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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Taking Advantage of Casino Opportunity

24 October 2001

Not too long ago while playing twenty-five cent Triple Play video poker at Harrah's Joliet Casino, I saw a player learn a hard gambling lesson.

A lady sat down at the machine to my left that had just been vacated. After she made her very first play she nudged me and said, "Look at this." On her screen I saw that she had been dealt a jackpot hand: Four four's and the kicker, an ace! It's a Triple Play poker player's dream to be dealt that kind of hand! Just hold all five cards, press deal, and the same jackpot hand will appear two more times.

Unfortunately, the lady had played only ONE quarter, which gave her a single-coin play on just that one hand. It was worth 400 coins ($100) but had she played the maximum number of coins on each hand (5 coins each or $3.75) she would have collected 2,000 coins on each hand or a cool $1,500.

If you're going to play Triple Play, my feeling is you have to play at least one coin on each hand. That's the nature of the game! A quarter on each hand would have given the lady a trio of 400 coin payoffs or a total of $300. I doubt very much if all that was left of her bankroll was two bits.

Winning $100 for a quarter is nothing to sneeze at, mind you, but when you're in a casino you have to take advantage of opportunity. Triple Play video poker gives players that opportunity.

Attention craps players! Many Chicago-area riverboat casino destinations have increased the amount of free odds they offer at their tables. Gone are the days of double odds. Now you find across the board 5-times, 10-times, and even 20-times odds. When the level of free odds reaches these heights, you have to keep in mind the importance of taking best advantage of them. Allow me to explain:

Say that you are at a five-dollar minimum table with 20-times odds. If you're a high roller who has the means to wager $100, you may feel tempted to put $20 on the pass line and $80 in odds once the point has been established. If the point was four and the shooter rolls it, you'll collect even money for your pass line bet ($20) and 2 to 1 for your odds bet ($160) for a profit of $180.

But say with that same $100, you placed the minimum $5 bet on the pass line and took $95 in odds. For that same successful point of four you would have collected just $5 on the line but $190 in odds for a total profit of $195. That's fifteen dollars more than the other playing strategy.

Granted, you won't win as much for a natural 7 or 11 on the comeout roll but neither will you lose as much on a craps 2, 3, or 12 on the comeout.

Free odds are just that. The casino pays you off at true mathematical odds. There is no better wager to make. Adjust your playing style to take advantage of those free odds, most often by playing the minimum on the line and loading up the odds. You don't have to increase your level of play to do so.

Be on the lookout for video poker machines that offer you a "Double Up" option after a winning hand. I encountered it at Harrah's Joliet Casino after I had won a jackpot hand while playing twenty-five cent Triple Play poker. I held a pair of fours and on my middle hand I drew the other two fours and the "kicker" three for a 2,000 coin payoff ($500).

I was elated. Then to my surprise the "Double Up?" option flashed on the screen. Had I chosen to exercise it, I would have bet my $500 jackpot on a "high card" game. If my card were higher in value than the dealer's, my jackpot would have been doubled to $1,000. If the dealer's card was higher, good bye jackpot!

I realize it's an even money (50-50) betting proposition, but $500? No way! I pressed the "cash out" button and the hand-pay signal flashed on the screen. A slot attendant came by to verify the jackpot and paid me my $500. She offered to set the machine so that the "Double Up?" option was removed, but I was ready to move on anyway.

An inexperienced player who doesn't fully understand the impact of "Double Up?" just may say "yes" and wind up getting into a situation he or she really doesn't want. A major jackpot could be lost out of ignorance, vanishing from sight just as quickly as it was won. If you're a high roller I guess it's okay but as for me, a $500 hit is nothing to play around with!

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