Archive for March, 2011

Maximize your slot play for more fun and excitement

Slot players enjoy the rush of a good jackpot and the excitement associated with playing the most popular and newest games on the casino floor. They also like getting paid to play in the form of “comps” – complimentary services and amenities that can be earned through slot play. But what is the best way to play in order to earn points towards rewards and increase the chances of winning bigger jackpots?

Oliver Shoemaker, Slot Operations Manager for Cache Creek Casino Resort in Northern California, has a few tips. The most important hint he gives is to become a Player’s Club member and use your card when playing. “It makes a lot of sense to play with a card. They’re free, and there are a lot of free rewards that go along with having one. By not using one you don’t get anything for playing.”

Besides being rewarded for playing through earning and redeeming points, Club membership has other advantages when tax time rolls around. “You’re able to get win/loss statements which are important for people who play quite a bit and win some jackpots,” says Shoemaker. “Without that club card there isn’t a reliable way to track your play to assure that you aren’t hit as hard with taxes on jackpots.”

So why doesn’t everyone join the club at their local casino? Some players believe their slots experience is somehow changed when they play with a card, but Shoemaker shoots down that misconception. “It doesn’t affect the game play at all. It’s a whole separate system that merely takes snapshots of your play.” And the more you play with your card the more offers you’ll receive in the mail for Bonus Play, which is essentially free money.

The type of machines and the way you play also make a difference.  “You usually want to play the highest denomination that you can afford,” says Shoemaker. “Typically the higher denoms have a higher payback percentage. And video poker usually has a higher payback than a typical slot machine if you play it the right way.”

Betting habits are also a factor. “You should try to play max bet,” he explains. “On some machines, the more coins you play, the top reward will increase at a greater rate.” For instance, the payout for playing two coins rather than one will more than double, increasing the rate of return per coin.

On other machines, Shoemaker explains, certain payouts aren’t even available if you don’t play multiple coins or max bet. “When you play more, you can get more symbols to match up. For instance, on Blazing 7s, if you play one coin and sevens come up, you don’t get anything. If you play max, you can actually win something when you get the sevens to line up.”

Wide area progressives reward the player more for playing max bet, too. “On those big games like Wheel of Fortune or Megabucks, I can’t imagine having the winning symbols come up and not playing max bet. I’ve actually seen it happen. Instead of getting five million, you get $1,700.”

Some of the happiest players, says Shoemaker, are those who play machines that allow them more seat time because they pay out more frequently, even if those amounts are smaller. Other players prefer to play only for bigger jackpots even if they don’t pay out as often. The key is to figure out what type of slots player you are and seek out those machines that fit your playing style. Only then can you maximize your slot playing experience.

I had the opportunity to meet several members of the dance team for the N BA’s Golden State Warriors, the “Warrior Girls,” when I coordinated their calender shoot in the fall of 2010 at Cache Creek Casino Resort in Brooks, about 80 miles east of San Francisco. The shoot gave me the opportunity to meet several of the girls and to interview their coach.

Warrior Girls Dance Team Director Susan Hovey is the person responsible for putting together a group of energetic and talented young ladies who pump up the crowd and keep them entertained during Golden State Warrior basketball games at Oracle Arena. As the Dance Team Director, Hovey directs the Warrior Girls, Jr. Jam Squad and GS Lightning dance teams. “I have the most amazing dancers and talent,” says Hovey. “It’s really exciting to work with this group.”

Prior to working with the Golden State Warriors, she was the director of the Seattle SuperSonics Dance Team, Boom Squad and Junior Hip-Hop Troupe, as well as the WNBA’s Seattle Storm Adult Hip-Hop Squad. She has also danced with the Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Seahawks and Phoenix Mercury, and choreographed for those teams, along with choreographing for the Portland Fire and Seattle Storm.

According to Hovey, making the Warrior Girls Dance Team is no small feat. Each July, nearly two-hundred girls are pared down to 18 who make the final squad — in just a matter of days. “The audition is a really tough process. We start on a Saturday and work from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. At the end of the day, they perform a routine for the judges. They come back the next day and perform it again. Then we have interviews. At the end of day one we cut to 50. After day two we cut it to 35 and after the interviews there are 25 girls left.” The next step in the process is a boot camp for the top 25 girls. The two-day military style boot camp is a grueling experience which shows how much grit and athleticism the candidates possess.

Over the weekend, the girls must learn another routine. “We see who works really hard, and who has a positive attitude and personality to handle the job,” says Hovey, “We’re looking for the whole package; a girl with a great personality who is also a great dancer, and who we feel we can send out on appearances to be an ambassador for the Warriors.”

Practice for the final 18 girls who make the team begins in August, along with a dance camp where 35 to 40 routines must be learned for use throughout the season. In total, the girls will eventually learn over 60 routines and perform them during 41 home games. In addition to these games, the team practices three days per week. The job involves a high level of commitment, and a constant dedication toward making every performance shine. “I am very excited for this season. I have a phenomenal team and I can’t wait to showcase their talent and entertain the fans.”

Casino table game managers are always looking for new  games to put on the floor to keep players interested and coming back for more. One way of doing this is to provide a variety of Blackjack games to choose from. These might include single deck, double deck, pitch, or any number of “carnival” games like Spanish 21. Another way to customize a Blackjack game is by adding a “bonus” betting option.

Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan has added two new blackjack games that players may want to check out the next time they are in the Michiana region looking for some action. The first new bet is called “Lucky Lucky Blackjack Bonus.” This optional side bet is in addition to the normal Blackjack wager. If it hits, patrons can win up to 200 times their main wager. Side bets start at $1 and max out at $25. To win, the first two cards dealt must be included in the pay matrix displayed at the table.

The second Blackjack innovation at Four Winds is the “Blackjack Switch.” At this table, each person plays two hands with an identical bet on each. The player has the option of keeping the two hands as dealt, or they can switch the second card between the two hands to make a better hand on one or both of the sets. You’re even allowed splits and double-downs after the switch, which can make these hands even more valuable. Blackjacks aren’t paid out at 2:1 like multi-deck shoe-dealt games, though.  Instead, they pay even money. Another change from the standard game is a “Push 22,” which means the dealer gets a push if he draws to a total of exactly 22. Blackjack Switch also features the optional “Super Match Bonus Bet,” with multiple payouts. To win, get a pair, two pair, three, or four-of-a-kind from any of the four initial cards dealt.

The odds on bonus bets can be pretty long, but not so long that you shouldn’t play at least the minimum amount just to keep in on the action. The lower odds awards hit more often, and while they don’t offer the big 200 time payout, they may provide enough of an incentive to keep the game fun, especially if you are bored of traditional Blackjack. For Blackjack variants like the Blackjack Switch, the payouts are a little lower and the house gets more edge from the 22 Push, but players gain an edge by having the ability to switch cards, so it may amount to a wash as far as house advantage goes compared to traditional Blackjack odds. For seasoned players, these bonus bets and game variations can make the game of Blackjack a lot more fun and interesting, and can help to break an experienced player out of a rut, so don’t overlook them when checking out the action at Michigan or Illinois casinos.