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Exclusive Interview:

Mattress Mack ...The Man Behind the Bets Page 6

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Larry Bisig

The holiday season is upon us and with it brings the opportunity to look back on yet another bizarre year. We are still crawling out from the crippling pandemic and adjusting to a new administration in Washington who is trying to figure out issues such as foreign affairs, border security (or lack thereof), distribution issues within the supply chain and more. Albeit there are struggles and situations we all see daily from various news sources or in social media streams, the reality is that we are getting through it and the light is shining bright at the end of the tunnel. Sporting events are in full swing with football stadiums packed to the brim. Concerts and festivals are rocking again. And the most exciting of all is that the casinos are ready to welcome guests back again, the way they did pre-Covid. Think lavish buffets, fine dining, concerts and entertainment, fun promotions and giveaways, craps tables with cheers and high fives, energetic sports books and more. If you want it, your favorite casinos should have it, and they are waiting with open arms.


Since the beginning of 2021, the casinos have been experiencing record revenues and have bounced back in a way that was unexpected by many. With that said, it’s time to get back to planning those gaming getaways and exploring new properties and destinations that you may have put on hold over the past few years. When you start planning your getaway, check out the properties that advertise in Southern & Midwest Gaming and Destinations. These are the properties that support us and have supported us over the past two years and we owe them a lot of gratitude for it. To show our appreciation, we have dedicated a new section in each issue highlighting the properties that support us. Check out page 4 for the Casino Scene and Hot Happenings at our preferred properties. Give them a shot on your next gaming getaway and be sure to tell them that we sent you!

The goal of this publication is to help

We are also giving you the opportunity to show gratitude to your favorite casinos with our annual Readers’ Choice Awards. We didn’t have the awards last year because we didn’t feel the casinos were operating at a capacity worthy of being voted on, but they’re back, and we’re ready to give out some awards! Once again, we are giving away the Ultimate Casino Getaway to a lucky voter just for filling out the voting ballot on page 23 and mailing it to us by December 15. It’s easy, fast and free and you might win a great gaming getaway, on us! Good luck and spread the word. You can also vote on, so be sure to check that out too.

Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright

We hope you all have a blessed holiday season filled with love and joy and continue to chase that light at the end of the tunnel. We’re ready to get back to reality, and know you are too. Remember, if you can’t be good, be lucky!


Linda Boyd John Grochowski Frank Scoblete GAMING AND DESTINATIONS

136 St. Matthews Ave. #300 Louisville, KY 40207 (502) 212-5177 e-mail:

drive awareness of the ever-growing popularity of the gaming industry and to assist gamers in enjoying their gaming experience to the fullest. Gaming and Destinations is published for those who seek the best in gaming and in life, and is produced bimonthly by Gaming Media Group Inc. of 2019 by Gaming Media Group Inc. All Rights Reserved. This publication is printed by LSC Communications., Inc. of Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Postage is paid in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky. Opinions of columnists are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, nor does Gaming and Destinations assume liability for claims of advertisers. POSTMASTER:

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G. Douglas Dreisbach President & Publisher

136 St. Matthews Ave. #300 Louisville, KY 40207 On the cover: Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale is the man behind the


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

biggest bets in sports history. Photo

courtesy of Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort.



Mattress Mack: The Man Behind the Bets

Jim McIngvale has placed some of the biggest bets in history as promotions for his furniture stores in Texas. We sat down with the man behind the bets.



10 Baccarat:


Casino Scene: Hot Happenings at Our Preferred Properties

14 Blackjack:

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

Best Bets and Systems

Changes to the Game

23 2021 Readers’ Choice

16 Video Poker: Practice Makes Perfect

Awards: Voting Ballot

18 Sports Betting:

It’s that time of year again! Cast your vote for your favorite casinos and you could win the Ultimate Casino Getaway on us! Good luck!


Moneylines and Halftime Spreads



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HOT HAPPENINGS AT OUR PREFERRED CASINOS, RACETRACKS AND MORE. We are excited to highlight our top picks for entertainment, promotions and other features from Preferred Properties of Gaming and Destinations. These properties are supporters of G&D and we encourage you to check them out on your next gaming adventure. For more hot happenings and gaming news, visit

In the South (Biloxi, MS) Beau Rivage Resort & Casino – Celebrate the holidays at Beau Rivage for a winter wonderland of Santa sightings, elaborate decorations, holiday themed entertainment and special events and more. Don’t miss productions of The Nutcracker (Dec. 4 & 5) and Christmas in the Air (Dec. 12-26) to get you in the holiday spirit. Also, as always, the Beau brings the best headliner entertainment on the Coast with Patti Labelle (Nov. 12), Brett Michaels (Nov. 13), The Commodores (Nov. 20), Better Than Ezra (Dec. 11) and Chicago (Dec. 17 & 18). The fun continues in January with Frankie Valli (Jan. 7-8), Michael Bolton (Jan. 14), Smokey Robinson (Jan. 21) and Rodney Carrington (Jan. 28 & 29). For tickets and more information, visit or call 1-888-567-6667. (Tunica, MS) Gold Strike Casino Resort -Don’t just wish this Christmas, win at Gold Strike’s Winning Wonderland Giveaway, Nov. 1-Dec. 26. Play for a chance to win something on everyone’s wish list, a share of $200,000 in prizes including a 2022 BMW 840i on each drawing day. Drawings are Nov. 27 and Dec. 26. Also don’t miss The Commodores (Nov. 19) and outstanding live music seven nights a week at STAGE2. Gold Strike has also become Mississippi’s first casino to offer on-premise mobile sports betting via the BetMGM app across the entire casino floor and restaurants. Integration with MGM Resorts’ M life Rewards program gives BetMGM users the opportunity to redeem gameplay for world-class experiences at MGM Resorts properties nationwide. For more information, visit or call 1-888-245-7829. (Vicksburg, MS) Ameristar Casino Hotel – Don’t miss your chance to go to the ‘Big Game’ with the Big Game Tickets Giveaway at Ameristar Vicksburg and other mychoice® properties around the region. Qualify each with drawings during halftime of the Monday Night Games with the Big Game Blitz drawings when five guests will win up to $500 in Free SlotPlay® each week.The top ten winners for the season will receive a trip to the Regional Playoffs at L’Auberge Lake Charles and a chance to make it to the Championship at the M Resort in Las Vegas. All finalists will win a prize and one lucky winner will score up to 25 years of Big Game tickets, including accommodations from Choice Hotels! Get more information, visit or call 1-601-630-3786. (Philadelphia, MS) Pearl River Resort – Pearl River always offers the best in dining, casino gaming and amenities to keep their guests entertained and coming back for more. Whether you are there to relax in the Spa and Salon, take in an elegant meal at Phillip M’s Fine Dining or something more casual like Stats Sports Bar & Grill, or enjoy live entertainment at centerBar. Wherever you are, you will have a great time at Pearl River. Also don’t miss your chance at a share of $60,000 and BonusBet prizes every Friday & Saturday in November with the PRR Thanksgiveaway For more information, visit or call 1-866-447-3275. (Baton Rouge, LA) L’Auberge Casino Hotel Baton Rouge – L’Auberge Baton Rouge is your spot for concerts, promotions, and great gambling. Don’t miss Sara Evans (Nov. 5), Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show (Nov. 12), Neal McCoy (Nov. 19) and Grand Funk Railroad (Dec. 3). And, if you don’t have New Year’s Eve plans, celebrate with L’Auberge for their big bash feat. Capital City Soul and an open bar to bring in the New Year! For reservations and more information, call 1-866-261-7777 or visit

(Bossier City, LA) Margaritaville Resort Casino – It’s always five o’clock in Margaritaville! Be sure to make plans to visit Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City for a great getaway that will have you ready to kick back and relax, Jimmy Buffet-style.The Caribbean themed resort offers great dining at Jimmy’s Steak & Seafood, Riverview Restaurant and The Busted Coconut, and you can never go wrong with a tasty margarita at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere bar located just off the casino floor. If you’re looking for a county concert, don’t miss The Bellemy Brothers (Nov. 26) celebrating their 40 years of success. For reservations and more information, call 1-855-346-2489 or visit (Hot Springs, AR) Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort – Oaklawn continues to shine, and reviews are raving about the new hotel and resort offerings. Be sure to book your stay today for a great getaway of gaming, horse racing and all of the resort amenities you would want from luxurious rooms, a sensational spa and fine dining to kick off the evening. Plus, get into the holiday spirit with Martina McBride and The Joy of Christmas show on December 21. For more information and reservations, call 1-800-625-5296 or visit

In the Midwest (Harris, MI) Island Resort and Casino – (Harris, MI) Island Resort and Casino – The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is always rockin’ with Island Resort and its plethora of amenities, promotions and entertainment for guests to enjoy. Whether you take advantage of the fall specials at the award-winning Drift Spa, tee it up at the luxurious Sweetgrass Golf Course or enjoy a magnificent meal one of the many dining options, you’ll have a great getaway at the Island. Get in on the action with the Twinspires Sportsbook where you can wager and watch all of your favorite teams.The Island is soon expanding Your Total Experience – adding 138 new hotel rooms, golf and spa suites, a new top-floor dining venue with meeting space, and a pool with waterpark features. For more information and reservations, call 1-877-475-7469 or visit (Mount Pleasant, MI) Soaring Eagle Casino Resort – If you are looking for great gambling and full resort experience, look no further than Soaring Eagle. With a 210,000 square-feet of gaming space, five hundred rooms and suites, a Spa & Salon with everything you need to relax and be pampered, eight dining options that will fill any appetite, including Siniikaung Steak & Chop and more. Plus, don’t miss headliner entertainment with Travis Tritt (Nov. 12), The Four Tops (Nov. 27), Dustin Lynch (Dec. 3), The Beach Boys (Dec. 17), Rick Springfield and Men at Work (Dec. 28) and Sawyer Brown (Dec. 30). For information and reservations, call 1-877-232-4532 or visit (Bowler, WI) North Star Mohican Casino Resort – As if you ever needed a reason for a gambling getaway, North Star certainly has plenty of them to ensure your stay is great from the second you step in the lobby. Guests enjoy great gambling with over 1,200 machines, plenty of table games including blackjack,Three Card Poker, Let it Ride, Craps and more. Plus, don’t miss the live poker room and bingo with games for up to 124 people! If you want to stay for a few days, North Star has you covered with their luxurious contemporary hotel or the 57-site RV Park with 20-30-and 50-amp service, pull thru sites, picnic table area and pet friendly. For more information and reservations, call 1-800-952-0195 or visit G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M | 5


When it comes to thinking big, Texas businessman Jim McIngvale has proven he has what it takes to kick things up a notch and get people’s attention. His passion and determination for success has turned a $5,000 investment in a start-up furniture store in 1981, into a multi-million-dollar business and one of the largest mattress store chains in the country. In addition to growing his Gallery Furniture brand into a household name, McIngvale has had mirrored dedication to his philanthropic endeavors and always seems to be there for the community when they need him the most. In recent years, McIngvale has been placing massive bets on major sporting 6

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events to cover promotions at his stores and reduce the risk of the promotions. The promotions center around McIngvale offering customers a free mattress if a certain team, or horse, wins a major sporting event. McIngvale then offsets his risk of refund with a future bet to offset any major losses. For example, he wagered a reported $6.2 million at Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort in D’Iberville, Mississippi (Biloxi-area) for the Houston Astros to win the 2019 World Series. At the time it was the largest single bet in the state’s history, and likely still holds true today. Scarlet Pearl CEO, LuAnn Pappas commented at the time of the wager, “Once again, we have proven that Scarlet Pearl is the nation’s new home for the biggest bets,”

Pappas said. “We’ll speak with any guest who wants to place a large bet, whether it’s in our sportsbook, on our tables, or at our slot machines. We don’t sweat the money. We’ll take any bet, any action, any time.” He lost the wager, but also didn’t have to refund customers for their purchases either, and made a similar wager on the Astros for this year’s World Series. He has also tested his fate with horseracing this year when he bet an estimated $2 to $4 million on Essential Quality at 3-1 in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, Essential Quality finished fourth, resulting in another losing wager, and no refunds for customers again, but ratings in Houston for the Kentucky Derby were up because of the ‘buzz of the bet’.

We had the opportunity to catch up with the man now known as ‘Mattress Mack’ to learn more about his views on business, betting and giving back. G. Douglas Dreisbach: How would you describe yourself? People mainly see a guy from Texas making big bets on sporting events, but likely don’t know all the things you do for others like when you opened your furniture stores to people that were displaced form the Texas ice storms last year, or sending forty trucks full of supplies to Louisiana to help those affected by the recent hurricanes. Do you consider yourself a businessman, a philanthropist, or a gambler? Tell us about Mack. What are you about? Jim McIngvale: Well, I’m part entrepreneur and part social worker, so it’s kind of a strange combination. But I like business. I like promoting. I like marketing. That’s kind of how I got into the sports gambling business, to help grow our furniture store. And of course, my life is the essence of living is giving. My parents taught me that, so I try to give back whenever I can, and teach my children and grandchildren that it’s better to give than to receive. So, that’s kind of my point of view of life, and I live life every day trying to help people and hopefully trying to make the world a better place. GDD: When you first got into the furniture business back in the eighties, you reportedly spent your last $10,000 to make a commercial, you didn’t like it, and you scrapped it and ad-libbed your way to a new commercial, and it took hold and became a pretty popular commercial? Is that true? JM: That’s exactly right. I was doing a TV commercial way back in 1983, and I was just about broke. I spent my last $10,000 on television advertising. I had to make a TV spot and I was stuttering and stammering, and I couldn’t come up with a punchline in the ad. The producer got very frustrated and said, “Mack, you have one more take. If you blow this, you’re going to lose your investment,” my $10,000

investment. So I did a little 30-second furniture spot, and in sheer frustration—I had the money in my back pocket from the day’s receipts—I pulled it out, and I said, “Gallery Furniture will save you money!” That became my tagline for 40 years. GDD: Your big bets on major sporting events tied to promotions at your stores have garnered major attention. How did you first come up with the concept of mattress refunds associated with sporting event outcomes? And would you say you’re ahead right now on that? JM: Well, everything is relative, but we’re trying to set ourselves apart from the competition. Furniture buying is a rather boring, mundane exercise, so by putting the sports marketing involved in it, whether it be bet on the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, if he wins you get your money back, or bet on the winner of the Super Bowl or World Series or whatever—it creates a lot of excitement and buzz with our customers, and they have a chance to get their money back. So it creates more business for us, brings out new buyers, and I think it’s a win-win for everybody. I started doing this 10 or 15 years ago, when the Texans played the Cowboys in

the first regular season game. The Texans were a huge underdog, and I think we sold $1.5 million worth of furniture in just two days for that promotion, which was a huge amount 20 years ago. I took the Texans so the customers would get their money back if Texans won in Houston. The Texans were up by like 10 points in the first half, but eventually they lost. So, that was my first venture into sports wagering type of a purchase promotion. GDD: How do you determine the amount of the bet for the promotion so far in advance? Your current one is for the Astros to win the World Series right? JM: You don’t really know how it’s going to work out. On this one, I bought a bunch of futures tickets, way back when the Astros were as high as I think 20:1 and 10:1, so I did buy a bunch of future tickets. So, you never know how it’s going to come out. But obviously I try to hedge enough where if the customers win, there’s enough money on the hedge bet to pay off the loss and make the customers happy. I’m always pulling for the customers on these deals, because when they win, the word-of-mouth advertising is absolutely remarkable. They talk about it with all

Mattress Mack is all smiles after his bet at Scarlet Pearl in 2019. Pictured here is Bob Granieri (Scarlet Pearl Owner) and his wife Doloresi Granieri, Mack, LuAnn Pappas (CEO of Scarlet Pearl) and Matthew Kalish from DraftKings. G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |


their friends, neighbors, and relatives about what a good deal they got on their free mattress or free furniture. For the promotion this year with the Kentucky Derby, I think the viewership of the race in Houston was way up. So, if the favorite won, which was Essential Quality, you got your money back. I’ve been involved in the horse-racing business for many years, so that was a fun one. I also made the biggest bets ever on the Super Bowl this past year with $3.6 million on Tampa Bay, so that worked out as well. GDD: For the Kentucky Derby wager, Essential Quality was at 4:1 odds and ended up coming in fourth, so that didn’t work out for that side. But in an interview, you mentioned the twominute sweat for a horse race was much better than a three-hour sweat for a baseball game. Tell us more about what you mean by ‘the sweat’. And what was your two-minute sweat for the Derby this year like? JM: “The most exciting two minutes in sports” is the moniker for the Kentucky Derby. Watching one of these football games or baseball games that last 3 ½ to 4 hours, when you have millions of dollars bet on it, can be very anxietyproducing. I remember way back when, when Seattle played Denver in the Super Bowl in New York. We had a promotion that if Seattle won, you would get your money back. Well, that promotion went bonkers, and we sold $9 million worth of furniture on that, and I had no hedge bet, no insurance. All these guys that worked with me said, “Don’t worry about it. Denver’s a cinch.” And the first snap went over Peyton Manning’s head, and it went downhill from there, so I was sweating it out by running on a treadmill in our store. The store was closed. We sold every piece of furniture we had the day before, on Saturday. But we were 8

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still making deliveries, getting people’s furniture in their home before the game. So, we delivered a ton of furniture. I was on a treadmill for four hours. Finally, the phone rang. It was my wife, and I said, “Who won?” She said, “Seattle won, dummy. We’re out $9 million.” So, that was a long sweat, and that was very anxiety-producing. GDD: Do you get outside advice on the bets before you make them? Or is it all coming from you and your sports background? JM: It’s coming from me, and some of our team members give me some ideas. I came up with the idea on the Kentucky Derby favorite after I saw the favorite had won like six out of the last eight Kentucky Derbies, so it gave the favorite a big shot. With the Kentucky Derby being pari-mutual—a lot of these times, with a sports bet, you have to hedge it off, and the best you’re going to get is two, maybe two and a half to one. Well, I get four to one with the Kentucky Derby, so it was a very good bet or a hedge for me, and I wish he would have won. He’s won every race since then. But that Saturday in May wasn’t his day.

that kind of got me in the horse racing game, and I’ve been in it very heavily since 1995. My horse, Runhappy, was an Eclipse Award winner, champion sprinter in 1995, and I decided to play, so I’m very involved in the racehorse business, and I like the idea of fixed odds coming to horse racing. I think that’ll be very helpful and very beneficial, and the Kentucky Derby experience went above and beyond my expectations, so we’re hopefully looking forward to doing that again. GDD: Of all the major sporting events, what’s your favorite? And when you have big wagers, do you prefer to go attend in person, or are you running on the treadmill in one of your stores? JM: My favorite is probably game 7 of the World Series. I was on the winning end of that when the Astros beat the Dodgers, and on the losing end when the Astros lost to the Nationals. But game 7 of the World Series is fun because there’s so much drama going through those first six games. Obviously, I like the Super Bowl. I like the Kentucky Derby. But my favorite sporting event probably would be either game 7 of the World Series or Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby.

GDD: Well, you made that wager at Churchill Downs instead of off-track, which is a big bonus for the track, the horse industry in Kentucky and many other ways, and that was great. I think you spent some time at the Derby with my friend Gary P at Churchill Downs, so I am sure he took care of you, and you had a great experience. Was that your first Kentucky Derby, or had you been before? And what was your experience like? JM: Gary was terrific, by the way, and still is. I talk to him quite often. I went to the Kentucky Derby, I think, in 1971, when Canonero II won the Kentucky Derby, with my late aunt. She loved horse racing. I had a great time, and

Mack with Churchill Downs VIP Player Services Manager, Gary Palmisano, at the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

GDD: In closing, you’re a genuine and thoughtful person who always seems to look out for the greater good of the community. You once referenced that you believe we all have a responsibility to make the world a community. What do you mean by that, and what is the motivation that feeds you for your philanthropic drive and the determination to do good? JM: You know, there’s so much hurt in the world. There’s so many people that are lonely nowadays. It used to be the average size of a U.S. household was eight people. Now it’s less than two. People are lonely. We need to reach out and create relationships with people, whether it be at work, whether it be at church, whether it be at schools. We need more people to have strong relationships with each other. I think relationships are the currency of life, and if my sports antics bring people together, where they watch the game together in their house, they pull for whatever team can

get them a free mattress, then maybe I’ve done something to help build some relationships.

Fast Facts with Mattress Mack:

At the end of the day, the good Lord is not going to judge us upon how much money we made, but the good Lord will judge us based upon how much of a difference we made. That’s what we’re trying to do every day at Gallery Furniture, help our team members become better breadwinners for their families. We have a free trade school at Gallery Furniture where we teach people skilled trades. We have a free high school program for people 16-26 if they haven’t finished high school, and we have a free preschool from age 6 months to 5 years old for our team members and the people going to our schools, so they don’t have to pay for childcare. So we’re very involved in helping better people’s lives and turning the negativity in this country into a positive atmosphere, much like it was in my idyllic childhood.

Favorite sport to wager on?

Favorite sport to watch? Baseball Baseball and big future bets Sporting event that you’d like to attend, but haven’t yet? U.S. Open tennis. Hobbies? Horse racing and spending time with my children. Favorite bands or musicians? Fleetwood Mac. Favorite city that you like to visit? Houston, Texas. I’m a homer. A city you would like to visit, but you haven’t yet? I’d like to go to Anchorage, Alaska, and go salmon fishing.

e p a c s E ROOM FOR MORE


Gambling problem? Call 1-800-522-4700.





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Baccarat is not a game of strategy beyond deciding which bet to make. Whether the banker hand, player hand or both get a third card is played out by rule, with no options for bettors or the dealer. Instead, methods for attacking the game focus on whether to bet banker, player, or, for the adventurous, tie. And they focus on how much to bet.


The bottom line is that you can’t change the house edge. Nothing you can do moves the math. But in the short term, just about anything can happen. Here are some methods players use to try to get the most out of baccarat.

lost. Baccarat tables would be crammed with sharpies looking for free money until casinos shut the tables down.

No hand belongs to any individual bettor. All may wager on the banker hand or the player hand, or make a tie bet. House edges are low on banker (1.06 percent) and player (1.24 percent), but a muchtoo-high 14.4 percent on ties.

Make the Best Bet The banker bet in baccarat is a rarity in that it wins more often than it loses. Per 1,000 decisions, the banker wins 459 times, the player wins 446 and there are 95 ties. The banker and player don’t lose on the ties, instead, they push and get their money back.

The solution is to charge a 5 percent commission on winning banker bets. If you win a $20 bet on banker, you must pay the house a $1 commission. Your profit on the hand is $19. That is one of the reasons that the minimum bet at many big baccarat tables is $20. The commission comes out in whole dollars. Such tables are stocked with $20 chips, usually yellow and nicknamed “bananas,” that you won’t find anywhere in the casino except at baccarat tables.

So, should you always bet on the same side? Should you switch back and forth? Can team play work?

If winning banker bets were paid at even money, like winning player bets, banker bettors would win more money than they

The most common minimum bet at minibaccarat tables on the main casino floor is $10. It’s one thing to stock tables with


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50-cent chips for commissions, but another to ask it to go a step further and pay to mint 25-cent chips or tokens, or tie up cash in quarters to make change for a commission at a $5 table. Some players shy away from banker because of the commission, but it still has the lowest house edge at baccarat and can cut the house edge to the bone if you bet on banker every time. Stick with the Winners Banker is baccarat’s best bet with its 1.06 percent house edge, but player at 1.24 percent also is one of the better bets available in casinos. If you decide to switch back and forth between the two, what method should you use? Many players like to bet on streaks, sticking with one side as long as it wins, more than switching to the other after a loss. A streak bettors’ goal is to ride a long winning streak to big profits. If long streaks don’t come, at least you’re on low house-edge bets all the way. But, obviously, there is no way to tell when a streak is coming. They’re unpredictable. They either happen or they don’t. Not even counting cards helps. This isn’t blackjack, with odds that waver from hand to hand. The odds do change as cards are removed from the usual eight decks used at baccarat, but odds shift so slowly in such small increments that counting is of no practical value. The late Peter Griffin, who was a great mathematician and gambling expert, once calculated that a card counter could gain a 0.7 percent edge on baccarat, but would be for only three hands per eight hours. That’s sitting and waiting, not playing, and isn’t at all practical. So, with betting the streaks, you just have to take your chances. Sometimes the streaks don’t come, and nearly half the time you’ll be betting on the player. A streak of five banker wins comes only once per 29.76 trials, and a streak of five player wins averages once per 34.47 trials. When long streaks happen, it means fun and profit. But losses are more frequent, and you have to be prepared for that.

Team Play This isn’t common, but every so often a reader asks about the possibility of playing as a team to score free comps. The idea is that one partner bets on banker while the other bets on player. One wins while the other loses, cancelling each other out. Meanwhile, both have their wagers track and build rewards credits. So can zero losses lead to free rooms, meals, shows, airfare, rounds of golf and more? The answer is No. Casinos wouldn’t enable such a ploy. First of all, that pesky commission on banker gets in the way, and if there was no commission, every banker loss would be offset by a player win and every player loss would be offset by a banker win. Instead, a $20 loss on the player bet is

offset only partially by a $19 win on banker bet. For example, if you bet $20 on player and I bet $20 on banker for each of the 1,000 hands with average results, you’d have 13 more losses than wins for a net loss of $260. In my 1,000 hands, I’d bet $20,000, get $20 back on each of 95 ties for $1,900 and get $39 back -- my $20 bet plus $19 in winnings -- on 459 banker wins for $17,901. That leaves $19,801 on my side of the table for a net loss of $199. So, we don’t break even by betting opposites. We lose $359. One recent letter from a reader came up with a refinement. What if there were three partners, one betting banker, one betting player and one betting ties. One of three bettors was counting on the 8-1 payoff on ties to bring big profits on hands banker and player both got their money back. G A M I N G A N D D E S T I N AT I O N S . C O M |


Don’t fall into its clutches. In the Martingale, you double bets after every loss and any win will wipe out all losses and leave you with a win equal to your original wager. But, there are problems with it. Bets get very large, very fast. You run into table maximums that make it impossible to double a large bet. Long losing streaks are more likely than players think they are. And regardless of prior results, you are the underdog on every bet. In this system, if you bet $20 and lose, your next bet is $40. If you lose again, it takes your bet to $80, then $160, $320 and $640. If you win at $640, it offsets $620 in previous losses and gives you a $20 profit. He was counting on the worst bet, with its 14.4 percent house edge, to be the big winner, and that’s not a sharp play. Betting ties increases losses and is not part of any winning scheme. Progression Betting Players hoping for a really big win sometimes will increase their bets in winning streaks, hoping one big run will bring big profits. There are many ways to go about this, with some progressions being more aggressive than others. One is the Reverse Martingale, in which players double their bets after any win. If you always double your bets, any loss wipes out all wins, so most players set plateaus. They might follow a $20 win with a $40 bet, and if they win again bet $80, but then wait for a second $80 win before increasing again. Others modify the progression, so they add less than the full win to the next bet in order to lock up some money. A $20 win might be followed by a $30 bet, then by $40, then $60 and so on. You might also consider putting a cap on bets and return to your base bet if your winning streak takes you to that cap. If you keep increasing bets without a cap, then any loss will be at your largest wager in the progression. 12

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There are many variations on progressions. Let’s look at one conservative, five-step system. Using bets on player, a five-step progression might look like this: Bet $20. If you win, bet $20 again, so even if you lose you can do no worse than break even. If you win the second bet, then wager $40, then $60, then $80. After five consecutive wins, roll back to $20 and start over. If you win all five bets in the conservative progression, you win $220 instead of the $100 you’d win if you bet $20 each time. The downside is that choppy results and early losses can leave you worse off in a progression than with flat bets. If you win two then lose one, you’d win two $20 bets and lose $40 to break even. With no progression, you’d win $20 twice and lose once for a $20 profit. The average result still gives the house a 1.24 percent edge, but results are distributed differently. The progression will give you more large wins when you get a good streak or two, but also more small losses because of the choppy table effect. Martingale One of the oldest and longest-used systems in gambling is the Martingale and can be hazardous to your bankroll.

But, what if the streak goes on and on? After $640, the next bet in the sequence is $1,280, then $2,560. If you get to $2,560, it means you’ve already lost $2,540. Even assuming you haven’t reached the table maximum, do you really want $2,560 on the line to try to turn it into a $20 profit? And remember, you remain the underdog on that bet. In the end, Martingales lead to more small wins than large losses, but when you get stuck with a big losing streak, it’s a bankroll killer. Most of the systems here are relatively harmless. Better not to include ties in a combination or try team play at all, better not to get too aggressive with progressions, best to stick with the lowedge bets. But avoid Martingales.

“If you keep increasing bets without a cap, then any loss will be at your largest wager progression”

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BLACKJACK: Changes to the Game Some blackjack strategies are so ingrained in veteran players’ minds that it barely registers when changing conditions force new tactics. For example, consider when you have 11 against the dealer’s Ace up card. Basic strategy has always been to hit. Today, failing to double down on 11 vs. Ace shows up on list of common misplays that cost you money. What happened? Casinos tightened the rules of their games and increased the house edge that includes having the dealer hit soft 17 even in multiple-deck shoe games. If the dealer hits soft 17 in a six-deck game, the better play is to double. It always was the better play in such games, and there have been hit soft 17 games of the six-deck shoe variety for decades. But in not-so-olden days, the majority of shoe games were of the “stand on all 17s” variety, while most one- and two-deck games hit soft 17. Today, it’s difficult to find S17 games with any number of decks. Casinos that have S17 blackjack usually reserve it for high-limit tables and those who play for low limits must put up with the H17 rule, which makes a difference, both in the odds of the game and in strategies. When the dealer hits soft 17, it adds two-tenths of a percent to the house edge. The dealer busts more often in H17 games, but that’s outweighed by the opportunity to improve on 17. A 17 isn’t a particularly powerful hand. If you have a 17 or better, the best a dealer 17 can do is push your 17. It loses to your 18s or better, so you’d just as soon the dealers didn’t get a chance to make their soft 17s better. As for strategy, let’s assume you’re playing the six-deck games that are most common in today’s casinos. Having the dealer hit instead of stand on soft 17 shifts basic strategy only a little, but why not get the most the game has to offer? If you’re playing basic strategy designed for S17 games despite this being a H17 world, here are two strategy switches to learn for common sixdeck games. 11 vs. Ace: When most multi-deck play was at S17 games, basic strategy told us to double down on 11 against every dealer face-up card except Ace. 14

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When the dealer had an Ace up, the better play was to hit. In H17 games, we double on 11 against all up cards, including Aces. By the numbers, in S17 games if you have 6-5 and the dealer shows an Ace, if you hit your average profit is 14.76 cents per dollar of your wager. If you double, the profit per dollar of your original wager decreases to 12.97 cents. But when the dealer hits soft 17, your average profit for hitting 11 drops to 10.87 cents. The average profit on doubling drops, too, but only to 12.40 cents. The numbers are slightly different with other card combinations, but they tell the same story. If the dealer stands on all 17s, the average profit when hitting is 14.7 cents regardless of whether the hand is 7-4, 8-3 or 9-2. If you double, profits are 12.6 cents with 7-4, 12.4 with 8-3 or 12.2 with 9-2. In every case, you make more money when hitting than doubling, but if the dealer hits soft 17, profits when hitting decline to 10.8 cents with 7-4 or 10.7 with 8-3 or 9-2. Double, and profits increase to 12.2 with 7-4, 11.9 with 8-3 or 11.5 with 9-2. Ace-7 vs. 2: In S17 games, we stand on soft 18 and leave it at that. If the dealer hits soft 17, then we double down, just as we double on Ace-7 vs. 3, 4, 5 or 6. Dealers bust less often against 2 than on the other so-called “bust” cards of 3, 4, 5 and 6. One of the byproducts of dealers hitting soft 17 is that they bust more often. That’s a plus for players, with the big minus being that dealers also get a chance to improve 17s that can’t do better than push unless players bust. In this case, the increased chance of a dealer bust pulls into doubling in an H17 game. With Ace-7 vs. 2 in an S17 game, the average result is a 12.40 cent profit per dollar if we stand and 12.10 if we double. If it’s H17 instead, average profits are 6.02 cents when standing or 11.63 when hitting. In the end, if you learned six-deck blackjack in the days of common S17 games, these plays might run against the grain. But times change, conditions change, and so does strategy.




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VIDEO POKER: Practice Makes Perfect



To quote the late, great baseball legend Yogi Berra, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.” Got that? Neither did I, but that’s what makes Yogi’s quotes so wonderful. How about practice in the real world? For video poker (VP) players it’s a necessary component of getting the expected return (ER), or as close to it as you can, for long run play. Here are some tips for practicing your VP game of choice. Hindsight: You should never rely on your memory or hunches to determine virtual card holds for a multitude of reasons. Even if you’re a genius at statistics and playing a game that is fairly intuitive, like 9/6 Jacks or Better (9/6 JOB), some correct holds are too close to be evident, especially if you’re playing a progressive version of the game. Keep in mind that short term play, say a session or two, has a diminished likelihood of resembling long term results. Instead, rely on the statistically accurate play per your tutorial software. I use Dean Zamzow’s WinPoker but there are other tutorial programs that are accurate. Just make sure it is tutorial rather than one that has lots of bells and whistles but does not indicate the statistically correct holds. Slot Theo: Casinos purchase a chip for every traditional slot choice on their gaming floor. The problem is that you have no way of knowing the theo on the chip and side-by-side seemingly identical games can have very different theos. The other factor, and advantageous to players, is that casinos with progressive jackpots (this holds true for both traditional slots and VP), must use the theo at the reset percentage. This means that when “must go” jackpots are close to the must go amount you should find a seat. VP Expected Return (ER): Each game’s pay schedule along with your skill level determines your longterm VP results. The closer you come to computer-perfect play the more your actual results will resemble longterm expectations. I have included ER percentages for several forms of games you’ll find on the casino floor in my book, “The Video Poker Edge”.

Linda Boyd, a long-time table game player before turning to video poker, writes for Southern & Midwest Gaming and Destinations and Arizona Player. You can see her videos on YouTube or her radio interviews on iTunes. Boyd’s book, “The Video Poker Edge”, includes free removable pay schedules and her free strategy cards for the most popular games.

Understanding Pay Tables: I chose a popular game you can find in almost every casino that has VP to illustrate the fact that game names can be extremely deceptive. It’s all about the pay schedule and not the name of the game along with your level of skill. Pay Schedules for Double Double Bonus Poker Winning Hand Royal Flush Straight Flush 4 Aces with 2, 3 or 4 Four 2’s, 3’s or 4’s with A-4 4 Aces Four 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s 4 Fives-Kings Full House* Flush* Straight 3 of a Kind 2 Pair Jacks or Better Expected Return (ER) Variance

10/6 DDB 4000 250 2000 800 800 400 250 50 30 20 15 5 5 100.0670% 42.17654

9/6 DDB 4000 250 2000 800 800 400 250 45 30 20 15 5 5 98.9808% 41.98498

9/5DDB 4000 250 2000 800 800 400 250 45 25 20 15 5 5 97.8729% 42.16708

8/5 DDB 4000 250 2000 800 800 400 250 40 25 20 15 5 5 96.7861% 41.99487

7/5 DDB 4000 250 2000 800 800 400 250 35 25 20 15 5 5 95.7120% 42.16763


*Note that the only differences on this table occur on the full house and flush hands, respectively.

Looking at Table 1.1 you can see a big difference in game expectations even with very skilled players. If the “best” game in the house is 8/5DDB with an ER of 96.7861% with 100% computer-perfect holds, then the casino has a huge advantage over the player. Most people don’t even own the software and their holds are not even remotely close to computer-perfect. Sure, you can be dealt a RF (royal flush) or get way more than the expected number of 4OAKs (four-of-a-kinds, approximately one every 400 hands) in the short run; however, in the long run (several royal cycles) nobody outruns the numbers. The game variance, or risk factor, is very high for DDB choices meaning that if you fail get rare hands, like a RF or 4 Aces with a kicker, your session results are likely to be lower than the game’s ER, even with computer-perfect play. 16

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9380 Central Avenue • D’Iberville, MS 39540 • 888–752–9772 • • Must be 21 or older. See Pearl Casino Resort reserves all rights. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-522-4700.


SPORTS BETTING: Money Lines and Halftime Spreads Before the explosion of being able to wager online or a mobile device, football betting was done via a phone call to the local bookie that had certain hours, little options and a fraction of what is available now when betting sports. For this month’s article, we look at some areas to gamble that pre-internet were basically non-existent or not offered by an average local bookie. Betting Halftimes and Quarters I remember in the late 80’s and early 90’s I had to get all my early and mid-day action in to “Ed” before 1pm on Saturday because he was not back in the office until 3pm for the 3:30pm games (and back at 6:30 for the late action). There was no betting halftimes or quarters. Side, total, parlay and basic teasers were the extent of my betting options. This all changed when gambling went online allowing bookmakers to offer action on almost every aspect of a game, including creating a side/total for quarters and halves. When setting the line for quarters and halftimes, the sportsbook tend to use a basic chart and set these numbers based of the overall game side and total. Granted, there are exceptions for big T.V. games where the flow of the game can be factored in, but on a college football Saturday, the majority is set using a basic formula. Here is where the edge for the sharper or even casual player (who understands patterns for certain teams) comes into play. For example, during the USC Pete Carroll era they would start slower versus above average or better teams, but Pete would eventually make adjustments and put the rout into effect (IE Rose Bowl vs. Michigan). When you look at the 2nd half, the sportsbooks have limited time to put up a line and total and are forced to use the current score in conjunction with the overall game odds, which gives a huge edge to someone watching the game that can see the flow, adjustments and reasoning behind what the score is at half (sloppy play, bad call, etc). Besides the basic examples above, halftime lines allow for you to hedge out of a game (bet on dog +7/tied at half/ take fav -4 in 2nd half), which allows you to lock in a profit or sometimes (holy grail of betting), winning both wagers (using example, dog +7 18

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loses game by 6) by taking the other side with the halftime line. Out of anything I can pass on, be careful on jumping on the -1/2 1st half with high juice in the NFL on small favorites, since close to 10% of all NFL games will be tied at the half.

Understanding the Moneyline Before the Internet, players and local bookies tended to shy away from moneylines because it seemed confusing. Anyone ever try calculating a moneyline parlay by hand? With the Internet, the money needed to wager plus the payout is all displayed without you having to figure anything out. When talking moneylines over with some offshore bookmakers, it is a general policy not to jump and move the moneyline with the pointspread in every instance. This is usually true in big games, such as the Super Bowl where they get an overwhelming amount of money on a certain game line. The year the Patriots beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl, based off the game line movement, the moneyline should have been at -290, but it stayed static at -230. So even though you may not want to lay $230.00 to win a $100.00, in this instance you have an edge because you are paying -230 for something that should be -290 (especially since the Patriots only won by 3). Here is a basic odds conversion chart you can use (NFL : CFB): -2 -2.5 -3 -3.5 -4 -4.5 -5 / -5.5 -6 -6.5 -7 -7.5/-8/-8.5 -9/-9.5 -10

-130/+110 : -130/+110 -140/+120 : -140/+120 -155/+135 : -155/+135 -175/+155 : -175/+155 -200/+170 : -185/+165 -220/+180 : -200/+170 -240/+190 : -220/+180 -270/+210 : -240/+190 -300/+220 : -270/+210 -330/+250 : -300/+220 -360/+280 : -330/+250 -400/+300 : -360/+280 -450/+325: -400/+300

By the time you read this article, football season will be underway and hopefully you can put some of this information to good use.



G&D’s Preferred Sportsbooks:

In the South: Beau Rivage Resort & Casino (Biloxi, MS) Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort (D’Iberville, MS) Gold Strike Casino Resort (Tunica, MS) Ameristar Casino Hotel (Vicksburg, MS) Pearl River Resort (Philadelphia, MS) L’Auberge Casino Hotel (Baton Rouge, LA) Margaritaville Resort Casino (Bossier City, LA) Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort (Hot Springs, AR) In the Midwest: Island Resort and Casino (Harris, MI) Soaring Eagle Casino Resort (Mount Pleasant, MI) MGM Grand (Detroit, MI)


PREFERRED PROPERTY SPOTLIGHT: Island Resort and Casino – Harris, Michigan 1-800-682-6040 –

Island Resort & Casino is Your Total Experience, but soon to be so much more! The property’s $30 million expansion will be complete in time to welcome visitors for a winter getaway. With more rooms to stay, more places to play and, well, if you can imagine it, odds are they’ve got it! Located just 15 minutes west of Escanaba in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula, Island Resort & Casino has long been one of the Midwest’s largest golf, casino and entertainment resort destinations. Time and again, the Island has garnered high acclaim for its award-winning service and popular amenities from readers of Midwest Gaming Magazine, Golfweek and Golf Digest and other high-end publications in the tourism and entertainment industries. The growing popularity of golf and gaming at the property has driven the demand for an expansion that is now underway. More than 100 new hotel rooms will be added, for a total of 454, as well as a high-end dining venue and convention space are located on the top floor. Also, a pool with water park features is being completed on the ground floor. These amenities are added to the resort’s already substantial 400,000 sq. feet of casino with 1,200 slots, a poker room, gaming tables and a bingo hall. Plus, if betting sports is your preference, the property has partnered with TwinSpires to offer sports betting to patrons. The Island also proudly boasts two award-winning championship golf courses, the luxurious Drift Spa, an RV Park, a headline entertainment showroom, a customizable, expansive convention space and enough dining choices to please every palette. With so much to offer, gaming enthusiasts and leisure travelers alike agree, the Island Resort and Casino is Your Total Resort Experience! See you soon, at the Island!

FUTURE ODDS Check out the latest odds for major sporting events. For the latest up-to-the-minute odds, visit NFL – SUPER BOWL LVI FEBRUARY 13, 2022 – SOFI STADIUM INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA Team






Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6/1




Buffalo Bills





Kansas City Chiefs





Los Angeles Rams





Baltimore Ravens





Arizona Cardinals





Dallas Cowboys





Green Bay Packers





*All others are higher than 12/1 **Odds courtesy of


November September July

Alabama 3/1



Ohio State



Georgia 2/1



Oklahoma 13/1



Cincinnati 21/1



Michigan 33/1




*All others are higher than 33/1

**Odds courtesy of

Team November Gonzaga 6/1 Michigan 10/1 UCLA 12/1 Villanova 12/1 Duke 14/1 Purdue 14/1 Texas 16/1 Memphis 16/1 Kentucky 16/1 Kansas 16/1 Alabama 18/1 Illinois 18/1 Ohio State 20/1 Florida State 20/1 Baylor 20/1 *All others are higher than 20/1 **Odds courtesy of

NBA CHAMPIONSHIP - JUNE 2, 2022 – JUNE 19, 2022 Team November Brooklyn Nets 12/5 Los Angeles Lakers


Milwaukee Bucks


Golden State Warriors Phoenix Suns Utah Jazz

Los Angeles Clippers Philadelphia 76ers Denver Nuggets Miami Heat

*All others are higher than 33/1 **Odds courtesy of 20

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9/1 15/1 16/1 16/1 16/1 22/1 25/1

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Ameristar Casino offers an exciting & clean place to play along with stunning views of the Mississippi River and bridges. Our restaurants offer delicious southern dishes for both dine-in or take-out, and you can rest in luxury on the banks of the Mississippi at the Ameristar Hotel. In the casino, play the way you want with over 1,000 popular slots, and all of your favorite table games. Or, for the ultimate sports betting experience, spend some time at The End Zone, a full-service sportsbook with 17 convenient betting kiosks, a spectacular viewing area with the largest HD screens around, and an expansive sports bar with lots of brews on tap! WE’LL SEE YOU WHEN YOU GET HERE!

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