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Blue Chip Casino deals in poker players

1 November 2006

By John G. Brokopp

Northwest Indiana's reputation as the leader in live poker in the Greater Chicago area gaming market is about to become even more formidable.

The Blue Chip Casino Hotel in Michigan City gets in the game starting next Monday (Oct. 23) at approximately 11 am when poker room manager Vanessa Johnson's command to "shuffle up and deal" will set in motion the region's newest card-playing venue.

Blue Chip will begin operations with eight tables, which makes it smaller in size than the dedicated rooms at the Majestic Star Casinos in Gary (21 tables) and Resorts East Chicago (16 tables), but no less significant.

When you take into account the only property among the four casinos on the Illinois side to have live poker is the Hollywood in Aurora with six tables in a small section of the floor, this latest addition is reason for fans of the game to celebrate.

The finishing touches on the development project will be completed over the weekend. The poker room will occupy a portion of the casino's High Limit area.

"We are very excited about bringing live poker to the Blue Chip," said Don Juzwiak, the property's director of slot operations. "Its development has always been on the back burner since we opened the new casino. It was just a matter of deciding where it was going to go. We wanted the room to have an identity all its own, and I think we've succeeded."

The room will host the three most popular games: Texas Hold'em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud. The best news is that the stakes will be affordable for recreational players and even beginners, who are anxious to play but are intimidated by big money games frequented by poker veterans.

"The limits will start at $3/$6 for Hold'em and Omaha, and $2/$5 for Stud," Johnson said. "The games will be available at all times. Those will be our lowest limits, but of course we'll spread up to no limit and accommodate whatever games our guests request."

The venue, which will be a 24-hour operation seven days a week, promises to be very player friendly. The dealers and staff were trained from among the current team of employees, ensuring that customer service will be consistent with the philosophy for which Boyd Gaming properties are recognized.

"We placed a priority on making the room as classy and comfortable as possible," Juzwiak said. "There will be no smoking permitted for the comfort of all guests, the furniture and seating is state-of-the-art, plus plasma screen TV's will be available inside the room.

"Another nice touch will be when players stop by to have their names placed on a waiting list, they'll be given a pager to carry on their person which will alert them when their seat is available. This will eliminate having to make announcements over the paging system throughout the casino."

Depending upon demand for the game, Blue Chip officials are not ruling out expansion down the line. Once the poker room has been up and running for a while, additional activities are planned, including the possibility of tournaments.

Given poker's broad-based popularity and the ratings of television shows devoted to tournaments and tours, the Blue Chip is taking a giant step toward meeting a market demand that is underserved in the this region.

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.

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