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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Shop Before You Drop!

18 May 2000

Whatever you do, be it playing the slots in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or Lake Tahoe, look at the payout table before you put any money in! This will save you a lot of grief in the long run.

THEY ARE NOT ALL THE SAME! There is no standardized industry-version on payouts. What might be really great at one place will not always be great at the next! Sometimes what you find will be an assault on your intelligence. Lake Tahoe is pretty good at staying consistent within a buck or two, but we do have a few traps to watch out for. I have been told these are everywhere.

These traps include:

1. Large numbers of coins disappearing when you push "bet max coins".

I am talking about rather innocuous looking slots that swallow up to $9 worth of nickels without so much as a burp. Most notorious is the Bally Gamemaker game Prince of Persia. The uproar from ticked off gamblers up here at the Lake caused all kinds of disclaimer stickers warning of the high bet to be placed on every machine.

Recently, one of the clubs took the liberty of putting that same high bet on several of its IGT games, mixing them in with identical machines in the bank. The difference is that 9 nickels will spin one Black Rhino game automatically, the next will spin automatically on 45 nickels, and SURPRISE...the others will spin on 180 nickels! Other games victimized by these shenanigans include: Double Bucks, Wildflower, and On The Prowl, and other 9-line nickel games found on the Game Kings. THERE IS NO DISCLAIMER, THERE IS NO WARNING.

2. Changing the usual payout.

If you are a nickel video keno player, you will know what I am talking about. If you aren't into video keno, at least pay attention, because chances are someone that you know is playing video keno as you read this. One of the clubs, and not the one above, has butchered the pay tables on its Bally Gamemaker nickel kenos. Actually, make that two clubs in Tahoe. A 7-spot on MOST nickel keno machines pays $350 - $400 per nickel bet. I have known many keno players over the past 15 years, but I have never seen one cry until last month. She didn't check the pay table, assuming that after 15 years of playing her keno every day that no one would screw with the payout amount.

The poor dear had a dime in and hit a 7-spot. She was so excited to win more than $700, but the machine stopped racking credits at $32.00. She was a teary mess when she found me. Other clubs have lowered the payout on $1 keno machines, and I have noticed that many Bally Gamemakers have been set to pay only $64 per dollar on a 4-spot instead of the more traditional $91.

3. Slow machines.

How much time do you have to gamble? Are you on any kind of schedule?

Recently I found a place where they have re-tooled some nickel Atronic games, like Ice Money, Desparado, and Break The Spell, and made them into penny slots. Unlike the extremely popular VLC penny/nickel slots, they do not pay off with paper. They don't pay off with coin either. Whenever you cash out, it is a hand pay.

Worse, it takes 45 seconds per dollar to rack up a win. So plan on spending at least 22 minutes waiting on the meter to rack up the credits if you win $30. Then it takes two employees to pay off any win. If you cash out a penny, two people give you a nickel. People playing other machines have to wait while these employees are busy rounding off to the highest nickel these slow machines. Total time to win that $30 and get paid? Thirty-six minutes. Time that could have been used to play a real machine and win real money. What if you have dinner or show reservations?

One last piece of advice: If you doubt anything about a slot, ask someone like a slot host or, better yet, someone playing that kind of machine. I have met the nicest people from all over the planet this way. Just look for a friendly looking local type.

Today was day 104 of gathering and posting all the progressive jackpots from the South Shore casinos online by 6 am at the TahoeGamingGuide.com. Every day has been an education for me, but I have noticed that many of the newer slots are not being played regularly, but sporadically, on weekends, and maybe during swing shift. These include Where's Henry and nickel Yahtzee. Quarter Yahtzee never got played and has already bitten the dust in several places. Cast For Cash, the newest version of WMS Reel 'Em In, has a bad rep for being a money grabbin' and infrequent paying slot. Even the diehard fishing addicts tell me that they don't like it, and they don't think it is fun. They still play the original game. Who Dunnit, Money For Nothing, Top Banana, and Let's Make A Deal also appear to be suffering from player apathy on the local front. What I am seeing is a return of players in increasing numbers to video poker banks. And as far as all of the Monopoly games around town, you can have your pick. I never see them anything but deserted.

Off the subject of slots...and on to what's up at the Lake!

It is getting closer to the Lakeside Inn's 15th birthday on May 24th. Party Time!

Harrah's closed their Imagine 2000 show and is opening up the showroom for the late spring and summer with top-name entertainment.

The Horizon kicks into full swing with its annual car shows, craft shows, and outdoor festivities starting Memorial Day weekend.

Caesars Tahoe still has that car...that incredible Lamborghini Diablo worth $302,000 parked in the middle of the casino floor. Wow. Three bucks can win it for you!

Harveys has their "Play a Year on Us!" promotion going. Win up to $100,000 of play!

I cannot forget to mention the Bike Show over at the Tahoe Biltmore in Crystal Bay and all the fun stuff that Greg has planned the first weekend in June. Motorcycle enthusiasts delight in Alpine surroundings! I am talking Harley's and Indians that will make you drool.

If you have never been to Lake Tahoe, come.
Play your favorite games in a surrounding like no other on Earth.
If you want a sneak preview of the Tahoe jackpots, visit TahoeGamingGuide.com.
If you want to be part of a gambler's pipeline, visit UnitedGamblersAssoc.com