Friday, January 25, 2008

Breaking News: Hard Rock to Roll Out Las Vegas Style Slots Monday

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will debut Class III slot machines beginning Monday January 28, 2008 at 11:30AM. The 1000 new Vegas-Style slots will replace existing Class II Electronic Bingo slot machine versions. The rollout will include such titles as Wheel of Fortune, Hot Shot, and Playboy slot machines.

We'll check it out and have a report next week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dania's $25 Multi-Table Poker Tournaments

A couple recent entries by David Anesta and Nick Sortal in the Sun Sentinel's gambling blog (link) got me interested in Dania's $25 multitable tournaments, so I decided to check it out last Saturday.

This would be my first ever live tournament, and I had never been to Dania's poker room before; so I was a bit nervous and had no idea what I would face in terms of atmosphere and competition as I arrived and headed up the escalator to the card room. Hopefully I wouldn't get knocked out too quickly after having made the drive up from North Miami.

The first thing that struck me was what a great looking room they've put together. The area, which has about 30 tables with a liquor bar and a snack bar, has decor that is warm and attractive without being too extravagant.

They have everything well-organized for the even too. You just walk up to a sign-up table, pay your fee, and receive a slip of paper indicating your table and position. When everyone gets seated you receive 4000 tournament chips plus a bounty chip You also have the option to buy 500 additional chips for $5, which goes to the dealers' tips.

And then the action begins...

The game is very friendly with people of varying levels of skill, and all ages. I wasn't the only tournament newbie, and the other players and the dealers are tolerant of novice questions and mistakes.

On this Saturday afternoon, there were about 60 entrants and it wasn't long before some big hands went up against each other. Players were eliminated at a steady clip right from the start (this is a $5 bounty tournament, so when a player knocks another out, he or she receives the loser's bounty chip, which is good for $5).

I played pretty tightly through the first hour, caught some breaks, and managed to accumulate a decent stack of about 9000 chips by the time they called a 15 minute break at the two hour mark. Following the break, there were 18 players left seated at two tables. The blinds and antes were growing and eating into everyone's stack, so the excitement built as one dramatic all-in raise followed another.

At this point I was choking, as I laid down two good hands (pocket 8s and AQ suited) to pre-flop raises. With a dwindling stack, I knew I had to shove my chips in soon and had blown two opportunities to double up. When the blinds came back around I was sweating it out with only 5000 chips. There were 15 players left and the final 10 would make the final table. I looked at Ace-Jack in the big blind, and called all-in to the loose-raising small blind. He turned up A9, so I had him dominated, but a 9 on the flop spelled the end of my first tournament.

I was mildly disappointed with the finish, but had a good time with the other players for almost 3 hours and gained some tournament experience. Not bad for $30!

I'll definitely be back to many more of these tournies. Besides a comfortable poker room, Dania has a top-notch staff. Everyone is friendly and approachable, from the floor manager and dealers, to the wait staff and snack bar servers.

If you're thinking about going, here are the $25 tournament details:

  • What? $25 Multi-Table No-Limit Texas Hold'Em Tournament
  • Where? Dania Jai-Alai
  • When? Sat @ 1:30PM, Fri @ 3PM, Mon & Wed @ 6:30PM
  • Cost? $25 plus $5 optional add-on for 500 chips (add-on funds go to dealer tips)
  • Rake? Entry includes $5 house fee and $3 to Bad Beat Jackpot fund.
  • Jackpot Eligibility? Players are eligible for the Bad Beat Jackpot but not for the $100 high-hand awards.
  • Tournament structure? 4000 starting chips, 20 minute blinds.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gulfstream's Free $50 Gas Card Promo No Great Shakes for Video Poker Players

Gulfstream Park Casino runs some decent promos for its Good Luck Players Club members including drawings and monthly credit voucher mailings, but the free $50 BP Gas Card giveaway is
not worth the time and gas money.

Here's how it works: The promotion runs every Friday in January, and you need to accumulate 100 players club points on the machines between the hours of 10AM and 8PM to
earn a $50 BP gas card.

This sounded great! Provided the casino offers respectable odds on its games and they aren't too tight with the players club points, a
$50 gift card could be a nice consolation in the (likely) event of a losing session.

I love video poker and Gulfstream issued a press release
(link) on January 2nd, stating that their new video poker section would be open "in plenty of time for the thoroughbred meeting", which began on January 3rd. Video poker offers the
best odds in the casino, and I fully expected to find some worthwhile machines to play.

Boy was I wrong :(

To begin with, workers were still installing the new casino on Friday, January 4th (the second day of the race meet). Only The Casino on the second floor was open and the video poker paytables there are

For example, they have 7/5 Jacks or Better (JOB) machines in denominations from 25-cents to 1-dollar (Note: The 7 refers to the number of coins paid out for a full house, and 5 refers to flush).
The theoretical payout on these machines is a measely 96.1% (for players using perfect strategy and with max-coins bet). For comparison, a full-pay 9/6 JOB machine has a payout of almost 99.55%. In other words, the house edge is 8X greater for 7/5 (3.9% house edge) compared to the 9/6 game (0.45% house edge).


With such stingy machines, I knew it was going to be tough earning a gas card unless the casino was generous with it players club points (a casino with tight games should make up for it with comp points). But here again, the casino was extremely tight. On 25-cent video poker, the casino awards players club points at a rate of 2 per $100 wagered. Therefore, to earn 100 points,
you will need to place wagers totaling $5,000.

Ouch again!!

Let's do some math now: $5,000 X 3.9% = $195.00. That's the player's expected losses playing $5,000 worth of 7/5 Jacks or Better.

Ouch a third time!!!

My last hope was the cashback / comp system. But here again the casino is too tight. According to the Gulfstream Park website (link), comps can be redeemed at a rate of $1 per $100 points and you need 500 points for your initial redemption. That means you would have to play $25,000 of video poker to earn $5 in comps.

So to review, we need to play $5,000 of video poker, which entails expected losses of $195 to earn one $50 gas card and $1 in comps.

How dumb do they think we are??

A brighter tomorrow? By Friday January 11th, the new video poker section was operational at Gulfstream. Jacks or Better is reportedly available with 8/5 (25 and 50 cent machines) and 9/5 (1 dollar) paytables. The
theoretical return on these machines are 97.3%and 98.4%, respectively, which leads to projected losses of $135 and $80 for $5,000 worth of play.

So things are getting a little bit better, but 25-cent players would be advised that Mardi Gras Casino has 9/5 JOB (even without a free gas card, players are better off at a 9/5 JOB machine rather than 8/5).

So anyways...No thanks Gulfstream, I'll buy my own gas.