Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ PokerStars putting down U.S. stakes? ]]> Lead story image

Chances are you’ve not thought much about PokerStars in recent years. During the Internet and TV-fueled poker boom of the last decade, it was one of the hottest of the hot sites to play Texas Hold’em, Omaha and seven-card stud. It amplified its presence by sponsoring tournaments, tours and some of the best-known players on Team PokerStars. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 brought things to a halt, banning financial institutions from handling transactions for online gambling. PokerStars continued as a going concern overseas, but in the United States it mostly faded from view except for the occasional … ]]> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 06:20:49 -0500 <![CDATA[ Throwing it all in may improve odds ]]> Lead story image

When most players go to the casino, they have more than wins and losses in mind. Profit may be the reason for the games’ existence to blackjack card counters and poker pros, but for most players, entertainment lives in harmony with a shot to win. If all you wanted was a chance to double your money and you were willing to risk losing your entire stake, your best chance is to bet it all at once. It’s not an approach I recommend, of course, but making multiple bets does increase your exposure to the house edge and makes it more … ]]> Wed, 16 Jan 2013 19:59:26 -0500 <![CDATA[ Wheel-spin bonuses skew to low payouts ]]> Lead story image

Slot machines with wheel-spinning bonus events have been with us since Anchor Gaming introduced Wheel of Gold in the mid-1990s. The original wheel was affixed on a tower atop Bally slant-top slot machines and was a sensation. When the tone sounded signaling an upcoming spin, everyone in the vicinity stopped to watch. International Game Technology knew a hit when it saw one, and quickly licensed the wheel for its Wheel of Fortune slots. The wheels have been turning ever since, in expanding numbers from multiple manufacturers. In December, I received an email from a reader wondering why he and his … ]]> Tue, 12 Feb 2013 06:10:58 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reader frustrated over high-end Rivers ]]> Lead story image

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag: Q. I held out for a year or so, but my wife and I finally went to the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines to see what all the fuss was about. It was nice, and we liked the buffet, but I couldn’t really play there very often. Their table limits were too high, there were 80-cent forced bets on the 2-cent slot machines, the video poker pay tables were low, and I couldn’t find any quarter video poker with only one hand at all. For a player with a modest budget, it was pretty … ]]> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 06:18:55 -0500 <![CDATA[ Settling the score on gaming in 2012 ]]> Lead story image

Casinos, amenities and games in the Chicago area continued to change in 2012. As we head into 2013, let’s look back at a few of the highlights: ♦ Hollywood Joliet (the former Empress Joliet) and Hollywood Aurora both opened new video poker zones. Of the two, the Joliet zone has more to offer. Quarter players get a good 9-5 Double Double Bonus Poker game with a progressive royal and a 50,000 coin bonanza for a sequential royal (98.1 percent with expert play with the progressives at base value). Dollar players can choose between 8-5 Bonus Poker (99.2 percent) and 9-6 … ]]> Tue, 29 Jan 2013 06:04:37 -0500 <![CDATA[ Bars’ video gaming a convenience at most ]]> Lead story image

When I first heard of the $2 maximum bet and $500 maximum jackpot video gaming in Illinois bars and restaurants, I wondered what would be done to video poker pay tables. The usual payoff of $1,000 on a royal flush for a $1.25 bet was going to be out the window. Would there be a make-up for cutting the usual top jackpot in half? To check it out, I spent a mid-December lunch break at the Assembly restaurant in Hoffman Estates. I headed to the small room that houses five gaming machines — three made by IGT, one by Bally … ]]> Fri, 21 Dec 2012 07:12:36 -0500 <![CDATA[ Book informative and entertaining ]]> Lead story image

Over the years, I’ve read and reviewed many a blackjack book. Rarely have I recommended one simply because it’s so much fun to read. I’m doing it now with Glen Wiggy’s “1536 Free Waters and Other Blackjack Endeavors” ($18.95, iUniverse), which ranks high on my list of Christmas gift suggestions for gamblers. Subtitled “Finding Profit and Humor in Card-Counting,” Wiggy’s work includes how to play, blackjack terminology, basic strategy and an explanation of how to count cards. The card-counting section includes some graphics that will be helpful to beginners, depicting full tables of cards along with the plus-1, minus-one and … ]]> Tue, 15 Jan 2013 06:05:57 -0500 <![CDATA[ In blackjack, try to slow it down ]]> Lead story image

Standard-sized blackjack tables seat seven players. So do tables at other casino card games. But seven-spot tables aren’t the only options. The casino formerly known as Empress Joliet used to have tables with eight betting spots. And I’ve occasionally encountered five-spot tables. Why would a casino vary from the standard table size? The biggest thing having fewer spots accomplishes is to speed up the game. It takes more time to deal a hand if you’re waiting for seven people to play their hands and have their bets settled than if you’re waiting for five people. With any number of players, … ]]> Wed, 05 Dec 2012 23:17:47 -0500 <![CDATA[ Time, odds work against roulette ]]> Lead story image

Roulette is a game with an appeal for casino players making their first foray into table games. There are no strategies to learn nor is there a wide range of house edges that require knowledge to weed the good bets from the bad. It’s not as popular in the United States as blackjack or craps, and a woman who told me she and her husband were casino newbies were wondering why there aren’t more roulette tables in the pits. Each casino sets its game mix to optimize its profits and keep players coming back. If there was a bigger demand … ]]> Tue, 01 Jan 2013 06:08:11 -0500 <![CDATA[ In Blackjack, cards do have memory ]]> Lead story image

In nearly every casino game, every play is an independent trial. Regardless of whether you’re playing slot machines, video poker, roulette, keno, sic bo or craps, past results have no effect on future outcome. That also goes for games in which cards are shuffled for every hand. Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride, and any number of poker-based options fit here. Freshly shuffled cards have no memory. They don’t know whether you’ve been winning or losing, and the odds of drawing winners never change. It’s a fact in gambling that usually comes up when a slot player has … ]]> Mon, 24 Dec 2012 06:47:59 -0500 <![CDATA[ Double Double Bonus strong draw for fans ]]> Lead story image

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag: Q. I saw that Hollywood Joliet is boasting of better video poker. Is that true? How good is it? A. The new video poker area on the lower level at Hollywood Joliet is a pretty strong attraction, especially if you like Double Double Bonus Poker or, for dollar players, Bonus Poker. On games marked Super Pay Royals, both dollar and quarter players get 9-5 Double Double Bonus with progressive jackpot on royal flushes, and a 50,000-coin bonanza on royals in sequence, 10 through Ace. With royals at the base value of 4,000 coins for … ]]> Wed, 19 Dec 2012 10:17:58 -0500 <![CDATA[ Newcomers vie for multi-game share ]]> Lead story image

Video poker players may not consciously seek out International Game Technology machines, but that’s where they play. Well over 90 percent of the poker machines we see in casinos are IGT games — and that’s likely an understatement. Two Chicago area companies are trying to break into that niche, with slot giant WMS gaming and relatively new, creative competitor Incredible Technologies both showing off poker products at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. WMS had on display two products I’d mentioned here after a visit to its studios this summer. My Poker offers players customization features including card style, … ]]> Fri, 09 Nov 2012 10:38:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ New table games focus on poker ]]> Lead story image

When game developers create new table games, the first look usually is at poker. Poker-based games usually are easy to learn and easy to deal, and have proven to attract players with success such as Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker. So it was no surprise at October’s Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas that new table games had a heavy poker lean. SHFL Entertainment — the company formerly known as Shuffle Master, the leading distributor of new table games — showed four new poker games. Face Up Stud Poker features heads-up play against the dealer, … ]]> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 20:08:31 -0500 <![CDATA[ New slot machines promise to thrill ]]> Lead story image

Each year at Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, I get to see the best of what slot machine manufacturers have to offer: the bonus events. Games are set up so potential buyers and inquiring columnists can see the most entertaining bits without spending time spinning the reels. It doesn’t exactly mirror the everyday slot experience, but it’s a fun way to preview a whole lot of games in a short time. Bally Technologies showed a couple of licensed-theme games that will have players savoring the bonuses. Pawn Stars, based on the History Channel reality TV hit and featuring video … ]]> Thu, 25 Oct 2012 05:11:21 -0500 <![CDATA[ Gaming expo like kid in candy store ]]> Lead story image

Each year at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, I roam from booth to booth to look at the major slot machine manufacturers and the coming attractions that will draw us to their games over the next year. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of new games when all gamemakers are taken into account. I get a good look at perhaps 75 games and their bonus events during the show’s three-day run. Let’s just take a look at a few highlights, with a few more next week. ◆ At the WMS Gaming booth, a ride down the chocolate river — … ]]> Thu, 18 Oct 2012 00:19:13 -0500 <![CDATA[ Nowadays, change name of the game ]]> Lead story image

The video age has been liberating for slot machine designers, and not just in ability to use animation and special effects to create entertaining bonus events. They can play with the configuration of the reels, and even change the number of reels from spin to spin. Take The Munsters Family Portrait, one of the spotlight games at Incredible Technologies’ booth at the recent Global Gaming Expo at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Instead of the five reels that we usually see on video slots, there are nine reels full of “Munsters” characters and icons, including the … ]]> Wed, 10 Oct 2012 19:02:13 -0500