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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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$5 Bettors Taken For Granted at Chicago-Area Casinos

18 April 2000

It isn't easy being a $5 bettor if you frequent Chicago-area riverboat casino destinations. As a matter of fact, some weekday evenings and most weekends you won't even be able to find a gaming table that takes $5 minimum bets, and if you do, chances are there's a crowd of people standing around waiting to get into the game.

The reason for the casinos' lack of appreciation for $5 bettors isn't personal. It is motivated by the bottom line...money. If $10, $15, and $25 tables are filled with players, there is no reason for casino executives to drop the minimum. If crowds diminish and the high roller tables are empty, then the familiar red placards indicating a $5 table will return.

The availability of $5 gaming tables is best during weekday mornings and afternoons, times when the tables are not in great demand. When the high rollers come out at night to play, so do the yellow placards indicating $10 tables and the green placards indicating $25 tables.

Unfortunately, many working people who like to play $5 games can't go casino gambling on weekday mornings and afternoons. When they do have a chance to play, $5 tables are at a bare minimum or non-existent. That leaves $5 players with several options: Use a short bankroll at a tall bankroll game (not advised), play the slots (also not advised), or save your money for when the games suit you (bingo!).

Quite often it strikes me as funny to see gamblers struggle to get into a $5 craps or blackjack game at Chicago-area riverboat locations, when I know that in almost all casinos in Las Vegas, home of the best gambling in the world, $5 bettors are welcome virtually any time, any day.

This column recently received an e-mail message from a $5 bettor who became disgruntled with the way he was being treated:

"I read your column every week in the Southtown. I am a once a month regular to the craps tables on the Empress II in Joliet. Ever since I have been going there (about 3 years) I have played at the $5 tables. (On a recent) weekend the Empress II had no $5 tables open. They were all $10...I would like you to print in your column which local boats continue to have $5 tables available, since I will be going to other boats unless the Empress II changes this policy." Signed, Al.

Weekends, even as early as noon, are not good pickings for $5 bettors at most Chicago-area riverboat destinations. Weekdays are another story. Even so, there are exceptions. The volume of business is what dictates which way they go.

During my own weekday evening casino adventures, this columnist regularly finds $5 craps tables at the Hollywood Casino Aurora, Empress Casino Joliet, Harrah's Joliet Casino, and the Grand Victoria in Elgin. There have been occasions, however, when I've gone on a weekday evening and found nothing but $10 tables. There are no definite $5.00 gaming table schedules.

There are exceptions. At the Grand Victoria, for example, there is at least one $5 table open for all games (craps, blackjack, roulette, and Caribbean Stud) at all times. I've been there on busy evenings when the one $5 blackjack has a large crowd of people waiting to play, however.

The Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Indiana, also offers $5 blackjack and $5 craps at all times.

The Majestic Star Casino in Gary, Indiana offers $2.50 Caribbean Stud Poker. It's a great game. You can ante up $2.50 and bet $5 for a total risk of $7.50. At $5 tables you must ante up $5 and bet $10 for a total risk of $15 per hand.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp