Southern & Midwest Gaming and Destinations - May 2021

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PLUS: TIPS ON BLACKJACK • CRAPS • VIDEO POKER & MORE! Covering casinos in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and more!





FOR DETAILS ©2021 MGM Resorts International.® All rights reserved. Must be 21. Gambling problem? Call 1.888.777.9696.


from the Publisher Gaming Media Group

UP FRONT with G. DOUGLAS Have you been back to a casino since COVID-19 rocked our world last year? Without a doubt, it is a different experience all together and some of the simple things we took for granite preCOVID seem monumental now. Imagine sitting at a full blackjack table of six people instead of three divided by plexiglass. Or tossing the dice at a crowded craps table with everyone cheering for that special number to come out. It seems so long ago. When the virus really started to take hold, and the casinos started shutting down, I remember thinking how difficult it would be to make casinos sanitary. Think about sitting at a poker table for hours, with everyone touching the cards and chips, and seeing fellow players cough or sneeze into their hands, and then continue to play. Or rows of slot machines with players smoking cigarettes, coughing, high fiving and laughing just seems like the twilight zone today. I truly never thought simple things like a game of poker or playing slot machines would feel taboo. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and personally, I am running towards it. On recent casino visits, I have noticed that people are either becoming more comfortable with the sanitary efforts of the casinos, have been vaccinated or are simply tired of being cooped up and are ready to get out. Regardless, most properties have done a great job to ensure safety for their guests and employees, and it shows through casino revenue. Whether it is the result of stimulus money from the government, or just the pent-up demand to get out and place some bets, most states are seeing casino revenues rival or exceed pre-COVID numbers for multiple months in a row. To me, the numbers don’t lie and they show that gamers are willing to go the casinos, live their lives, and suffer the consequences should they need to. To me, that is America saying, ‘We are ready to get back to reality and do what we want.’ So, let’s do it…we are ready! Make those plans to visit that casino you have had on your bucket list. Call your casino host and tell him or her that you are ready to come back and ask them for a free room and some food comps. Be smart about it, but if we can go to major sporting events, fly in planes together and eat in restaurants, why would the casino be any different? Currently, most of the casino restaurants and bars are open and buffets and entertainment are still closed. But there are still many offerings that will feel normal and allow you to relax and enjoy the amenities of the properties, and with warmer weather on the way, the casino pools and golf courses will see their fair share of customers. We hope you will consider making those first trips back to casinos that advertise with Southern & Midwest Gaming and Destinations. Without them we wouldn’t be able to publish these great gambling tips and articles for your enjoyment. We hope you enjoy the issue and as always, if you can’t be good…be lucky!



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136 St. Matthews Ave. #300 Louisville, KY 40207 (502) 212-5177 e-mail: The goal of this publication is to help drive awareness of the ever-growing popularity of the gaming industry and to assist gamers in enjoying their gaming experience to the fullest. Gaming and Destinations is published for those who seek the best in gaming and in life, and is produced bimonthly by Gaming Media Group Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright 2019 by Gaming Media Group Inc. All Rights Reserved. This publication is printed by LSC Communications., 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 Gaming and Destinations assume liability for claims of advertisers. POSTMASTER:

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On the cover: Singer and songwriter Caroline Jones has a natural love for the Gulf Coast and all that it offers. Check out her story on page 6. (Photos courtesy of Laura Tait)



Caroline Jones: Gulf Coast Girl

Singer and songwriter flourishes with her passion for the Gulf Coast.



12 Mississippi Stud:


G&D’s Casino Scene:

Get the scoop on what’s happening at our preferred properties around the region.

Basics of the Game

16 Roulette:

10 Casino Golf:

Betting the Zero

17 Video Poker:

Sticking with the Hand You’re Dealt

Our picks for teeing it up on the links.

18 Beau Rivage Buffet is Back!

One of the best buffets in the country re-opens.

20 Sports Wagering:

Find the future odds-on major sporting events.

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10 Find us on Facebook


@MidwestCasinos G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |



HOT HAPPENINGS AT OUR PREFERRED CASINOS, RACETRACKS AND MORE. The casinos are starting to announce more promotions, entertainment and amenity openings throughout the country, and we couldn’t be more excited! Below are a few announcements from Preferred Properties of Gaming and Destinations. These properties are supporters of G&D and we encourage you to check them out on your next gaming adventure. For more hot happenings and gaming news, visit (Biloxi, MS) Beau Rivage Resort & Casino welcomes the return of live entertainment with Gary Allan (Aug. 28), Sara Evans (Sept. 4), Charlie Wilson (Sept. 11), Kool & The Gang (Sept. 18), Nelly (Sept. 25), LeAnn Rimes (Oct. 2), The Price is Right Live (Nov. 5 & 6) and Chicago (Dec. 17). Also, the property’s award-winning buffet is renewed and reopened with all of the favorites you are accustomed to, new food stations and seating arrangements. Check out the article on page 18 for more information about the buffet reopening. For more information, visit or call 1-888-567-6667. (Tunica, MS) Gold Strike Casino Resort’s Millennium Theatre welcomes headliners back to the stage with Sara Evans (Sept. 3) and LeAnn Rimes (Oct. 1). Tickets are on sale now and going fast. Buffet Americana offers live entertainment during weekend brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Featured artists include Anderson Domingues, Buddy Nemenz of Almost Famous and Tailored Makers. For more information, visit or call 1-888-245-7829 (Vicksburg, MS) Ameristar Casino Hotel is returning to host Live Entertainment on May 30 with an outdoor concert featuring the ‘90’s rock band Everclear. Don’t miss their hits including ‘Wonderful’, ‘Santa Monica’, ‘Father of Mine’ and more. Also be sure to check out other promotions and giveaways including The Prize is Right for up to $1,000 in Free Play, Countertop Cooking Gift Giveaway on Saturdays from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm and more. For mor information, visit or call 1-601-630-3786. (Harris, MI) Island Resort & Casino – Live entertainment is back at the Island with Clint Black (May 14 & 15), Teddy Petty & The Refugees (May 22), Hardy (May 28 & 29), Highway to Hell (June 12), Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias (July 28), Tesla (Aug. 11 & 12) and 98° (Oct. 1 & 2). Also don’t miss live comedy in Club Four One on Sunday nights featuring nationally touring comedians as well as other great property promotions and giveaways. For more information visit or call 1-800-682-6040. (Bowler, WI) North Star Mohican Casino Resort - The return of live entertainment comes to North Star with Jeff Foxworthy (Aug. 20), Eddie Montgomery (Sept. 17) and Michael Bolton (Nov. 20). The property is also celebrating their 29-year anniversary by giving away over $50,000 in free play in May by selecting 29 winners every 30 minutes who will each receive $29 in free play! For more information, visit or call 715-787-3110. (Hot Springs, AR) Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort is excited to announce the opening of their expanded casino and hotel resort featuring over 1,500 machines, 32 table games and a full-service race and sportsbook. The hotel features a variety of rooms including several trackside suite options, full-service spa and several bars, lounges and restaurants to check out. For more information, visit or call 1-800-625-5296.


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Y O U ’ V E A R R I V E D.

Ameristar Casino offers an exciting & clean place to play along with stunning views of the Mississippi River and bridges. Our restaurants offer delicious southern dishes for both dine-in or take-out, and you can rest in luxury on the banks of the Mississippi at the Ameristar Hotel. In the casino, play the way you want with almost 800 socially distanced slots, and all of your favorite table games. Or, for the ultimate sports betting experience, spend some time at The End Zone, a full-service sportsbook with 17 convenient betting kiosks, a spectacular viewing area with the largest HD screens around, and an expansive sports bar with lots of brews on tap! WE’LL SEE YOU WHEN YOU GET HERE!

4116 WASHINGTON ST VICKSBURG, MS 39180 | AMERISTAR.COM Must be at least 21. Gambling Problem? Call 1-888-777-9696. ©2021 Penn National Gaming, Inc. All rights reserved. G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |


Photos courtesy of Laura Tait


As the world gradually returns to a recognizable and welcome form, vacation destinations around the country are bracing for a year’s worth of pent-up demand from travelers eager to have fun again. One of the country’s most beautiful locales, Coastal Mississippi, has put together a special campaign to attract visitors to its unique combination of beaches, world-class gaming, mouthwatering cuisine, and unparalleled outdoor adventure opportunities. The marketing campaign showcases the song “Gulf Coast Girl”, a recent hit by rising star Caroline Jones. The song features, among others, Jimmy Buffett, a Pascagoula native and lifelong ambassador for The Secret Coast and its laid-back lifestyle. 6

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For the uninitiated, it may come as a surprise that there is so much to do in Coastal Mississippi. First time visitors may be pleasantly overwhelmed by the myriad of activities available. The twelve casinos offer 24-hour gaming, including table games, slots, video poker, and recently added, sports betting on both professional and college games. The hungry gambler will find nearly one hundred restaurants spread across the area, offering everything from coffee shops and grab-and-go fare to top-of-the-line steakhouses. Of course, for many casino guests, a trip wouldn’t be complete without at least one visit to the buffet, and thankfully some of the casinos have been able to find a way reopen their buffets in

a COVID-safe manner. As of this writing, not all buffets have reopened, so a call ahead or a quick check on the casino website is advised. Some of the Gulf Coast casinos have resumed offering live entertainment, and upcoming events include Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton, and legendary rockers KISS, who will be bringing their “End of the Road” tour to Biloxi on October 5. Hard Rock Biloxi will be hosting Aaron Lewis, Grand Funk Railroad and Cheap Trick later in the year; IP Casino will be bringing in Trace Adkins, Collective Soul, and .38 Special among other favorites. In addition to headline acts, some of the smaller clubs and live music venues have

resumed operating as well. Coastal Mississippi isn’t only a casino destination, however. The region boasts nearly twenty golf courses created by some of the top names in the sport, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and other luminaries. And being located on one of the most diverse bodies of water in the world, the area offers amazing opportunities for fisherman, from bay and jetty fishing all the way up to deep-sea charters. Fishing enthusiasts can test their skill against over 200 species of fish ranging from trout and catfish all the way up to giant sharks and yellowfin tuna, which can reach 400 pounds. To spread the word about this oftenover-looked jewel of the South, Coastal Mississippi- an organization whose mission is to promote South Mississippi as a tourism and convention destination- reached out to singer-songwriter Caroline Jones, whose hit song “Gulf Coast Girl” sings the praises of the Secret Coast lifestyle. Jones, who does in fact live on Florida’s west coast and is therefore a true Gulf Coast Girl, had recorded the song after touring with Jimmy Buffett, and the backing group on the song, informally known as “The Pelicanaires”, featuring Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, Mac McAnally and Lukas Nelson. The video of the song is a travelogue that sees Jones visiting various tourist spots throughout the entire Gulf Coast region. As a promotional package for Coastal Mississippi, it was a perfect fit. We were excited to catch up with the Gulf Coast girl herself to get the inside scoop about her career and what she loves about the Gulf Coast. Gaming and Destinations: So, you have an unusual background for a country artist- you’re from the Northeast, you studied opera, the Great American Songbook, how did you end up in Nashville?

Photo courtesy of Coastal Mississippi Tourism

Caroline Jones: I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock and R&B, the music of the 90s. My mom was a big fan of great vocalists and my dad loved classic R&B and Motown. I started singing when I was young, started writing my own songs and demoing them as a teenager, and then got my first management when I was 16 or 17. My manager at the time said I had a real country sensibility, which surprised me because I had listened to Shania Twain and Faith Hill, but that was about it. He said I should go to Nashville, so when I was 17, I went down there, went to a show at the Bluebird Café, and I felt like I had found my home. I could not believe that there was a town and a community of people like I found at Bluebird. I felt this was what I loved, that really honest storytelling. Something in me clicked. G&D: You also took a unique route into the business by self-booking into colleges instead of bars. How did that influence your music? Was it harder to get into the business without somebody telling you what was commercial?

CJ: I think early on in Nashville, I saw the way most artists were developed, and I wanted to develop my craft in a more authentic voice. I started cold-calling colleges at a time when Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons were coming to the forefront and the tradition of singersongwriters and storytelling in music was commercially viable, and I was really inspired by that. I would go around to schools, just me and my guitar, and I loved that! I wasn’t that much older than the students I was playing to. After a few years, I met Ric Wake, who became my manager, and that was the first time I felt I was ready to collaborate with someone on my own creative terms. G&D: You have been in New Zealand for several months. How is that influencing your music? Are you incorporating local music styles into your new music? CJ: I’ve been more influenced by the lifestyle and the culture is very much like what you would imagine what small-town America was like in the past. It’s a great community mentality where everyone knows each other, G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |


looks out for each other and they’re very conscientious of how their lifestyle impacts the environment. In America, everything is so rigid and fast-paced, and everyone is so focused on doing more and having more, which can be a wonderful thing, but there’s just a laid-back feeling with the lifestyle here that has really rubbed off on me. I am extremely ambitious with big dreams and high expectations of myself, but I think it’s great to sometimes slow down and just enjoy life, and I think that is influencing me as an artist. There’s a lot of richness here and you can drive an hour outside of the city (Auckland) and see some of the most striking landscapes in the world, and you can’t help but be inspired by that. G&D: So you are from the Northeast US, you’ve been in New Zealand for seven months, you’re the “Gulf Coast Girl”- where do you consider home? CJ: (Laughs) Florida! Florida is my home base. When I moved there a few years, I just loved the sun and the sea. I felt so much healthier and happier! I think people forget how much sunshine does for your spirit and how it can just make you a better person. G&D: Is your new single, “Come In (But Don’t Make Yourself Comfortable)” about somebody in particular? CJ: No, it is not about anyone specifically. It is more of a reflection of a part of my personality. It actually started as a joke and I couldn’t believe it had never been written. You know, almost every turn of phrase has been written; turning a phrase on its head 8

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is one of the oldest country music tricks, and I just thought about it one day. I had a good time writing that song, it was fun to write and fun to record, and I’m glad people are enjoying it. G&D: What do you like best and least about touring?

itself. I dreamed about touring for years. Imagine dreaming about doing something for your whole life, of doing shows for people who want to hear your music, and then having the opportunity to do that every night. I remember when I first started touring, I’d get off the stage from the first show and go back to the hotel and think, “I get to do that again tomorrow night, and the next night, and the next night!” and I couldn’t believe it. It’s so cool, I dreamed about it my whole life, and now I get to do it. G&D: It is obvious that you are in control of your career and you decide what happens next. Where do you see yourself in five years? Any dream venues you have always wanted to play?

CJ: My dream is just to be able to keep touring and go out there for the rest of my life. If I can do that and have an audience that wants to hear my music, people who I can inspire, I’ll be so happy. My biggest goal is to just keep making better records and do better Photos courtesy of Laura Tait shows. As far as my dream venue goes, I would have to say the CJ: I would say my least favorite Ryman in Nashville. I would love part of touring is just the logistical to be able to headline there. I have challenges with the planning of it all played at the Grand Ole Opry, but and how hard it can be on the crew the Ryman would be really cool! and musicians constantly moving and For more about Caroline Jones, visit breaking down, setting up, loading in and out. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it. But everything about For more information about touring, other than that, I absolutely Coastal Mississippi and the many love. It is hard for me to pick my attractions and accommodations, favorite part, other than the show visit

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Fallen Oak Golf Course - Beau Rivage Resort & Casino


OUR TOP PLACES TO TEE IT UP “As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.” -Ben Hogan Golf is a magical sport that embraces whoever wants to take the time to play it. There is no discrimination for age, gender, skill level. Anyone can step on the tee box, softly grip a driver and let the big dog eat. From a novice point of view, who cares where the ball goes, if you get to spend a few hours with some friends on a beautiful day, could it get any better? On the contrary, the more seasoned and experienced golfer can take that same driver and expect perfect precision down the middle of a plush striped fairway for a smooth wedge on the green in regulation and make the bridie put to win the hole against your buddies who were talking smack. In the same breath, while the sport is a great pastime for all ages and skill levels, all courses ae not built equally. Variances such as landscape, budget, weather, amount of play and various other factors makes the range of 10

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quality courses wide and far. However, when it comes to casino courses, you will find that most rank among the best in the area, and some rival the best in the country. National golf magazines and websites regularly rank their listings of top casino golf courses and do a good job in identifying which ones deserve the most credit and exposure. Do a quick Google search for ‘Top Casino Golf Courses’ and you will find over 12 million results. So, we decided to highlight our top picks, mostly consisting of the casinos who support Southern & Midwest Gaming and Destinations, and a few that we just couldn’t leave off of the list because, well, they are simply amazing. But rest assured that the courses on our list are all top choices and, while there are certainly quality casino courses that could make this list but aren’t on it, these will more than satisfy that golf itch that so many of us seem to have around this

time of year. We hope you will check out our recommendations and enjoy them as much as we do! FALLEN OAK AT BEAU RIVAGE RESORT & CASINO (GULF COAST) 1-877-805-4657 | Par: 72 Length: 7487 Slope/Rating: 142/76.5 Greens: TifEagle Fairways: Bermuda Architect: Tom Fazio (2006) Cost to Play: $200 (Exclusive to guests of Beau Rivage and members) This Tom Fazio-designed course is the gem of Mississippi and regularly ranks nationally as a top course to play, and once you play it, you are sure to agree. The Beau Rivage-owned course is located off property, but the drive is worth it as the grounds are immaculate and the clubhouse bar overlooks the eighteenth hole making for a great place to relax after a

round. Fallen Oak is also a regular stop on the PGA Champions Tour with the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic held in late March or early April. Writer Review: The Beau Rivage operates this PGA caliber course as an amenity for guests, and in March the PGA seniors make a stop here. Arrival begins with greetings from expert staff who truly treat you like the only guests of the day. They cart your bags while your shoes are groomed, and the carts are waiting when you are ready to hit the range where you will find pyramids of new premium balls, a club towel and fairway grass making for an ideal warm up. The practice putting green is also highly recommended to gauge the speed of the greens. Year round, the greens are immaculate, cropped like a tabletop and rolling forever and the fairways are cut tight, so your scoop won’t do, hit down on the ball and you’ll be rewarded. There are also embedded climate control systems under the greens and in cooler temperatures it seems, as you feel air blowing up out of a vent as you walk off a green. Choose the correct tee for your group and you’ll have a great round. Then head back to get your shoes cleaned again, have a drink and chat with Meredith about anything. You are king for a day at Fallen Oak where they earn their top rating one group at a time every round.

TAMAHKA TRAILS GOLF CLUB AT PARAGON CASINO RESORT (MARKSVILLE, LA) 1-800-946-1946 | Par: 71 Yards: 7019 Slope/Rating: 133/74.4 Architect: Steve Smyers (2000) Cost to Play: $55-$65

Serving as part of the Audobon Golf Trail, Tamahka Trails is always offering guests a great round of in superb playing conditions. Hosting three U.S. qualifiers, advanced players can get all they want from the back tees, and higher handicaps can still enjoy the round with the further forward ones. There are numerous and massive bunkers throughout the course making your tee to green strategy important. Writer Review: This was my first time playing this course after living in the area a couple of years and it was a blast. We played from tips and the layout is really challenging but fun and pleasing to the eye. There is plenty of hole-to-hole variability and course conditions were good. The iced mango towels every 4-5 holes were great for a hot day as was the daquiri at the turn! A great play and I look forward to coming back again soon.

look like they get very little use. Divots are filled and repaired with new turf and no sign of weeds even though it is cut out of farm fields and a forest. The greens are large with at least two or three landing areas to use, so the pin is usually not setup in a place where the traffic impacts the grass to long. The greens roll smooth and quick and the sand traps are consistent and well maintained.

PINE HILLS GOLF COURSE AT NORTH STAR MOHICAN CASINO RESORT (GRESHAM, WI) 1-715-787-3778 | Par: 72 Yards: 6,465 Slope/Rating: 126/70 Fairways: Kentucky Bluegrass Green: Bent Cost to play: $40 to $50

SWEETGRASS GOLF CLUB AT ISLAND RESORT & CASINO (HARRIS, MI) 1-800-682-6040 | Par: 72 Yards: 7275 Slope/Rating: 143/75.2 Architects: Paul Albanese & Chris Lutzke (2008) Cost to play: $45 to $80 If you are at the Island Resort & Casino, you know everything is going to be the best of the best, and Sweetgrass certainly fits the bill. The Upper Peninsula course plays host to several regional tournaments and a favorite among golf groups alike as resort amenities seems endless. Peeking out at around 7,300 yards, and offering an island green par-3, avid golfers will certainly love this track! Writer Review: Sweetgrass is one of my favorite courses to play two to three times a summer. The course stays pretty busy all summer, yet the tee boxes

Any golfer can appreciate the site of rolling hills and tree-lined fairways leading to a plush green. Pine Hills is truly one of the finest golf courses throughout Wisconsin’s historic Northwoods featuring GPS in each cart and is well-maintained throughout the course. Conveniently nestled among thousands of towering pines, each hole has its own unique characteristics that will challenge the seasoned golfers with risk verse reward decisions, or more simple safe shots for higher handicaps. Save some time after your round to enjoy the elaborate clubhouse with a bar area that overlooks the course. Writer Review: I enjoy playing this course when I am in the area. Beautifully carved into the Northwoods, I feel like I see deer and other wildlife every time I play. The first few holes on the front nine are pretty wide open but as you move through the round, the trees get tight to the fairways and balls get lost in the rough event just a few feet in. There are a lot of dog legs and other caveats that make this course fun to play. G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |



It’s not easy for a new table game to carve out a lasting niche in today’s casinos, but one that has stood the test of time is Mississippi Stud Poker. New games have to be easy to learn and understand so they won’t discourage first-time players, yet, they need to have enough of a house edge to assure profit for the casino, but still offer a small edge for the players so they can win sometimes too, and remain interested. They also need to be easy to deal and not require too much time to train dealers. And once they’re on the floor, they have to keep 12

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players coming back for more. Mississippi Stud has met these tests, and if you want to learn how to play, keep reading and you’ll be well on your way! HAND R ANK ING AND PAYOUTS The game is based on five-card stud poker so as long as you know the ranking of poker hands, you will pick this game up quickly. You play against a pay table, not against other players or even the dealer, so strategies are not complex.

The pay table ranges from a push and goes up to 500-1 for a Royal Flush and listed below: Push - Pair of 6s through 10’s 1-1 - Pair of Jacks of better 2-1 - Two pairs 3-1 - Three of a kind 4-1 – Straight 6-1 – Flush 10-1 - Full house

40-1 - Four of a Kind 100-1 - Straight Flush 500-1 - Royal Flush There are four betting opportunities throughout a game that consist of an ante to start play, and then three chances to raise as the cards are dealt. Strategy is all about when to make those raises when the probability is high of making a paying hand. Provided you know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em, the house edge is 4.91 percent of your ante or 1.37 percent of your total action. For a simple example, if you start with a $10 ante, optimal strategy will lead you to make enough raises that your total average wager will be $35.90. A 1.37 percent house edge on total wagers -- the “element of risk” according to Wizard of Odds Michael Shackelford - places Mississippi Stud at the top of the heap in shot to win among pokerbased table games. G AME PL AY At the start of play, you are dealt two cards face down and three community cards are also dealt face down on spots at the center of the table. Once you see your two cards and place your ante, it is time for your first decision to either fold or make a raise of one, two or three times your ante. Really, that can be narrowed down to folding or raising 1x or 3x. Never make a 2x bet, it just doesn’t

make sense and you can forget that option even exists. G AME STR ATEGY There’s an effective point system for evaluating whether to raise or not, and how much. Count 2s through 5s as zero points, 6s through 10s as one point and Jacks or better as two points. With that in mind, raise 3x any time you have a paying hand. In fact, if you have a pair of 6s or better, you can count on making 3x raises at all three opportunities, and many players put all three maximum raises out at once. If you start with at least a

pair of 6s, you can’t lose. Raise 1x with at least two points. If you start with 10-8, you have two one-point cards. That qualifies. If you have King-4, that’s a two-point card and a zero-point card. That also qualifies. Two suited cards of 6-5 or better. That’s only one point, but also has flush, straight and straight flush possibilities. Next, the first community card is turned face up.

Raise 3x with any paying hand. At this point, you could have pairs of 6s or better, Jacks or better or three of a kind. All are worth betting the max. Also raise 3x with three parts of a royal flush. There are lots of possible winners there. Any of the royal cards could be paired up for a spot on the pay table. Two pairs and three of a kind are still possible. And there are potential straights, flushes, straight flushes and the big prize for a royal. For a straight flush, the possibilities are three parts of a straight flush with no gaps and 5-6-7 or higher; with one gap and at least one high card; or two gaps and at least two high cards. Note that 4-5-6 suited doesn’t qualify for the 3x raise because you are holding only one card that can be paired for a paying hand pushing it to a lower priority. Raise 1x with any three suited cards that don’t meet the royal or straight flush criteria above. The flush opportunity is enough to keep us in the hand, but not enough to bet the max. Also raise 1x with three parts of a straight with no gaps if you hold 4-56 or better, or three parts of a straight with one gap provided you have at least two middle cards or higher. For example, the two middle cards that could be paired in 5-7-8 of mixed suits is worth it, but you’d fold 4-5-7. King-7-3 is playable with a twopoint card and a one-point card, but 10-7-3 with two one-point cards is not. G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |


Moving on to the second community card, you have one more decision to make and raise 3x with any paying hand or any four cards of the same suit. The 6-1 odds on a flush is enough of a return to take a flier here, regardless of whether you have straight flush or royal chances. Also raise 3x with any four consecutive cards, 8 high or better. That means your lowest-ranking hand worth the maximum raise for its straight potential is 5-6-7-8 of mixed suits. Raise 1x your ante with any four-card straight that doesn’t qualify for the 3x raise. If you’ve reached this point in the hand, it’s worth taking a shot even on inside straights rather than to fold and forfeit your investment. Also raise 1x with a low pair. Again, you already have enough invested that it’s worth one more minimum bet to 14

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see if the last community card brings three of a kind or a second pair. At least four points warrants a 1x ante whether you have two Jacks or better, one Jack or better and two middle cards, or four middle cards, you have just enough chances to pair up for a paying hand to stay to see what the fifth card brings. And finally, 1x ante for three middle cards and at least one previous 3x raises. Under those conditions, it’s better to take a chance that the last card will bring a push rather than to just let the house take your previous bets. Once you’ve raised or folded after the second community card, there’s nothing else you can do. If you’ve stayed, your ante and raises must stay in action for the final community card. Once that’s turned up and all hands are known, the dealer pays

hands that qualify based on the pay table and takes away wagers on lesser hands. The strategy is not difficult. There’s enough to hold your interest, but it takes some practice and getting used to. Recommendation: Do an online search for “Free Mississippi Stud” and play some hands while referring to this strategy guide. Once the plays are automatic, you’re ready to apply optimal raise strategy in casinos and get one of the best shots to win you’ll find in poker-based table games.

“Your ante and raises must stay in action for the final community card.”



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ROULETTE: Betting the Zero A reader emailed recently to offer what he saw as a common-sense solution for roulette players. Signing himself “Mr. Zero,” he wrote, “Everybody says the house gets its edge from the zeroes. No zeroes, no edge, right? So why not play on the side of the house? Shouldn’t everybody bet the zeroes, or would the volume of zero bets put casinos out of business?” Mr. Zero isn’t the first player to hit on the thought that betting with the zeroes puts you on the side of the house. I received questions along those lines when I started writing about gambling 30 years ago. I have no doubt others raised the question almost as early as modern roulette surfaced in France in the late 1700s. The presence of the zeroes does give the house its edge, and the more zeroes the bigger the edge. Single-zero roulette has a lower house edge than double-zero roulette. The house edge is higher still in a few casinos that have begun using wheels with a zero, a double-zero and a triple-zero or a house logo that functions as a third zero. But betting on the zeroes doesn’t put you on the same side as the house. Wagers on the zeroes face the same house edge as bets on any other numbers. The real source of the house edge is that roulette pays winning bets less than true odds. That’s how the house gets its edge on every game. It collects full fare on losing bets, but pays less than true odds on winners. As long as the game plays according to normal odds and approaches the mathematical expectation of wins and losses, that will lead to a profit for the house. In roulette, it works this way: Winning single-number bets pay at 35-1 odds. If you bet $1 and win, you keep your $1 bet and collect $35 in winnings. But on a single-zero wheel, there are 37 numbers - 1 through 36 plus a zero. True odds of winning are 36-1, not 35-1. That gap between 35 and 36 represents the house edge. On a double zero wheel, there are 38 numbers, including both 0 and 00, so true odds of any specific number coming up are 37-1. The gap between 37-1 true odds and a 35-1 payoff is bigger than on a single-zero wheel, so the house edge is larger with two zeroes. On a triple-zero wheel, where the single-number payoff remains unchanged at 35-1, the house edge is even larger because true odds grow to 38-1. 16

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The zeroes themselves are just numbers you can bet on, subject to the same house edge as any other numbers. Let’s do a quick calculation. Assume you wager $1 on 0 (or any other number) for 37 spins on a single-zero wheel in which each number comes up once. You risk $37. For your one win, you keep $1 and win $35. So, at the end of the trial, you have $36 and the house has kept $1. Divide the house’s $1 by the 37 you risked, then multiply by 100 to convert to percent and you get a 2.7 percent house edge. On a double-zero wheel, the trial would be 38 spins long, so you’d risk $38. The one win would still leave you with $36. The house profit would be $2 and carrying out the calculation would show the house edge at 5.26 percent. If a triple-zero wheel is all that’s available, smart players will find something else to do. But a 39spin trial would show a $3 house profit and a 7.69 percent house edge. On any of these, if the house paid the winner at true odds, it wouldn’t make a profit. A 36-1 payoff would leave the single-zero payoff with $37 at the end, the same as his risk. The same applies if single numbers paid 37-1 on a double-zero wheel or 38-1 on triple-zero wheels. Returns would equal risks and the house edge would be zero. Betting on 0 in this example didn’t put you on the house side and gave the house the same profit as any other number. The house made a profit because it paid the winner at less than true odds. The same applies to other available wagers. A single-number bet pays even money, but the true odds against winning are 19-18 on a single-zero wheel, 20-18 (which reduces to 10-9) on a doublezero wheel and 21-18 (which reduces to 7-6) on a triple-zero wheel. House edges: 2.7 percent with one zero, 5.26 percent with two or 7.69 with three.


One more example. A two-number split bet pays 17-1 regardless of how many zeroes there are. True odds on a single-zero wheel are 17.5-1, and they’re 18-1 with two zeroes or 18.5-1 with three. And house edges are 2,7, 5.26 and 7.29 percent, respectively. In each case, the house profits because payoffs are smaller than true odds. The house collects full fare from winners. You don’t collect full fare from the house. Betting on zeroes doesn’t change that, and it doesn’t put you on the house side.




Linda Boyd, a long-time table game player before turning to video poker, writes for Southern & Midwest Gaming and Destinations and several other national gaming magazines and web-sites. Her radio interviews are on iTunes and her The Video Poker Edge is available on Amazon and includes free removable pay schedules and strategy cards for the most popular games.

VIDEO POKER: Stick with the Hand Dealt Amarillo Slim (1928-2012) was an old school rounder who made the rounds playing edgy and borderline legal poker games. Him, along with poker greats Doyle Brunson and Sailor Roberts, introduced Vegas to Texas Hold’em and said, “In poker you play the players”. These words are so true, asd with many more tips and tricks they shared along the way. In fact, before sitting down at your next poker game, you should check out some of the recommended poker books from pro’s including Doyle Brunson’s Super System I and II, Phil Hellmuth’s Texas Hold ‘em, Daniel Negreanu’s Power Hold’Em Strategy, Jonathan Little’s Mastering Small Stakes and Gus Hansen’s Every Hand Revealed, to name a few. But how does this relate to video poker (VP)? In VP you play only the dealt hand and there is a world of difference between the felt table game and poker on a gaming device. Here are some tips for playing the hand you are dealt. Dealt Hands: There is nothing you can do to influence the hands dealt, including changing machines after big winnings or losses. The listing below shows the odds of being dealt each hand before pushing the “Deal” button. Frequency of Video Poker Hands 1. No Pairs 1in 2


2. One Pair 1 in 2.4 3. 2 Pairs 1in 2.1 4. Trips 1 in 48 5. Straight 1 in 250 6. Flush 1 in 510 7. Full House 1 in 700 8. 4 of a Kind 1 in 4,200 9. Straight Flush 1 in 72,200 10. Royal Flush 1 in 650,000 Note: Odds represent being dealt these hands and have been rounded to the nearest whole number.


After the virtual cards are dealt there are 32 possible holds, including holding all and holding none. Changing Machines: Do you think you should stay put or move after a big hit like a royal flush (RF)? The answer is neither. You should find another device and make sure the pay schedule is the same and if there are any technical

problems, like sticking buttons. This is especially important if you are a fast. But keep in mind that switching to a different device won’t hurt you either (assuming the same pay schedule), so if you’re frustrated with the hands dealt, changing machines to sooth your nerves is simply a neutral move. Home Practice: If a progressive jackpot has just been hit, say a RF, your odds of receiving that hand after the draw (approximately 1 in 40,000), remain the same but the ER (expected return) is different, and it may be time to leave. The same is true of 4OAKs (four of a kinds) if they are progressive. Make sure you are practicing at home on tutorial software and not just a device that is fun but doesn’t tell you the correct holds. I recommend Dean Zamzow’s WinPoker because in addition to all the bells and whistles there are several easy-to-use tutorial modes. Progressive Games: The good news for players who choose progressive games is that the maximum limits of a jurisdiction don’t apply, just the ER at reset. For example, if the game is progressive 9/6DDB (9/6 Double Double Bonus) the theoretical return at reset is 98.98% but if the progressive RF reaches 4800 coins, then the ER is 99.4061%, and actually could be more than that because most DDB progressives are also progressive on 4OAKs. If the jurisdiction’s maximum-minimum is 80%-99% this game would qualify in spite of exceeding the max of 99%. My book, “The Video Poker Edge”, makes it easy by indicating the amounts for progressives to make the game even odds for the casino or, over this amount, a player advantage game. Final Thoughts: Often players think they either have to move to a different device or stay where they are after a big hit, but, in fact, it makes no difference at all. The only valid concerns should be the pay schedule and the mechanics of the machine you are playing. You should look for the game with the highest theoretical return and remember to estimate the ER of progressive games. Amarillo Slim had it right when he said in poker “Play the players” referring to the felt table game, but in VP that is totally irrelevant. You play the dealt hand, according to Zamzow (who wrote WinPoker), and deviate in conjunction with a changing ER on progressive games. G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |


BEAU RIVAGE BUFFET IS BACK! After more than a year hiatus, The Buffet at Beau Rivage is now open.

the world’s longest man-made beach located just outside Beau Rivage.

Guests will find many of their Beau Rivage Buffet favorites on the menu, along with several new additions. The most noticeable change is in service style. Rather than self-service, allyou-can-eat food offerings are plated on Chinaware and served by Beau Rivage team members.

Other offerings include Southern favorites such as fried chicken and catfish, red beans & sausage, seafood gumbo, seafood Jambalaya and blackened chicken. Weekend dinner offerings include Mahi fish and fried yucca, prime rib, honey Dijon salmon, steamed royal reds and fresh fish Pontchartrain.

“We are thrilled to offer a redefined version of The Buffet, one of our guests’ favorite dining outlets, marking another milestone in fully reopening our property,” said MGM Southeast President and COO Travis Lunn. “Guests are certain to enjoy the abundance and variety they love about a traditional buffet, while appreciating the adjustments we have put in place to make them feel comfortable about the experience.” Additions to The Buffet menu include larger carving stations, flavorful vegetarian and vegan options, fresh tossed mixed green salads, a taco bar with fresh street tacos al pastor, build to order Asian Rice Bowl station, and daily specials. Also making its debut is the Biloxi long pan pizza, a 36-inch homage to 18

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Beverage specials include frozen daquiris for $5 and two Yuengling Lager, Bud Light or Miller Lite beers for $5. Wine by the bottle is also available for $15, with a selection of Tisdale Moscato, Tisdale Chardonnay, Tisdale Pinot Noir and Tisdale Cabernet Sauvignon. Breakfast is served Saturday through Monday from 8:30 – 11a.m. for $14.99. Lunch is also available Saturday through Monday from 11:15 a.m. – 3 p.m. for $19.99. The Buffet is also open for dinner Friday and Saturday from 4 – 10 p.m. for $29.99 and on Sunday from 4 – 9 p.m. for $25.99.

As part of MGM Resorts’ comprehensive Seven-Point Safety Plan, diners are given a ticket with their seating time, similar to a boarding pass, to eliminate time spent in line. Tables are spaced to allow for appropriate social distancing between parties. The Seven-Point Safety Plan infuses health and safety into the resort experience and includes masks, training and mandatory temperature checks for team members; physical distancing; handwashing stations and enhanced sanitization; HVAC controls and air quality; incident response protocols and digital innovations. The Buffet Hours of Operation Monday 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.; 11:15 a.m. - 3 p.m. Friday 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.; 11:15 a.m. - 3 p.m.; 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.; 11:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.; 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. For more information visit or call 1-228-386-7111.





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FUTURE ODDS Check out the latest odds for major sporting events. For the latest up-to-the-minute odds, visit NBA FINALS – JULY 8 – JULY 22, 2021 Team


Brooklyn Nets


Los Angeles Lakers


Los Angeles Clippers


Milwaukee Bucks


Utah Jazz


Philadelphia 76ers


Phoenix Suns


Miami Heat


Denver Nuggets


*All others are higher than


**Odds courtesy of

Driver May Chase Elliott


Martin Truex Jr.


Denny Hamlin Joey Logano

Kyle Larson

Ryan Blaney

Kyle Busch

Team May Los Angeles Dodgers


New York Yankees


San Diego Padres


New York Mets


Chicago White Sox


Atlanta Braves


Houston Astros


Minnesota Twins


Toronto Blue Jays


Los Angeles Angels


Oakland Athletics


St. Louis Cardinals


Tampa Bay Rays


Boston Red Sox


*All others are higher than


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William Byron


Brad Keselowski

Christopher Bell




*All others are higher than 30/1 **Odds courtesy of



Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Green Bay Packers

Baltimore Ravens



Buffalo Bills


San Francisco 49ers


Los Angeles Rams New Orleans Saints

Indianapolis Colts Seattle Seahawks Dallas Cowboys Cleveland Browns

Miami Dolphins Tennessee Titans

*All others are higher than 25/1 **Odds courtesy of



Kevin Harvick

Alex Bowman


**Odds courtesy of


12/1 18/1 20/1 22/1 25/1 25/1 25/1 25/1

Y O U ’ V E A R R I V E D.

Ameristar Casino offers an exciting & clean place to play along with stunning views of the Mississippi River and bridges. Our restaurants offer delicious southern dishes for both dine-in or take-out, and you can rest in luxury on the banks of the Mississippi at the Ameristar Hotel. In the casino, play the way you want with almost 800 socially distanced slots, and all of your favorite table games. Or, for the ultimate sports betting experience, spend some time at The End Zone, a full-service sportsbook with 17 convenient betting kiosks, a spectacular viewing area with the largest HD screens around, and an expansive sports bar with lots of brews on tap! WE’LL SEE YOU WHEN YOU GET HERE!

4116 WASHINGTON ST VICKSBURG, MS 39180 | AMERISTAR.COM Must be at least 21. Gambling Problem? Call 1-888-777-9696. ©2021 Penn National Gaming, Inc. All rights reserved. G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |