There are times — frustrating times — when playing slots or video poker is a matter of woulda, shoulda, coulda.
Introducing a new table game to the public isn't as simple as hitting on a concept that's fun to play, gives the house a reasonable edge and convincing a casino to try it. There's a seemingly endless series of hoops a game developer must jump through.
Building a successful slot machine involves multiple elements. There needs to be an eye-catching theme and graphics to attract players, intriguing elements such as bonus events and jackpots and the right math to yield a mix of payout frequency and shot at a big payoff.
When I've relayed readers' stories of back-to-back jackpots, they've generally focused on big wins. A thousand dollars for a video poker royal flush qualifies; $2.50 for three bars on a three-reel slot or $1.25 that just covers your bet for a pair of Jacks, not so much.
In discussing Three Card Poker, I've often mentioned that the house edge on the most common Pair Plus pay table is 7.28 percent, while the original version had a 2.14 percent edge.
I never volunteer advice on strategy while playing in casinos, but the temptation was strong in early May when I found myself at a Mississippi Stud table where a new player — let's call him Bill — was being coached by a friend.
A long time ago, I attended a seminar in which Peter Griffin, the late mathematician and author of "The Theory of Blackjack," told the imaginary tale of Mr. Fourteen.
One of the strategy quirks in video poker is that the best play is to break up full houses that include three Aces in games with big four-Ace jackpots.
I’m not a superstitious sort. I don’t carry lucky icons, wear lucky clothing or perform good-luck rituals while I play. I’ve been known to egg on my brother Jay in his jackpot dance, probably to the amusement of surveillance rooms everywhere.
Slot machines are the most widely played games in American casinos. And naturally enough, the largest share of my emails from readers are about the slots.
Anybody who plays casino table games very often sees some odd things happen. I've heard from players who have told me of three of a kind on two and three hands in a row at Three Card Poker, a roulette player who accidentally wandered behind the table and was escorted away, and a blackjack pl…
Baccarat is more popular among big bettors than average players, and I don't hear from baccarat players as often as I do from those who play blackjack, video poker, slots, craps, Three Card Poker, roulette or Mississippi Stud.
Anyone who’s spent much time playing video slots has encountered ancient Egyptian themes. When it comes to pyramids, the Sphinx, scarabs and asps, there seems to be a strong archaeologist strain among slot players.
Asian themes have become slot machine staples, with images of far Eastern gardens, koi fish, pagodas and more taking their places along symbols of good luck and progressive jackpots.
Regardless of whether casino operators are looking for inventive new slot games, video poker, electronic table games, management systems or analytics, International Game Technology is practically a one-stop shopping source.
Bally Technologies and WMS Gaming share common ancestry, born of Chicago pinball stock. And for the last few years they've shared a corporate roof after Scientific Games acquired WMS in 2013 and Bally the following year.
Side bets at casino table games exist for a couple of reasons. For players, they open the possibility of larger jackpots than standard bets at their games of choice. For casinos, side bets enhance revenues with house edges that are higher than on standard games.
A couple of overseas university students emailed to ask if I could help with a research project, and they sent a list of questions about how the casino industry works.
There have long been two basic approaches to player rewards programs. The first is to reveal how many dollars in play it takes to earn a point and how many points it takes to redeem for free play, meals or other comps.
Blackjack hands don’t occur with equal frequency. You’ll see 20 a lot more often than a staring hand of 5 or 6, and blackjacks more often than other two-card hands that include an Ace.
Some players know exactly what they want to play before their first casino visit. I know people who have practiced blackjack at home and wouldn’t think of playing anything else.
Video poker players who opt for a little low-cost fun at nickel machines usually encounter pay tables that are a couple of notches below those on games that require bigger bets.
Take a walk through the Asian games room at a large casino sometime and you’ll see a different mix than on the main casino floor. Baccarat is a must, and operators mix and match from a list that includes pai-gow tiles, Pai-Gow Poker and sic bo — along with a little blackjack or craps.
Connie was a student at a daylong seminar I gave for a park district group around 10 or 12 years ago. I taught the basics of how to play casino games, and Connie discovered she loved craps.
My email brings more questions about slot machines than anything else. Most are of the “how can I find a hot machine?” or “how can I tell when a machine is ready to pay off?” variety.
A while back, I relayed a story from a slot player who had a pretty bad time on her first casino visit. She’s a regular player today only because a friend convinced her to give it another try, and she had more fun the second go-round.
The first time I ever played roulette, I kept it simple. It was a $5 minimum table, and I did nothing but bet $5 on red or $5 on black for the hour or so I played.
My old blackjack-playing friend Bob has a son named Mike who is more or less a chip off the old block — so much so that he’s working on basic strategy for when to double down on soft hands.