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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Tournaments as a Casino Marketing Tool

30 April 2002

Casinos in smaller gaming jurisdictions as well as the locals-oriented properties in Las Vegas all use very imaginative marketing campaigns as a way to reward their regular players, encourage product loyalty, and maintain a competitive edge.

Here in the Chicago-area gambling market where demand exceeds supply, there is very little need for aggressive marketing campaigns. Most of what is done around here is obligatory promotion.

Small-scale slots and table games tournaments are among the most popular and fan-appealing marketing tools used by the smaller casinos to maintain and strengthen their data bases of players. The tournaments are fun and inexpensive social events that reward average fans with limited gaming bankrolls.

Curt Petrey, a regular reader of this column, recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas and Laughlin with some good news for us as well as a question concerning a tournament in which he has been invited to compete. Curt writes:

"I appreciate the article you wrote after speaking to me about Let It Ride. It is a great game. I was not able to find a three-dollar minimum table anywhere, in Vegas or Laughlin, but I did not need to. I hit a flush on Let It Ride in Vegas at the Luxor and I hit a full house at the Flamingo in Laughlin. Those two hands made me a cool $400. Now for the advice I need from you. As a result of getting the full house, I qualified for a Let It Ride tournament in Laughlin in the middle of December. They will pay for three nights deluxe room, my entry fee of $250 into the tournament, a welcoming reception, and an awards dinner and prize after the tournament. The cash prizes for the tournament are $50,000. My question to you, is this a good thing to do and is there a good chance of cashing in or is it more like the lottery?

"The way they explained is that you get $5,000 in chips and play 20 hands the first day and 20 hands the second day. The top 100 players qualify for the quarter finals and get $100 guaranteed cash. You play 20 more hands and the top 30 qualify for the semi-finals with a guaranteed cash bonus of $200. The top 10 qualify for the finals and get a guaranteed $500 bonus. What kind of strategy would you recommend? Betting is $25 minimum with no maximum. Should you divide your $5,000 in chips equally over 40 hands or go strong early or hold back for later?"

First of all, congratulations on your good fortune at Let It Ride. It's always a big adrenaline rush to pull off bonus hands. As for the tournament you qualified for with your full house, my advice to you is this: Don't plan a trip to compete solely because of the tournament, but if you were inclined to make a trip about that time anyway and can get reasonable airfare, why not?

Obviously there will be a lot of players who qualify for a complimentary entry into the tournament. The tournament sponsor knows that not everybody is going to take advantage of the offer. Certainly the amenities are appealing, but as always there will be a price to pay. Aside from the hour or so it'll take you to play in the opening rounds, the casino is banking on the fact you'll be gambling the rest of the time you're there.

The tournament is a casino lure, to be sure, but don't be suckered into taking the bait and making your trip more costly than the comps justify. You certainly have a much, much bigger shot at cashing in than the lottery. Make the comp visit and free tournament entry work for you if you decide to go. Have fun, budget your gambling dollars sensibly, and try to get lucky again.

Let It Ride is virtually all luck, with a cut-and-dried basic strategy. There are some strategic maneuvers to be made after the dealer exposes his first card, but for the most part the house edge is constant.

The strategy, therefore, should be to make sure you're in the game. Don't bust out early. Budget your bets to begin. Increase your wagers as you win in an attempt to capitalize on your good fortune and hopefully advance. Just as is the case with blackjack, you can't grind out a worthy profit on minimum bets no matter how often you win. But build up your bankroll first and then take shots. Good luck!

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