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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Time is Money for Casinos

9 June 1999

Keeping people "in action" is vitally important to casino operators. Unless the patrons are gambling, the casino does not have an opportunity to make money. Even though it seems as if we're overstating the obvious, there are implications here that affect all of us as players. Let's examine some of them:

Face it...the longer you keep your money at risk, and the more time you play, the greater your chances are of losing. It's called "grinding." The casinos love to see gamblers play and play and play, especially those who are ahead. They know that the longer they stay, the better their chances are of losing it all back.

That's what makes casino operation a business, and it's also what keeps their profits in the tens of millions of dollars every year. But there are certain things that we as players can do to protect ourselves. One means of protection is to leave the casino with a profit, but in the Chicago-area that isn't always easy to do.

Gamblers are often "held prisoner" aboard local riverboat casinos because of the state mandated cruise schedule. If you make a big score early, you can't get off the vessel until it re-docks. If you've got a lot of self-control, you'll just nurse a drink at the bar or head for the observation deck. But more often than not, you'll be enticed into gambling more and blowing some or all of your winnings.

I used to enjoy the "down time" at blackjack tables when the dealer would shuffle the cards. At a 6-deck game, players could count on a breather lasting several minutes before play resumed. It was a time to relax, collect your thoughts, keep tabs on your profits or losses, or just clear your mind after some intense game concentration. Casinos looked upon the shuffle as a necessary evil, knowing full well that those minutes when nobody was pushing chips into the betting circles were costing them money.

Then along comes Shufflemaster, the automatic card shuffling machine. Most casinos have them now. While one 6-deck shoe is being played, another 6-deck shoe is in the machine being shuffled. The switch to a new shoe takes seconds now. The down time I enjoyed has been replaced by virtual non-stop play at area blackjack tables, which puts smiles on casino executives and more profits in their coffers.

How can a player fight back? One way is to seek out tables that aren't equipped with Shufflemaster machines. There are still some out there at Chicago-area riverboat casino destinations, but you have to look. Short of that, don't be intimidated into thinking you must play every hand. Sit out a few, especially at the start of a new shoe. Don't let the casinos grind your money from you.

There used to be some relaxing moments at the roulette wheel when the dealer would have to sort out and stack all the chips after each decision. The time the dealer required to perform this task was down time that was costing the casino money. Players, meanwhile, had a chance to sit back and take account of their situations.

To combat down time at the roulette wheel, a company invented an automatic chip sorter. The dealer simply shovels the losing chips into a hopper located on the table in front of him. The hopper, in turn, sorts and stacks the chips.

Automatic chip sorters at roulette wheels are not as common as Shufflemasters at blackjack tables, but they are popping up with ever-increasing frequency. I avoid them at all costs, knowing that the greater number of spins per hour that they make possible are designed to make more money for the casinos.

How can you fight back at roulette? Don't feel that you have to play each and every spin of the wheel. Play at the pace that's comfortable for you, and not the pace that the casinos force upon you.

Casinos even make you pay for the luxury of getting free spins at certain slot machines on their floors! Perhaps you're familiar with such game formats as "Spin Till You Win", "Haywire", "Money Storm", and "Fourth of July", among others. When you line up a certain symbol on these machines it triggers a free spin or spins.

Players seem to enjoy sitting back and watching the reels spin "for free", knowing that they're going to win something no matter what. Casinos know that you're also not putting any money into the machine during this time. Therefore, free spin game formats are generally programmed to be at the lower end of payout percentage than machines that don't have this feature.

How can slot players defend themselves? I tend to ignore "spin till you win" games in favor of the conventional machines. What's important to remember here is that there's usually a price for players to pay even though on the surface of things it looks like you're getting something for nothing. In a casino, there's no such thing.

There you have it. The casinos keep speeding up the games to increase their earning power. But players don't have to fall in line and play by the casino's rules. Play by your own rules, use wise money management, be happy with any kind of profit, and keep your money out of risk for selected periods of playing time.

Look at it this way. Not long ago I won $200 playing craps at the Grand Victoria. I had been playing for a couple of hours. I was delighted with my session because I figured that, in addition to an evening of entertainment, I had made $100 per hour ! I'll never make anything remotely close to that at my job. Don't let money lose its value when you gamble, and most important, don't let the casinos grind you down.

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