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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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More Smart Slot Shopping

3 March 2004

Whatever cerebral input you include in the decisions you make regarding where you play slots can help arm you against fighting battles in a war that none of us can win. The slots will always beat us over the long haul, but it's possible for players to get the best of 'em in skirmishes.

Last week I addressed the frequent question "Where should I go to play slots?" by getting into specifics regarding the penny and nickel machines available in the Chicago area. Today I'll cover the remaining denominations.

Quarter and Dollar Slots

I chose to group these two denominations because collectively they attract the majority of slot machine play. Only the nickel games rival the popularity of quarter and dollar machines, but as we learned last week, nickels are in a class by themselves and require a special discipline.

All of the casinos in the Chicago area have robust inventories of quarter and dollar games and therefore it makes little difference where you choose to play them. The slight variances in monthly payback percentage reported by the individual properties should not influence your decision.

Dime and Two-Dollar Slots

Here's another "odd couple" I grouped, only for the opposite reason I did so for quarters and dollars. Not all casinos in the Chicago area have these denominations. Those that do maintain very low inventories of them. This fact alone is enough to make me recommend that you don't play them. The dime denominations, available almost exclusively in the multi-line video slot games, pack such a high "hold" that they'll devour your bankroll quickly if you don't catch "luck lightning" in a bottle.

Fifty-Cent

Here's a slot denomination that truly deserves its own category. It's a select denomination that has a loyal following, but where you play them can make a difference. For example, Jack Binion's Horseshoe Casino Hammond puts a heavy emphasis on them. There's also a nice selection of them at Harrah's East Chicago. Argosy's Empress Casino Joliet has several banks of them on the lower level that are popular and seem to be quite generous when I've had the opportunity to observe them. Trump and Majestic Star in Gary also have nice inventories.

The shopping is limited, however, at Harrah's Joliet, the Hollywood Aurora, and the Grand Victoria in Elgin. If you are a fan of fifty-cent slots, I wouldn't necessarily go to these casinos to play them.

Five-Dollar

Not so long ago this was a very elite denomination reserved for the high roller slot player. It has become more popular among average players in recent years, even to the extent that they can be found outside the "high limit" areas of casinos. The two casinos in the Chicago area that place a high premium on them are the Horseshoe and the Grand Victoria. Both properties have large five-dollar slot inventories. A bigger selection means that players have a better chance to find higher-end payers.

Harrah's East Chicago has also increased five-dollar slot presence with its ongoing $27 million renovation. Some of the new five-dollar machines they've introduced to its second level may be worth exploring.

All of the other casino properties have five-dollar games, of course, but I'd stick with the higher-end properties that use them to attract players with bankrolls to suit the appetites of the machines.

Ten-Dollar and Above

Ten-dollar games are becoming more noticeable, but the inventories are still so low in this gaming jurisdiction that I'd be wary of playing them anywhere. As for the twenty-five dollar and one hundred dollar games, well, if you can afford to play them you probably don't need any shopping tips!

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