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Best of John G. Brokopp

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It's Official: Better Video Poker at Harrah's East Chicago

28 April 2004

Two weeks ago I included information in this column about an upgraded and improved video poker product at Harrah's East Chicago Hotel & Casino. The next day, "Chicago Phil" sent me an e-mail with the following complaint:

"According to your article, the video poker at Harrah's in East Chicago, Indiana, has been restructured to higher payback percentages. Could you please tell me where these machines are? I was at Harrah's last week and all I could find was the worst video poker I've ever seen. They have 8/5 Double-Double Bonus, 6/5 Super Double Bonus, 8/5 Double Bonus and they only pay four on a straight. These are terrible games and everyone who plays them is foolish. I think you should investigate a little better before you state something in an article. A lot of us look to your for dependable news, not hearsay."

I took Chicago Phil's comments to heart and immediately contacted Joe Domenico, the longtime senior vice president and general manager of the property, to find out exactly what was going on. The next day I received the following e-mail from David Patent, the vice president of operations:

"Joe Domenico asked me to respond to your inquiry regarding our Video Poker product and the many changes we have made at Harrah's East Chicago. I believe that the comments from "Chicago Phil" were directed at our $0.25 poker offering, which was in transition over the past couple of weeks as we added some new machines to the floor and reconfigured games for ticketing.

"As a bit of history, we began a significant reconfiguration and re-merchandizing effort back in late October. During that time, we added a number of new Video Poker games. The net effect of the changes we made in October and November was to loosen our $1 Poker by over 70 basis points and our $0.25 Poker by about 30 basis points. We obviously, however, had some more work to do with our $0.25 product.

"I am happy to report that we have completely restructured our pay tables in our $0.25 denomination to provide a better return to the customer. We now offer 7/5 Jacks (97%), 97% and 99% Deuces, 9/6/5 Double Bonus (98%) and 9/5 Double Double Bonus (98%), as well as 7/5 Super Double Bonus (98%).

"We also just added two four-level progressives in our Third Deck poker area, including a Triple Play progressive with a jackpot currently sitting at over $12,000 for a 3-hand Royal. We will also be adding a 99% payback Deuces progressive down on our first deck, as soon as we can get the sign on property.

"Our goal is to be the market leader in Video Poker in Northwest Indiana. We now have over 185 Video Poker machines, including 60 very comfortable slant-top units and a diverse variety of themes, including Spin, Flex Play, Multi Strike, Trade Up, and White Hot Aces, to name just a few.

"Coming in April we will add 10 more bar-top Poker units at our new interactive Flair Bar, which will be located in the mid-ship section of our 3rd Deck.

"All of our Video Poker games in our two main areas are now coinless, and our High Limit Video Poker is being converted over the next 10 days. This provides our customers the opportunity to change denominations without reaching for their wallet and never having to handle tokens again.

"Thank you again for passing on Phil's concerns and I am very pleased that when he and our many Video Poker guests return to Harrah's they will find a much more attractive offering."

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