Video Poker Bars – 6 Considerations for a Great Experience

Sitting down at a bar-top video poker machine with full pay games and ordering unlimited free quality drinks seem to be a thing of the past. The experience has been diminished – tarnished – by casino industry bean counters squeezing every penny they can out of their patrons.

So, what makes a good video poker bar-top experience these days?

I truly understand that to many players, it doesn’t matter.  The ambiance, the excitement of the destination, or playing side by side with friends is more important than how many credits won on a full house.  To sit at the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas is enough to put up with 7/5 JOB because of the extravagant $20 gourmet cocktails and the atmosphere.  I get it.

Video poker at your favorite bar top machine.

But some of us still want to play machines that give us a fighting chance and still get a quality beer upon asking. (However, even that is being taken away – see “drinks & coupons” later in this post.)

This post 6 Considerations for a Great Experience at Casino Video Poker Bars:

Quality of Games – Pay-tables

Multi Games Offered

Ambiance

Drinks & Coupons

Progressives

Rewards Club & Promotions

As always, personal preference is most important when you play. But, many things need to be considered.  Let’s look into the possibilities to consider for the optimum video poker bar experience.

Quality of Games – Pay-tables

Video poker is a skill game.  Many of us practice specific games we enjoy because there IS a best play for each hand dealt, depending on the game.  I know I want to give myself the best chance to win.  I know I want the best chance to play longer, possibly giving myself a better chance to get more hands dealt and more chances for the elusive Royal Flush.  Full pay 9/6 JOB (Jacks or Better) plays slightly different that 8/5 JOB.

Full Pay JOB and a Royal Flush!

Many VP bars don’t offer good games simply because you’re getting to drink for free. On my last trip to Las Vegas, I stopped in at Caesars Palace to play a little VP and get a beer.  At this particular bar, they had 6/5 Double Double bonus, and Coors light.  Double whammy! Pitiful! (For those VP novices in the audience, the first number refers to payout for a full house, 2nd number for a flush.  This combination is one of the ways to tell if it’s a good game to play or bad concerning expected pay back over the long term.  But it isn’t the only consideration to find “good” games.)  Later, at downtown Las Vegas, I played 8/5 bonus, & 9/6 DDB with unlimited craft beer from Main Street Station’s own brewery. Let’s compare some pay tables:

Jacks or Better – 9/6 = 99.54% pay back (considered Full Pay, best pay table, and can be found at Mohegan Sun bar tops)……6/5 = 95% Dollar slots are a better gambling play, since a player will receive approximately 3X rewards points for slots as compared to VP.

Double Double Bonus – 10/6 = 100.07% pay back, 9/6= 98.98% payback, 9/5 = 97.87% payback……. 6/5 = 94% pay back, worst pay table I’ve ever seen.  Dollar slots are a better gambling play, since a player will receive approximately 3X rewards points for slots as compared to VP.

If playing a machine that gives you better odds is important to you, then check the paytables.

Superstar Multi Video Poker – numerous games, numerous denominations.

Multi Games Offered

Most bar-top machines offer many games, not only video poker.  Video Keno, Blackjack, slots, and many variations of VP can be found.  All bar tops are not created equal – even at the same bar.  Check out different machines.  Find one that offers what you want to play while kicking back your favorite cocktail or beer.

I will consider only video poker for this article.  Look for “All Star Poker” or Superstar Multi Poker which offer a variety of VP, from single line, triple and five play, to Spin Poker & Ultimate X VP.  Again, check the pay tables.  But you might enjoy a particular game and just prefer playing that.  Better payout = best gambling play, favorite VP game = enjoy the experience.  Best of all would be your favorite game with good pay tables. Take some time to search, they are out there – maybe even at your local casino.

Las Vegas, Cosmopolitan Chandelier bar, VP surrounded by beauty.

Ambiance

That’s right, to some players, the best game just doesn’t matter at times.  It’s the atmosphere, the camaraderie , the social aspect of it all.  Or, maybe, it’s watching a bartender juggle bottles while making an exquisite gourmet cocktail just for you. Maybe, you have a friendly relationship with the barkeep, you know the bar where “everybody knows your name.”

There are some bars that are surrounded by natural beauty – both for artistic decor and people watching.  Either way, it may be to pass time and take it all in, instead of concentrating on the skill involved.

Quiet – highly underrated in  casinos.  Playing VP in a quiet setting sipping a draft beer away from the crowds can be soothing and seem like an oasis in an otherwise crazy place. Two such places exist in New England Casinos – the Race books at Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun.

Drinks & Coupons

Playing crappy VP can simply be overlooked by the drinks served.  I remember playing 7/5 Bonus VP at the 32 Degrees Bar at M Resort, south of the Las Vegas Strip.  Why? – because of the 96 taps that were available.  A fabulous free drink can a key ingredient to your Vegas vacation.

Lights signal bartenders for vouchers. Some are automatic.

But free drinks, like free parking, are a vanishing commodity in Las Vegas, and all over the country.  In the old system — which still rules most hotel casinos, depending on state laws — if you gamble on the casino floor or at a bar, you get free drinks from bartenders who monitor your gambling.  But more and more, especially on the Las Vegas Strip, ticket systems at a video poker bars are now installed where gamblers must gamble to receive vouchers for drinks.  The estimated time for a free drink depends on speed of play, denomination, and apparently if the ticket system is actually working. According to a recent “Five Hundy by Midnight” podcast, the average time for an average speed player at the Cosmopolitan on the Strip tends to be 20 minutes between drinks. Cosmo, MGM and Caesars properties are all trying this strategy with mixed reviews. Rumors also abound in Las Vegas concerning coupon systems being used on the casino floor.

In New England, free drinks are still poured at Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods (both of which continue to have free parking), while state rules prohibit free drinks in the 2 Maine casinos, Plainridge Park in Massachusetts, and Rhode Island casinos.

Video Poker Progressive

Progressives

Progressive jackpots are jackpots that grows as people play. It progressively gets larger and larger as a percentage of each bet is added to the total prize. They are usually linked to a whole bank of machines. This means that if there are players on all of the machines there is a chance that another player will hit the royal before you. Very often, video poker with lower pay tables at bar tops will be boosted with a progressive jackpot for Royal Flushes and sometimes “Quads” (four-of-a-kind).  These jackpots can get quite high, making a non playable game more of a better play.  Sometimes a combination of factors with a progressive is just what a player may be looking for, even for that low cost, watered-down “scotch on the rocks.”

Rewards Club & Promotions

Video Poker at Oxford Casino – pay for drinks, terrible paytables.

One final consideration is the rewards club. A good rewards club can make a difference, especially on multiplier days.  For example, a general rule by most casinos is that it takes 2X to 3X of play to earn one reward a status point compared to that slots.  But on a multiplier day, such as Mohegan Sun’s Triple Status Point promotions, playing VP can accumulate faster.  But read the fine print!  At Oxford Casino,

 

promotions such as their Tuesday “15X point” multiplier doesn’t include play on video poker machines. Some bar chains in Nevada have their own rewards club, as well as mini-marts, gas stations, pharmacies, and supermarkets!  PT’s Entertainment Group, who recently bought the Stratosphere and Arizona Charlies’ hotel casinos in Las Vegas, has 50+ taverns & restaurants and offer two award-winning loyalty rewards programs to sweeten the pot on its usually low paying VP.

Conclusion

It’s simple – whatever floats your boat.  Take a little extra time to weigh assess things and you may expand your good experience into a great experience.

That’s all for now.

Binbin

CT Casino Bill Changes Bring More Questions than Answers

image(20)MoSun SignThe bill to expand casino gaming in CT due to the posed threats by future Massachusetts casinos continues to go through changes.  Now, a two-step process for possibly opening a new tribal casino in Connecticut faces a vote in the state House of Representatives.

Step 1 – the tribes would issue a request for proposals to municipalities interested in hosting one satellite casino, most likely in northern Connecticut along the Interstate 1 corridor to help combat the planned MGM Resort casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts.

Step 2 – Any development agreement reached between the tribes and the community, following various local approvals, would have to be reviewed by the Attorney General and governor’s office. Ultimately, a new casino could not operate until the General Assembly amends state law to allow casino gambling.

The existing two tribal casinos are located on sovereign tribal land. A casino outside of tribal land brings many other considerations into question.

Patty McQueen, a spokeswoman for the two tribes, said both respect everyone’s position on the legislation, but stressed that the bill is about allowing the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes to retain jobs and revenue in Connecticut.

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But I have other questions, outside the box if you will – both from the large picture state approach and from the individual gambler’s approach.

1)  Will this allow more gambling, privatized from the gambling industry?  Could Caesars Entertainment (who have teamed up with tribes in North Carolina & California), add  another to support Indian Tribes like the Shaticokes or Eastern Pequots for example?  Remember, the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) is looking into easing the process of federally recognition.  Interesting that the biggest opposition to to this is Dam Malloy and the State of CT.

2)  The anti-gambling community always has a great interest in saving CT citizens from gambling addiction – certainly a valid concern.  But won’t those who are enticed by additional a casino only 20 to 40 minutes away in Massachusetts.  MGM Springfield is definitely closer and easier to get to than CT’s tribal casinos in southeastern CT. Does a half hour make a difference?

3)  What are all these jobs CT will be losing if they don’t build another casino?  Vendors, suppliers, casino staff?  I would like to know about the specifics Connecticut is expected to lose that one casino will save.

4)  How will the two tribes play this out?  Obviously, some prefer Foxwoods, some prefer the Sun.  How will comp points be affected?  This may seem like a little consideration, but the place they spend their money it is as important to many gamblers as which part of CT are Red Sox or Yankees fans.

5)  I know this is far down the line, and could be a moot point, but…….will it have a hotel? How will it compete with MGM for the recreational gambler and the advantage gambler’s attention.  Night clubs?  Restaurants?  So much that should be considered NOW if it is given a green light now so the end result is a not half-thought-out version for the State of CT anti gaming groups to say “I told you so.”

So little time, yet so much at stake on both sides.  And still, so many questions……

That;’s all for now.

Binbin

 

CT Casinos Look to Continue Diversification

"The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling!"

“The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling!”

We’ve heard it over and over again – “The CT Tribal Casinos are Doomed!  The sky is falling, the sky is falling, yadda, yadda, yadda….”

I don’t agree. While the state revenue is less and less, the state of CT is worried to the max – but are the two tribal casinos?  I think not.

The state of Connecticut has been easily been adding tribal gaming money to their coffers for years.  In typical “Atlantic City-esque” style, they considered it never-ending, while competition grew around them.  Of course they are concerned that the money train will end with competition from Massachusetts and New York State.  Believe me, it’s the money, not the jobs they are concerned about. The same dependency that Rhode Island has had in the last decade.

But I disagree that the two tribes are as worried as their legislative counter-parts. And each preparing for the future in their own way. Continue reading