For a one-of-a-kind festival experience, watch speedboats race along the Mississippi Sound and Gulfport Lake during the Smokin’ the Sound event. Gulf Coast culture can be found in abundance at the annual Bay Bridgefest and MargaritaFest, showcasing and benefiting the local restaurants and businesses that have made the Gulf Coast such a popular tourist destination.

Smokin’ the Sound & Smokin’ the Lake (Biloxi) May 12-15, 20-22 228-594-3442 Come see the loudest, largest, fastest raceboats converge on Gulfport Lake and the Mississippi Sound! Combined, these two

“smokin’” events feature more than 90 boats in 20 categories. Along with watching the colorful boats speed like you’ve never seen, enjoy spectacular parties, merchandise vendors, local entertainment and a helicopter air show. Several VIP viewing areas will be available so no one misses out on the action on the two race courses. 5th Annual Bay Bridgefest (Bay St. Louis) May 20-22 This outdoor festival in Old Town Bay St. Louis is meant for “Connecting the Mississippi Coast.” Bay Bridgefest features food and vendor booths, an Arts Village Exhibition, Juke Joint Jam, poster contest and a 5K Run & Walk. The “Bay Café” will offer various coastal cuisine selections from local restaurants, including favorites such as boiled seafood, crab cakes and meat pies. Spectators enter free in a celebration of the unique talents of local businesses and artists. MargaritaFest (Gulfport) June 3 228-604-0014 MargaritaFest is a luau-themed party where the Gulf Coast comes together for a summer kick-off celebration. The event features several contests, the Big Kahuna prize drawing, live music, food and, of course, LOTS of margaritas! Hosted by the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce, proceeds benefit the local economy. Thousands of Gulf Coast regulars attend this event, which grows by leaps and bounds with every passing year. Ticket information is available on the Mississippi Coast Chamber’s website.

?PMZM4]KS+WUM[AW]Z?Ia In Louisiana’s Other Side Test your luck in Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side. From hot gaming action at our five Vegas-style casinos and racetrack to upscale shopping and savory cuisine, we serve up everything with a generous helping of Southern hospitality. Book your hotel today.



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If you have been keeping up with my articles, you may have realized that I have not been giving too much “instruction.” This is because I do not believe in quick fixes, and without actually seeing your golf swing, it’s hard for me to help improve it. Most instruction articles, although correct in the information they give, are only good for a small percentage of golfers. So instead of providing information that may set you back, I have chosen to appease the masses and focus on the information that can help all golfers.

Colby Wollitz is a PGA-certified teaching pro at The Players Club of Henderson in Kentucky. If you have any questions on any of these drills or would like to set up a lesson, please contact Colby at Golf Plus in Evansville (812-477-7529).


Golf: Practice with a Purpose!


That being said, this month I want to focus on how you practice. You have probably heard this before, but I recommend you spend at least half of your practice time on short game. The simple reason for this is that in a typical round of golf, at least half of your shots will be made on or around the green. Here are some putting and chipping drills I would like you to use while you practice. Putting Drills: My guess is that when you practice putting, you probably drop two or three balls onto the practice putting green and putt from hole to hole until it is time to tee it up. While this is better than nothing, I prefer you spend your time on two aspects of putting — speed and direction. Putting Circle: The first direction drill is the putting circle. For this drill, take 10 balls and circle them about 3 feet (one pace) around the hole. Your goal should be to make all of these putts in a row. If you miss one, start over until you make all 10 in a row. After you have made all of the 3-footers, move out to 6 feet and repeat the process. 10 from 3-10: This is a drill to help you improve you confidence on short putts through repetition. Again, we are going to use 10 balls and start with a straight 3-foot putt. (Use a tee if you would like to mark your starting point.) Just like the circle drill, you need to make 10 putts in a row from 3 feet before you can move to the next position. The big difference between this drill and the putting circle is that we are only hitting straight putts in order to build confidence. After you make 10 in a row from 3 feet, move back to 4 feet and repeat the process. Keep moving back one foot at a time all the way to 10 feet. I recommend you set a time limit for this drill and see how far you can get within that time. String Drill: For this drill, you will need the following:

four tees, two pieces of string (each about 6 feet in length) and eight golf balls. First, tie each end of the string to a tee and place the strings parallel to each other about 10 feet apart on the green. (When practicing speed control, I recommend using strings, club shafts or the edge of the green. From 30 feet, we will be lucky to make one out of 10 putts, so in reality, we are practicing missing. If your brain sees you missing putt after putt, then you will likely lose confidence and negate any good practice you have accomplished.) Now, take your eight golf balls and start about 20 feet from the closest string, perpendicular to the strings. Putt the first ball and try to get as close to the far string as possible. Next, putt the second ball and try to get as close to the closest string as possible. Repeat this process with the remaining six balls. Try varying this drill with uphill putts, downhill putts and side-hill putts to help you brain calibrate the distances by using your vision and touch. Up and Down the Ladder: With the strings set up the same as they were for the previous drill, take your eight golf balls and place them about 10 feet from the closest string, perpendicular to the strings. For this drill, anything short of the close string and long of the far string is out of bounds, and you will have to start the drill from the beginning. So, for the first putt to “qualify,” it must get past the first string but remain short of the far string. Here’s the kicker — each ball must stop short of the previous ball to qualify. In other words, if your first putt is hit halfway between the strings, then you must get the final seven balls in the first half of the grid. If at any time you hit a putt that travels past the previous putt, then you must start over again. Your goal is to get all eight balls in the grid. Repeat the process going up the ladder. Chipping Drill: Towel Drill: For this short-game drill, you will need a damp towel and a handful of golf balls. First, place the damp towel about one pace on the green and in line with the hole you are aiming for. Next, take your golf balls and place them somewhere off of the green in line with the towel and the hole. The goal of this drill is to land the ball on the towel and have it finish in the hole. This drill will teach you how to control trajectory and spin by using different clubs in order to produce the amount of flight and roll necessary for each shot. Periodically move the towel and aim for different holes to force you to change clubs and shot selection, thus improving feel. You will find that if you focus more on where you want to land the ball and choose the club that will allow you to land the ball about one pace on the green and roll the rest of the way to the hole, you will become a more diverse short-game player.

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southern splendor: Luxury Gaming Destinations

F a l l e n Oa k Go l f C o u r s e Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, MS What makes a vacation luxurious to you? Is it the ability to play endless rounds of golf or late-night gambling? Or, would you rather relax in a private spa open only to you? No matter your expectations, there are several Southern properties sure to meet your most outlandish desires. Not only are these destinations home to some of our favorite casinos, but they also offer superior amenities that make for a plush vacation getaway. Everything from spas and shopping to private villas and live entertainment can be found at these luxurious Southern destinations.

Belterra Casino Resort Vevay, Indiana • 1-888-BELTERRA

Indiana’s premier riverboat casino can be found in Vevay, Ind., at Belterra Casino. High-limit table games and specialized slot rooms amount to two floors of the most exciting new games in the industry. Wind down after a long gambling session in Belterra’s guest rooms and suites, all aligned with the highest quality living accommodations and spectacular views of the Ohio River, rolling hills of Indiana or the championship Belterra Golf Course. Created by Tom Fazio to highlight the natural surroundings, the


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golf course at Belterra takes you through a journey of winding lakes and trees during the par 71 challenge. More interested in browsing merchandise than the greens? Stroll the promenade at Belterra and find yourself immersed in signature stores and kiosks with exciting seasonal products and the latest in fashion and technology. From Belflora flower shop to Bling jewelry, the perfect gift for someone special can be found right in the middle of the action. Don’t miss out on the world-famous Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse — the perfect place for superior dining. Enjoy the famous, made-toorder succulent steaks, as well as poultry and seafood that are equally appetizing. CenterStage Showroom will provide you with the hottest live entertainment perfect for your post-Ruby’s experience.

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino Biloxi, Mississippi • 1-888-750-7111

Sure to boost your energy is the 24-hour casino at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss. Located all on one expansive level, the casino floor is home to more than 2,200 of the most

to find your center or attempting to kick off a healthier new you, Senses Spa and Salon can make it happen. Therapies range from a celebratory combination that includes a facial, SpaTini and sweet treats, to the “Sense of Change,” which offers a slimming wrap, healthy catered lunch and deep-cleansing facial. Keep the good vibes coming by taking advantage of the state-of-the-art fitness center at IP. New machinery, specialty classes and personal training combine with a breathtaking view overlooking the scenic Bay Biloxi. Don’t miss out on the outdoor amenities at IP Casino Resort & Spa, either. The soothing Th e s e n s e s s pa rooftop swimming pool offers a beach-like entrance and private cabanas accompanied IP Casino Resort Spa in Biloxi, MS by Quench Bar and Restaurant. For finer dining, visit Tien and Thirty-Two during in-demand slots and table games. High-rolling guests can feel the your stay. Tien offers an interactive table experience featuring glamour in the High Limit Lounge, which has exclusive lounge traditional Asian cuisine. Thirty-Two is your place to go for areas, cashiers, bars and other amenities available only to those fresh seafood, Prime USDA steaks and the finest wine selection high-limit players. in south Mississippi. For the ultimate in relaxation and bliss, head to the Spa at Beau Rivage, which allows for a luxurious getaway where guests receive the pampering they deserve. Spa services include 12 different massages, including therapeutic and European Stone Massages, as well as specialized massage services for mothers-to-be and romantic couples. Eight relaxing body therapy wraps create a peaceful environment for mind and body while flushing out toxins and answering to your specific needs. To glow inside and out, head over to the Salon at Beau Rivage, which offers skin, hair and nail treatments. Once you look and feel your best, you will be ready to enjoy the fine dining offered at the resort. These include two restaurants that have both received the AAA Four Diamond Award. BR Prime is a sleek American steakhouse with contemporary design sure to awe every guest who walks through the door. With an open kitchen and mouth-watering menu options, BR Prime is the place to turn any night into a special occasion. Jia artfully combines the best culinary traditions of Asian cuisine. Zeninspired décor and regional specialties mix together to create an unforgettable meal, created by your own personal chef. For a luxurious experience outdoors at Beau Rivage, visit the Fallen Oak Golf Course. The championship layout was designed by legendary course architect Tom Fazio, and it stretches over more than 510 acres. Named Mississippi’s No. 1 Course by Golfweek, Fallen Oak is open to both competitive golfers and leisurely players alike. It’s sure to impress both, of course!

IP Casino Resort & Spa Biloxi, Mississippi • 1-888-946-2847

Excellent service is just one element of the amazing casino at IP Casino Resort & Spa in Biloxi. The dealers and management staff love what they do and have the knowledge to answer any of your gambling questions. IP listens to loyal customers and is constantly bringing them the newest in gaming technology. The ultimate combinations at Senses Spa and Salon are one of the many reasons why IP Casino makes for a weekend of luxury. Whether you are celebrating with your friends, trying

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, Mississippi • 1-877-877-6256

Live the life at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi. With 56 table games and more than 1,200 slots, it is impossible to resist the decked-out casino floor. Offering themed promotions as well as daily chances to earn extra player’s points, the casino produces big-time lottery winners more than a couple times per month! Hard Rock’s premium rooms feature “Sleep Like a Rock” beds, Spa products, a Party Bar and therapeutic three-headed showers. Guests who are looking for something even more provocative can stay in one of the Corset Suites at Hard Rock. These suites feature all room amenities along with a contemporary extra living area, wet bar and panoramic views to die for. Hard Rock in Biloxi is also known for being the ultimate in entertainment experiences. Hard Rock Live sells out national headlining shows around eight to 10 times a month. Locals and travelers alike know they can look to Hard Rock for top live acts of any genre. Before the show, catch a memorable meal at one of the resort’s two fine-dining options. Enjoy great steaks and seafood at Vibe in a vibrant atmosphere, or visit the nationally recognized Ruth’s Chris Steak House — serving the top 2 percent of USA beef. Live like a rock star at Hard Rock Biloxi.

Gold Strike Casino Resort Tunica, Mississippi • 1-888-24-KSTAY

Home to the World Poker Open, Gold Strike Tunica has more than 50,000 square feet dedicated only to gaming. Winning several national awards for the best dealers and service, the casino floor at Gold Strike Tunica is always booming with excitement! For a breath of fresh air without stepping outside, take a dip in the refreshing indoor pool. The unique design, surrounded by unique rock formations and including an oversized jacuzzi tub, makes for a relaxing getaway, with a patio for those who don’t want to miss out on the sunshine. For more relaxation, head to the Golden Reflections Spa. Enjoy a focus massage or hot-stone therapy, along with your choice Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  


L’Au berge du L ac Casino Resort L ak e Char les, L ouisiana • 1-866-580-7444

It’s hard to believe you’re still in Lake Charles when you step into the 30,000-square-foot gaming facility at L’Auberge. With the enormous glass dome and vaulted ceilings, the décor alone is dripping with luxury. And who could believe this is all part of a riverboat casino? Well, that’s because it is one of the largest riverboat casinos in the world. With plentiful space to peruse the variety of gaming options available, guests always feel at home on the gaming floor. The casino isn’t the only luxurious part of this resort. In fact, it is only one small piece of this charming getaway. All the Th e G a r de n S u i t e T e r r ac e guest rooms at L’Auberge are equipped L’Auberge Du Lac Hotel & Casino in Lake Charles, LA with high-class amenities and a design as elegant as the guests who stay in them. However, it is the executive suites of body wraps and facial options in the several spa packages and villas that really make for a lavish experience. Each executive available. Come out looking and feeling your best and ready to suite has room for entertaining a large crowd, as well as its own hit a night on the town, starting with the best in dining from private villa overlooking the beautiful pools and Contraband Gold Strike Tunica — Chicago Steakhouse. Here you will find a Bayou. Villas include a private courtyard and personal spa, so traditional steak house with a modern twist, leaving no wonder you can truly relax with treatments created only for you. Wellas to why it has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. appointed suites make each guest feel like they are the only Classic design and an intimate setting create a romantic person at the resort, with personal touches and a quiet place to atmosphere perfect for that special someone. With supreme put all your worries aside. guest amenities and one of the best Player’s Clubs around, it’s Wind Creek Casino & Hotel no wonder guests keep coming back for more!

Pearl River Resort Choctaw, Mississippi • 1-866-44-PEARL

Two exciting casinos, more than 1,000 guest rooms, 10 delicious restaurants and two championship golf courses combine to create one luxurious vacation at Pearl River Resort. While Silver Star was the Resort’s first hotel, Golden Moon is considered to be the premier hotel destination with 112 suites and 33 VIP suites available for the swankiest of guests.

Atmore, Alabama • 1-800-826-9121

In a spacious oval setting where guests can find whatever they can dream of, the gaming floor at Wind Creek Casino & Hotel makes it one of the superior Southern properties. Southern hospitality and service combine with endless gaming possibilities to create the ultimate gaming experience. The Wind Creek Casino is typically home to around 10 four- and five-star jackpot winners a month — each receiving more than $25,000!

Now, onto the casinos. Silver Star’s 90,000 square feet is home to more than 2,500 slot machines, 67 table games and eight designated poker tables. The Pearl River Rewards Club plays a large role in the gaming at this resort, as members receive special comps and benefits in a three-tier program. All that poker making you hungry? Both Golden Moon and Silver Star offer a variety of dining options to meet your every craving. The Eclipse Grill at Golden Moon is where you can find the finest steaks and seafood in the area, as well as an award-winning wine list in a romantic setting. Or, indulge in Miko Steakhouse at Silver Star for tantalizing steak options with a flare never tasted before.

Wind Creek is also known for their fine-dining restaurant Fire Steakhouse. The world-class cuisine includes prime steaks and specialty seafood dishes that have guests raving year-round. Speaking of food, one of the most unique aspects of Wind Creek Casino & Hotel is their cooking studio. Other resorts are envious of this specialty studio, which sets Wind Creek apart and intrigues food-lovers around the nation. Professional chefs are available every day to assist in specialty cooking classes. Learn to cook like the pros during hands-on training classes including American Regional, Cajun Cravings, Cocktail Pairings, Holiday Specialties and many more! Walk away with a full belly and recipe book at the Cooking Studio.

The most exciting new addition to the dual-casino resort is THE ARENA at Golden Moon, a new events and entertainment center that opened just this year. With state-of-the-art technology and seating for more than 9,000 people, THE ARENA has been the host of several national headlining performances from comedy to music — and everywhere in between. The summer line-up includes world-famous artists such as Reba McEntire, B.B. King and Sugarland.

After all that hard work, immerse yourself in pleasure at the Spa, offering special treatments to both men and women looking to rejuvenate his or her mind, body and soul. With separate lounge and sauna areas, each guest can enjoy the peaceful tranquility of the relaxation stations. Massage therapists will assist guests in choosing the best treatment, or combination, to meet their expectations. The menu of services at the Spa was inspired by the culinary world, giving a new meaning to “comfort food.”


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(800) 526-7223 • * Recognition in nine Southern Gaming and nine Midwest Gaming & Travel categories. Loosest slot claim based on state reported data. Must be 21 years or older to enter casino. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-9-WITH-IT.

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video poker

Often, math people are rightfully accused of communicating in a language all their own. The average Joes may get disgusted by the highfalutin language, especially when they want to make sense of it all, but are still in the dark after several readings. One frequently misunderstood concept for video poker players is game variance and why it is important. Make no mistake, it is significant for video poker games and for other gambling options where skill is a factor. Luck may be a short-term factor, but your odds improve when you increase the number of chances you have to “get lucky.”

Low Variances: Games that pay more for hands at the bottom of the hierarchy, like two pair (double your wager) but have fewer large jackpots. The most frequent complaint is they pay less for hands Linda Boyd like four-of-a-kind, and many players find them boring. Examples are Jacks or Better (JOB), Bonus Poker (BP) and Full Pay Deuces Wild (FPDW).

Variance: Refers to the likelihood that short-term results will resemble long-term expectations. The higher the variance, the greater the likelihood that your shortterm results will differ from theoretical expectations. Anything is possible, but probability is an exact number based purely on mathematics. The longer you play, the greater the probability that your actual results will resemble theoretical results. For example, we would all agree that there is an equal chance of heads or tails on a coin flip. In the short run, however, we could get heads 10 consecutive times. Does this mean there is a better chance of getting tails on the 11th toss? It does not. The odds remain 50-50. If you were to flip the coin 1 million times, you would see results extremely close to an even number of heads and tails. You can never base future expectations on past results; you can only use statistically correct data to know the odds. In some games, like sports betting, human error is a factor since the variables are so numerous. That’s why your odds offered on games may differ from place to place. Not so with video poker. The ER (expected return) is absolutely correct, assuming computer-perfect play. (Use Dean Zamzow’s software, WinPoker, to practice perfect play at home —

1. Budget Appropriate: If you’re on a limited budget and you want a lot of playing time, you should select a low-variance game.

Linda Boyd, a longtime table-game player before turning to video poker, writes for Southern Gaming, Midwest Gaming and Travel and Arizona Player. Look for her article in the 2011 edition of “American Casino Guide.” Her book, “The Video Poker Edge,” includes free removable pay schedules and free strategy cards for the most popular games. It’s available at, Square One Publishers and bookstores. A Kindle edition is also available.

Video Poker Tips: Understanding Variance


Some players go broke in roulette or blackjack using what’s known as a Martingale system. They continue to double their bet after each loss until they win a hand (BJ), and then go back to their original bet. Both variance and casino maximums make this a bad idea. High Variance Video Poker: Games that rely on infrequent but high paying hands to reach the ER carry a higher risk. You can spot them by examining the pay schedule. If you’re paid a large amount for infrequent hands, like four aces, but shorted for frequent hands, like two pair (say you’re only paid even money instead of double your wager for two pair), then the game has a high variance. Some examples are Double Bonus (DB), Double Double Bonus (DDB) and Loose Deuces Wild (LDW).

Tips for Using Variance:

2. Denomination: If you consider low-variance games boring, then you should go to a lower denomination. For example, if you normally play dollars, then play quarters instead when choosing a game like DDB. 3. Number of Hands: If you choose a multi-hand machine, you must play the maximum amount on a 3-, 5- or 10-play device in order to get a 250-to-1 return on a royal flush. Therefore, either find a 50- or 100-play device (no royal penalty for less than max hands) or choose a lower variance game. Regardless of your decision, never accept less than the max return on a royal. 4. Plan Alternatives: If you choose to play a highvariance game, make sure you have alternative plans should you run out of money. Going over budget by making trips to the ATM is not a good decision. 5. Promotion Equity: The number of tickets you earn for a drawing is usually based on your coinin. If your goal is to increase the number of tickets, thus your equity or odds of winning, then choose a low-variance game. 6. Multiple Points: Just like promotion equity, if you want to rack up a lot of points because points mean money when casinos offer multiple points, choose a low-variance game. 7.

Best Version: Make sure you select the game version with the highest ER regardless of variance. (Free removable expected return tables are in my book, “The Video Poker Edge.”) If all choices are coyote ugly (like 7/5 JOB), find another casino.

For more free video poker tips, visit


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We look forward to bringing you the best again this year! Š2011 Boyd Gaming Corporation. Gambling Problem? Call 1.888.777.9696.




caribbean hot spots: tropical treats for gamers By Lynn O’R ourke Hayes

Which do you prefer? Silky white? Pale pink? Or will it be exotic, volcanic black? Decisions, decisions. Whether you choose your island getaway for the color of its beach sand, for the creative cuisine or for the casino action, your options are plenty. A healthy and growing number of resorts offer a tropical island vibe paired with a glamorous casino scene. Relax on the beach. Sit by the pool. Enjoy time in the sweet-smelling spa. Island by island, you’ll peruse a long list of optional activities to suit your seasonal whim. Plan for scuba diving, paddle boarding, snorkeling, hiking, sailing or fishing. No matter your activity quotient, you’ll still have plenty of time to enjoy state-of-theart game tables, slots and other options. Plan to take in highoctane entertainment at many destination spots including name entertainment (think Jerry Seinfeld at Atlantis) and local favorites, plus dancing, discos and themed nightclubs. When planning your island holiday, do a little pre-trip research to maximize your vacation potential. Gather notes from friends who’ve explored the sunny climes, and peruse their suggestions. Check with your travel agent for ideas and special incentives or packages that may be available. Make your prospect list and then cruise through the websites to determine the home away from home that will best suit you and your fellow travelers. Who will be in your party? Will you be with friends or your significant other? Will children be included? Many of the best island casinos have something for everyone. While you pursue gambling excitement, the kids can be fully engaged in a full array of children’s programs that often cater to toddlers as well as teens. Also, take note of the varying regulations that apply to the island fun zones as compared to Las Vegas or other international casinos. Each island has their own program, so it’s best to have a clear understanding of the details before you book. Unlike Las Vegas and other global destinations, some of the casinos operate for fewer than 24 hours. In addition to length of operation, know that no one under 18 will be permitted in the casinos, so plan ahead for time with the family. Then be sure the kids are scheduled for their own island-style activities when you head to the table to try your luck. 42  

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The Bahamas — Atlantis

The superpower in the Caribbean casino game is Atlantis. Created by hotel luminary Sol Kerzner and designed after the mythical lost continent of Atlantis, the popular mega-resort sits on Paradise Island, a glistening gem in the Bahamas. There is truly something for everyone at Atlantis. From the 30,000-square-foot spa to the ocean-front golf to the world-class marine park, visitors find it difficult to find time for all that is offered.

Casino Gaming

Atlantis is home to a world-renowned and expansive 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art casino where more than 850 slot machines, 90 game tables plus baccarat, roulette, Caribbean stud poker and blackjack lure guests into the mix. Wagering on major sporting events and the racetrack action, plus regular special events and tournaments, will keep gaming enthusiasts smiling. Guests also enjoy lively music, often provided by local calypso or salsa bands. Oddly enough, you won’t be gambling elbow to elbow with the locals. For Bahamian residents, it is illegal.

Gambling Plus Glitter

Look forward to an evening mesmerized by the luxury and ambience of Aura, a 9,000-square-foot Jeffrey Beers-designed nightclub, and the sister to popular Las Vegas nightclub PURE. As the DJs spin the latest, guests enjoy dancing the night away or watching the scene unfold from banquette seating that surrounds the illuminated glass dance floor. You’ll also find two bars, two VIP sections and a private VIP Parlor. The casino below can be accessed by a grand staircase. Also popular is the Atlantis Theatre featuring current Hollywood feature films and the Joker’s Wild Comedy Club spotlighting standup acts from around the world. You may want to plan your stay around the performance of popular artists including the likes of Lady Antebellum, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift.

Kids On Board

Few resorts have a more imaginative and expansive kids and teen activity program than Atlantis. Daily themed adventures include

the Occidental Grand Aruba offers 398 rooms and suites from which to enjoy tropical treats as well as gaming action. An all-inclusive resort, the island getaway caters to honeymooners, families and those seeking the special thrills found in their newly reopened Aura Casino. Whether on your own or with the family, you’ll enjoy the choice of six restaurants and five bars as well as water sports, inviting pools, shopping and compelling entertainment.

At l a n t i s Pa r a di s e Is l a n d is the superpower in the Caribbean. discovering the mysteries of Atlantis, visiting a fish hospital and enjoying outdoor games and activities of all kinds. The newest addition to the program is AKA, or Atlantis Kids Adventures, a high-style, 8,000-square-foot Mecca for kids where culinary lessons, Lego-inspired crafts, a mini castle, outdoor adventures and theater play make heading back to school seem … well, they’ll think about that later. Parents can plan a night at the casino while their kids, ages 3 to 12, have fun during their own “evening escape.” The program offers themed activities each night of the week including Willy Wonka Wednesday, Pajama Party Friday and Pizza and Coketails Saturdays. While Atlantis may steal the spotlight, the Bahamas offer other enticing alternatives. Consider The Crowne Plaza Golf Resort & Royal Oasis Casino and Our Lucaya, on Grand Bahamas Island. Also check out the Crystal Palace Casino on New Providence Island.


With a year-round average temperature of 82 degrees, Aruba covers only 70 square miles of land, and belongs to the Lesser Antilles and the Southern Caribbean. The island playground is considered one of the three ABC islands (together with Bonaire and Curacao). Located on Aruba’s picturesque southern coast, Oranjestad is the historical Dutch capital city where the tall, multicolored houses of Wilheminastraat combine carved wooded doors and traditional Dutch tiles with airy open galleries and sloping, Aruban-style roofs. Visit the wharf, where merchants come to sell fresh fish and produce right off the boats every morning. Nature lovers will appreciate Aruba’s diverse birdlife, including the “shoco,” a burrowing owl unique to Aruba, and various species of lizards. The crystal waters are populated by rich marine life, including colorful coral, tropical fish and sea turtles.

Occidental Grand Aruba

Set amid the pristine white sands of Aruba’s famed Palm Beach,

Aura, a 9,000-square-foot casino, offers high energy in an intimate setting. Popular games including the latest in blackjack, wild-card BJ, roulette, craps, three-card poker, Caribbean stud poker and 252 slot machines. Guests will also enjoy special promotions for hotel guests, plus daily bingo and the chance to win fabulous prizes.

The Players’ Club offers guests exclusive privileges when playing the slots or tables in which they can earn points and then redeem them for cash, dining, merchandise and more. In addition, the Players’ Club offers members invitations to exclusive membersonly events and the chance to be entered in drawings to earn prizes. Don’t miss ON THE ROXX, the up-tempo casino bar and lounge where guests go to enjoy live music into the night as well as the broadcast of all the important live sporting events.

Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

A recent $50 million hotel renovation means guests will enjoy beautifully transformed guest rooms, a new pool area and the benefits of The Tradewinds Club. Check into this hotel-withina-hotel concept on the Marriott’s top floor and prepare to be pampered. Look forward to upgraded amenities, dining in the private lounge, as well as access to a member-only beach area. Planning and choosing from plentiful vacation options gets easier with full access to the Tradewinds Concierge Service. Relax at the Balinese-style spa or get active in the water, on the golf course or the tennis courts. The resort’s Stellaris Casino, reported to be Aruba’s largest, offers 24-hour high-stakes excitement in a Vegas-style atmosphere. Expect 28 gaming tables, including craps, roulette, Let It Ride poker, three-card poker, Caribbean stud poker and blackjack. Sporting aficionados will enjoy the state-of-the-art race and sports gaming kiosks with easy access to all the action. Are you a slot machine fan? If so, you’ll enjoy 522 of the hottest slots, including the popular “Wheel of Fortune,” “Sopranos” and “Deal or No Deal” games. Ask about the latest promotions and special events. Be sure to inquire about the exclusive casino VIP Club, regular table game tournaments, progressive bingo and other cash and prize drawings. Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  


Th e R i o M a r Be a ch R e s o r t & S pa is tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and El Yunque Caribbean National Forest. Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino

If Aruba is your destination, you may also want to consider the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. With 558 newly renovated rooms and suites and an on-site casino, the getaway offers guests amenities on 40 acres and boasts the only private beach in Aruba. Choose from two lodging options: the Renaissance Marina Hotel appeals to couples; the Renaissance Ocean Suites has a family friendly vibe.

The Westin Resort & Casino, Aruba

If you are considering Aruba, check out the Westin’s recently renovated Palm Beach Casino, Aruba. Guests will enjoy the 300 high-tech slot machines, five hyperlink machines, roulette, craps and card games such as blackjack, three-card stud, Let It Ride and Caribbean poker. In the adjoining Palm Beach Lounge, guests can watch sports, sip cocktails and enjoy live entertainment.


One of the “ABC islands,” this small tropical paradise has maintained its Dutch influence. Candy-striped houses, seemingly transplanted from the Netherlands, vie with the vivid colors beneath the sea for the traveler’s appreciative eye. A world-famous dive spot, expect crystal clear water and amazing coral reefs that are accessible from many of the beautiful beach areas.

Breezes Curacao Resort & Casino

Check into this super-inclusive resort in the Southern Caribbean just off the coast of Venezuela and prepare to relax. Put your credit card and cash away, because everything from meals, drinks and entertainment to land and water sports — including tips — is included. (Ask about casino specific exclusions.) The resort offers 1,500 feet of pure white sand. With a beautiful beach as home base, enjoy water sports, tennis courts, billiards and beach volleyball, shuffleboard, bicycles, fitness center and three swimming pools. Pamper yourself at the a la carte Spa. Facilities include a steam room, sauna and jacuzzi. Massage, facial, body scrubs, reflexology, manicures and pedicures are all available adding to your island pleasure. Leave the outdoor excitement for an indoor thrill. The onsite casino is the largest in Curacao. Nightlife also includes disco dancing, live shows and karaoke, piano, plus guest and staff talent shows. If the kids are on board, the resort’s Camp Breezes offers a 44  

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nursery, arts and crafts, a playground and video games as part of the super-inclusive program. If you plan to spend the evening in the casino, ask about bringing in a “SuperNanny” to spend time with the children for an extra charge.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic, which sports both the highest and lowest point in the Caribbean, is another island hot spot where the casino action blends with the casual island vibe. Like other island getaways, casinos within this tropical paradise are primarily housed within major resort complexes. Throughout this land of contrast, you will find Las Vegas-style gaming options including blackjack, poker and, of course, plenty of slot machines.

Barceló Bavaro Palace

This five-star all-inclusive resort offers a 24-hour casino plus nightclubs, live entertainment and more than a dozen dining options. Located on Play Bavaro, in popular Punta Cana, you’ll choose from 558 luxury rooms and suites.

Excellence Punta Cana

You’ll find casino action at this all-inclusive resort and spa. Expect pools, lighted tennis courts, seven restaurants, horseback riding, scuba diving and squash.

Puerto Rico

Visit Puerto Rico and you’ll find more than 20 intriguing casinos where the sound of salsa music often mixes with the jinglejangle of slot machines and other gaming activity. You’ll find glitzy modern venues as well as old-world style establishments where guests still dress in a style reminiscent of a James Bond film. Expect world-class dining and stunning entertainment as well as bars, lounges and nightclubs of every style and fashion. (Law requires the gaming centers be housed within hotels or resorts.)

Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa

Check into this lush hideaway on the “Isle of Enchantment” and prepare to be pampered. Tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and El Yunque Caribbean National Forest, you’ll enjoy stunning ocean views and all the comfort and style you could hope for during your island holiday. With more than 600 guestrooms and 72 suites plus superb restaurants and lounges on the 500-acre property, this resort

E xc e l l e n c e P u n ta C a n a offers an endless opportunity for excitement and relaxation. Stroll on the mile-long secluded beach. Enjoy a round of golf on the Fazio- and Norman-designed courses. Play tennis on world-class courts. Spend the day around the oceanfront pools. Check into the exclusive Mandarin Spa for an afternoon or full day of soothing treatments. When it is time to turn up the volume, head to the 7,000-squarefoot casino featuring the most popular slots, hyperlinks and video poker machines on the island. Experienced players, as well as beginners, are welcome to enjoy the most provocative games available. Expect table games including three-card poker, Texas Hold ’em, blackjack and roulette. Enjoy more than 150 state-of-the art slots as well as progressive jackpots including Cash Express, Hot Shots and Fort Knox. Or enjoy the best the sports world has to offer in the Players’ Club sports bar, featuring five 50-inch HDTV Plasma Screens. Test your luck in any of these Puerto Rican casinos:

Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel • 787-721-5100

Casino Del Sol at Courtyard by Marriott • 1-800-791-2553

Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel • 787-721-1000

El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa (Part of The Waldorf Astoria Collection) • 888-583-1282

Best Western Pichi’s Convention Center • 1-800-780-7234

Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort • 1-787-259-7676

Embassy Suites Hotel & Casino San Juan • 787-791-0505

Gran Meliá Golf Resort & Villas • 1-877-47-MELIA

Ocean Casino at Marriott Courtyard • 1-787-658-8000

Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel • 800-468-8512

Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel • 787- 253-1700

San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino • 1-787-722-7000

You’ll also find casino action on other Caribbean islands including St. Maarten, St. Croix and St. Vincent. In the land where palm trees sway, you are bound to find the perfect combination of casino plus island style to suit your every desire. Bon voyage! Lynn O’Rourke Hayes is a syndicated travel writer who has explored 82 countries and 48 of our 50 states. She lives and works in Montana and Arizona. She recently relaunched the website

Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  


Best Blackjack Games: Finding the Edge By H enry Tamburin

The one question I get asked most by recreational blackjack players in the South is, “Which casinos offer the best game?” It would be nearly impossible for me to visit every casino to check out their blackjack games to determine who has the best games. Therefore, I did the next best thing — contacted my friends at www.bj21. com and got their permission to use their extensive database of casinos in their Current Blackjack News to determine who offers the best blackjack games. (Note: Current Blackjack News is an electronic newsletter that uses paid reporters to gather playing conditions from virtually all casinos in the country. The information is summarized in the newsletter, updated monthly, and emailed to subscribers around the globe.) The factor that determines whether a blackjack game is good for average players is the house edge. The latter represents the percentage of the initial amount wagered that a player should theoretically lose. All other factors being equal, the lower the house edge, the better the game is for players. For example, a blackjack game with a house edge of 0.5% means that a basic strategy player stands to lose a half percent of all of his initial wagers. Think of the house edge as the cost for playing blackjack. Usually, a blackjack game with a house edge of 0.5% is considered a good game for players. Surprisingly, there are many blackjack games in the South that have a house edge lower than half a percent. The variables that influence the house edge are the playing rules and number of decks of cards being used. By playing rules, I mean whether you are allowed to double down after pair splitting, whether the dealer has to stand or hit on soft 17, and so forth. In this article, I’m going to abbreviate the playing rules, and I’ve summarized them in the table below. Therefore, when you see “ds” you know it means “double down after pair splitting is permitted.” Abbreviation of Playing Rules Abbreviation



Dealer stands on soft 17


Dealer hits soft 17


Player may double down after pair splitting


Player may resplit aces (usually to a maximum of four hands)

Some playing rules are more favorable to the player, while others tend to favor the casino. All else being equal, a single-deck game is better than a double-deck game, which is better than a six- or 46  

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Henry Tamburin is the editor of Blackjack Insider Newsletter (, lead instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack Course (, and host of For a FREE three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to www.bjinsider. com/freetrial. To receive his FREE Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit

eight-deck game. However, “all-else-being-equal” is often not the case in casinos. You should be familiar with some of the more common rules that favor the player (and help reduce the house edge). Here’s a summary of some of these good rules. 1. The dealer standing on soft 17 (s17) is better for the player than the dealer hitting soft 17 (h17). 2. You want a 3-2 payoff for a blackjack. Blackjack payoffs that are 7-6, 6-5 or worse even money, are a disaster and you should avoid any blackjack game that doesn’t pay 3-2. 3. You should be able to double down on any initial two cards (i.e., no restrictions on doubling). 4. On two- and six-deck games, it’s best if you can double down after pair splitting. 5. Surrender is a good rule for basic strategy players who know which hands to surrender. 6. Resplit aces is another favorable rule for players. Some points to keep in mind before you glance at casino lists online— nowadays, most casinos offer a mix of different blackjack games; therefore, if you go to a casino, you need to scout the tables to find the best game. Depending on how crowded the casino is, the table limits may vary from what is listed. Be aware that casinos can also change playing rules at any time. The regions covered in this study include casinos reported in Current Blackjack News for: Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Several casinos in Mississippi and Louisiana offer excellent blackjack games for basic strategy players, where the house edge ranges from only 0.14% to 0.19%. Minimum bets are as low as $5 in some casinos. (These are not only some of the best blackjack games in the South but also in the country.) Five casinos offer an excellent double-deck game with rules that include s17, ds and rsa (house edge only 0.14%). The casinos that offer this excellent game for basic strategy players are Coushatta, Kinder, La.; L’Auberge du Lac, Lake Charles, La.; Paragon, Marksville, La.; Silver Slipper, Bay St. Louis, Miss.; and Treasure Bay, Biloxi, Miss. If you want to play a single-deck game where a blackjack is paid at 3-2 (not the despicable 6-5), with a house edge of 0.15% to 0.18%, head to these casinos in Tunica: Fitz, Horseshoe, Roadhouse, Gold Strike, and Sam’s Town.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the game of craps. They might have answers you weren’t expecting. Q: Some people say there are two aspects to the basic game of craps. What are they? A: There is the Come-Out aspect, where the Pass Line bettor is hoping for a 7 or 11 and not the 2, 3 or 12 and where the Don’t Pass bettor is hoping for a 2 or 4 and not a 7 or 11. That’s part one. Part two is the Point Cycle where the shooter must make a point before the 7 shows for the Pass Line bet to win. Combining parts one and two, which you must ultimately do, the house edge is 1.41 percent on the Pass Line and 1.36 (or 1.4% on the Don’t Pass).

Frank Scoblete’s newest books are “Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machine” featuring advantage-play slots that give the players the edge; “Casino Craps: Shoot to Win” that comes with a DVD showing unedited controlled throws; “Cutting Edge Craps: Advanced Strategies for Serious Players”; and “Beat Blackjack Now: The Easiest Way to Get the Edge.” All books are available at bookstores, from or by calling 1-800-944-0406. If you would like a free month’s subscription to Scoblete’s private site and/or a free brochure, email or call 1-800-944-0406.


Craps: Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Can you bet only one side of the game at a time? If you are betting the Lightside, do you have to have all your bets on the Lightside and not be able to bet the Darkside? A: No, you can have some Lightside and Darkside bets up at the same time. Doing so doesn’t reduce the house edge, but there is no restriction on which side of the game you can bet at the same time. Q: What about only betting on one number? Can’t you miss out on big rolls this way? A: After the 5-Count, going up on only one number is a smart way to play. Yes, if someone has a big roll, you might not hit very often, but when those cold rolls occur, you will lose only one bet. The bottom line is this — it doesn’t matter! You will lose the house edge on the bets you make, whether you experience a hot roll, cold roll or mediocre roll. You save yourself money by betting on fewer rolls. You get to stretch out your money over time just betting one bet. Q: What are crossroaders and railbirds? A: A crossroader is a cheat or a criminal. A railbird is a person who stands next to you at a craps table and tries to steal your chips from your rail. When you aren’t protecting them or when you are shooting, the railbird scoops a couple up. Q: What is an independent trial game? A: Each decision is independent and not influenced by any decisions that have occurred in the past. A popular way to say this is, “The dice have no memory.” In craps, you could have the 12 come up five times in a row, and the odds of it coming up a sixth time are the same as they were for it coming up the last five times. What happened before has nothing to do with what will happen now. Craps is a random game. There will be streaks, but they are not predictable. Most players just can’t seem to get this through their heads. This has hurt more gamblers than you can imagine. Q: What is a dependent trial game? A: In blackjack, if all the aces come out of the deck, then there will be no blackjacks. What happens now

is dependent on what happened in the past. That’s what makes cardcounting possible. You keep track of what has just happened to make your betting and playing decisions on the next hand. In a random game of craps, this is not so.

Frank Scoblete Q : Is dice con t r ol an independen t or dependent trial game? A: That depends. If you are dealing with a skilled dice controller, he is changing the probabilities of the game. So the past performance of such skill tells you something about the future. Q: What is a tub craps table? A: You take a bath as you play. Just kidding. It is a small table about the size of a bathtub, handled by one dealer, with players seated around. You won’t find many of these in casinos. Most craps players don’t feel the tubs give them the real feel of the game. Q: How come shooters say they want the same dice when one die goes off the table? If the game is random, does it make a difference? A: It is a harmless superstition based on the idea that because he hasn’t sevened-out yet, the dice must be doing the shooter some good service. He is afraid that if the dice get changed, the 7 will show up. And it will — about 17 percent of the time! (One 7 in six rolls = 16.67 percent.) Q: Are all craps tables the same? Length, height, width? A: No. Some tables are 10 feet long, others 12, 14 and 16 feet. Some tables have hard surfaces, some have what we call traditional surfaces, some are bouncy, and some are super-bouncy. The layouts come in various fabrics; also, the colors can be different. Some tables have seats for two box people. The width of the tables can differ, too. When you play, note how close or far the Pass Line is from you, and that will usually give you some idea of the width of the table. The height of the tables can be quite different, too; some tables are so high that shorter players have to get on their toes to shoot the dice. The only thing that seems to be relatively consistent is the height of the layout from the floor — usually about 28 inches. Q: Is online craps the same as casino craps? A: If the game is random, the game is random — either online or in the casino. You do miss out on the cheering and moaning of other players, but the results will be just like the random casino game. However, you can’t control the dice in an online game, so you are just playing into the house’s edge with every bet. Q: I’ve heard the term “natural” at craps. What does that mean? A: The 7 or 11 are the naturals on the Come-Out roll, just like a two-card 21 is a natural in blackjack and a 9 is a natural at baccarat. It means an instant winner.

For more free craps tips, visit

A tlantic




boardwalk empire: the new atlantic city By F elicia Lowenstein N iven

Garbed in spring sunshine, Atlantic City, Queen of Resorts, sits poised, ready to greet her visitors. And this time, the “old gal” has primped and polished up — with new attractions, internationally known chefs, bikini beach bars and offerings to entertain young and old. If you haven’t visited lately, chances are you wouldn’t recognize the new Atlantic City. And like all great destinations, Atlantic City is one that has evolved over time — 157 years to be exact. For before casinos lined the shore, or the infamous Nucky Johnson ruled the roost, Atlantic City was just a series of swamps and dunes.

A Little Bit of History

That’s how it was back in 1850. But two shrewd businessmen saw the potential for more. They were Richard Osborne, a civil engineer, and Jonathan Pitney, a physician with a penchant for sales. They marketed the sea air as a way to cure all of your ills. The approach worked. With financial backing, railroad tracks were laid between Camden and Atlantic City. In 1854, the same year Atlantic City was incorporated, the first official tourists arrived. By 1860, there was a permanent population of about 700 and enough facilities to house and feed 4,000 visitors at any given time. An African-American labor force was largely responsible for growing the city; they were the ones who staffed the hotels and swept the sand out of the lobbies, among other duties. The sand problem was solved by a Boardwalk, put down each season, then taken apart and stored. By 1890, it was a permanent structure with railings 24-feet wide and almost four miles long.

Oceans of Promotion

In addition to the stores on the Boardwalk, visitors could visit any number of amusement piers. At the Heinz Pier, you could enjoy free pickles, pickle lapel pins and organ recitals. At Captain John Young’s Million Dollar Pier, you could see performers like Harry Houdini or listen to candidate Teddy Roosevelt. Steeplechase Pier was the “funny place” that featured amusements and rented out clown costumes. Steel Pier was the “showplace of the nation” with the high-diving horse show and vaudeville acts. People came to escape the drudgery of everyday life. A taste of 50  

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saltwater taffy, a ride in a rolling chair and a visit with Mr. Peanut did the trick. Plus that fresh sea air didn’t hurt.

A Boardwalk Empire Rises — and Falls

Enoch L. “Nucky” Johnson became a household name due to the recent HBO series, “Boardwalk Empire.” He served as Atlantic County treasurer and unofficial boss of the area from 1912-1941. Becoming more powerful than ever during Prohibition, Johnson was connected to rum running, graft and election rigging. But he did some good, too. He was instrumental in building Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City’s first convention center. The convention hall was the largest building in the world without roof posts and pillars at the time. Its purpose was clear — to attract more people to Atlantic City. The Hall hosted its biggest event during World War II as tens of thousands of Army men descended on the town. They used the facility to train. But war only disrupted Atlantic City temporarily. After it was over, the town regained its footing. There was the 500 Club, frequented by Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Then came the era of air travel. Simply put, visitors hopped a plane instead of driving. It was a new jet-set mentality that ultimately would take its toll. By the 1970s, Atlantic City’s poverty rate was the highest in the state. Its crime rate also rose, topping other cities its size in the nation. Tourists were few and far between; invariably they were poor and elderly. Enter a referendum for casino gaming. Placed on the state ballot in 1974, at first it was defeated. But it passed the second time around in 1976, and Atlantic City’s first casino, Resorts International, opened to enthusiastic crowds on May 26, 1978. The following day, the Press of Atlantic City ran the banner headline: “Queen of Resorts Reigns Again.”

Destination: Atlantic City

Now with 11 casinos and more on the way, Atlantic City has become a gaming Mecca. But it’s more than that. The wacky stunts and old-time entertainment piers have their modern equivalents — an abundance of family attractions, shopping, dining and entertainment.

Photo Credit: Atlantic City Convention & Visitor ’ s Bureau

Part of the guest experience at the Borgata is the Spa Toccare, recognized in 2010 by both the Travel + Leisure “World’s Best Spas” and Conde Nast Traveler “Best Hotel Spas” guides. The spa features 31 treatment rooms, men’s and women’s lounges, full-service salon, barbershop and fitness center.

At l a n t i c C i t y i s a g a m i n g m e cc a with 11 casinos and more on the way. The Casinos

High stakes meet high style in Atlantic City. Each casino property offers its own take on the Atlantic City experience. On the gaming side, they offer table games, poker and slots plus frequent player cards that “buy” plenty of comps. Many properties also offer celebrity chef dining, spas, nightclubs, shopping and more.

Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort • 609-347-7111

Winner of the prestigious Four Diamond Award from AAA, the Atlantic City Hilton is the casino with the famous name. It blends sophisticated gaming with novelty slots on the Boardwalk including Austin Powers, popular Internet crossover Slingo and Survivor. During the summer, look for the Hilton Beach Bar, complete with live entertainment and tropical drinks and food.

Bally’s Atlantic City BallysAC.COM • 609-340-2000

Bally’s Atlantic City boasts more than 80,000 square feet of gaming space within two casinos. Spend some time at the classic Bally’s Casino where gilded slots fill The Gold Room. Or try a shuffle at Coyote Kate’s Slot Parlor inside the Wild Wild West Casino. When you’re thirsty for some social time, check out the hip and trendy Blue Martini, located right off the casino floor. This chic setting offers more than 100 variations of martinis, topshelf liquor, live music and a bar with a built-in frosted ice rail.

B o rg ata H o t e l C a s i n o & S pa a n d Th e Water Club • 609-317-1000

According to Dave Coskey, vice president of marketing at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, “The Borgata offers an unparalleled travel experience on the East Coast. The 2,000-room hotel-casino presents a destination designed to rival those once found only in Las Vegas with high-caliber entertainment, celebrity chef restaurants, finely appointed guestrooms, and exciting nightlife and gaming options under one roof. Borgata’s unique brand of hospitality exudes from every detail, all conceived with the guest’s ultimate travel experience in mind.”

Next door to Borgata, you’ ll f ind The Water Club, its boutique sister property (without gaming). There you’ll want to visit Immersion Spa with its two-lane, 80-foot-long infinity-edge lap pool with horizon and Atlantic Ocean views with 42-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass panels.

Celebrity dining options include the Wolfgang Puck American Grille, Bobby Flay Steak and Michael Mina’s SEABLUE. Borgata also offers a variety of distinct nightlife experiences including Gypsy Bar, a rock ’n’ roll tequila bar; B Bar, a high-energy, ultra-lounge; MIXX nightclub, Borgata’s dance club; and mur.mur nightclub, an intimate, exclusive party-vibe with signature bottle service and celebrity DJs.

Caesars Atlantic City • 609-348-4411

Located at the center of the Boardwalk casinos, Caesars Atlantic City recreates the glory of the Roman Empire in its majestic lobby. There is a total of 117,378 square feet of casino floor space, making it one of the largest contiguous gaming areas in the city. Visitors enjoy more than 3,400 slots surrounded by lush landscape in Cleopatra’s Garden and a wide variety of table games and poker. Nightlife includes the trendy dusk nightclub and the toga bar. The Qua Baths & Spa offer plenty of pampering. Gourmet dining can be found at the property or adjacent, on the third floor of The Pier at Caesars, an upscale shopping and dining destination.

Harrah’s Atlantic City • 609-441-5000

Located in the marina district, Harrah’s Atlantic City offers a 150,000-square-foot casino, more than 2,800 slot machines, fast-paced table games and an ample poker room. But it’s not all about gaming. There’s The Pool, for example. Located under a 90-foot-high glass dome, the quarter-acre pool complex is a tropical oasis with $1 million worth of horticulture setting the stage for a 23,000-square-foot heated pool, six jacuzzis, 12 cabanas, indoor and outdoor deck areas and a pool bar. Nearby, the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa stretches another 23,000 square feet and features 23 treatment rooms and signature spa services including those delivered poolside. Visit the Pool After Dark and enjoy drinks, dancing and celebrity guests. For something a little different, enroll in the Viking Cooking School, billed as a “playground for cooks.” From the novice to the experienced cook, more than 77,000 people attend each year. Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  


The Quarter features an old world streetscape and three floors of retail, dining and spa offerings. “We have so many amenities here under one roof, from nightlife to the IMAX Theatre to world-class restaurants to the bluemercury spa,” said Tropicana President and CEO Mark Giannantonio. “Entertainment is very important to us, and so we’re bringing in a lot of great acts, especially on weekends.” On the casino side, two clubs cater to players: Diamond Jim’s and the more exclusive Top of the Trop, both with a gourmet menu. Games are determined largely by players, and nowhere is that more true than in the slot arena.

Th e Bo o gi e N i gh t s Da n c e F l oo r at Resorts Atlantic City attracts those who enjoy 1980’s themes. Resorts Atlantic City • 1-800-334-6378

The first casino in town coincidentally has the newest look and feel. That’s because it’s under new ownership. “The building was constructed in 1928,” said owner Dennis Gomes, “so we were planning a period theme. It was just coincidental that HBO aired ‘Boardwalk Empire’ about the same time that we were re-opening.” Resorts has been renovated so that the casino is twice the size as the original. Employees are costumed in 1920s attire. There are dancing flappers in the lobby and a singing bartender. Those who enjoy the 1980s can still visit Resorts’ popular Boogie Nights. There also are plans to open a gay/lesbian club, a female impersonator show and a contemporary rock club. “Our emphasis is on bringing the warmth and friendliness of yesteryear,” said Gomes, who regularly walks around the casino to visit with guests. “In this era of giant conglomerates, we want to bring back the family feel. We’ve had some wonderful responses already. People just can’t believe how charming it is.”

Showboat — The Mardi Gras Casino and House of Blues • 609-343-4000 If you can’t get to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, you can enjoy it year-round at the Showboat. From the signature beads to live bands, Showboat delivers a party atmosphere.

Play Spanish 21 in the Bayou on the Atlantic. Spin your way at any one of the 2,600 slot machines. Try your hand at three-card poker. Then, for a change of pace, head over to the casino-withina-casino, the House of Blues at the Showboat. The House of Blues is a premier music destination around the world. Here in Atlantic City, it serves up live music and Southern-inspired cuisine as well as a full range of casino games in a trendy, blues-inspired atmosphere.

Tropicana Casino and Resort • 1-800-345-8767

You’re just as likely to visit the Tropicana for the gaming as you would for the shopping and entertainment. The property is the only one in town to feature a 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex known as The Quarter. With the theme of Old Havana, 52  

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Tropicana also is in the process of building 26 state-of-the-art penthouses in the North Tower. The property already features six. These are themed suites, ranging from an island paradise to majestic Rome to Park Avenue or 17th century France.

No visit to Tropicana would be complete without a stop at FIN, the newest dining offering. The only seafood restaurant in Atlantic City with outdoor, oceanfront seating, FIN features locally grown food and wine.

Trump Marina Hotel Casino • 1-800-777-8477

Soon, this waterfront property will become The Golden Nugget. Skip to the “On the Horizon” section to find out more.

Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino • 609-441-6000

The Trump Plaza brings big-city style to Atlantic City. Highrollers can enjoy Fifth Avenue, a semi-private high-limit slot area. Table gamers include all the favorites plus hot new games such as Let It Ride, three-card poker and Spanish 21. If you’re thirsty, Jezebel’s nightclub is right in the middle of the casino. Or visit during the summer and head to the Trump Plaza Beach Bar, voted one of the 21 Sexiest Beach Bars by the Travel Channel.

Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort • 609-449-1000

Hailed as the “8th Wonder of the World,” the Trump Taj Mahal is pure Atlantic City with more than 3,500 slot machines, 200 game tables and a smoke-free poker room. Visitors can also enjoy a collection of shops and eateries at Spice Road. A spa, fitness center, indoor pool and salon help to make relaxation top priority.

On the Horizon The Golden Nugget

A Las Vegas fixture, the Golden Nugget will soon also be in Atlantic City at the former site of Trump Marina. Landry’s Inc., owner and operator of the Las Vegas property, has announced plans to create another contemporary, posh resort destination. The new Golden Nugget will feature a number of Landry’s awardwinning restaurants, including the Chart House overlooking the marina. There are plans for new bars and lounges, stylish retail offerings, a new spa, showroom and the H20 Pool and Lounge with all-season hot tubs and fire pits. Updated rooms and suites will complete the transformation. The New Golden Nugget should open in the fall of 2011.

Revel Entertainment

Construction is underway at the northern end of the Boardwalk for Atlantic City’s newest property, Revel Entertainment. Set on 20 acres, the property is expected to open in mid-2012. Initially, it was projected to include 150,000 square feet of gaming space, 20 restaurants, 40 upscale retail shops and a 5,000-seat arena.

The Non-Gaming Attractions

Young or old, you’ll find an activity in Atlantic City for every member of the family. Here are a few places to start.

Absecon Lighthouse

The Absecon Lighthouse is a historic structure designed by Civil War Gen. George Meade and Th e Ho u s e o f Bl u e s at t h e Sho w boat built in 1857. Visitors who climb the 228-step structure are rewarded with a bird’s-eye view serves up live music, southern cuisine and casino gaming. of Atlantic City’s dazzling skyline and back bay area. A photographer’s delight, the lighthouse reBoardwalk Hall and the Atlantic City opened to the public in early 1999. It is the tallest lighthouse in Convention Center New Jersey. First opened in 1929 as the Atlantic City Convention Hall, Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall re-opened in 2001 after a three“With so many kids hooked on technology, it’s time for parents year, $90 million renovation. Boasting one of the most celebrated to take a warm summer day and hook them into a little history, restoration projects in the country, it was recognized as the 2003 while climbing 228 steps to the top!” said Jean Muchanic, National Preservation Award Preservation Award. It boasts a executive director. “Absecon Lighthouse was first lit before Abe 13,800-seat arena that has hosted international superstars from Lincoln became president, and it’s the country’s third largest Bruce to Bocelli to Britney and more. lighthouse. You get history, exercise, great views and a lot of family fun.” The Atlantic City Convention Center opened in 1997 as the centerpiece of a multi-billion-dollar redevelopment plan for The Lighthouse is open Thursday through Monday, from 11 Atlantic City. One of the largest facilities of its kind in New Jersey, a.m.-4 p.m. its space for exhibits is as large as six football fields. It is known Atlantic City Aquarium at Historic Gardner’s for hosting some of the largest public shows in the northeast.


Long ago, Historic Gardner’s Basin served as a port for rumrunners and commercial fishing vessels. Today, it is a picturesque bayside park, that offers shopping, dining and boating for visitors of all ages. Visit the Crafter’s Village, a working group of artists housed in charming cottages along the Absecon inlet. Here, you can find an abundance of handcrafted gifts. Spend some time at the Atlantic City Aquarium and you’ll see colorful clownfish, sharp-toothed piranhas, sleek sharks and slippery eels. Visitors can enjoy a live diver feeding show, an exotic animal show and a touch tank. Seaweed the Sea Turtle, the aquarium’s mascot, makes frequent appearances as well. If you’re hungry, stop by Scales Grill & Deck Bar or Gilchrist Restaurant, the two newest offerings at the Basin.

Atlantic City Boardwalk and Beach

No visit would be complete without a trip to Atlantic City’s famed Boardwalk and beach. The unique six-mile promenade still features the rolling chairs that first debuted in 1887. Visitors may also stroll, jog or bike along the route. While neighboring beaches charge admission, Atlantic City’s beaches are still free. You can still visit one of the remaining amusement piers of yesteryear. Steel Pier is an updated version, open seasonally. Garden Pier is home to the Atlantic City Art Center and the Atlantic City Historical Museum, both free to the public. During the summer, don’t forget to stop by Boardwalk’s Kennedy Plaza stage. Free shows are offered seasonally, usually in the evenings. 54  

Southern G aming an d De s t in a t io n s

Getting Here and Getting Around

Atlantic City is readily accessible by via Atlantic City International Airport, which is about a 20-minute drive from the city. Spirit Airlines provides flights from Chicago O’Hare, the New England region and locations in Florida. AirTran connects Atlantic City to more than 35 destinations through Atlanta. Ground transportation is available in the form of taxis, limousines and shuttles. Visitors may rent cars from Avis, Budget or Hertz. Visitors also may fly into Philadelphia International Airport, located about an hour’s drive from Atlantic City. The city is easily accessible via the Atlantic City Expressway. If you do bring your car, be aware that casinos charge a mandatory parking fee. This typically is $5 on weekdays and more on weekends, during conventions and special events. Frequent player cards will give guests reduced parking. If you don’t have a car in town, you can hop on a Jitney. These are 13-passenger mini-buses that travel the entire city. They run 24 hours day, seven days a week. The fare for a single ride is $2.25.

Want to Know More?

Visit Felicia Lowenstein Niven is president of Writing Solutions, a business she founded in 1996. She is a published author of 8 nonfiction books for children, with 14 additional titles to be released in 2011-12. Her nonfiction work has received national acclaim, with an honorable mention among 20,000 entries in the annual Writer’s Digest writing competition. She resides in Northfield with her husband and two daughters.

There’s a reason




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. We also offer a wide variety of restaurants for every palate: everything from casual dining at Hard Rock Cafe to fine dining at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. And no Hard Rock Casino would be complete without bringing you the best in music and entertainment. Dance the night away at The Ledge, rock the night away at Road House Live or with all of today’s top performers at Hard Rock Live.

We told you there’s a reason.

Voted Best Rooms & Best Customer Service

7 7 7 B E AC H B LV D. , B I L OX I , M S 39 5 3 0 | 2 2 8 - 3 74 - R O C K | H A R D R O C K B I L OX I . CO M




music rocks biloxi the hard rock dna By Rudi S chiffer

Most customer surveys will tell you that the most important things in a casino are gambling and dining — in that order. To a lesser extent, entertainment is important, but not at the Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, where music is a critical part of its DNA. Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi, Miss., not only provides guests with a superior gaming and dining experience, but also offers so much more in the means of live entertainment. “When the public hears the name Hard Rock, it expects top-flight entertainment,” says Chris Kern, vice president of marketing. “They want the best, and the best acts want to play at our various venues. It is a pillar here that attracts not only new customers but keeps our existing clientele excited throughout the year.” Robyn Smith, director of entertainment and an experienced manager in the business both at casinos and in private life, has done the booking here since 2007. “It’s my job to continue the reputation of Hard Rock with top acts on an ongoing basis,” she says. “And our ticket sales reflect that reputation, as we sell out the majority of the time. One thing that sets Hard Rock apart from other places is that the artists really like to play here, and we get great feedback from them and their managers who want to come back.” What works best for the Hard Rock is not to focus specifically on any one genre of music but to bring quality and variety to its main theater, Hard Rock Live Biloxi, and other rooms at the Center Bar, Road House Live, VIBE and Hard Rock Café. The casino averages eight to 10 national acts a month, but throughout the year, there are more than 435 live acts in total for all combined venues. “The sheer number of acts is a big differentiator for Hard Rock from our competitors,” says Kern. “One of our mottos is ‘Love All, Serve All,’ and it is with that in our minds that helps us in our entertainment selection process.” The Hard Rock Live theater is unique in that it can hold 1,800 standing fans and 1,300 seats. This flexibility permits a wide variety of acts for different age groups. The casino also has the 56  

Southern G aming an d De s t in a t io n s

Stone temple pilots performed at Hard Rock Live in February. ability to turn the room into Road House Live on Friday and Saturday nights, making it a completely different nightclub in a whole new and exciting atmosphere. Kern, who was raised on the Gulf Coast and worked at IP, Grand and Boomtown, has been at Hard Rock for three-and-a-half

H a r d R oc k L i v e has been host to over 100 national headlining acts. years. He certainly knows what to bring to the entertainment facilities at Hard Rock, and the strategic plan is to continue booking impressive acts with the challenge of making those attractions even better in the future. “We will continue to give our guests a memorable experience that leaves them walking away after the show to experience all the great gambling and amenities throughout our property, but also wanting to come back for more,” he says.

slots machines, 50 table games and six live poker games. Five restaurants include the classic Hard Rock Café, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, VIBE, Great Steaks and Seafood, the 24/7 Grille and Satisfaction Buffet. Also included are 325 rooms and 33 suites, all rated AAA Four Diamond. Rock Spa pampers guests, and the Wet Spot Pool Bar and Grill is the Gulf Coast’s only swim-up pool bar with a great view of the Gulf.

This mindset at Hard Rock thus moves entertainment up to a third corner of the triangle that covers gaming and dining.

For reservations, call 1-228-374-ROCK or visit

Some of the upcoming acts this summer include: Ronnie Dunn on May 14, Whitesnake on May 20, Blue October on May 21, Brett Michaels on May 28, Sinbad on June 3, Mountain featuring Leslie West and Corkey Laing on June 17, Lisa Lampanelli on June 25 and The Wailers on July 1. Recently the Biloxi operation was honored by the corporation as its “Casino of the Year 2010.” The award winner is chosen from Hard Rock properties all over the world based on financial performance, unique sales accomplishments, community contributions, philanthropy, brand loyalty and leadership. It was the second award in a row for Biloxi, and as president and general manager, Duncan McKenzie says, “It is hard work, dedication and impeccable customer service that brought us here.”

The Sudoku Puzzle Answers from page 8























































As in real estate where location, location and location are the key, for Hard Rock, entertainment, entertainment and entertainment are what positions it in the very competitive Gulf Coast casino jurisdiction.



















Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi has more than 1,200










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aria resort & casino: Las Vegas, Nevada New. Here at Southern Gaming and Destinations, we’ve certainly heard our share of hype when it comes to “NEW” — new properties, new clubs, new shows, new restau ra nts, new s lot m ac h i ne s… ne w everything.

So as I prepared to spend a few days in “Cyn” (as in cynicism) City, I decided to open my mind, challenge my editorial staff, check my skepticism at the gate and do my best to find something truly unique and unexpected in “New” Vegas. I was searching for a visitor experience that was special but not exclusive, big but not overwhelming, bold but not grossly overdone. (OK, so maybe a little overdone is fine. it is Vegas, right?) What I found really did surprise me — it’s a new, well-designed, eco-friendly “little” place called Aria. That’s right, that ARIA — the biggest, over-the-top, multi-billiondollar crown jewel of the MGM Kingdom. The numbers sound absolutely obscene: more than 4,000 rooms, the biggest casino floor on the strip, an enormous two-level spa, 16 full-service 58  

Southern G aming an d De s t in a t io n s

AriA Resort & Casino is the newest in the MGM kingdom. restaurants, 10 unique bars and lounges, the newest tribute to the Vegas icon known as Elvis … and somehow the whole experience seemed created just for one person — me. Does this mean everything about Aria is absolutely flawless, that every element and encounter was perfect? Does it mean nowhere else matters, or that this is the best place for everyone? No. It simply means if you’re looking for something really NEW, really different and really surprising, you owe it to yourself to explore the center of Center City. With all due respect to Criss Angel, the folks behind Aria have somehow pulled off the ultimate magic trick: creating a destination that seems to bend

Photo Credit: City Center Digital

The funny thing is, most of the time, there’s really nothing new about “new.” Especially when it comes to arguably the most overhyped city on the planet, Las Vegas.

Photo Credit: City Center D igital

S age i s t h e l at e s t f i n e - di n i n g m a s t e r p i e c e of chef Shawn McClain. time and space by making something this big and over-the-top feel truly personal and even down to earth. It’s that confident, comfortable, high-touch attitude that for me truly separated this facility from most of the other super-structures on the strip. Let’s start with design. I’m not talking typical Las Vegas interior-decorator-on-steroids stuff here, I’m talking about one of the most important architectural statements in perhaps all of Nevada. The world-renowned firm of Pelli Clarke Pelli designed Aria, and from the moment you set foot in the lobby, you feel the difference. Every space is so well thought out and designed, it makes getting from point A to point B a pleasure. The exterior is one of the most graceful large buildings I’ve ever seen, and somehow this giant, flowing silver curve stands out and fits perfectly into the crowded Vegas skyline at the same time. Plus, the entire building is one of the largest LEED-certified green buildings on earth, so you can feel like you’re saving the planet while you have the time of your life. Now let’s talk gaming. I’m admittedly a recreational gambler, and most of my favorite gaming experiences have been at small places with close friends. It seems Aria planners where able to create smaller, personal spaces within their enormous casino floor, which instantly improved my comfort level but didn’t help my winning percentage. My dreams of hitting it big and moving into one of the exclusive Aria suites on the 45th floor suddenly vanished with the flip of a five of hearts (really, did he hit on that ace/five?!). So what do you do after a rough session at the Aria gaming tables? Well, I suggest you head directly to Sage, the latest finedining masterpiece of critically acclaimed chef Shawn McClain that combines the finest farm-to-table produce, artisanal meats

and sustainable seafood with an equally tasteful décor. All the selections sounded truly amazing, but what made my evening so memorable wasn’t on the menu, it was who was handing me the menu — my new best friend, personal culinary sensei and one of Sage’s expert servers, Markus. Markus knew every detail of the Sage offerings, Markus knew interesting wine parings, and Markus made unique suggestions that made all the difference. A limited character count keeps me from an appetizer to dessert blow by blow, but trust me, Sage, the grilled baby octopus salad and Markus are must-dos. Finally, the accommodations — I have to say that by the time I left what was truly a memorable evening at the casino and Sage, I was wondering how the Aria style was going to play out within the relatively small space of a guest room. Verdict? Very well, thank you. Sure, my expectations where high, and while my room and accommodations where first class, once again the service was the star. A little technical issue with my high-speed Internet was corrected quickly, and the follow-up call from the help desk was a nice touch. A “subtle” comment about the Aria chocolate to the turndown associate resulted in a couple (or was it a few?) bonus samples, and when it was time to check out, I felt like I was saying goodbye to close, life-long friends — close, life-long friends who owned a 3.8-million-square-foot guesthouse, that is. The price tag on this kind of experience may be a bit high for some of our Southern Gaming & Destinations bargain hunters out there, but if you’re looking for something really special and different, you may want to treat yourself to a night or two at my NEW favorite “little” place, Aria. Please tell Markus I sent you. Vol um e 13  I ssue 3  


Southern Slots Reel Boost™ WMS Gaming Denominations: $0.01, .02, .03, .05, .10, .20, .25, .50, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 M ar ke t s : av ailable nationwide This exciting new series features a unique 6-Reel configuration with 192 paylines and 6-of-a-kind payouts! Games with clumped reel strips have typically had low pay tables, but by adding a 6th reel, Reel Boost games feature clumped symbols with increased prizes! The Reel Boost series also features a flipped-reel mechanic for the bonus rounds and an optional dual-level standalone progressive. Launching with Zeus III™, Wild Shootout™ and Dean Martin’s Vegas Shindig™ themes, this exciting new entry in WMS’ Innovation Series™ is the next breakthrough in volatile slots you’ve been waiting for! Be sure to check out the trailer on YouTube today!

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Southern G aming an d De s t in a t io n s

Vegas Hits™ Bally Technologies Denominations: $ .01, .02, .03, .05, .10, .15, .20, .25, .50, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1,000 Markets: available nationwide, excluding West Virginia. Two wheels means twice the fun with Vegas Hits, the first two-wheel game that puts you in control. Double the wheelspinning excitement. Twice the interactive fun. Vegas Hits puts you in control with U-Spin touch-screen technology and two spectacular bonus wheels. Spin the bottom wheel for bonus spins and enhanced wilds. Spin the top wheel for colossal cash payouts. Plus 16 unique bonus games make sure the fun never stops. So double down and take a spin on the newest smash hit. Ask for Vegas Hits at your favorite casino!

Spinning Streak ® Progressive WMS Gaming Denominations: $0.01, .02, .03, .05, .10, .20, .25, .50, 1, 2, 5, 10 Markets: available nationwide in early June. Imagine a Spinning Streak that awards a progressive! Building off the highly successful Innovation Series™, Spinning Streak® Progressive takes the Spinning Streak technology to a whole new level. In Spinning Streak, winning symbols lock and all others re-spin in an attempt to get more winning symbols. Now with Spinning Streak Progressive, every Spinning Streak in any spin advances toward a progressive level. The more streaks, the higher the progressive! The Spinning Streak Progressive is composed of 4 levels that are awarded based on the number of streaks that occur from one spin, including bonus free spins. But that’s not all. During any spin, if all symbols are held, a player picks 1 of 10 gift boxes that contain extra streaks to advance to a higher progressive – including the top Diamond level!

Southern Gaming’s Preferred Hot Spots

Southern Gaming and Destinations Magazine strives to recommend quality establishments located throughout the region to our readers. On this map, you will find an array of our preferred casinos, racetracks, racinos, hotels and restaurants we feel will deliver a quality experience and encourage you to consider them when you travel. WANT COMPS? If you are a qualified casino player, let us know! We will connect you with our preferred player hosting company,, who has relationships with casinos around the world. For more information, please e-mail or call 1-877-582-9478. Also, visit to fill out a Comp Request Form for assistance in setting up your next gaming trip. 1 Gulf Coast Beau Rivage Resort & Casino (Biloxi) 1-888-750-7111

Fallen Oak Golf Course (Biloxi) 1-877-805-4657

Half Shell Oyster House (Gulfport) 1-228-867-7001

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Biloxi) 1-877-877-6256

IP Casino Resort Spa 1-888-946-2847

Island View Casino Resort (Gulfport) 1-877-774-VIEW

2 Alabama Riverside Casino (Wetumpka) 1-800-897-7198

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail 1-800-949-4444

• Oxmoor Valley Golf Course (Birmingham) • Hampton Cove Golf Course (Huntsville) • Magnolia Grove Golf Course (Mobile) • Capitol Hill Golf Course (Montgomery) Wind Creek Casino & Hotel (Atmore)


3 Arkansas Arkansas Departmet of Parks & Tourism 1-501-682-7777

The Faded Rose Restaurant (Little Rock) 1-501-663-9734

Hot Springs Visitors Bureau 1-888-SPA-CITY

Loca Luna Restaurant (Little Rock) 1-501-663-4666

Oaklawn Park Racing & Gaming (Hot Springs) 1-800-OAKLAWN

Southland Park Gaming & Racing (West Memphis) 1-800-467-6182

4 Florida Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room 1-386-252-6484

Derby Lane Race Track (St. Petersburg) 1-727-812-3339

Shula’s Steak House (Tampa) 1-813-286-4366

Miccosukee Resort & Gaming (Miami) 1-877-242-6464

Mardi Gras Casino & Racing (Hallandale) 1-877-55-SLOTS


Seminole’s (Coconut Creek, Hollywood & Tampa) 1866-2CASINO

Watermark Grille (Naples) 1-239-596-1400

5 Georgia

Seelbach Hotel (Louisville) 1-502-585-3200

Waterfront Restaurant (Covington) 1-859-581-1414

8 Louisiana

The Horseradish Grille (Atlanta)

Café Giovanni (New Orleans)

New York Prime Steakhouse (Atlanta)

Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino (Vinton)

Soho Restaurant (Atlanta)

Fair Grounds Race Course (New Orleans)


1-404-875-4242 1-770-801-0069

6 Indiana Belterra Casino Resort (Vevay) 1-888-BELTERRA




L’Auberge Du Lac Hotel & Casino (Lake Charles)

Casino Aztar (Evansville)


Grand Victoria Casino & Resort (Rising Sun)




Hoosier Park Racing & Casino (Anderson) 1-800-526-7223

Indiana Live! Casino (Shelbyville) 1-877-386-4463

Paragon Casino Resort (Marksville) Shreveport/ Bossier Visitor’s Bureau 1-888-45-VISIT

9 Mississippi (Tunica) Gold Strike Casino Resort 1-888-24-KSTAY

21C Museum Hotel (Louisville)

Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall

Brown Hotel (Louisville)

Hollywood Casino Tunica

7 Kentucky 877-217-6400


Churchill Downs (Louisville) 1-800-283-3729

1-800-456-0711 1-800-871-0711

10 Mississippi

Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse (Louisville) 1-502-584-0102

John Phillip’s Restaurant & Bar (Crestview Hills/N. KY) 1-859-344-0444

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

Oriental Wok (Fort Mitchell) 1-859-331-0770

Pat’s Steak House (Louisville) 1-502-896-9234

Porcini Italian Restaurant (Louisville) 1-502-894-8686

Southern G aming an d De s t in a t io n s

Mirage Las Vegas 1-800-627-6667

Paris Las Vegas

Galt House Hotel & Suites (Louisville) 1-859-371-3200


Pearl River Resort (Philadelphia) 1-866-44-PEARL

Golf Courses of Kenton County

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino

Palms Hotel




Boka Homa Casino (Sandersville)

Equus Restaurant (Louisville) 1-502-897-9721

MGM Grand

11 Missouri Ameristar Casino St. Charles 1-800-325-7777

Argosy’s Alton Belle Casino 1-800-336-7568

Casino Queen


1-866-942-7777 1-877-796-2096

The Venetian


Wynn Las Vegas 1-888-320-WYNN

Wild Wild West Hotel & Casino 1-800-6-STATIONS

13 Nevada (Laughlin)

Lumière Place Casino & Hotels

Aquarius Casino Resort

River City Casino

Golden Nugget Laughlin



12 Nevada (Las Vegas) Aria Resort and Casino 1-866-359-7757

The Bellagio


Caesars Palace



Harrah’s Laughlin Casino and Hotel 1-800-427-7247

14 Nevada (Reno) Atlantis Casino Resort 1-800-723-6500

Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant

Circus Circus Reno Hotel & Casino

Golden Nugget

Eldorado Hotel & Casino

1-800-HARRAHS 1-702-364-5300


Golden Gate Hotel & Casino 1-800-426-1906 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino 1-800-473-7625

1-800-648-5010 1-800-879-8879

Hyatt Regency Resort Spa & Casino (Lake Tahoe) 1-800-233-1234 Peppermill Resort Spa Casino 1-866-821-9996

For comps and information on these facilities, visit!

18 West Virginia

15 Ohio

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

Blue Ash Golf Course (Cincinnati) 1-513-745-8577

Elks Run Golf Course (Cincinnati) 1-513-735-6600

Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse (Cincinnati) 1-513-784-1200

Montgomery Inn Boathouse (Cincinnati) 1-513-791-3482

16 South Carolina Aunt Chilada’s Easy Street Café (Hilton Head) 1-843-785-7700

17 Tennessee Bound’ry (Nashville) 1-615-321-3043

Cherokee Valley Golf Course (Memphis) 1-901-525-4653

Folk’s Folly (Memphis) 1-901-762-8200

Gaylord Springs Golf Links (Nashville) 1-615-458-1730

Half Shell Restaurant (Memphis)

CQ’s Restaurant (Hilton Head)


Golden Bear at Indigo Run (Hilton Head)


Harbour Town Golf Course (Hilton Head)

Vanderbilt Legends Club (Brentwood)




Hilton Head National (Hilton Head) 1-843-842-5900

Salty Dog Café (Hilton Head)

Rendezvous Barbecue (Memphis) Tsunami Restaurant (Memphis) 1-901-274-2556



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

Bahamas Atlantis, Paradise Island 1-800-777-5848

Check out today! Get the best gaming tips, reviews, gaming news, sports scores and odds, and more! Don’t are just a click away!


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An important element in pro poker games is reading in the other. In a game your opponents. Are they riding on “hot air” or the real (the Flynt game) where thing? In a lot of home games, there is just so much winning just one $4,000 money in the pot, relative to the size of the final bet, bet a night would mean that it makes sense to call that bet. (What do you have an income of $16,000 to lose?) In pro poker, there per week (this game runs is enough money involved four days a week), one and enough actual thought carefully earned bet can processes are being utilized, make a great deal of a that many situations come up difference. Phil Hellmuth, Jr. where you can take advantage That’s the way things of a good read — which might look into the high-stakes “side game” world at large, arise either from your ability to but there is even more evidence that skill is present detect weakness or strength in body language or from and important in high-stakes poker tournaments today. your ability to assess the implications of betting the (When I say “side game” world, I pattern on the hand — and make mean the non-tournament poker either a good call or a good fold. But world.) Why do the same people, it’s hard to read someone who hasn’t by and large, keep winning poker really been thinking about the hand The skill factor tournaments year after year? They and can’t possibly be nervous about win because they apply finely honed losing $1.75! The skill factor in poker in poker is much strategies and tactics, calculate is much higher in the pro game. There and recalculate the odds, read their is just too much at stake for anyone higher in the pro opponents well, avoid becoming to rely solely on luck. predictable, and know how and when Let’s take a quick glimpse at the highgame. There is just to make a good bluff. stakes poker world, an enterprise Some of the most famous poker that yields several of my friends too much at stake players in the world today have made over a million dollars a year! At their names in poker tournaments. I this level, too, luck is a factor on for anyone to rely am proud to say that I was the allany given day, week or month, but time leading money winner in WSOP what’s different is that if you play solely on luck. history in 2001, having won more better poker than your opponents do, than $2,800,000. (Unfortunately for pretty consistently, you’ll find that me, Johnny Chan and T.J. Cloutier over almost any two-month period, both passed me the year after that.) your winnings have exceeded your Only a handful of people have won more than $2 million losses. Furthermore, if you play better poker than your in their WSOP “careers.” Although the same people opponents over a six-month period, your results will have don’t win all the poker tournaments, by the time the moved very solidly in the winning direction. Making a year’s end rolls around, the same people always seem few well-timed bluffs each day will add up to a lot of to end up having won several tournaments, year in and money each year. year out. This is one of the appealing aspects of poker In fact, if an inexperienced poker player were to sit down tournaments: The record is out there for everyone to for a few hours with a group of world-class poker players, see; some players are consistently successful, and he would have virtually no chance to win over even an others are not. (The side games, though very lucrative, eight-hour period. This very fact is why five or six top pros keep no records.) might be willing to sit down in the same game with this If serious poker were a game where luck predominated, fellow and each other: The money that even one amateur this would not and could not happen. Everyone involved is likely to contribute makes it worth their while to do battle with so many respected opponents. would win about the same number of tournaments as everyone else (as tends to happen in slots tournaments Imagine yourself facing down Larry Flynt in the $2,000or craps tournaments), and no one would make (or lose) $4,000 Seven-Card Stud game at Hustler Club Casino. any serious money. But that’s not what years and years You’re sitting there trying to figure out if he has a strong of proven, recorded results show. hand or is full of hot air (bluffing). If you decide right, you will win $25,000, but if you’re wrong, it will cost you One last note: Beware of playing in the small-stakes $25,000. What do you do? You make a good read — of the poker games in Las Vegas or other casinos. No matter situation, of the odds, of your opponent — and make an how good you are, it is very hard to beat the “rake” (the educated guess rather than a plain old boldfaced guess! money that is taken out of every pot each hand). It’s best The chief difference between your home poker game to avoid the $2-$4 limit games and below, and watch and the games of the big players is the preponderance the rake — if it seems like it’s too much, then play with of luck in the one and the preponderance of skill shorter money in a higher limit game that is beatable.

Phil Hellmuth Jr. is an 11-time World Series of Poker Champion, leading all poker players in the world. His latest book, “Deal Me In,” is on the fast track for being another best-seller. His books, clothing line, blog, tips and more can be found at PhilHellmuth. com. This column is an excerpt from “Play Poker Like the Pros.”


Poker: Reading Your Opponents


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Southern Gaming & Destinations May 2011  

Southern Gaming & Destinations Magazine, May 2011, featuring Larry King and the Summer Travel Guide

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