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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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New Machines, New Shows, New Restaurants, More Fun from the Lake!

20 July 2000

Lake Tahoe is going nuts this summer. In the 15 years I have been hibernating in the mountains, I have never seen this level of activity!

Everybody has or will have soon something new in the way of slot machines. The casino pipeline tells me that "THE ADDAMS FAMILY" slots are coming soon to Lake Tahoe...I hope we get the full selection, as there is "Market Madness," "Pick to Win," and "Fry Fester." All have different bonus features, and all sound really interesting, and possibly fun.

I personally don’t find every single one of the new games to be necessarily as fun as they are cracked up to be. Some are just plain confusing, or some other problem haunts them that makes it a painful experience. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the casino's payback percentage--what kind of hold percentage did they put on it? Is it going to suck money like there is no tomorrow, or does it have enough return to keep you in there at least having fun? Always compare paytables on video poker and keno machines, as well as slots. IT AIN’T ALWAYS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!

Tahoe has its share of bad apples mixed in the slot offerings, but so does every casino everywhere I go. Some want to suck $9 a whack out of the gambler on nickel machines. Beware of games like "Prince of Persia," "Double Bucks", "Black Rhino," "Wildflower," and "On the Prowl." It is fairly certain that this can happen anywhere with any slot machine made by any manufacturer. But these gaming machines look like the others; until you hit the "play max coins" button, you may not know. Advice: If it isn’t on the screen somewhere, drop in 9-nickels. If it spins by itself, you have a 9-coin max machine. If it doesn’t, you should be able to see something that either says to play 45-coins or 180-coins. If it is a 180-coin max bet, then think back to the recent past in Tahoe. Nine dollars won someone $7.7 million dollars at the Horizon Casino Resort, and $9 won someone a Lamborghini Diablo about a week later at Caesars Tahoe. It isn’t an appealing thought to me, anyway...I would much rather go for the big money, than lose 180 nickels. I don’t know what would be worse...to lose the whole $9 at once or to get, say, 50 cents back in credits. Either way, I would find the experience insulting. Remember, it isn’t always the manufacturer’s fault. Casinos order the machines, and slot directors supervise the setup--and the majority of them do not gamble.

Last Friday, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe opened their showroom with "Smokey Joe’s Café" and I guess they felt sorry for me over there...after all I have been putting the progressive jackpots online for the TahoeGamingGuide.com for 168 straight days now...unpaid. Anyway, Skip Sayre, head honcho of the marketing team at Harrah’s, made sure that my husband and I got to go see it. Gotta hand it to Skip, we had a great time. It has been eons since I visited the showroom, and it has been redone somewhere along the line. The talent of the cast will leave you awestruck, and the music is amazing. You will hear so many favorites, all written by Leiber and Stoller....I didn’t know they wrote such favorites as "Love Potion #9," "Hound Dog," "Poison Ivy," and "On Broadway." Next on my "Hit List" is getting them to send me to the new (well, reincarnated) seafood restaurant.

The dust has finally settled at the Lakeside Inn after their remodel and the opening of the new "Tavern" downstairs where the convention facilities were. There’s a Sportsbook down there, and enough TVs to make sure most of Tahoe can see. Gotta check it out if you haven’t; it really looks great. The new slots appear to be fairly liberal down there...they are IGT Game King’s and they are the multi-denomination slots.

Hey, speaking of slots again...did everybody hear about the new technology that several manufacturer’s put together for the Barona Casino in San Diego, CA? Wow...something called "voucher in/voucher out" that currently is exclusive to the Barona tribe. It allows you to cash out with a slip of paper (voucher) which can then be re-inserted into 88% of the Barona slots, no matter who made them. In other words, you should be able to cash out from an IGT slot and stick that voucher in any other slot with that capability...no matter who else made it. Barona went big time on this, and I sure hope it gets to my neighborhood real fast. Details should be available by next week's article, because I flooded the poor guy at IGT with a kazillion questions. Being designed by several manufacturer’s, I have to go several places for all the answers.

A great big THANK YOU to everyone who filled out the survey on the TahoeGamingGuide.com in answer to last week's plea. I still need more input, and yes, we are in negotiations to bring you more news, online letters, and hopefully we can nag ‘em enough to get a direct casino questions and answers section where we can ask and they will answer. Please remember, this site is FOR THE GAMBLER’S. What you want is what I am trying to deliver. Questions, comments, advice, input always welcome here!