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2013 CASINO

SLOT

GUIDE

THE GREATEST TIPS AND LATEST REVIEWS MARCH 2013 Vol. 15, Issue 2 SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

SLOTS 101:

5 FACTS

YOU NEED TO KNOW

FOOD AND FUN:

NEXT-GEN SLOTS:

11 NEW BUZZWORTHY GAMES

NORTHSHORE, LOUISIANA

START YOUR ENGINES!

BALLY’S NASCAR SLOTS LEAD THE PACK

PLUS TIPS ON BLACKJACK • CRAPS • TEXAS HOLD ’EM • VIDEO POKER • SPORTS & MORE! Covering Florida, Indiana, Las Vegas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the entire South!


March 21 - 31, 2013

Play It Cool at Spring’s Hottest No-Limit Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament!

PLAY IT COOL Single Satellites from $45 to $125 will be held daily 8am to 2am. $80 + $20 with $40 re-entry, Mega Satellite for Main Event daily at 5pm. $80  + $20, No-Limit Hold ’Em events nightly at 7pm. Registration begins at 6pm March 21 and is open daily from 9am to 9pm. For information, call Donna at 228.386.7254. For blind structures and other details, please visit beaurivage.com. Play and stay with your special $59 room rate Sunday through Thursday and your $99 room rate Friday and Saturday.* For reservations, call Customer Care at 1.888.567.6667.

Resort & Casino • Biloxi, MS

1.888.750.7111 I beaurivage.com *Room rates do not include 12 percent room tax or a $9.63 resort fee. Limited room availability. Five hours play per day required with your M life card to qualify for special room rates. 2,000 in extra chips available for $10 dealer appreciation all events with an entry fee off $500 or less. The Mississippi Gaming Commission reserves the right to investigate any and all complaints and disputes regarding tournaments, promotions and drawings. Such disputes and complaints will be resolved in accordance with the Mississippi Gaming Control Act and Mississippi Gaming Commission Regulations. Management reserves the right to cancel, change or modify the tournament, promotion or drawing with prior written approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission, but must do so at least three (3) days prior to the commencement of the activity. Pending Mississippi Gaming Commission approval. See M life desk for details. ©2013 MGM Resorts International®. All rights reserved. When you need to win, you need to quit. Gambling problem? Call 1.888.777.9696.


M ay 3 - M ay 1 3 , 2 01 3

May 3 - May 13, 2013

tournament schedule DATe

DAy

TIMe

evenT #

May 3 May 3 May 4 May 4 May 5 May 5 May 6 May 6 May 7 May 7 May 8 May 8 May 9 May 9 May 9 May 9 May 10 May 10 May 10 May 10 May 10 May 11 May 11 May 11 May 11 May 12 May 13 May 13

Fri Fri Sat Sat Sun Sun Mon Mon Tue Tue Wed Wed Thu Thu Thu Fri Fri Fri Fri Fri Fri Sat Sat Sat Sat Sun Sun Mon

12pm 4pm 12pm 4pm 12pm 4pm 12pm 4pm 12pm 4pm 12pm 4pm 12pm 4pm 8pm 10am 12pm 4pm 5pm 8pm 10pm 10am 12pm 2pm 5pm 12pm 2pm 12pm

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

15A 15b

15C 15D 16

GAMe TyPe

no Limit hold’em Pot Limit Omaha 8 or better no Limit hold’em (2 Day event) Limit Omaha 8 or better (2 Day event) no Limit hold’em Ladies no Limit hold’em no Limit hold’em Seniors event no Limit hold’em no Limit hold’em Pot Limit Omaha/1 Rebuy/1 Add-on no Limit hold’em 6 handed bounty no Limit hold’em no Limit hold’em (2 Day event) Limit Omaha 8 or better Mega Satellite Mega Satellite no Limit hold’em Main event Super Satellite ($40 Rebuys/Add-ons) no Limit hold’em Main event Mega Satellite Late night Mega Satellite Last Chance Mega Satellite no Limit hold’em Main event Super Satellite ($40 Rebuys/Add-ons) no Limit hold’em Main event Farewell Shot no Limit Main event Day 2 Main event Final Table

buy- In

$200 $200 $300 $200 $200 $200 $200 $100 $200 $100 $360 $100 $500 $200 $80 $80 $750 $65 $750 $80 $40 $80 $750 $65 $750 $100

enTRy Fee

$30 $30 $40 $30 $30 $30 $30 $25 $30 $25 $40 $25 $50 $30 $20 $20 $50 $15 $50 $20 $10 $20 $50 $15 $50 $25

bOnuS ChPS

+$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10 +$10

ExcLusivE DELTa GoLD HoTEL RaTEs $44* Sun-Thurs $69* Fri & Sat

$80 + $20 Nightly No Limit Hold’em Tournament 7pm May 3-11, 2013. 5pm Daily No Limit Hold’em Mega satellite May 3-9, $60 + $15 / multiple $40 re-entry. Registration opens at 9am on May 3 and is open daily from 9am to 9pm.

For reservations, call 1.888. 245 .7529, ext 1136 or 662 . 357.1135 goldstrike.com *Room rate is per room, per night based on single or double occupancy. Must be 21 years of age to check-in. Must be registered for the tournament. Offers are subject to availability. Certain restrictions apply. Pending Mississippi Gaming Approval. Complete details and rules will be located in the poker room The Mississippi Gaming Commission reserves the right to investigate any and all complaints and disputes regarding tournament, promotions and drawings. Such disputes and complaints will be resolved in accordance with the Mississippi Gaming Control Act and Mississippi Gaming Commission. Management reserves the right to cancel, change, and modify the tournament, promotion or drawing with prior notification to the Mississippi Gaming Commission, but must do so at least (3) days prior to the commencement of the activity. Resort fee and taxes may apply. ©2013 MGM Resorts International®.


WE DECLARE

THE TABLE IS SET FOR

EXHILARATION Nationally-Televised Event

MARCH 15 – 24 PROVE THAT YOU’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO PLAY WITH THE PROS. Registration opens for each Multi-Table event at 9PM the night before. To view the tournament schedule, visit belterracasino.com or scan the code with your mobile device.

YOUR EVERY DAY ESCAPE.

belterracasino.com | 1.888.BELTERRA

Registration is first come, first serve. Please be registered 30 minutes prior to the event start. Players must have a mychoice® card and valid ID to register and play. Management reserves the right to change, amend or cancel at its sole discretion without prior notice. Must be 21. For help with a gambling problem, call 1.800.994.8448. ©2013 Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.


March 2013

CONTENTS

ON THE COVER

Tips & Columns

Highlights & Hotspots

10 Start Your Engines

14 Casino Knowledge

20 Dreamy Destination:

An Exclusive Look at Bally’s Latest and Greatest Games

16 Hot Slots of 2013

22 Fact or Fiction?

5 Facts You Need to Know About Slots

30 Southern Hotspots

Eight Spectacular Places to Eat, Stay and Play

The New Normal Part I Why Betting the Trends is a Bad Trend

Hitting the Strip with John G.

Bizarre Blackjack Encounters

40 Blackjack

Making Your Best Bet

46 Horseracing

Start Smart, Finish Strong

54 Risky Business

All-in on Guts and Feel

16

36 Exploring Northshore

Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana

51 Take a Seat

34 Craps

11 New Buzz-Worthy Games

50 Author Spotlight

28 Video Poker

FEATURE ARTICLES

Q&A with John G.

10 Tasty Reasons to Venture from the Big Easy

42 Running for the Roses

The Challenging New “Road” to the First Saturday in May

30

42

SOUTH E R NGAM I NG.COM

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3


LETTER

from the Publisher

UP FRONT with G. DOUGLAS

PUBLISHER

Bisig Impact Group CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Larry Bisig PRESIDENT & CREATIVE DIRECTOR

the-art speaker systems, all to ensure slot players keep coming back for more (check out some of the latest and greatest machines on page 16). But even with all the bells and whistles, the same basics hold true: machines are extremely random and there’s no real strategy to scoring consistent wins. A virtual reel with 256 ‘stops’ (determined by an internal random number generator) has 16,777,216 final position possibilities, which lets casinos advertise million dollar jackpots for $1, knowing that players’ odds of hitting the jackpot are low.

If you’ve been a subscriber of Southern Gaming for past years’ Slot Guides, you may recall references to Charles Fey of San Francisco, California who is credited for inventing the first slot machine in the late 1800s. Fey’s machine had three spinning wheels, each with five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a Liberty Bell. He called the machine the Liberty Bell and the biggest payout was ten nickels, when three Liberty Bells appeared. The machine was a huge success. The industr y has come a long way since then. Different variations of the Liberty Bell were developed over the years, but it wasn’t until 1963 that Bally developed the first fully electromechanical slot machine called Money Honey, with a top payout of five hundred coins – a huge improvement from ten nickels. And while this progress was a big deal, slot machine technology truly made its biggest breakthrough in 1976, when Las Vegas-based Fortune Coin Co. invented the first video slot machine using a 19-inch Sony Trinitron color receiver display. The machine first debuted at the Las Vegas Hilton. Later, International Gaming Technology (IGT) purchased the technology. Today, slot machines include features that would fascinate Charles Fey, including multi-million dollar wide area progressive jackpots, highdefinition touch screen displays and state-of4

| SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

So, why do we play slots? What keeps us coming back for more? I believe it’s a combination of things, but one of the major driving factors is entertainment value. When you sit down at a slot machine you expect to be entertained, and I applaud today’s manufacturers for delivering exciting, engaging games. It certainly makes for a high-quality player experience. For example, this issue’s cover story features Bally Technologies and the company’s use of major brands and known personalities in its most popular machines. Bally’s newest releases, NASCAR and Pawn Stars, lets players feel like they’re really in a racecar with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., or in the middle of a Pawn Stars offer, deciding whether or not to accept. (Be sure to read more about these awesome games on page 10.) We hope you enjoy this issue of Southern Gaming and Destinations and our exclusive slot information. If you aren’t already a member of The Comps Club Casino Coupon Program be sure to join today! Check out page 9 for more details. If you can’t be good…be lucky!

G. Douglas Dreisbach GENER A L M A NAGER

Chip Dumstorf GENERAL MANAGER

G. Douglas Dreisbach MANAGING EDITOR

Brittany Cecil ACCOUNTING

Peggy Harris CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS

Joey Adams Linda Boyd Beth D’Addono Eric Floyd John Grochowski Phil Hellmuth, Jr. Donecia Pea Frank Scoblete Henry Tamburin Glen Wiggy Letters to the editor, address changes and other correspondence should be sent to: SOUTHERN GAMING AND DESTINATIONS

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

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


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LATEST & GREATEST

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W ITH SOUTHER N GAMING

Southern Gaming is THE gaming authority of the South, and we prove it by bringing you the latest gambling news, incredible property reviews, insider playing tips, exclusive promotions, upcoming entertainment dates and more! And, don’t forget to check us out online at SouthernGaming.com.

OLYMPUS IS CALLING WITH A NEW ADVENTURE FROM PHANTOM EFX!

http://store.phantomefx.com Now’s your chance to battle alongside the gods in the newest adventure game from Williams Interactive and Phantom EFX!. WMS Slots Adventure: War for Olympus puts you against the champions of the gods as you take on challenges and battle bosses through this epic adventure. With WMS Gaming® Slots including Tiger’s Realm®, Xerxes®, and Shimmer® you’ll have over 18 different slots to spin and win. You’ll be rolling in the credits before you know it! Head over to The Phantom EFX Interactive Store to order now!

BRINGING BACK PHIL HELLMUTH, JR. AND CELEBRITY DERBY POKER

DerbyPokerChampionship.com Beau Rivage

IMPRESSIVE ACCOLADES FOR TWO SOUTHERN GAMING PREFERRED PROPERTIES We are excited to announce that two Southern Gaming Preferred Properties, Gold Strike Casino Resort (Tunica) and Beau Rivage Resort & Casino (Biloxi) have received excellent customer satisfaction scores. At each of the properties, overnight guests were asked to complete a series of surveys that included questions like, “How likely would you be to recommend the resort to a friend, colleague or family member?” Monthly scores are derived from responses and are used to determine a Net 6|

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

Promoter Score (NPS), the metric that holds companies and employees accountable for how they treat guests. An independent contractor calculates Net Promoter Scores by using a national, standardized formula to help MGM get a clear measure of the company's performance through customers' eyes. Beau Rivage and Gold Strike scored the highest of MGM’s 16 resorts. In December 2012, Beau Rivage received a 77.7% - the resort's highest score ever and the highest score in MGM Resorts International since tracking began. Gold Strike earned a commendable 72.2% for the month, its highest Net Promoter Score in seven months.

Are you a poker player? Are you making plans to head to Louisville, Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby? If so, here’s an event you won’t want to miss! The Derby Poker Championship Celebrity Gala presented by Twinspires.com is a sure bet if you want to see celebrities, play poker with the best pros in the world and help raise money for charity, all at the same time. Hosted by poker pros Phil Hellmuth, Jr., Robert Williamson III and Hall of Fame basketball coach, Denny Crum, guests will enjoy a lively dance floor, excellent food, stocked bar, performing artists and a Texas Hold ‘em Tournament emceed by Hellmuth. Proceeds from the event go to Blessings in a Backpack and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For more info, or to purchase event tickets or buy-ins for the Texas Hold ‘em Tournament, visit DerbyPokerChampionship.com or call 1-877-582-9478.


Fallen Oak Golf Course

FALLEN OAK GOLF COURSE TO HOST TOP PROS IN MISS. GULF RESORT CLASSIC

2013MGRC.com

Built by Tom Fazio, Fallen Oak Golf Course plays host to high rollers and guests of the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. In what has become an annual event, the course will once again also host some of the biggest names in golf, including defending champion Fred Couples, Tom Lehman and more in the fourth annual Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic (MGRC). The tournament is a PGA TOUR Champions Tour event that will be March 18-24, 2013 with a field of 81 players who will play for a total purse of $1.6 million and a $240,000 first place share. Tickets are $15 per day; junior tickets are free for those 15 years or younger when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit 2013MGRC.com or call 1-228-896-6365.

Thirty-Two

IP CASINO’S THIRTY-TWO HOSTS WINEMAKER TOUR

IPBiloxi.com HEARTLAND POKER TOUR RETURNS TO BELTERRA

Belterra.com

The Heartland Poker Tour is coming back to Belterra Casino Resort in Vevay, Indiana on March 15 – 25 for more action-packed tournament poker. The tour has made a name for itself as the blue-collar poker tour with more obtainable tournament buy-ins rewarding attractive payouts. There will be several poker pros gunning for the top prize including defending champion Greg ‘Fossilman’ Raymer, who claimed the $106,000 first place prize when the tour stopped at Belterra in November 2012. There are a variety of events to play in, ranging from the $65 satellite tournaments to the $1,500 + $150 buy-in Main Event on March 22. Belterra Casino Resort is a Southern Gaming Preferred Property located in Southern Indiana off Interstate 71 between Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio.

IP Casino’s award-winning restaurant, Thirty-Two is hosting a night to remember in a one-of-a-kind Wine Tasting on Thursday, April 11, with their esteemed sommelier, Harry Hall. Over 25 Winemakers/Winery Proprietors and Regional Managers will help pour and discuss wine with guests in the elegant and intimate setting of Thirty-Two. Highlights will include representitives from

Paul Hobbs Winery, Robert Keenan Winery, Loring Wine Company, Kosta Browne, Cade and Plumpjack Wineries, Saddleback Cellars and Envy Wines, R2 Wines, and more. In addition to the selection of superb wines, guests will also enjoy a selection of assorted cheeses and fruit displays, as well as passed hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $80 in advance. The event will take place from 6:00pm to 8:30pm. Must be 21 or older to attend. For more information, visit IPBiloxi.com or call 1-888-046-2847.

GET PUBLISHED AND GET MONEY!

WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR STORY AND SEE YOUR PICS! We all have great gambling stories and memories ... so why not share them? We are giving away the chance for you to share some of your gambling experiences with your fellow Southern Gamers on the pages of an upcoming issue of Southern Gaming. To enter, e-mail a 100-word description of your trip, why it’s memorable, why we should pick it and a few pictures from the trip too ... pictures are a must! The winning entry will also receive a $50 VISA Gift Card so don’t miss out! Be creative. Be descriptive. Be funny. SEND YOUR EMAIL TO EDITOR@SOUTHERNGAMING.COM. GOOD LUCK!

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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7


FACTS & FUN

DID YOU KNOW

2 3 4 5 6

SLOT MACHINES CONSTITUTE WHAT PERCENT OF THE AVERAGE CASINO’S INCOME IN THE U.S.? a. 25% b. 40% c. 70% d. 90%

WHAT IS THE AVERAGE LENGTH OF A VISITOR’S STAY IN LAS VEGAS? a. b. c. d.

4 Days 1 Week 2 Days 10 Days

ON WHAT DAY DO ALL RACEHORSES IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE CELEBRATE THEIR BIRTHDAY? a. b. c. d.

May 16 December 31 July 15 January 1

THE WORLD’S LARGEST CASINO, THE VENETIAN MACAO, OPENED TO THE PUBLIC IN WHAT YEAR? a. 2007 b. 1998 c. 2012 d. 1989

90% OF ALL THOROUGHBREDS ARE DESCENTS OF A 17TH CENTURY STALLION NAMED WHAT? a. Longfellow b. Eclipse c. Seabiscuit d. Cigar

WHO INVENTED THE FIRST SLOT MACHINE? a. b. c. d.

John Acres Antonio Esfandiari Charles Fey Sheldon Adelson

“Did You Know” Answers: 1. c. - 70%, 2. a. - 4 days, 3. d. January 1, 4. a. 2007, 5. b. Eclipse, 6. c. Charles Fey

"A RACEHORSE IS AN ANIMAL THAT CAN TAKE SEVERAL THOUSAND PEOPLE FOR A RIDE AT THE SAME TIME." - AUTHOR UNKNOWN

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

288

The number of years it would take one person to spend a night in every hotel room in Las Vegas

30

1973

| SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

The number of online slot machines in North America

The amount of revenue in billions that gambling profits bring casinos annually

THE SUDOKU PUZZLE

9

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

1

3

4 6

8

5

9

1

1

7

4

Up to the challenge?

Answers on page 30

8

600,000

The year Secretariat won the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing

2 3

5

7

7

1

6

9

8

6

4

8

6

2

6

3

3

2

7 1 5

6

Game courtesy of Sudokutoday.com

1

?


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2013 CASINO

COOKING

SLOT

with Trisha Yearwood

GUIDE

START YOUR ENGINES! AN E XC LU S IVE LOO K AT BALLY ’ S L ATE ST AN D GR E ATE ST GAM E S by J O H N

GROCHOWSKI

Feel the need for speed with Bally's new NASCAR slots

10 |

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM


when you reach the big bonus event, where you select one item to take to the pawnshop to commence negotiations. A wheel spin took me to Rick’s Bonus, and it was time to negotiate a price. I was pitching my old bicycle and asked a high price. Rick laughed. After a little give and take, Rick made his final offer and offered to call in an expert.

B

A L LY T ECH NOL O GI E S knows a thing or two about hot slots, from the ever-popular Blazing 7s game that’s been a casino mainstay since the 1970s, to the Michael Jackson: King of Pop slots that are today’s attention-grabbers. So when Bally tells you it has some special games in store for 2013 – like Pawn Stars and the new NASCAR slots – you know it’s going to be good. I took a tour of Bally’s latest and greatest games with Corporate Communications Manager, Mike Trask, and his enthusiasm for the games translated to what I was seeing on the screens. When asked about Pawn Stars, the hit History Channel show, Trask enthused, “The show fits gaming. That back and forth fits perfectly. And the guys have been great to work with.” Rick, Richard, Corey and Chumlee, the stars of Pawn Stars, lent more than just their images to the game. They recorded new video footage, which mirrors the price negotiations on the TV show and will be used especially for the game’s bonus sequences. You can select one of the four pawn stars as your lead character, and winning combinations in his symbol pay double. Stay with that choice of character for the entire time, or change pawn stars as often as you like – it’s up to you. And, the game is rich in features with multiple bonus events, including a wheel spin that shows just which event you’re going to play. As you play, you collect items to sell later

Should I take the money? If the expert found my item to be genuine, it would double the price. I called for the expert, who informed us my classic bike was a phony. There went my bonus. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. “It’s very similar to the show,” said Trask, who pointed out that the bonus uses video recorded specifically for the game. “That’s one of the unique features of this game. You can take a slot machine of any license and use some video, and it’s branded. This is original content, filmed for the game. So this is really mimicking the experience you see on the show.” There are 46 items to collect and sell. Each item’s value is assigned randomly and can change each time you acquire it. The bike isn’t automatically worth more than the baseball, so there’s no strategy in selecting higher-priced items to sell. It’s up to you, the pawn star, and the random number generator.

You can touch the screen to choose from a lineup of known drivers like Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson. And with another touch of the screen, you can pull up your driver’s bio. While you play, you will enjoy audio and video of your choice, and the screen is customized to feature your driver’s colors. It’s all personalized, with the drivers’ recorded special audio for the game. When you make your selection, you’ll be offered words of encouragement like, “Now let’s see what we can do about winning you some money,” or “You picked the right driver to have as teammate.” Along with the drivers, you get the longtime voice of NASCAR, Eli Gold. He serves as the game’s host, announcing your big wins and the run around the speedway, which is the game’s main bonus event. Throughout, the Pro Surround chair vibrates, giving you the feeling you’re right there in the driver’s seat of the high-powered machine, and the speakers roar with the engines as the NASCAR theme blares. There are multiple bonus events, such as the Pit Stop, with the opportunity to collect car upgrades for credits in the pit, and the Burnout free games. It also has a wide-area progressive jackpot on Bally’s Cash Connection link, the same system that links Michael Jackson games.

“THIS IS ORIGINAL CONTENT, FILMED FOR THE GAME. SO THIS IS REALLY MIMICKING THE EXPERIENCE YOU SEE ON THE SHOW.”

NASCAR gets special treatment with the same V22/32 cabinet – a 22-inch video screen on the bottom, and a vertical 32-incher up top – along with Pro Surround chairs for surround-sound and special effects as the Michael Jackson slots. Bally has had great success in recent years with its U-Spin technology, where you touch a wheel on the screen to spin for bonuses. In NASCAR, it introduces U-Race technology, where players guide a car along the track at Daytona Motor Speedway. The game features images of cars and drivers, referring to both by their numbers – something NASCAR fans will relate to.

The highlight comes at bonus time when you’re in the driver’s seat, trying to accelerate and pass other drivers to collect a bigger prize. You start at the back of the pack, and try to maneuver your way up. As I played, there were stretches where I had to be content to keep pace behind the leaders, but when the opportunity presented itself, it was decision time: Should I attempt to move outside and pass? Should I move inside? Accelerate and try to squeeze through straight ahead? When I moved to the inside, I passed a SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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2013 CASINO

SLOT

GUIDE

driver to move up a spot. A move to the outside brought no change in position. Accelerating straight ahead, I found no room. Finally I edged to third place, and while I never caught the leader, I could field the tension rising throughout. And you know, the third place bonus award wasn’t bad at all. Regardless of whether you’re a NASCAR fan, you’ll feel the need for speed and enjoy the wild ride.

and you could win up to $40,000. The lower wheel is a 2-for-1 deal. An outer rim spins independently of the inner section, and you’re awarded bonus credits on the inner section while the outer ring brings a multiplier. When it spins, the anticipation builds as you keep your fingers crossed both for a big credit win and a big multiplier. During normal play, both wheels shine. When you advance to a wheel-spinning bonus, the wheel not in play dims while the

three Sumo symbols and during the free spins, the Sumo Kitties battle. Whenever the Hot Zone lands on the reels during the free spins, the Kitties square off to reveal a multiplier. It’s not big like Hot Shot, fast like NASCAR and doesn’t have the give-andtake of Pawn Stars, but Sumo Kitty brings some comical fun to the slots.

“WHERE ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO GET CATS SUMO WRESTLING? YOU CAN TICKLE THE CAT. HE DOES A LITTLE SUMO DANCE FOR YOU.” Bally has another big game for 2013 in its Hot Shot Progressive. It’s the tallest game Bally has ever rolled out on a V22/42 cabinet. That’s a 22-inch video screen topped by a vertical 42-inch screen, 10 inches taller than Jackson or NASCAR. It has the game-within-a-game play mechanic that has been popular ever since Bally introduced its first Hot Shot games in 2005. Among the reel symbols are representations of Blazing 7s bearing reels, and the reels within reels start spinning and build excitement as they land on the paylines for chances at Blazing, Double, Triple, Diamond and Blazing Times Seven jackpots. The latest Hot Shot, with a $1 million top jackpot, comes with two bonus wheels up top that you spin in a U-Spin format – you touch the wheel on the screen, drag it and let fly. The spin of the wheels up top mimics the video of the spinning wheel. There’s even a new wrinkle on the wheel spins. The bottom of the video wheel is displayed on the iDeck – the panel where buttons would be on most slot machines. Bally can use the iDeck as an extra video screen, and you can choose to spin the wheel from that bottom display, just as you can by touching the main screen. The uppermost of the two wheels is for the big money. It’s divided into five segments, 12 |

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one in action continues to glow – all the better for keeping your eyes on the prize. “I think what makes this really unique is the massive size,” Trask said. “It’s really going to standout on the floor. Hot Shot has been one of our most successful brands for years now. We think it’s the perfect fit to introduce the new cabinet. Make something huge into something fun.” And speaking of something fun, look for Bally’s new Sumo Kitty. “This is my favorite game right here,” Trask said in showing me the game. “Where else are you going to get cats sumo wrestling? You can tickle the cat. He does a little sumo dance for you.” The five video reels are each four symbols deep, leaving 1,024 ways to win. The game also introduces Bally’s U-Win system, which brings random bonus events to the iDeck. Among them is the Bonus Turtles event, where you stretch the image of a turtle in a rubber-band launcher on the iDeck, then launch him for bonus credits. During the reel-spinning portion of the game, it uses the Hot Zone feature that hovers over the screen while wheels spin. If the zone winds up on the part of the screen that includes the reels, any symbols within the zone are wild, creating extra wins. There’s a free spin feature launched by

Race to win alongside your favorite driver with Bally's NASCAR slot experience.


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PLAYER STRATEGY

CASINO KNOWLEDGE: Q&A with John G.

Q

PLEASE EXPLAIN something about slot machines that use a wheel bonus. My wife once won the $1,000 jackpot on the wheel, but we’ve been playing for years and that’s the only big one we’ve ever had. Mostly, we get $75, $25, $40 – you know, all the low ones. There are 22 equal spaces on the wheel, but the low ones come up over and over, and you hardly ever see the big ones. Why is that? A. The wheel is programmed just like a slot machine reel, with numbers mapped onto a virtual wheel. I’m not privy to the exact numbers any given manufacturer uses, but I can make up an example to show you how it works. Let’s say you and I are setting up a game with a wheel divided into 22 segments, ranging from a $20 to $1,000 payoff. We don’t want to be paying out $1,000 once per 22 spins, so we program a virtual wheel with 1,000 numbers. We map it so that every time our random number generator spits out number 1, the wheel stops on the $1,000 space. We map four numbers that will make the wheel stop on the $500 space, and so on until we use 100 numbers to make it stop on a $20 space. Now instead of paying out $1,000 once per 22 spins, it will pay the grand only once per 1,000 spins. And instead of paying $20 once per 22 spins, it’ll be one out of 10. The game is still random, but it’s skewed toward smaller payoffs. Q. Is it legal for slot machines' programmers to vary a machine’s odds of a player reaching the bonus round, depending on how many credits per line they play? Let’s say I play a penny machine (or any denomination, really) where I can play up to 40 lines at once, and 1 to 5 credits per line. If I choose to play all 40 lines, can the machine be set to vary the odds I will get, that typically require three symbols to enter the bonus, depending on if I play one credit per line or five? A. If the bonus round is launched by symbols then the odds of going to the bonus round are the same, no matter how many credits you bet per line. To change the frequency of bonus launches according to coins wagered per line would mean changing the number set available to the random 14

| SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

by

JOHN GROCHOWSKI

number generator, or changing the way random numbers are mapped to reel symbols. I do not know of a U.S. jurisdiction that permits RNG switches dependent on wager size. There are a few ways bonus events could be made to come up more often for bigger bettors. One is if players go to the bonus round only if the launch symbols land on an active payline. In that case, those who bet all the paylines would go to the bonus event more often than those who play fewer lines. However, a player who plays all the lines with one coin wagered on each will go to the bonus as often as those who bet maximum credits. Another way is to require a separate wager to be eligible for the bonus event. Sometimes you’ll see a game with buttons that say “Bet 1 line,” “Bet 5 lines,” “Bet 10 lines,” “Bet 20 lines,” and “Bet 20 lines plus feature,” or some other similar combination. All those who make the bet on the feature have an equal chance of going to the bonus event. Those who do not make the feature bet cannot go to the bonus. If you find yourself at such a machine, you should either make the bonus bet or move to a different game. Don’t play without being eligible for the bonus events that are the main attraction of the games. The third way to give bigger bettors a better chance of reaching the bonus is with mystery triggers. The mystery is that the bonus feature isn’t linked to any symbols on the screen. It just turns up without you knowing how and why. One way it can be done is to randomly select a wager threshold. The RNG can be told to select a wager total between 1,000 and 1,200 credits, for example. If it selects 1,083 credits, then after the bet that pushes the total to at least 1,083, the bonus will show up. With such programming, every player has a chance of making the wager that reaches the bonus threshold. However, those who wager more have more chances. If I bet 20 coins, then I have 20 chances of being the one to reach the 1,083 total, while if you bet 200 credits, you have 200 chances of one of your credits being the lucky one. So bigger bettors have a bigger chance at triggering the mystery round.

Syndicated gaming columnist John Grochowski has been covering the casino industry for 17 years in his weekly column distributed to newspapers, websites and magazines. He is also the author of six books, including The Slot Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. You can also find him online at CasinoAnswerMan.com.

“DON’T PLAY WITHOUT BEING ELIGIBLE FOR THE BONUS EVENTS THAT ARE THE MAIN ATTRACTION OF THE GAMES.”

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2013 CASINO

SLOT

GUIDE

HOT SLOTS of 2013

by

JOHN GROCHOWSKI

EVERY NEW SLOT MACHINE HAS THREE MISSIONS. IT MUST HAVE A WAY TO SHOUT OUT “PLAY ME!” TO ANY PASSING PLAYERS. ONCE IT GRABS YOU, IT MUST KEEP YOU IN YOUR SEAT. AND IT HAS TO PROVIDE THE FUN THAT WILL KEEP YOU COMING BACK FOR MORE.

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SLOT M A N U FACT U R ER S have a deep bag of tricks to make all that happen. Exciting game themes, sometimes licensed from pop culture icons, progressive jackpots, free spins, interactive bonus events, music and video all are part of the package in modern slots. How to best take advantage of the available tools? That’s where the slot designer’s imagination comes in. Here are some of their hottest ideas for 2013- games sure to command players’ attention.


PIRATE’S QUEST

PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES

BEJEWELED

Why you’ll love it: You have control as you take aim and see if you can

Why you’ll love it: The bonus event is fun akin to online social gaming. If you play on Facebook, you know

Why you’ll love it: If you’ve played Bejeweled as a casual game, this is your chance to test

the drill.

your skill with cash on the line.

fully interactive fun with U-Spin in wheel-

Spielo always has some fun takes on

Another game in Spielo’s license with

spinning games such as Vegas Hits, and

the slots, and I laughed my way through

PopCap, Bejeweled has three skill

now in U-Race in the new NASCAR game.

Plants vs. Zombies. There’s a three-level

bonuses and three corresponding

In Pirate’s Quest it’s U-Aim, and you touch

progressive jackpot, and a bonus event

chance bonuses. Do you want to make

the iDeck to aim and fire your cannons

that lines up plants at one end of the

your own choices, swapping adjacent

at the enemy. It’s a 40-line video slot that

graveyard, and zombies at the other. Can

gems to make groups of three while

figures to be perfect for pennies, and it

the zombies make it past the plants? It

trying to clear the board? Or would

features a free spins bonus as well as

depends on which defenses come up

you rather let automated selection do

the target practice. The big prize – 7,500

randomly for the given round. In one

the trick? I find the skill-based play

times your line five skull-and-crossbones

trial, my poor daisy was no match for the

more fun, but there’s no reason to be

symbols on a payline during the free

oncoming zombie. Plants vs. Zombies

intimidated if you’d rather just let the

spins feature.

comes from the casual games world under

slot results speak for themselves.

BALLY TECHNOLOGIES

shiver their timbers. We’ve seen Bally turn touchscreens into

SPIELO INTERNATIONAL

SPIELO INTERNATIONAL

its new license with PopCap games.

HOT SLOTS

of 2013

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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2013 CASINO

SLOT

SUMMER DAYS

WITH SIDE ACTION SCRATCH & WIN, MULTIMEDIA GAMES Why you’ll love it: Every spin’s a potential bonus spin with a virtual scratch-off card beside

GUIDE

WILD A-GO-GO

MULTIMEDIA GAMES Why you’ll love it: Expanding wild symbols grow into go-go dancers who bring some wild wins.

MONEYBALL® WITH INVASION FROM OUTERSPACE MULTIMEDIA GAMES

Why you’ll love it: Full of fun bonus games like The Alien Attack and MoneyBall Pinball Bonus

the regular video reels.

One of the most popular games Multimedia has ever

Players can earn up to

Multimedia likes to give its

had is Carnival in Rio. This

2500X the bet per line in

players a little something

brings the carnival back

the Alien Attack! Bonus

on the side. We’ve already

home and places it in the

when five UFO symbols land

seen slot games with a

1960s, with all the dances

scattered on the reels. The

five-card stud poker hand

of the era. The dancers are

MoneyBall Bonus kicks this

on the side that gives you an

in silhouette, just as in the

game into high gear, when

extra chance to win on each

Rio game, and cover a reel

three MoneyBall symbols

spin. Summer Days kicks off

space from top to bottom as

land scattered on reels 1, 3

the Scratch & Win feature,

they shake out jerk, the swim

and 5. Players are awarded

with a lottery-style video

and other ’60s dances. You’ll

three shots on one of four

scratch off card. The Side

want to get up and dance

differently-themed top box

Action technology scratches

yourself to the winning beat.

play screens. Players select

off a prize space while the

in which direction they want

reels are spinning, and very

their ball to launch at the top

often that’ll add a little extra

of the screen and watch as

scratch to your credit meter.

the ball hits pins, bumpers,

Those who make bigger bets

multi-ball triggers, 3X

earn more scratch-off cards.

fireballs, or a ball lock. Each shot will end up in a prize bucket at the bottom of the screen and award credits!

SMOKIN’ HOT JACKPOTS TOP SHELF MULTIMEDIA GAMES

Why you’ll love it: Watch as the flames get hotter and hotter with the Progressive Heat Up feature; see how close each progressive tier is to hitting based on the size of its flames. Chase the progressives on this traditional style, 3 reel mechanical game. It features an 11-tier progressive and the new, ground-breaking Progressive Heat Up™ feature on an oversized top box. Top Shelf symbols are wild and getting one Top Shelf symbol will multiply non-progressive line pays by 2x. Landing all three Top Shelf symbols on paylines 1-4 will award the 2nd level progressive, and all three Top Shelf symbols on the 5th payline will award the top progressive! Top Shelf, for the classic players who like their drinks neat and their slots “reel”.

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THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN WMS GAMING

Why you’ll love it: The visuals and the synchronized motion effects bonus battle vs. the Green Goblin will get your Spidey sense tingling.

MONOPOLY LEGENDS WMS GAMING

Why you’ll love it: The classic board game turned slot- get the bonus events from four other WMS favorites into a neat Monopoly package. The “legends” involved are

KNIGHT OF LA MANCHA

THE MUNSTERS FAMILY PORTRAIT

ARUZE GAMING Why you’ll love it: Tilting at windmills – with a chance to win. When trying this game for the first time, I couldn’t help

INCREDIBLE TECHNOLOGIES

Why you’ll love it: The special portrait feature builds extra excitement into watching the reels.

laughing out loud when

Instead of the standard five

Don Quixote went tilting

reels that we usually see

at windmills … and the

on video slots, there are

windmill crumpled to the

nine reels full of Munsters

ground, stones, mortar and

characters and icons,

all. Sancho Panza jumped

including the actors from

in triumph. Is the windmill

the spooky 1960s sitcom.

supposed to lose? That’s just

But only five of the nine

one of a number of bonus

are used to determine your

events that include both free

outcome on each spin.

spins and second-screen

There’s a five-reel frame for

pick’em-style games.

this portrait, and it slides

From comic books to TV

classic WMS video slots. In

to the movies, the Amazing

bonus events, you could find

Spider-Man has kept fans

yourself taken to Goldfish,

enthralled with its blend of

Jackpot Party, Zeus or Reel

adventure and hero’s angst.

’Em In. A spinning wheel tells

Now WMS is rolling out its

you just what game you’ll

Spider-Man slot machines,

be playing at bonus time.

and the result is amazing.

Bonuses from the other

With WMS' advanced

WMS favorites are given a

Sensory Immersion 2.0

Monopoly spin. If the wheel

format with synchronized

takes you to the Reel ’Em In

motion technology and CPU-

bonus, it’s Mr. Monopoly out

reel set. Wherever it stops,

NXT3 operating platform,

on a boat, dropping a line

it frames the five reels that

there are some pretty

into the water as he fishes

are going to count for that

incredible effects. During

for you prize.

spin. Those reels are bright

back and forth over the full

free spin bonuses, the

and in full color, while the

effects chair is synchronized

other four are dimmed. For

with film clips in an event

us old-timers who took math

that can have up to eight

before iPads, or even pocket

reel sets spinning at once, all

calculators. The effect is like

collecting extra credits. And

a slide rule, using the slide to

the highlight battle between

frame your calculation.

superhero and supervillian is breathtakingly fun.

HOT SLOTS

of 2013

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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TRAVEL

DREAMY DESTINATION: Shreveport-Bossier City

by D O N E C I A

PEA

Shreveport, Louisiana

W

hether it’s the rich history and musical heritage, or the year-round roster of festivals and celebrations, ShreveportBossier is an eclectic mix of southern charm, great food and lagniappe fun that will definitely have you coming back for more. Here are five reasons why Shreveport-Bossier should be your next travel destination: 1. GAMBLING: From blackjack to roulette and slot machines, enjoy Vegas-style gaming at properties including Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, Eldorado Resort Casino along Shreveport’s scenic riverfront, Boomtown Casino & Hotel, DiamondJacks Casino and Resort, Horseshoe Casino & Hotel, as well as Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Resort Casino, set to open this summer. Or visit Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, the area’s only horse track and home to the state’s largest annual horserace, the Super Derby. 2. DINING: After a trip to the casino, you’re sure to work up an appetite. The dining scene is a unique blend of cultures with cuisine ranging from traditional Cajun and Creole favorites to global fare including Italian, Mexican, Vietnamese and Indian. Try local dishes like Herby K’s Shrimp Buster – a favorite since 1936. Enjoy a muffie at Fertitta’s Delicatessen, or order the Pizzaletta at Cascio’s, named “Best Pizza in Louisiana” by the editors of Food Network Magazine. And don’t miss out on an Ice Box Pie from Strawn’s Eat Shop, which has been featured in Southern Living and on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” 3. SHOPPING: Every shopaholic’s dream come true; discover antiques and gifts from Line Avenue Shopping District in Shreveport, as well as a unique mix of boutiques at Villagio Main Street Shops in Bossier City. Or, check out Shoppes at Bellemead for a more upscale 20

| SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

shopping experience. Love a good sale? Browse popular discount stores at Stirling Bossier Shopping Center, University Place Shopping Center and Youree Drive Shopping Corridor. And no shopping trip is complete without a visit to Louisiana Boardwalk, the state’s largest outdoor lifestyle and entertainment district. 4. RELAXING: Here, it’s always festival season, and there’s something for everyone: Cork… A Red River Revel Wine Event, Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, Let the Good Times Roll Festival and Red River Revel Arts Festival, all of which have been featured as “Top 20 Events” by the Southeast Tourism Society. Or venture just 15 minutes north of Bossier City to Cypress Black Bayou for fishing, swimming and camping, as well as picnic grounds and a nature center. Lake Bistineau State Park has trails for hiking and biking, a lakefront beach, cabins and picnic areas. And Red River National Wildlife Refuge, the newest addition to Bossier Parish’s natural offerings, features a 9,000 square-foot Visitor and Education Center. 5. FUN: Since 2006, Shreveport-Bossier has carried the nickname “Hollywood South,” for the plethora of films shot here, including Indies and blockbuster hits like Battle Los Angeles. There are also several museums, galleries and exhibits, like the R.W. Norton Art Gallery where you’ll find extensive collections of paintings and sculptures, the historic Barksdale Global Power Museum with rare World War II artifacts, or enjoy scenic views of the city aboard the Spirit of the Red River Cruise. You can also explore the Sci-Port: Louisiana’s Science Center, and uncover Shreveport’s rich musical heritage at the Municipal Auditorium, home of the Louisiana Hayride. To learn more, check out the Shreveport-Bossier Fun Guide at shreveportbossierfunguide.com.

Donecia Pea is a veteran journalist who covered Shreveport-Bossier City area’s entertainment scene for a decade as a former entertainment editor at The Shreveport Times. She is currently a freelance writer and serves as Public Relations Assistant for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. She can be reached at dpea@sbctb.org.

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Bet on an amazing time at Shreveport-Bossier’s six casinos/racetrack. These 24-hour Vegas style casinos offer upscale dining, spas, luxurious hotels and other plush amenities that gamers expect. After you’ve hit it big, check out area attractions such as the Louisiana Boardwalk, Sci-port: Louisiana’s Science Center or Robinson Film Center. Book your hotel today.

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2013 CASINO

SLOT

GUIDE

FACT or FICTION? 5 FA C T S YO U N E E D T O K N O W A B O U T S L O T S by J O H N

S

lot machines are the easiest games in the casino to play. Slide in your money, choose your paylines and bet per line, push the button and you’re on your way. No muss, no fuss, no complex strategies to learn as in blackjack, no trying to discern the good bets from the bankroll eaters as in craps. Yet those easy games contain some of the biggest mysteries in the casino. Slot machines are full-blown computers with complex math models, plenty of creative work, and enough differences that slot managers have to do a little calculation of their own on how best to place them in the casino. Here are a few things about the slots that most players don’t know, but should. 22 |

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1

GROCHOWSKI

HOW MUCH DO SLOT MACHINES COST?

That depends. There’s a wide range, depending on what type of machines we’re talking about. For a simple game with three mechanical reels and no elaborate bonuses, we’re talking in the neighborhood of $14,000. Something more elaborate with two, and sometimes three video screens, could push $25,000. The more bells and whistles a machine has to attract players, the more it’s going to cost. Not all machines are sold at those levels. Prices are negotiable, and volume discounts are common. Some machines can’t be bought at any price. In the casino industry, they’re known as “revenue participation” or simply “participation” games. Those include some

of the biggest, glitziest, most exciting themes manufacturers can put on a game. Participation games are not sold to the casino. They’re leased or placed on casino floors on a revenue-sharing basis, and the manufacturer continues to own the game. Slot managers prefer to own their games and most keep the number of participation games on their f loors to minimum. However, they can’t just ignore the participation games because that’s where manufacturers put the themes and features that are most attractive to players. One upside to slot directors in using a participation game: if the game doesn’t perform to expectations or doesn’t draw enough players, the casino can get rid of the game without being stuck with the cost.


2

WHAT GOES INTO PRODUCING A SLOT MACHINE?

“BUILDING A SLOT IS LIKE BUILDING A COMPUTER. IN FACT MODERN SLOTS, EVEN THOSE WITH SPINNING REELS, ARE COMPUTERS IN DISGUISE”

“Producing” is the correct term here, as modern slot machines are entertainment productions just as surely as movies, TV shows and recorded music. A game designer might take inspiration for a game theme from his own imagination, from earlier games or from licensed themes. When Bally Technologies designed the new Pawn Stars slot machine, a negotiation bonus was a natural fit. Sometimes the ideas, design and math come from independent design studios. Even the largest slot manufacturers maintain relationships with independent designers. Case in point: IGT games, including Gems Wild Tiles and MultiStrike Poker, came from the Chicagoarea studios of Leading Edge Design. But regardless of where the idea comes from, it needs to be run past colleagues and managers, storyboarded with input from graphic designers and artists, and the mathematicians who will make the game perform to payback specifications. Math is the basis of all casino games, and the math in slot machines is more complex than at table games. The frequency of reel symbol hits has to be worked out, and the impact of bonus events on the overall payback percentage has to be calculated. With the early steps behind, game animators and audio teams can go to work. Some work can be contracted out, but manufacturers today build and maintain professional-quality animation and design studios. Players like you are part of the process, too. Some manufacturers like to have focus groups test versions of the games to find out what players like and don’t like. Then the games go back for finetuning and tweaking. Involvement with focus groups varies by manufacturer. In particular, Spielo International and WMS Gaming like to get players involved in the process. It’s an involved, multi-level process that doesn’t even take into account the engineers and the physical building of the games. Certain parts, such as touchscreens, ticket printers and bill validators that scan and accept your money, are purchased from outside

vendors. Building a slot is like building a computer. In fact modern slots, even those with spinning reels, are computers in disguise.

3

HOW DO RANDOM NUMBER GENERATORS WORK?

Slot machines use algorithms to compute the numbers that correspond to what you’re going to see on the reels or in a bonus event. Results aren’t purely random, but they appear in such long strings of numbers that they seem random and are sufficient to set the odds of the game to lead to a desired payback percentage. The most sophisticated random number generators have different entry points to the algorithm. Touching the max bet button display on the screen, pushing the physical max bet button on the control panel and pushing the “repeat bet” button might all lead to different algorithm entry points. That will lead to different results depending on how you start play. Not better or worse results, just different. Using different algorithm entries brings the RNG closer to true randomness, but it can never get all the way there. Saying slot results are random is just shorthand for saying “slot results are as close to random as a human can program a computer to be.” On a three-reel game, the RNG will generate three random numbers per spin, one for each reel. On a five-reel game, it’s five random numbers. And in video poker, it’s five numbers, one for each card. One myth is that the RNG generates two

numbers, or two sets of numbers, and then eliminates one. Conspiracy theorists have long suggested that if the RNG generates a winning result and a losing result, it will then eliminate the winner. It’s possible to program an RNG to work that way. It’s also illegal in U.S. jurisdictions with licensed casinos. Such programming is called a “secondary decision,” and secondary decisions were outlawed in Nevada in the early days of computerized slots. Other states have followed Nevada’s lead as they’ve come online with legalized gambling. Slot machines in licensed casinos can’t reject one outcome and move onto another. A side issue to the random number generator is the virtual reel. Video slots can be programmed to be as long as the game designer wants, to bring about the desired frequency of symbols. If the top jackpot symbol is to land on the middle position on the first reel one time per 1,000 plays, then a video reel strip that includes 1,000 symbols can be programmed. This is not the case on a slot with mechanical reels. The number of symbols is limited by the size of the reel that will fit into the game cabinet. So it’s up to the programmer to create a virtual reel, a way of mapping the symbols from the physical reel onto a larger set of random numbers. For example, if I have a reel with 20 symbols, including one jackpot symbol that I want to come up only once per 1,000 trials, I might program my virtual reel so that every time the RNG spits out the No. 1, it lands on the jackpot symbol. SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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23


fact was that the higher payback games were placed at the ends of aisles, where more people could see them. I used that theory in one of the first articles I ever wrote about gaming. I found a slot that could be seen from all angles, from a fair distance, and dropped in three quarters. Three hundred quarters came pouring out. Theory confirmed? No, just a little good fortune. And today, the theory of high visibility, high pay is all myth. Most of the time, if you see a bank of machines that are all the same game, they will all share the same programming that sets the odds of the game so that in the long run, they will reach the same payback percentage.

5

You don't have to be a gambling pro to win on the slots.

On Nos. 2, 3 and 4, it lands on a 7, on the next 10 numbers it lands on a triple bar, and so on. Now my jackpot symbol shows up only once per 1,000 spins instead of once per 20. Not all reels, virtual or otherwise, have to have symbols in the same proportions. If I had three virtual reels, each landing on the top jackpot symbol once per 1,000 trials, the top jackpot would be awarded on the average of once per 1,000,000,000 trials – a 1 in a billion shot that could bring a huge jackpot. If I wanted to bring that down to 1 in 100 million, I could assign five numbers on reel No. 2 and two numbers on reel No. 3 to the jackpot symbols. The physical reels may look the same, but it’s the virtual reels that count.

4

HOW ARE SLOTS PLACED IN THE CASINO? ARE WINNING MACHINES PLACED AT THE ENDS OF AISLES?

Slot machine placement is both art and science, designed to drive traffic through the casino. Most slot directors do want some workhorse games that get a lot of play up front near the entrance, to give a favorable first impression. Some slot directors like to place the 24 |

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biggest, brightest games with the most popular TV, movies and music themes to low-traffic areas of the casino. Tall games with exciting themes such as Michael Jackson or big progressive jackpot signs that can be seen from afar will get people moving through the floor. The notion that slots are placed so more players see the biggest paying machines has mostly gone by the wayside. Modern games no longer drop coins into trays so we no longer see or hear metal clanking on metal. If we’re looking from farther away than the next machine, we can’t see whether a player’s been winning or losing. Early in the process of converting coin payouts to ticket printers, casinos and slot manufacturers found the casinos were losing the excitement created by noisy coin pays. That’s why modern slots blare a combination of music, movie and TV dialogue and sound effects. Bring on the noise. Another change in the process was the practice of having different payback percentages on machines of the same kind sitting side-by-side. Players used to try to figure out which was the hot slot. And one theory that was long more myth than

HOW ARE PROGRESSIVE SLOT MACHINES LINKED?

We’re far enough into the computer age that it’s become common to link machines by Internet protocol (or IP networks) or via Ethernet. Slots today are computers with gaming trappings, and those on an IP network must have an IP address that corresponds to the host. Whether on linked progressives within an individual casino, or on wide-area progressives that link machines in several casinos, a wager on any machine in the network will simultaneously raise the jackpot display on all machines in the network. When someone wins the jackpot, all other machines in the network reset to the jackpot starting point, and the pot begins to build again. One point about progressives remains unchanged from earlier times: progressive games assign more value to the player in the jackpots, and less on the base game. If you don’t bet the necessary amounts to qualify for the progressive portion of the game, you’re left with a low-paying slot. On three-reel games, that usually means a max-coins wager. Most video slots don’t require a max-coins bet to be eligible for the progressive. On a penny slot with a 400-coin maximum bet, it would just be pricing too many players out of the market to require that large a wager. But many video slots require a side bet separate from the base game to be eligible for the jackpots. If you’re not prepared to make that side bet, don’t play the game. Choose a different game where you won’t be giving away jackpot chances for making a bet you're comfortable with.


PLAYER STRATEGY

I

VIDEO POKER: The New Normal Part I

’ V E B U OYA N T LY AT T E N DE D every Global Gaming Expo (G2E) since its inception in 2001 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Today, more than the venue has changed as it’s been held at the Sands Expo inside the Venetian Resort-Hotel since 2008, and you’ll discover mercurial trends in every gaming choice available, including video poker. The latest international expo pointed to the “new normal” – at least for now. You may wonder why smart players want to keep up with the latest video poker offerings to hit casino floors. The rationale is the more you know, the better your ability to make intelligent gaming decisions and have realistic expectations. In this two-part series I will highlight video poker shifts and provide tips for using these shifts to your advantage. Part I will deal with current video poker pay schedules and game choices, and Part II will analyze promotional trends in today's gaming industry. Rest assured that although gambling continues to expand across the globe, America is still the home of the best dens of iniquity on the planet. Pay Tables: Since everyone is reaching for the largest available slice of the pie, this unfortunately leaves less for the player. The days of positive theoretical expected returns (ER) are gone but not forgotten. Here are some tips for making the best of the current pay table trends. 1 Don’t find a seat until you’ve checked out all pay tables available for your chosen game. You must make sure you’re only comparing identical games, like Jacks or Better (JOB) to other JOB games, for one. Of course, you’ll select the game returning the most for a given hand. For example, one JOB game may return 9 for each coin wagered for a full house, while another pays only 8 per coin bet for the same hand. 2 If two games have identical pay schedules, say both are 8/5 JOB games, then look for a progressive version. If there is more than one bank of 8/5 progressives select the one with the largest progressive jackpot, assuming both are the same denomination. 3 Check the pay tables in several local casinos before deciding which one best suits your expectations. 4 Even if most of your play is at the same casino,

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LI N DA B OY D

don’t make assumptions with each visit. Take a few minutes to look at the table, since games and payouts can be changed from a remote location given the latest server-based technology. Games: The good news is that the eight core games analyzed in my book “The Video Poker Edge” remain the same; so the 40 pages of strategy I include, as well as the $80 worth of free strategy cards in the back of the book, are still relevant. Manufacturers like WMS have decided to make a bid for your video poker business, and many more are ready to step into the ring with innovative options. Sometimes the approval process is lengthy, so keep your eyes open for new options. Here are some pointers on selecting VP games to maximize your gaming dollars. 1 Make sure you choose a game you have practiced on your tutorial software. As I said, you will always find one of the eight classics listed in my book, but you will also see a variety of quirky games. If you have no idea of correct strategy for your choice, you are asking for trouble. 2 You must be clear on the real denomination of the chosen game and not rely on the device’s label. For example, if the denomination indicated is quarters, but you must play 5-lines to get the full value on a royal flush, then it is not really a quarter machine. It will cost you $6.25 per hand to play, which translates to more than the perhand cost of a single-line dollar machine. 3 Consider game volatility in conjunction with your session budget. If you select a very risky game like Double Double Bonus (DDB), then you will typically run out of bankroll more quickly than if you select a low-risk game like JOB. 4 Since you’re there to have a good time, check out some of the special features WMS is incorporating in their latest video poker games. The choices are the same with slightly different names, but there are lots of whistles and bells. These include larger and more comfortable devices, the ability to personalize the machine by changing the color, size and layout of virtual cards and the timesaving option of keeping settings for future sessions. A word of caution; make certain that the pay schedules mentioned in the previous section are the same. I would never recommend selecting a downgraded version of a game to get creature comforts.

Linda Boyd, a long-time table game player and knowledgeable video poker player, writes for Southern Gaming, Midwest Gaming and Travel, and Arizona Player. Look for her article in the 2012 and 2013 editions of American Casino Guide. Her book, The Video Poker Edge, includes free removable pay schedules and her free strategy cards for the most popular games. The second edition, published in 2010, can be found on Amazon.com, Square One Publishers and at a variety of bookstores. Kindle edition is now available.

“THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE BETTER YOUR ABILITY TO MAKE INTELLIGENT GAMING DECISIONS AND HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.”

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


SCAN FOR VIDEO

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•Gaming and Racing, Hot Springs

Gaming and Greyhound Racing, •West Memphis

•Spa, Hot Springs

•The Ridges at Village Creek, Wynne

In Arkansas, you can escape the everyday to enjoy exciting gaming and racing in two legendary locations. From the spa city of Hot Springs to the historic river town of West Memphis with scenic beauty, vibrant cities and charming retreats everywhere in between. Plan your escape today. It’s easy. Just call for a FREE Vacation Planning Kit. Visit Arkansas.com or call 1-800-NATURAL.

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ICNOCO RKEIDNIG B L E E S CA P E S

with Trisha Discover the Yearwood South's premier properties

Indiana Grand Casino, Shelbyville, IN.

Southern Hotspots E IGH T S PE C TAC U L A R PL ACE S T O E AT, S TAY A N D PL AY

W

ith some of the biggest and best casino resorts in the world, it’s no secret that Las Vegas is the ultimate gaming playground. Whether you’re looking for slots, spas, shopping or shows, Sin City is your one-stop-shop for a weekend full of glitz and glamour. But for those of you who would rather play your cash in the casino than spend it on airfare, we’ve highlighted a few of our preferred Southern properties based on size, amenities and Southern Gaming reader perceptions to help you plan your next getaway. Keep in mind that this list includes only some of our favorite properties, and they’re listed by region rather than rank.

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If a property is listed with a symbol, it is a member of The Comps Club by Southern Gaming and offers coupons to our members. Not a member? Join The Comps Club today for just $29 and receive coupons from casinos throughout the South. For more info, visit SouthernGaming.com or call 1-877-582-9478.

I N DI A N A INDIANA GRAND CASINO

(Shelbyville, IN) 1-877-386-4463 | IndianaGrand.com Features: Fine dining Indiana Grand Casino is the closest

casino to Indianapolis, located just twenty minutes away, and even though the property doesn’t have a hotel, spa or pool, it does have an expansive slot floor (84,000 square feet) with 2,000 slot machines and a variety of electronic table games. And don’t write off the dining options just because it isn’t a resort destination. Steakhouse is the premium restaurant, serving decadent choices like Filet Mignon a la Oscar, and Crab Stuffed Cold Water Lobster Tail. BELTERRA CASINO RESORT

(Vevay, IN) 1-888-BELTERRA | BelterraCasino.com Features: Hotel, spa, fine dining, golf course, concert venue, pool, fitness center, shopping


Left; Belterra Casino Resort, Vevay, IN. Right: Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall, Tunica, MS.

All we can say about this property is, WOW! And although the 38,000 square foot casino isn’t the most spacious, the attention to detail in the resort’s décor and amenities are second to none. Guests enjoy a full Vegas-style casino, premium steakhouse dining, elegant rooms, first class spa, pool with bar and cabanas, and a Tom Fazio-designed golf course. Whether you’re catching a show in the 1,500-seat showroom or just going to ‘get your gamble on,’ you can’t go wrong with a trip to Belterra. CASINO AZTAR

(Evansville, IN) 1-800-342-5386 | CasinoAztar.com Features: Hotel, fine dining, fitness center As the first casino to open in Indiana, Casino Aztar is the pioneer of casinos in the area and has truly withstood the test of time. The casino itself occupies 48,000 square feet and offers an array of table games and machines. And, the property boasts incredible dining; with choices from the seafood and steak dishes at Cavanaugh’s, to the more casual atmosphere at Ri Ra Irish Pub, to the swanky feel of Blush Ultralounge, located on the first floor of the boutique hotel, La Merigot. There’s something for everyone and every taste bud. With so many options in addition to gambling, you may want to consider a two-day stay when making reservations.

M ISSISSIPPI GOLD STRIKE CASINO RESORT

(Tunica, MS) 1-888-245-7829 | GoldStrike.com Features: Hotel, fine dining, entertainment venue, indoor pool, fitness center One of the tallest buildings in the state, this 31-story hotel is hard to miss. Regarded as one of the ultra-premium casinos in the region, this property feat u res t he rema rk able Chicago Steakhouse, a 50,000 square foot casino, an 800-seat theatre, indoor pool and more. Conveniently located in Casino Center alongside two other casino properties, make Gold Strike your ‘home base’ for an entire weekend of fun! SAM’S TOWN HOTEL & GAMBLING HALL

(Tunica, MS) 1-800-456-0711 SamsTownTunica.com Features: Hotel, fine dining, concert venue, golf course, pool, fitness center, shopping Whether you’re looking for excitement or relaxation, you can find it at Tunica’s award-winning, Sam’s Town Casino Hotel & Gambling Hall. The property boasts the charm of the old west mixed with a side of Southern hospitality, creating a downhome, comfortable atmosphere. But when it comes to gambling and entertainment,

it’s all business. Sam’s Town has taken first place in our Southern Gaming Best of Awards for Best Entertainment in Tunica multiple times, and the casino has a great layout that utilizes two entire floors. Stay in one of the 850 guests rooms, or upgrade to one of the plush suites – they’re pretty sweet! BEAU RIVAGE RESORT & CASINO

(Biloxi, MS) 1-888-750-7111 | BeauRivage.com Features: Hotel with coast views, spa, salon, fine dining, concert venue, golf course, pool, fitness center, shopping From the moment you walk into the lobby at Beau Rivage, you will notice the meticulous attention to detail in everything from the polished Italian marble floors, to the fresh flowers throughout the atrium. Nothing is short of perfect, including premium restaurants, Jia (a Southern Gaming favorite) and BR Prime, as well as the more casual choices like The Buffet, Terrace Café and Memphis Q. And when the sun goes down, things at Coast Nightclub really heat up. Don’t pass up a chance to visit this Gulf Coast jewel. HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO

(Biloxi, MS) 1-877-877-6256 | HardRockBiloxi.com Features: Hotel with coast views, spa, salon, fine dining, concert venue, pool, f itness center, unique Rock & Roll memorabilia SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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Pearl River Resort ( Philadelphia, MS): 1-866-447-3275 PearlRiverResort.com Features: Hotel (2), spa, salon, fine dining, golf course, concert venue, pool, water park, fitness center Hollywood Casino Tunica 1-800-871-0711 HollywoodCasinoTunica.com Features: Hotel, fine dining, indoor pool, golf course, unique movie memorabilia Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino (Shreveport, LA) 1-877-429-0711 SamsTownShreveport.com Features: Hotel, spa, fine dining, concert venue, pool, fitness center Beau Rivage, Biloxi, MS.

Trace Adkins, LeAnn Rimes, Josh Turner, Jewel and Uncle Kracker are just a few names on the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s all-star entertainment line-up. Keeping with the widely recognized Hard Rock theme of good music and rock and roll memorabilia, this ultra-hip property has it all. Whether you want to be front and center at a concert in the state-of-the-art auditorium, or kicking back at the pool overlooking the Gulf, you’ll be more than satisfied with your experience. And with VIBE Steakhouse and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, it’s safe to say your appetite will be satisfied as well. The property recently began construction of a new 12-story hotel with 154 rooms and suites boasting amazing Gulf Coast views. The project is scheduled for completion in time to kick off 2014, so stay tuned! IP CASINO RESORT & SPA

(Biloxi, MS) 1-888-946-2847 | IPBiloxi.com Features: Hotel with coast & back bay views, spa, salon, fine dining, concert venue, pool, fitness center, shopping When you hear the words ‘premium property,’ what comes to mind? A massive 32-story hotel with over 1,000 rooms? A rooftop pool with private cabanas and a full bar? Excellent fine dining selections? Well, IP Casino Resort and Spa has all of that, and 32 |

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after a multi-million dollar renovation following Hurricane Katrina, it’s certainly a premium property. The guest rooms are contemporary, the spacious spa offers a variety of relaxing services, and with palm trees, cool cabanas and a resort-style atmosphere, the rooftop pool is a great escape from the rest of the property’s goings on. There are several great places to dine, but you can’t go wrong with Thirty-Two Steak & Seafood, appropriately located on the thirty-second floor. Enjoy unparalleled views of the Gulf Coast while you sip on a drink mixed from a vast selection of spirits.

Harrah’s New Orleans 1-800-427-7247 HarrahsNewOrleans.com Features: Hotel, fine dining, fitness center Seminole Hard Rock Casino (Tampa & Hollywood, FL) 1-866-502-7529 SeminoleHardRock.com Features: Hotel, spa, salon, fine dining, concert venue, pool with water slides, fitness center, entertainment district

MORE SOUTHERN SELECTIONS

Each property possesses its own unique flair so no matter your choice, you’re guaranteed an incredible, highquality experience. There are countless phenomenal casino properties to visit in the South. Here are a few other exceptional Southern Gaming Preferred Properties to consider: Harrah’s Tunica 1-800-WIN-4-WIN HarrahsTunica.com Features: Hotel (3), spa, fine dining, golf course, concert venue, shooting range, pool, fitness center

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PLAYER STRATEGY

CRAPS: Why Betting the Trends is a Bad Trend

C

RAPS IS A TABLE GAME WITH multiple bets, most of which are awfulsome horrendous- and a few are pretty good in the casino frame of things. Most players like to make Pass Line bets, which come out to a loss of $1.41 per $100 wagered. That means the house has a 1.41% edge on this bet – not bad at all. Many players also like to place numbers (which means go right up on the numbers). The house edges for this kind of bet go from decent (1.52% on placing of the 6 and 8), to terrible (4% on the 5 and 9), to suicidal (6.67% on the 4 and 10). Many players also love to make what my mentor, the late Captain of Craps, called Crazy Crapper bets (see my book Casino Craps: Shoot to Win!). These are bets that come in with extremely high house edges ranging from single roll bets such as the Field (5.55%), to the Yo and 3 (11.11%), to the Big Red, also called Any Seven (16.67%), to multi-roll bets such as the Hard 4 and 10 (11.11%), and the Hard 6 and 8 (9.09%). These are just some of the many Crazy Crapper bets that lurk to undo the unwary, unwise and unaware craps player. As the Captain always said, “You have to be crazy to make these bets.” The most prevalent system used by craps players falls into the “trend betting” realm. There are positive and negative trend betting schemes, neither of which can give the player the advantage over the house. The positive scheme, sometimes called the “hot number wager,” has the player looking for numbers that have frequently hit in the immediate past. Say you see a bunch of 6s being rolled, so you figure the 6 is a hot number, and you bet it. If you have noticed some Hard 6s being rolled, then you throw your money out on the Hard 6. This form of betting can be used on any proposition (Any Craps, Field, Horn, Whirl) or single number (2, 3, 11, 12, etc.). The negative scheme, sometimes called “the law of averages” or “due betting,” postulates that numbers which haven’t been hitting are due to hit in order to make the probabilities work out. The detective Monk always wanted the universe to be balanced and that is what “due theorists” want as

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well. If the 11 hasn’t been hitting then it is going to come up soon to set everything in balance. Therefore the player puts his money on the 11. Sadly, such betting systems cannot overcome the house edges on any bet a player makes. Unless the roller is a controlled shooter, each roll of the dice is a random event. There is no force of nature telling numbers “Okay bub, your time to come up is right now!” Numbers that have been hitting can stop hitting or they can continue hitting. Numbers that haven’t been hitting can continue not hitting or they can start hitting. The fact that the mathematical probabilities will begin to look as theory suggests when hundreds of millions of decisions take place does not allow us to accurately predict the hot, cold, or in-between numbers. Yes, you can say that the 6 and 8 will come up more frequently than the 2 or 12 since there are five ways to make either the 6 or 8 and only one way to make either the 2 or 12. Still, betting this fact does not overcome the house edge. Place the 6 and the house has a 1.52% edge, meaning your expected loss will be $1.52 per $100 wagered. That is an inexorable fact of gambling. The reason we love the idea of trends is recessed deep in our brains. We are pattern-finding creatures and we always want those patterns to have predictability. A savage prehistoric man walks along the river and a giant crocodile jumps up and eats him. His friends see this gruesome scene. They make the assumption (the correct assumption) that walking by this river’s edge at this spot is dangerous and they avoid it. Or this same group is walking in some treeshaded forest and some beautiful fruit falls on the ground. They eat some, it is delicious and they continue going back to savor the forest’s delight. Such pattern finding makes sense, so we want pattern finding to work in casinos as well in order to overcome the house edge. But, it isn’t going to happen. The best way to play craps is to make the low house-edge bets and forget the trends that have already happened. And that’s the truth.

Frank Scoblete is the number one best-selling casino gambling writer. His latest books are Casino Conquest: Beat the Casinos At Their Own Games!, Casino Craps: Shoot to Win! and Slots Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines! These books are available in major bookstores, on Amazon.com or call 1-800-944-0406 to order. Frank is giving a free 60-day subscription to his private website. Just email him at fscobe@optonline.net.

“THERE ARE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE TREND BETTING SCHEMES, NEITHER OF WHICH CAN GIVE THE PLAYER THE ADVANTAGE OVER THE HOUSE.”

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


There’s a reason

Winners

Play

here.

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.

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


D E L E CTA B L E D I N I N G

Scoping out Northshore's hidden gems

Zachary's BLT, mile-high and crowned with a fried duck egg Photo courtesy of Kientz Photo

Exploring Northshore 10 TA S T Y R E A S ON S T O V E N T U R E F ROM T H E BIG E A S Y by B E T H

I

f you love New Orleans, but haven’t managed to tear yourself away from the French Quarter long enough to explore the local terrain, you’re not alone. In fact, a majority of the nearly nine million people who visited New Orleans last year didn’t stray far from Bourbon Street. But if you travel less than an hour north, just across Lake Ponchartrain, you’ll find tons of things to do, see and taste in St. Tammany Parish, including a haven of family attractions, some upscale B&Bs, as well as countless acclaimed restaurants and unspoiled bayous. So next time you head down to “N’Awlins,” take some time away from the beaten trail. You’ll find that the good times keep rolling, even outside the city limits. New Orleanians have been recreating on 36 |

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the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain since the antebellum years, when the locals flocked to l’autre cote du lac (the other side of the lake) to take advantage of the fresh air and prosperous lifestyle that resulted from its fertile banks and transportation routes. In 1956, with the completion of the 24-mile Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, the driving time from New Orleans was greatly reduced, transforming the sleepy towns of St. Tammany Parish – Abita Springs, Covington, Folsom, Lacombe, Madisonville, Mandeville and Slidell – into bedroom communities for the Big Easy. There’s so much to do, from taking a bike ride along a stretch of the 31-mile, rails-to-trails Tammany Trace, to taking a swamp tour through the pristine Honey Island Swamp in search of gators. Good restaurants and first-class accommodations

make the Northshore the perfect choice for a day trip or weekend getaway. For more info on attractions and all things Northshore, visit louisiananorthshore.com Now for the really important question – what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Here’s a list of 10 great places to wine and dine across the Lake. Try one, try them all. Either way, you’ll be oh so satisfied. ABITA BREW PUB

abitabrewpub.com If you’re in the mood for a cold beer and some tasty, New Orleans-style pub grub, check out Abita Brew Pub located at 72011 Holly Street. The perfect place to sample popular brews like Turbodog, Purple Haze and Andygator, you can also enjoy dishes like Jambalaya Ryan


served with Crawf ish Cornbread, a Blackened Shrimp and Avocado Salad, or an Andygator Crawfish Cake appetizer with fried tomatoes and topped with the pub’s own signature sauce. The food is tasty, the prices are reasonable and the nearby brewery offers free tours and tastings in its official visiting room. Founded on humble ground as a once tiny operation, today Abita is one of the largest craft brewers in the U.S., with beer selections available in 46 states. LIZ’S WHERE Y’AT DINER

lizswhereyatdiner.com

Operated by Liz Munson, stop by this comfort food emporium at 2500 Florida Street and order a hearty helping of authentic New Orleans cuisine for breakfast or lunch. Try the Napoleon Fried Green Tomatoes topped with shrimp and crawfish cream sauce, or the Grilled Cheese Sandwich with crabmeat and bits of asparagus, on homemade buttered brioche – it’s so good you won’t even hesitate to contemplate the calories. And, Chef Michael Cheek recently opened his own casual eatery, Mac’s, on Boston St. in Covington. Be sure to keep your eye out for him; he’s definitely going places. ZACHARY’S

zacharys985.com Chef and proprietor Zac Watters may only be 27 years old, but he’s a veteran of NOLA’s Stella and Café Adelaide, and now owns his own place – Zachary’s, at 902 Coffee Street in Mandeville. Named “Chef to Watch” by Louisiana Cookin’ magazine, Watters delivers upscale, aesthetically pleasing dishes and has a flair for flavor and plating. Personally, I love the Shrimp Corn Cog and highly recommend trying it – an appetizer of fried Gulf shrimp coated with a smoky Andouille and cornmeal batter, and served with an orange mayonnaise sauce. If you’re looking for seafood, the house specialty is the Redfish Zachary, a local fish topped with a rich mushroom and crabmeat cream sauce over angel hair pasta. The only downside? There aren’t many seats in this charming little cottage, so be sure to reserve seating ahead of time. LOLA

lolacovington.com Housed in Covington’s historic train

Abita Brew Pub in Abita Springs; a great spot for beer tasting on a lazy afternoon. Photo courtesy of LouisianaNorthshore.com

depot at 517 N. New Hampshire, LOLA is a casual lunch hotspot by day, and an upscale bistro on the weekends. This past summer, chefs and owners Keith and Nealy Frentz were named King and Queen of Louisiana Seafood, and Nealy recently appeared on the Food Network TV show Chopped, where she was a finalist, only just losing to the chef de cuisine from Aria in Las Vegas. Creative riffs on traditional fare include a Red Bean Hummus with bacon marmalade, the fried Oyster Evelyn served with marinara and mozzarella, and the Gulf Shrimp & Grits, topped with local mushrooms, smoked bacon and parmesan cream. And, if you somehow mange to save room for dessert, be sure to try a red velvet cupcake – they’re delicious. DEL PORTO RISTORANTE

delportoristorante.com

At 501 E. Boston Street in Covington, Del Porto has consistently been praised as one of the best Italian restaurants in the New Orleans area by the Times-Picayune. Chef couple and two-time James Beard nominees, David and Torre Solazzo oversee restaurant operations. The menu includes Tuscan and California-inspired Italian selections with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. A recent swoon-worthy favorite is the House Made Cavatelli with fennel sausage and local broccoli. My recommendation? The Salumi Board, which includes a selection of house-cured meats, seasonal pickled veggies and homemade mustard, is a must-try.

VIANNE’S TEA HOUSE

viannes.com

A Travelocity Editor’s Pick run by proprietor Kerry Blache, this sweet, charming cottage in old Mandeville at 544 Girod Street features a vast selection of tea, as well as an accomplished kitchen, headed by Michael Blache. Saturday morning is a great time to come for breakfast – start off with fresh scones, followed by the Crabmeat Supreme Omelet, with smoked salmon, asparagus tips and smoked Gouda cheese. PALMETTOS ON THE BAYOU

palmettosrestaurant.com

Chefs Kirk Dunbar and Daniel Bourgault run the show at Palmettos on the Bayou, a popular destination restaurant and party setting thanks to its series of decks overlooking the beautiful Bayou Bonfouca. Located at 1901 Bayou Lane, the kitchen’s creativity is evident. Try the specials like Grilled Salmon with crispy paella, and the signature Catfish Bonfouca with creamy blush sauce. Or try the Sugar Cane Pork Chop served over a delicious pasta mix of corn, crab and orzo. Palmettos also hosts a highly popular Sunday brunch. It’s a great bargain at $19.95 and there’s live music in the afternoon with local faves like Big Daddy O. LA PROVENCE

laprovencerestaurant.com Located at 25020 Hwy 190 in Lacombe, what makes this pict uresque, yet understated favorite, stand out? Before SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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Louie and the Redhead Lady's Ginger and Louie Finnan. Photo courtesy of LouisianaNorthshore.com

LOUIE AND THE REDHEAD LADY

EAT LIKE A LOCAL Renee Kientz may be Vice President of Communications, Marketing and PR for the St. Tammany Tourist and Convention Commission, but she's really a New Orleans native and passionate foodie at heart. She welcomes visitors to the Northshore with insightful advice on where to dine, and helpful tips on how to eat like local. Here is her brief Louisiana culinary lexicon to help you decipher local menus. BARBECUED SHRIMP Forget shrimp on the barbie. Here, shrimp is left in the shell and submerged in a garlicky, peppery butter sauce. It’s messy. It’s fattening. It’s okay – live a little.

POBOY A long sandwich on crusty French bread, the poboy isn’t the same as a sub or a hoagie. Choose from a variety of fillings like fried oysters, fried shrimp, and roast beef (featuring long-simmered beef, sliced and slathered in gravy). Order it “dressed,” with lettuce, tomato and pickle.

MUFFULETTA Picture this: several layers of ham, salami and provolone cheese, topped with chopped olive salad, and served on a large, round, crusty Italian bread. Pronounced moof-a-lotta, this sandwich is a delicious handful and usually serves two or more people.

GUMBO Though gumbo has popped up on menus across the U.S., you’re not likely to get the real thing outside of south Louisiana, unless it’s cooked by a transplanted native. A dark, flavorful soup, real gumbo takes time to cook and requires a little voodoo to do properly; most gumbos are variations on two themes – seafood, and chicken and sausage. Served with rice, it can be light brown or dark as swamp water.

TURTLE SOUP A New Orleans classic, turtle soup these days often is made with chicken (so ask your server if it’s the real thing). The dark, flavorful soup is typically enhanced by a dash of sherry added at the table.

COCHON DE LAIT Suckling pig is a favorite at Cajun family celebrations. Moist and flavorful, it’s tender and, at its best, redolent of garlic. The cochon de lait poboy is a favorite at the New Orleans Jazz Fest and rarely served in restaurants (but occasionally you get lucky).

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your entrée, enjoy the homemade pate with hot French bread. Mentored by acclaimed chef and owner, John Besh, chef Erick Loos uses ingredients sourced from local farms and out of the restaurant’s own kitchen garden. The menu encompasses Loos’ sophisticated take on French cuisine and changes frequently, but if you’re lucky, a stew of local oysters and Jerusalem artichokes awaits, served with garlicky bruschetta. The Wild Boar Pinwheel Ravioli with local tomatoes and basil is divine, as is the Slow Roast Chappapeela Farm Duck Breast, served with red cabbage, spring rolls and plum sauce. And for dessert, try the mouthwatering Ricotta Filled Crepes.

louieandtheredheadlady.com

Head to 1851 Florida Street in Mandeville to try this local hotspot that received some much deserved praise and national attention thanks Guy Fieri on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Chef and owner Louie Finnan serves up traditional New Orleans seafood and Creole Italian fare in mammoth proportions. The original “Redhead Lady” in question is the chef ’s mom, who always encouraged him to pursue his dreams of a culinary career. Coincidently, Louie is also married to a redhead, Ginger Finnan, who runs an artsy jewelry boutique attached to the restaurant. Breakfast is popular here, with dishes like the Shrimp & Spinach Scramble, the French Market Benedict and the Garden District Omelette. CAFÉ LYNN

cafelynn.com Chef Joey Najolia and his wife Brandi first met while working at La Provence. There, they decided to open their own French New Orleans-style bistro at 3051 E Causeway Approach in 2007. The classically trained chef combines the f lavors of the Gulf Coast and the Mediterranean with dishes like Pan Roasted Quail, Seafood Stuffed Eggplant, and Veal & Pork Cannelloni with homemade pasta. Brandi runs the front of the house and is responsible for the thoughtful wine list.


LouisianaNorthshore.com/sg


PLAYER STRATEGY

T

BLACKJACK: Making Your Best Bet

HIS MONTH, I’M GOING TO look at the different ways recreational players bet when they play blackjack and offer my opinion on which method I believe is best. To start, I’m going to assume that you are facing a half-percent house edge and that you know the basic playing strategy. ALWAYS BET SAME AMOUNT A player who always bets the same amount is best known as a “flat bettor.” Regardless of how much he wins or loses, a flat bettor always bets the same amount of money (chips) on each hand. This is a conservative way to bet at blackjack and most players don’t find it very exciting. However, if you have a limited bankroll and want to get maximum playtime, flat betting is the way to go. It’s also easy to calculate your theoretical hourly loss when you flat bet. You simply multiply the number of hands you will play per hour (let’s assume 100 hands) times the amount wagered per hand (assume $10) times the 0.5% house edge, yielding $5. So if you play for a total of four hours, then theoretically, you should lose $25. The big advantage of flat betting is that you decrease the swings in your bankroll, meaning you won’t win or lose a lot of money in each session. However, even though you will have winning and losing sessions when you flat bet, in the long run your losses will exceed your wins because the house has the mathematical edge. BETTING PROGRESSIONS Many recreational players want a little more excitement when they play blackjack so they use a betting progression, meaning they will vary their bets based on the results of the previous hand. Most players use a “win progression” where they gradually increase their bets following a winning hand (say from $10 to $20 to a maximum of $30). Anytime you lose a hand along the progression, you revert to the starting $10 bet. First let me clarify that using a betting progression will not change the 0.5% house edge one iota. Moreover, when a player uses say, a $10-$20-$30 win progression, his average bet is no longer $10 per hand. Yes, sometimes he will be making a $10 bet but other times he might be betting $20 or $30 on a hand. His average bet will be higher (about 40

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by

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

$15 in our example); therefore, compared to the flat bettor (who only averaged $10 per hand), the progressive bettor will theoretically lose 1.5 times more money (about $38 over a four-hour session compared to the flat bettor’s $25 theoretical loss). I don’t recommend that players use a betting progression, simply because they will lose more money in the long run compared to flat betting. However, if you are hell-bent on using a betting progression, I’d recommend a very conservative one, like a $10-$20 progression. (Or better yet, keep reading for the best way to bet at blackjack.) ONLY INCREASE YOUR BET WHEN YOU HAVE THE EDGE This seems like the logical way to increase your bets when you play blackjack; namely, when you know that you have the mathematical edge on the next hand. The question, however, is this: How do you know when the edge swings in your favor during the play out of the shoe? The answer is that you’ve got to watch the cards as they are played from one round to the next and only increase your bets when you’ve seen more small cards (2 - 6) than big cards (10, picture cards, and aces) in previous rounds. If this sounds like card counting, it is. But before you tune me out, listen to what I have to say about it. Since the 1960s, there is and always has been only one mathematically proven way to gain the edge at blackjack, and that is by counting cards. However, most recreational players don’t have the time or energy to spend learning a full-blown card-counting system. What I’m proposing is much simpler and easier. Learn Speed Count or the Ace-Ten Front Count. You can learn both card counting systems in about the same amount time it takes to learn the basic playing strategy. And, when you use these systems, you will completely wipe out your theoretical hourly losses in flat betting or progressive betting system, and replace it with a modest theoretically win every hour you play blackjack. Meaning you will have the slight edge when you play blackjack.

Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. For a free copy of his Casino Gambling Catalog containing books, strategy cards, DVDs, and software for a variety of casino games, call toll free 1-888-353-3234 or visit smartgaming.com. For a free three-month subscription to his monthly Blackjack Insider newsletter, check out bjinsider.com/freetrial. Tamburin is available as a guest speaker at conventions. Contact him at HTamburin@aol.com.

“IN THE LONG RUN YOUR LOSSES WILL EXCEED YOUR WINS BECAUSE THE HOUSE HAS THE MATHEMATICAL EDGE.”

Note: You’ll find the details on Speed Count in Frank Scoblete’s book, Beat Blackjack Now, and the Ace-Ten Front Count in Fred Renzey’s book, Blackjack Bluebook II. FOR MORE FREE BLACKJACK TIPS, VISIT SOUTHERNGAMING.COM/ BLACKJACK


G ET F E D .

We’re always coming up with new ways to prepare food. We’ve got boiled,

broiled, blackened and fried. The only thing we have more of than the ways we prepare food is the number of places we have to eat food. It’s one of the things that make us who we are.

Scan V I Sthis I Tmarker O U Rfor your M Ochance B I L E to S Iwin. TE

800 LA ROUGE


EXPE R I E NCE TH E TH R I LL

138 years of tradition

Trackside at the famous Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky

Running For the Roses T H E CH A L L E NGI NG N E W “ ROA D ” T O T H E F I R S T S AT U R DAY I N M AY by J O E Y

T

here is change in the air under the famed Twin Spires at Chu rc h i l l Dow ns. It doesn’t involve expansion or remodeling, although that seems to be an ongoing theme for this historic racetrack. The change we are referring to involves the most famous thoroughbred race in the world – the Kentucky Derby. For the first time since 1986, the qualifying process has changed. Earnings have given way to a points system. This new system involves a series of 36 races, officially referred to as the “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” The new system is, in many ways, similar to the Fed Ex Cup in golf and Nextel Cup in NASCAR, where participants attempt to qualify for a season-ending championship through a series of events throughout the year. The new “Road to the Kentucky Derby” is divided into two parts, a “Kentucky Derby

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ADAMS

Prep Season,” which includes 19 races, and a “Kentucky Derby Championship Series,” which will include 17 events. The new system works on a progressive point system, with points earned during the later “Championship Series” worth more (5X-10X) than points earned during the earlier “Prep Season.” Of the 36 qualifying events, only one is run over turf and none are at distances less than one mile – an attempt to gather the horses most qualified to run 1 ¼ miles on dirt on the First Saturday in May. For the last 25 years, the field for the Kentucky Derby – limited to twenty starters – has been determined by “graded earnings.” Horses would start accumulating earnings during their two-year-old racing season, and those earnings would roll over into their threeyear-old campaign – the year in which they would be eligible for the Kentucky

Derby. This system of qualifying treated all graded earnings equally, regardless of whether they were earned in Grade I, Grade II or Grade III events. There was no distinction between graded earnings in races at sprint or route distances; and no distinction between graded earnings from races on dirt, synthetic surfaces or turf, which opened the door for horses to amass graded earnings in more than 180 events scattered across the country, over a variety of distances and surfaces. While results from a t wo-year-old racing season will still be included in overall ranking, their significance is greatly reduced in the new “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” This change directly affects three races in particular: the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1, the $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot-G3, and the $750,000 CashCall Futurity-G1. These races, run during the end of a two-year-


old racing season, virtually assured the winner a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby because of their large purse. Under the new format these lucrative races are worth no more (in qualifying terms) than the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes – an “ungraded” stake run at Oaklawn Park in late January. Being granted a guaranteed starting spot in the prestigious Kentucky Derby, based solely on the horse’s accomplishments as a two-year-old, did not sit well with many in the racing world. And looking back, it’s hard to argue with those of that opinion. Consider the following results, through the 2012 Kentucky Derby: • There were 28 winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1. Only 15 winners actually made it to the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby the following year, and only Street Sense in 2007 was able to repeat. Just two other Juvenile winners hit the board in the Kentucky Derby, Timber Country (’95) and Chief’s Crown (’85), both with thirdplace finishes. • There were 10 winners of the Delta Jackpot-G3. Of those, seven did not run in the Kentucky Derby. From the three that did, the best performance was a seventh-place finish by Outta Here in 2003. • There were five winners of the CashCall Futurity-G1. Four winners came back to run in the Kentucky Derby, with only Pioneer of the Nile managing a top-three finish (2nd in 2009). Those results seem to speak for themselves. Three races that sent their winners directly to the Kentucky Derby, yet with very poor results as nearly half never made it to the Kentucky Derby, and of the 22 that did, only one ended up wearing the Garland of Roses, and only three others finished among the top three. There are varying reasons as to why the winners of major two-year-old races have had such minimal impact on the Kentucky Derby. Besides injury, one prominent theory is a lack of preparation. Trainers with a starting spot in the Kentucky Derby, already “in the bag” seven or eight months out, have often taken a very cautious approach. They limit the number of races early on in a three-yearold campaign, hoping that their star

Every jockey's dream? A shot at winning the Kentucky Derby, "the most exciting two minutes in sports."

pupil will “peak” on the First Saturday in May. Often times these horses, very talented as two-year-olds, aren’t ready for the task of taking on 19 other horses at 1 ¼ miles – either from a conditioning or experience standpoint. The new “Road to the Kentucky Derby” attempts to solve

that problem by putting more focus and importance on the major Kentucky Derby prep races leading up to the big event. One important aspect of the new system is that points are only awarded for the top four finishers in qualifying events. Under

KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE WAGER Pool 1 Results - from February 8-10

#

Wagering Interest

Morning Line

FINAL

$2 WILL PAY

1

Capo Bastone

30-1

58-1

$118.00

2

Code West

50-1

56-1

$114.00

3

Delhomme

30-1

55-1

$113.20

4

Den’s Legacy

30-1

77-1

$156.60

5

Dynamic Sky

30-1

54-1

$110.00

6

Falling Sky

30-1

99-1

$230.80

7

Flashback

15-1

12-1

$26.40

8

Frac Daddy

50-1

68-1

$139.00

9

Goldencents

20-1

20-1

$43.40

10

He’s Had Enough

50-1

50-1

$102.60

11

Itsmyluckyday

15-1

13-1

$28.80

12

Mylute

30-1

99-1

$249.20

13

Normandy Invasion

20-1

15-1

$33.00

14

Overanalyze

15-1

33-1

$69.20

15

Oxbow

20-1

26-1

$54.80

16

Revolutionary

20-1

13-1

$29.00

17

Shanghai Bobby

12-1

14-1

$31.40

18

Super Ninety Nine

20-1

47-1

$97.20

19

Uncaptured

20-1

40-1

$82.40

20

Verrazano

15-1

11-1

$24.00

21

Violence

12-1

13-1

$28.60

22

Vyjack (g)

20-1

49-1

$100.60

23

Will Take Charge

30-1

61-1

$124.20

24

All Others

9-5

8-5

$5.20

Morning Line odds by Mike Battaglia

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

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the old graded earnings system, all graded earnings were counted regardless of where horses actually finished in races. Graded events often award purse money to all, or most, of the horses that take part. While picking up $3,200 for a seventh-place finish in a Kentucky Derby prep may do little more than pay the monthly training bills, that small amount could be the difference between making the Kentucky Derby or spending the day elsewhere.

2013 “ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY” TRACK

WINNER

POINTS

09/29/12 Juddmonte Royal Lodge-G2 Newmarket

Steeler 10-4-2-1

09/29/12 Frontrunner-G1

Santa Anita

Power Broker 10-4-2-1

10/06/12 Foxwoods Champagne-G1

Belmont Park

Shanghai Bobby 10-4-2-1

10/06/12 Breeders’ Futurity-G1

Keeneland

Joha 10-4-2-1

10/07/12 Grey Stakes-G1

Woodbine

River Seven 10-4-2-1

11/03/12

Grey Goose Juvenile-G1

Santa Anita

Shanghai Bobby 10-4-2-1

11/17/12

Delta Downs Jackpot-G3

Delta Downs

Goldencents 10-4-2-1

11/24/12

Remsen Stakes-G2

Aqueduct

Overanalyze 10-4-2-1

11/24/12

Kentucky Jockey Club-G2

Churchill Downs

Uncaptured 10-4-2-1

12/15/12

CashCall Futurity-G1

Hollywood Park

Violence 10-4-2-1

01/05/13 Sham Stakes-G3

Santa Anita

Goldencents 10-4-2-1

01/19/13

Lecomte Stakes-G3

Fair Grounds

Oxbow 10-4-2-1

01/21/13

Smarty Jones

Oaklawn Park

Will Take Charge 10-4-2-1

01/26/13 Holy Bull-G3

Gulfstream Park

Itsmyluckyday 10-4-2-1

02/02/13 Robert B. Lewis-G2

Santa Anita

Flashback 10-4-2-1

02/02/13 Withers-G3

Aqueduct

Revolutionary 10-4-2-1

02/02/13 Sam F. Davis-G3

Tampa Bay Downs Falling Sky 10-4-2-1

02/16/13 El Camino Real Derby-G3

Golden Gate

10-4-2-1

02/18/13 Southwest Stakes-G3

Oaklawn Park

10-4-2-1

02/23/13 Fountain of Youth-G2

Gulfstream Park

50-20-10-5

02/23/13 Risen Star-G2

Fair Grounds

50-20-10-5

03/02/13 Gotham-G3

Aqueduct

50-20-10-5

03/09/13 Tampa Bay Derby-G2

Tampa Bay Downs

50-20-10-5

03/16/13 Rebel Stakes-G2

Oaklawn Park

50-20-10-5

03/23/13 Spiral Stakes-G3

Turfway Park

50-20-10-5

03/24/13 Sunland Derby-G3

Sunland Park

50-20-10-5

PREP SEASON

DATE RACE

2ND LEG

03/30/13 Florida Derby-G1

Gulfstream Park

100-40-20-10

03/30/13 Louisiana Derby-G2

Fair Grounds

100-40-20-10

03/30/13 UAE Derby-G2

Meydan, Dubai

100-40-20-10

04/06/13 Wood Memorial-G1

Aqueduct

100-40-20-10

04/06/13 Santa Anita Derby-G1

Santa Anita Park

100-40-20-10

04/13/13 Arkansas Derby-G1

Oaklawn Park

100-40-20-10

04/13/13 Toyota Blue Grass-G1

Keeneland

100-40-20-10

04/20/13 Lexington Stakes

Keeneland

20-8-4-2

04/27/13 Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial-G3

Churchill Downs

20-8-4-2

WILD CARD

Be sure to check out Twinspires.com ... the Official Wagering Platform of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby! 44 |

SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

1ST LEG

The new system puts a premium on planning and performance. Since there are fewer qualifying events, trainers must make the right decision as to where to run, and they must be confident their horse is ready to turn in a competitive performance. A trainer based in south Florida shipping to New Orleans for the Risen Star Stakes-G2 or Louisiana Derby-G1 has to be confident his horse is ready to win, or at least finish fourth or better, or it will be a wasted trip. One wrong move and dreams of the Kentucky Derby can go up in smoke. In the minds of horseplayers the new system should be seen as welcome news. Fewer qualifying events should lead to larger, more competitive races. And with qualifying points awarded only to the top finishers, bettors should be able to approach these races without wondering whether a horse is simply “prepping” for another event down the road. Handicappers can look at a particular race and work under the assumption that every horse in the field is primed for their best effort. Of course that also brings up an important question: “What about handicapping the Kentucky Derby?” If trainers must now have their horses ready for big efforts just weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby in order to make the big race, how will those horses respond on May 4? Will they be able to take another step forward or will they regress? Tough call, but no one ever said handicapping the Kentucky Derby was easy! With the new “Road to the Kentucky Derby” qualifying system, officials from Churchill Downs have taken a more active role in determining the final starting field for their premiere race. They want the best, most competitive, most deserving horses loading into the starting gate and the new qualifying system is a step in that direction.


The showdown for $10,000, Derby tickets and merchandise is on. The quest for the $1,000,000* is underway but there are still some great prizes to be won. Bet the remaining TwinSpires.com Road to the Derby prep races, plus the Triple Crown, and you can compete for a share of $10,000 in cash, Kentucky Derby tickets and Derby merchandise. The road to winning big did not close February 23rd. In fact, it’s wide open and can still be yours for the taking. Sign up today and get a $100 bonus.** See website for promotion details. *$1,000,000 prize pool will be paid in the form of a 40 year annuity or a cash option equivalent. **New TwinSpires.com customers only. $100 Promotion requires activating EZmoney, which allows for electronic transfer of funds to and from your bank account. Persons under 18 (or 21 in certain jurisdictions) are not allowed to open or have access to accounts. Only available to customers who reside in a jurisdiction where the TwinSpires.com wagering system is available. Void where prohibited. Always wager responsibly. National Gambling Helpline 1-800-522-4700.


PLAYER STRATEGY

HORSERACING: Start Smart, Finish Strong

V

ARIETY MIGHT BE THE SPICE OF life, but in regards to playing the races, it is highly lethal. If a patron is operating out of an off-track betting parlor or wagering from home using a computer, they are bombarded by scores of simulcast feeds, which they may choose to wager on. A cornucopia of options may actually play spoiler when it comes to a gambling session. Horseplayers litter the ground with more tickets than they redeem. Playing several tracks at the same time hastens erosion of the bankroll because there is a ridiculous amount of information to decipher when handicapping a race. Spreading play in every direction increases the chances of cutting corners when figuring a contest. When you start a session playing the ponies, pick one track and stick with it. I sincerely hope that when your session commences, you find yourself standing near the paddock at a thoroughbred racecourse. I realize that off-track betting and internet wagering have many advantages. These methods may eliminate travel expenses, or might be the only available option. In earnest though, wagering on thoroughbreds via a television monitor defeats the grandeur of the sport. Live horse racing is an experience unlike any other. You have to be at the track to truly appreciate the sights, sounds and emotions - the gates bursting open, the pounding of multiple sets of galloping hooves, the anxious but thrilled feeling you get as you eagerly watch your pick make its way through the pack. Spend the extra ten spot and treat yourself to equine beauty and the majesty that is live racing. With the first race on the card comes a sobering fact. This is the second most important race that will be played today. There are no losses to chase, winnings to give back or emotions to negotiate. The gambler’s mind will never be fresher than it is at this point, so let me tell you what I have learned the hard way. The first race is not the one to risk your gold fillings on. It’s usually made up of low-level suspect stock or maidens. Regardless of these challenges, try your hardest to cash in the opener. Even if it is a show bet, conquering the initial battle will build confidence and reaffirm your choice to spend the afternoon chasing greenbacks. 46

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by E R I C

F LOY D

Discarding the initial play invites doubt to creep into your psyche and may possibly be the first revolution in a very steep downward spiral. If a player’s bankroll is a c-note, losing $30 or $40 after the horses go under the wire for the first time tends to make the slope you are trying to climb a bit steeper. Common sense won’t dictate the next play, a suddenly conceived sense of desperation will. Keep the wager in the first at a reasonable 5-15% of the bankroll; remember there are eight more to go. If the will power exists and there is no viable play, do the unthinkable and pass on the race. The most important race wagered on will be the finale. This may be a race in the middle of the card if you have been reckless and undisciplined. Hopefully you do not have to drive home after the fifth because that “sure thing” a tout tipped you in the parking lot, came up short. There is a sense of pride to be derived from simply arriving at the last without a moth-ridden wallet, but don’t settle for mediocrity. For in dealing with the final battle, one must play racetrack psychologist. Strategy will depend on the size of the bankroll. Got four bucks left? Pray for divine intervention and swing for the fences. If you are in a more reasonable position, now might be the time to put some lettuce on the morning line favorite’s nose. The mindset at the track with ten minutes to post before the last race is vastly different than at any other time during the card. The majority of patrons left in attendance scurry around like headless chickens plotting every imaginable angle to get even. People who are down three G’s are not looking for a win bet on the chalk. Conversely, players who find themselves ahead are more likely to take a greater chance on a long shot or exotic bet to add some icing to the cake. These factors inflate the price on the favorite in the last race. I caution that a player cannot expect a greater percentage of favorites to win the last race, just a greater return if they happen to be victorious. Use the two races that bookend a card to employ momentum and punctuate your session. Remember that the day’s best play usually lies between these two contests in either an allowance or stakes race.

Eric Vaughn Floyd is a turf writer for various gaming publications as well as a Triple Crown pari-mutuel consultant for several nationwide media outlets. Excerpts from his gambling memoir, My First Decade Playing the Game, can be found at LuLu.com.

“THE MOST IMPORTANT RACE WAGERED ON WILL BE THE FINALE.”

FOR MORE FREE TIPS, VISIT SOUTHERNGAMING.COM/ HORSERACING


AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT edges, and learn the best methods of play. You’ll have a higher percentage of winning sessions if you learn basic strategy at blackjack, strategy for the specific game you’re playing in video poker, or stick to pass or don’t pass in craps, rather than taking flutter on roulette or some other high-edge game. What is your strategy when you visit a casino?

John Grochowski

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT:

Hitting the Strip with John G. What was your first gambling experience? I played a lot of poker with the guys on my dorm floor in college, which served me well on my first couple of newspaper jobs. My first casino trip was in the 1980s with my wife. We went to Las Vegas, stayed at Bally’s and had a great time casinohopping up the Strip, playing cheap slots and video poker. What made you get into publishing gambling strategies? My inspiration was Anthony Curtis’ Las Vegas Advisor. At the time, I was working for the Chicago Sun-Times, mostly as a copy editor but doing a little writing on the side. When the first riverboat casinos were launched, I thought it would be a cool thing to bring to our readers a weekly casino survival guide with gaming tips and strategies as well as how to get the best deal in comps and players clubs. I launched a weekly column at the beginning of 1994, and within a year I was approached by a couple of magazines and a book publisher. Do you have to be a super genius to consistently win at the casinos? Not at all. You do have to do your homework, be very disciplined, sufficiently 48

| SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

bankrolled and stick to the games in which it’s possible to get an edge. For card counters, blackjack is the main opportunity, but also video poker if you can find the best pay tables, and perhaps craps for those who really practice dice control. Counting cards in blackjack isn’t easy, but you don’t have to be a genius to do it. With video poker, you can play with a strategy card at the games, but the 100% games are a disappearing breed and even if you find them, you have to be prepared for wild bankroll swings. You can’t play to win if you can’t afford to lose. What is the number one mistake you see made by recreational gamblers? Overbetting their bankrolls. If you’re playing dollar video poker or slots, $5 blackjack, or if you’re trying to bet the max on penny slots, there are times a $100 bill is going to disappear fast. If you want your day in the casino to last, don’t bet too large a percentage of your stake right out of the box. What is the easiest way for someone to increase their win percentage? Stick to the games with the lowest house

I have kind of a dual casino life. I look around, see if there’s anything new on slots or on the tables that I need to try in order to write about it. I play a little of everything at minimum bets to stay current. But when I’m playing for myself and wager more than the minimum, I stick to blackjack, the best video poker games if I can find them, and a little craps. HOMETOWN:

Elmhurst, IL AGE:

61

INTERESTS OTHER THAN GAMBLING:

Sports (especially baseball), science and science fiction (I’m a dinosaur kid who never grew out of it), music, getting my son through college. FAVORITE SPORTS TEAMS:

Chicago Cubs and Bears

FAVORITE PLACE TO VISIT:

London or closer to home, Sanibel/ Captiva Islands in Florida. TWO THINGS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST:

Visiting the Galapagos Islands and taking my wife back to Kauai, where we had our wedding. FAVORITE BOOK EVER:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy FAVORITE BAND/MUSIC:

The Beatles, with my favorite album being Revolver. I remember well their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. FAVORITE WAY TO RELAX:

Reading. I usually have one book going in the living room and another in the bedroom.


BOOK EXCERPT

TAKE A SEAT: Bizarre Blackjack Encounters

T

his is an excerpt from 1536 Free Waters and other Blackjack Endeavors.

I was at a blackjack table on a busy Friday night at a busy casino. After waiting several minutes to find a seat, I entered a game in which a half-drunk buxom woman and her date were having too good a time at the table. The woman was wearing a maroon cocktail dress that showed a generous amount of cleavage and the men at the table, including the dealer and pit boss, naturally stole glances at every chance while the cards were being played. (Note to my wife: I wasn't looking—I was reading bible passages between hands.) After each new shuffle of the six-deck shoe, the dealer offered the yellow cut card to the woman. Every time she took the card, she would make a huge production about her “...secret weapon” that would guarantee “good luck” and then proceeded to rub the card back and forth on her cleavage before inserting the card back into the deck. All the men laughed and smirked like over-sexed idiots. (Not me, honey, I was thinking of the unfinished chores on my to-do list at home.) The woman repeated this routine four or five times. Unfortunately for me, during the course of those four or five shoes, I had lost a couple hundred dollars. With each losing shoe, I gradually became annoyed by the cleavage cut card routine. The woman might have had nice headlights, but she slowed the game down tremendously with her half-drunken antics. (Wife, I was told that she had nice headlights by the guy next to me. I didn’t actually see ‘em myself—I was busy thinking of the plight of the poor starving children in Africa.) Just after the dealer had shuffled another shoe, I quickly grabbed the cut card from the table before the cleavage woman could get it. I then pulled the yellow card under the table. The dealer shouted, “What are you doing?!” I said, “I was gonna wipe the card on my crotch for luck—it is my secret weapon.” At that point, the pit boss intervened, “Sir, you can’t do that.” “Why not? Chesty has been rubbing the card

on her breasts for an hour!” The pit boss was in a quandary. He couldn’t say or do a damn thing to me for my attempted crotch rub. The next shoe, coincidentally, was the best one of the night for me! On a different day, during a drive from Omaha to Oklahoma City, I stopped at a roadside casino in some no-name Kansas town. I sat at a blackjack table, which had no posted rules. I asked the only player at the table a couple questions. The man was diminutive, probably weighing less than 100 pounds, and wore thick, black-framed glasses. “What are the double-down rules? Do they offer surrender?” Without looking in my direction, the wee man said, “Some dogs are named Talmadge.” I responded inquisitively, “Pardon?” The man repeated with a ton of attitude, “SOME DOGS ARE NAMED TALMADGE!”

Glen Wiggy is the author of 1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors. Born in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Glen graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988 and served a twenty-year career as an Air Force officer. He currently works as a government civilian at United States Northern Command in Colorado Springs. Read his blog and other stories at blackjackstories.com.

I stood up and slowly walked from the table saying, “Oooookay then.” I found another table where I played head's up with the dealer. A half hour later, a loud, obnoxious woman approached the game. “We have been on the road all day in that blasted sun—Cousin Mary is driving me crazy in the RV—If we don't get to Yellowstone soon, I'm gonna bust—Where is the potty in this place?” She wouldn't stop yammering. Eventually, she turned my way. “Hi, my name's Shelly, I'm from Rolla, Missouri—What's your name?” I looked straight ahead, thought a moment, and responded, “Some dogs are named Talmadge.” “Dogs are whaaaaat?” Shelly responded with a puzzled look on her face. “SOME DOGS TALMADGE!”

ARE

NAMED

The woman quit talking for the first time and gently pulled herself away from the table, all the while giving me a strange look. The dealer, pit boss and security staff gave me puzzled looks as well, but continued their business. At that moment, I had realized that the little guy with the thick, black-framed glasses was a genius.

1536 Free Waters and other Blackjack Endeavors can be purchased at BlackjackStories.com and is available in paperback ($18.95), Hardcover ($28.95) or downloadable as an e-book ($3.99).

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PLAYER STRATEGY

RISKY BUSINESS: All-in on Guts and Feel

O

N SUPER BOWL WEEKEND in 2001, Mike Laing, a well-known player with $200,000 in chips, faced unknown Bill Eichel, who had $630,000 in chips, in a heads-up dual. The game was no-limit hold ‘em and the event was the $5,000 buy-in World Poker Challenge Championship event at the Reno Hilton. With 166 entries, first place would pay $331,000 and second place would pay $166,000 – not bad for two days’ work! Besides the money, a measure of history was also at stake as this event figured to be one of the most prestigious poker events of the year. If it were pro golf, we would call it a major. With the blinds at $7,000 - $15,000 and the antes at $3,000 a player, the following key hand came up between Laing and Eichel. Mike called $8,000 on the button with 4-9 (a San Francisco Bay hand if I ever saw one), and Bill checked in the big blind. The flop came 4c-7s-Jd, and Eichel bet out $100,000. Now the heat was on Mike, who was staring down a $100,000 bet into a $36,000 pot with a measly pair of fours. At this point the writing was on the wall: time to fold. Should Mike call or move all-in? He would have to sort it out, with nothing more than his guts and feel – what Bill had. Good ‘guts and feel’ are what separate the men from the boys in the poker world. In theory, if you knew everyone’s hole cards on every hand, you would never lose. Thus, the importance of ‘reading’ people well, for no one actually knows what the other players’ hole cards are. You learn to measure a man’s relative strength by your instincts and his ‘tells’ or signs, like not being able to look your opponent squarely in the eyes when bluffing. Some other common tells: when players act weak, they’re usually strong; when players talk, they are usually strong; and when players bet quickly, they are usually weak. Although there are many well known tells out there, I personally like to stare down my opponent and trust my own feelings. So, as Mike pondered the possibilities, he suddenly decided that Bill was bluffing and that his pair of fours was actually the better hand. Mike moved all-in for $190,000, a mere $90,000 raise and incredibly, Bill folded and Mike won the pot. Give Mike Lang a lot of credit – he risked it all on guts and feel (his read of Bill and Bill’s tells) and he was right. Two hands later, Mike went on

52

| SOUTHERNGAMING.COM

by

PHIL HELLMUTH, JR.

to win the World Poker Challenge Championship, and the $331,000 first prize. So, a common tell is: a.) When a player talks, he is usually strong. b.) When a player acts weak, he is usually strong. c.) When a player bets quickly he’s usually weak. d.) All of the above

KNOW THE LINGO BUTTON The physical and symbolic designation of the person who is ‘dealing’ (whether actually dealing or not), which makes that player the last to act in the betting rounds of that hand.

CALLING STATION A name for someone who calls other players too often.

CHECK-RAISE When a player checks and raises within one betting round. Meaning, the player may check initially when no one else has bet and when it’s his turn again, the player raises someone else’s bet.

DRAWING DEAD When a player cannot win the hand, regardless of what cards come up.

ELEPHANT A player who plays too many hands and calls to many bets. This is one of the ‘animal personalities’ I use to teach poker strategy.

HOLE CARDS A player’s two private facedown cards, which only he can see.

Phil Hellmuth Jr. is an 11-time Champion of the World Series of Poker, leading all other poker players in the world. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers and his latest book, Deal Me In, is also widely popular. Visit philhellmuth.com to check out his clothing line, blog and exclusive gaming tips. Hellmuth will host his annual Derby Poker Championship with poker pro, Robert Williamson III and Hall of Fame basketball coach, Denny Crum on May 2, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. For more info, visit DerbyPokerChampionship.com.

“GOOD ‘GUTS AND FEEL’ ARE WHAT SEPARATE THE MEN FROM THE BOYS IN THE POKER WORLD”

HORSE A game in which you play either an equal number of hands, or for equal lengths of time, in five different games: Hold ‘em, Omaha Eight or better (High Low Split), Razz (Seven Card Low), Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud High Low Split (The E derives from eight or better).

IMPLIED ODDS The odds that a player factors into his calculation of pot odds to account for being called if you complete your hand.

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