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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Gaming Instruction Done Right

17 November 1999

If you're a novice player or a first time visitor to a Chicago-area riverboat casino destination, you won't be able to find any instruction on how to play the games in the pavilion before you board the vessel for your cruise. Such practice is prohibited by law in the state of Illinois.

Should there ever be any revisions to the Illinois Gaming Act, this hypocrisy should be one of the first things to be eliminated. If people are encouraged via promotion and advertising to patronize the casinos, why shouldn't they be given a fair opportunity to learn about the games they're playing rather than be forced to purchase expensive books or just "wing it"?

On our recent trip to Las Vegas, my wife and I discovered a casino that offers free instruction on a daily basis on ALL casino table games. If the law in Illinois is ever changed, Chicago-area casinos would be wise to pattern their instructional format after the one being offered at Bally's Casino Resort, which is located at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo.

Even though it's located in Las Vegas, the gaming capital of the world, Bally's is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to free gaming seminars. What's more, they do it right. All of the live gaming seminars are held Monday through Friday at regularly scheduled times in the casino pit area. This area is clearly indicated by signs set up on designated gaming tables.

The gaming instructor at Bally's is the very capable Len Burney, the man whose face appears on the placards advertising the seminars. Len is an expert, but he's not a huckster. He teaches but he doesn't tout systems or get-rich-quick gimmicks. His is a no-nonsense approach simply about how to play the games and how to play them correctly.

"Many first-time gamblers are needlessly intimidated by casino gambling," Burney told me. "We at Bally's understand that, which is why we're pleased to offer the free gaming seminars. I don't have any books or tapes to sell, either. My purpose is to give people correct gaming instruction with no baloney."

I had the pleasure of attending Burney's 11:00 a.m. craps seminar. He also has a 3:00 p.m. craps seminar, as well as 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. sessions on blackjack, a 1:00 p.m. session on roulette, a 1:30 p.m. session on mini-baccarat, and a 2:00 p.m. seminar on Pai Gow Poker.

Folks eager to learn about the game of craps crowded around the table. Burney stood at the boxman's position and proceeded to give expert instruction in a very precise yet entertaining way. He even handed out valueless tournament chips to the people, then conducted a mock game. After each roll of the dice he explained the ramification it held for everyone's wagers. The seminar lasted about an hour, and nobody left. He also was happy to answer everyone's questions.

I highly recommend a visit to Bally's for Len Burney's gaming seminars on your next trip to Las Vegas. You'll be entertained and informed.

Bally's casino is big without being cavernous, and there's a wide selection of games and slot machines. If you take the escalator to the downstairs level, there's a concourse of shops, food stops, as well as some gaming tables that offer $3 blackjack. And don't miss the Big Kitchen Buffet.

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