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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Wanted: Slot Tournament Action!

1 August 2000

One very exciting aspect to casino gambling that doesn't seem to be a priority in the Chicago area is tournament play. The exceptions are the Empress properties in Joliet and Hammond, which schedule them periodically throughout the year, and Harrah's, which sponsors the annual Millionaire Maker's Slot Tournament and has had smaller competitions in the past.

I cannot recall the Grand Victoria in Elgin or the Hollywood Casino in Aurora ever holding a tournament. The casino operators apparently hate to devote space on their floors to tournament action, which is far less profitable than having those same gaming positions occupied by their regular gambling clientele.

What a shame. Even the biggest hotel-casinos in Las Vegas have tournaments. They're quite common in smaller markets, such as Laughlin, Nevada, and, more closer to home, in the Quad Cities. Tournaments, especially slot tournaments, add flavor and spice to recreational gambling by putting an emphasis on fun.

Blackjack tournaments have a study hall aura about them as players concentrate on skill, strategy, and money management. There's a subdued mix of conversation, jubilation, and disappointment during the course of play, but for the most part boisterous emotions are kept to a minimum.

Craps tournaments can be more unruly, but the intuition and money management skills required of them still keeps noise to a dignified level. There are the normal craps table reactions after a roll, but while the dice are in the air they tend to be the center of silent attention.

And then there are slot tournaments. They're in a class by themselves. By the very nature of slot play, success or failure in them is founded on pure luck. But try to explain that to the participants themselves or the rooting galleries behind them!

Slot tournament players can be a study in concentration, their eyes riveted on the reels that spin before them as they ring up combinations of winning and losing symbols. They can be as intensely competitive as hockey players as they employ their own particular style of button pushing technique in an attempt to lock into a winning rhythm.

They can be quiet or they can be loud, VERY loud, as they shout encouragement to their electronic cohorts. They can tap the play button or they can pound it. Players of every persuasion may be found at any given tournament.

Some slot tournament participants insist upon wearing a glove on their playing hand as much to protect their precious digits as to be armed with a gauntlet for combat. They are the warriors of the casino, pugilists determined to outsmart the computer program against which they're pitted while at the same time intimidating their opponents, not to mention Dame Fortune.

Players may opt to surround themselves with lucky charms of all types and descriptions in an effort to entice Lady Luck to smile kindly upon them, or they may engage in mystical rituals, such as wearing certain clothing, eating special foods, or doing something the very same way they did it the last time they won in fervent hope for a repeat performance.

For a slot tournament player, the one-armed bandit can be their best friend or their worst enemy, their source of unlimited joy or taunting frustration, their ticket to riches or their bitter disappointment. When you win you feel like hugging your machine. When you lose you feel like kicking it.

Next week I'll fill you in on what slot tournaments are all about just in case you're planning on entering one either locally or on vacation. I'll also include some pointers and information from the experts and tournament directors to make your experience the best it can possibly be.

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