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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Where Is Marketing Energy for Table Games?

22 May 2001

It seems unfortunate to me that a majority of the marketing energy generated by casinos is geared toward slot machines. New varieties of multi-coin, multi-line video games are constantly being introduced and heavily advertised while table game marketing and promotion is virtually non-existent.

This really should come as no surprise to anyone. Slot machines are by far the most popular form of gambling in every casino nationwide and they generate by far the most revenue for their owners. Why shouldn't the casino operators give them their undivided attention?

Video poker and table games, however, mathematically give players the best bang for their betting dollars. When I speak about promoting video poker, craps, and blackjack, I don't mean adding gimmicky side bets or altering the traditional rules. Most ploys are designed to give the house a fatter edge than it already enjoys.

What I'm talking about is giving video poker and table games players "a good gamble", to quote the late Las Vegas legend Benny Binion. Mr. Binion's son, Jack, whose Horsehoe Gaming, Inc. owns and operates the Empress properties in Joliet, Illinois, and Hammond, Indiana, has been doing the best job of that in the Chicago area by introducing high limits, bringing 100-times odds to his craps tables, running solid 6-deck blackjack games, and presenting good video poker.

Unfortunately, 100-times odds at craps when there's ten and fifteen dollar minimum bets doesn't really benefit average recreational gaming enthusiasts who buy into games for a hundred dollars. Five thousand dollar limits at the blackjack tables are also out of range for a majority of players, although both policies are certainly good if you're a high roller.

A good gamble at the blackjack tables also means single-deck games, but there are none to be found for five-dollar players in the Chicago area. A good gamble means that the dealers stand on "soft 17", not "hit" as is the policy at a lot of casinos in the Midwest.

A good gamble at craps also means that players are given a fair game. A few years back Harrah's Joliet experimented with "triple the 2 and the 12" in the field, a great bet in which the house took no advantage. It disappeared and hasn't returned.

A good gamble at roulette means "single 0" European-style wheels, not the greedy "0-00" wheels that double the house edge at the game. With the exception of Harrah's East Chicago, there are none to be found around Chicago.

A good gamble at video poker means full paytables and a good selection of the best games, not the bankroll gouging paytables and assorted "sucker" games that are played at some Chicago-area casinos.

I realize that with restricted floor space, riverboat casinos cannot compete on equal footing with their land-based cousins and the Las Vegas casinos that have tens of thousands of feet of floor space.

But when it comes to casino gambling marketing and promotion, how about more attention to the games that give players their best long-term chance of winning, not just hyping the slot machine "cash cows"?

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