Post-Tribune http://posttrib.suntimes.com Latest news from Post-Tribune Online en-us webmaster@suntimes.com (Editor) http://posttrib.suntimes.com/csp/cms/sites/STM/assets/img/logos/posttrib.gif Post-Tribune http://posttrib.suntimes.com 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 06:14:15 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/17731305-452/pokerstars-putting-down-us-stakes.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/17731305-452/pokerstars-putting-down-us-stakes.html <![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 … ]]> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 13:25:46 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/17594503-452/throwing-it-all-in-may-improve-odds.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/17594503-452/throwing-it-all-in-may-improve-odds.html <![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 06:11:03 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/17114270-452/settling-the-score-on-gaming-in-2012.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/17114270-452/settling-the-score-on-gaming-in-2012.html <![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, Ill. I headed to the small room that houses five gaming machines — three made by IGT, one by … ]]> Tue, 22 Jan 2013 06:14:26 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/17090251-452/bars-video-gaming-a-convenience-at-most.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/17090251-452/bars-video-gaming-a-convenience-at-most.html <![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 06:09:59 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16949007-452/book-informative-and-entertaining.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16949007-452/book-informative-and-entertaining.html <![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 than if you’re waiting for five people. With any number of players, speed is variable, dependent on both the … ]]> Tue, 08 Jan 2013 06:12:28 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16807041-452/in-blackjack-tryto-slow-it-down.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16807041-452/in-blackjack-tryto-slow-it-down.html <![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, as in blackjack, nor is there a wide range of house edges that require knowledge to weed the good bets from the bad, as in blackjack. 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. … ]]> Tue, 01 Jan 2013 06:13:29 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16657812-452/time-odds-work-against-roulette.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16657812-452/time-odds-work-against-roulette.html <![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 06:34:10 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16496408-452/in-blackjack-cards-do-have-memory.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16496408-452/in-blackjack-cards-do-have-memory.html <![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 10:51:34 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16344072-452/double-double-bonus-strong-draw-for-fans.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16344072-452/double-double-bonus-strong-draw-for-fans.html <![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, … ]]> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 06:10:03 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16051091-452/new-table-games-focus-on-poker.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/16051091-452/new-table-games-focus-on-poker.html <![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 every-day 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 … ]]> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 10:32:04 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15921640-452/new-slot-machines-promise-to-thrill.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15921640-452/new-slot-machines-promise-to-thrill.html <![CDATA[ No, that jackpot never was yours ]]> Lead story image

Walking the aisles at a busy casino, I saw the lights flash and heard the music change to celebration mode — surefire signs that someone had just hit the jackpot. I walked toward the winner to see what was going on, and it turned out that a woman who appeared to be in her 40s had just lined up the three doubler symbols on a Double Diamond reel-spinning game. She looked stunned as the attendant took her information for a $2,500 jackpot. Someone else looked stunned, too. Another woman, maybe a little older, looked right at me and said, “That … ]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 06:11:46 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15519576-452/no-that-jackpot-never-was-yours.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15519576-452/no-that-jackpot-never-was-yours.html <![CDATA[ Find a new table when stakes rise ]]> Lead story image

If you play much low-limit blackjack, no doubt something like this has happened to you. I’d arrived at a casino about 9 a.m., figuring I could take advantage of early-day sparse crowds and low table minimums. I found a $10 table and bought in for $200, with four $25 chips, 19 $5 chips and five $1 chips so I had a little starting change to tip dealers and waitresses. It was a pretty ordinary session, up a little here, down a little there, and after a couple of hours I was ahead by $7.50. And it was a pretty ordinary … ]]> Mon, 29 Oct 2012 06:09:43 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15374202-452/find-a-new-table-when-stakes-rise.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15374202-452/find-a-new-table-when-stakes-rise.html <![CDATA[ What to expect from video gaming at bars ]]> Lead story image

The opening in Morton Grove and Rockford of the first test sites for video gambling at Illinois bars and restaurants has prompted several emails from readers wondering just what kinds of games they’ll get. The basics are simple. Machines are multigame units, with a mix of video slots and video poker. You touch the screen to choose the game you want. There is a maximum bet of $2 and a maximum payout of $500. No facility may have more than five machines. Beyond that, readers asked for a few specifics that I’ll try to answer. ◆ Games will have random … ]]> Mon, 22 Oct 2012 06:07:48 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15226140-452/what-to-expect-from-video-gaming-at-bars.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15226140-452/what-to-expect-from-video-gaming-at-bars.html <![CDATA[ Don’t push your luck in blackjack ]]> Lead story image

Sometimes knowing blackjack basic strategy and putting it into practice are two different things. I have an old friend, someone I’ve known since college days. He knows the strategy charts say never to split 10s. He does it anyway if the dealer has a 6 face up. “With a 20 against a 6, I have an advantage,” he explained when I asked him about his bad habit. “But I also have an advantage with a 10 against a 6. And when I have an advantage, I have to take full advantage by getting my money on the table, right? The … ]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2012 09:16:07 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15060469-452/dont-push-your-luck-in-blackjack.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/15060469-452/dont-push-your-luck-in-blackjack.html <![CDATA[ Debunking myths  of slot machines ]]> Lead story image

Some slot machine myths have faded into obscurity because of technology and players getting used to technology. Nobody worries about whether a machine will go cold if it senses hot coins fresh from the hopper, since hardly any games use coins anymore. And players have gotten used to rewards systems. But some myths and misconceptions about the slots persist. Let’s look at a few that I’ve been asked more than once recently: ♦ Do casinos set machines to pay more jackpots when there’s a big crowd, so lots of people can see? Game programming is no different whether the crowds … ]]> Tue, 09 Oct 2012 14:11:26 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/14930892-452/debunking-myths-of-slot-machines.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/14930892-452/debunking-myths-of-slot-machines.html <![CDATA[ Cards still a better bet for low rollers ]]> Lead story image

In both of the two most popular casino table games, players in the know can reduce the house edge to less than 1 percent. A blackjack player has to know basic strategy to get there, and a craps player has to back pass/don’t pass or come/don’t come bets with odds, but the opportunity is there. A reader emailed me asking for a bottom-line judgment. “My brother and I have argued for years over which casino game is best for players — I say it’s blackjack, he says it’s craps,” he wrote, asking me to weigh in. There is no cut-and-dried … ]]> Tue, 25 Sep 2012 10:32:55 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/14636417-452/cards-still-a-better-bet-for-low-rollers.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/14636417-452/cards-still-a-better-bet-for-low-rollers.html <![CDATA[ Triple Play Poker offers big rewards ]]> Lead story image

One of my true loves among electronic casino games is Triple Play Poker. I like that I can break even or better with one decent pay even if two hands are losers. I like that I’m paid three times over when I’m dealt a big winner. I’ve never been dealt a royal flush, but I have been dealt four wild deuces and gotten that 1,000-coin return three times over. Problem is, it’s difficult to find a decent pay table on Triple Play if you’re not willing to bet the big bucks. So on an overnight trip to the Blue Chip … ]]> Tue, 04 Sep 2012 06:05:15 -0500 http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/14101826-452/triple-play-poker-offers-big-rewards.html http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/grochowski/14101826-452/triple-play-poker-offers-big-rewards.html