Sunday December 8, 2013
If you didn't know it, the revenues produced by slot machines are often as high as 75% of a casino's income. It didn't used to be like that. The history of slot machines (and other trade and vending machines) is well-chronicled in Automatic Pleasures by Nic Costa, which also has hundreds of photos. He notes that in 1927, the revenues produced by Al Capone and other hoodlums of Chicago were estimated at $105 million. Of that figure, $60,000,000 was from beer and other liquor (and we wonder why the Mob became so powerful during Prohibition?), $10,000,000 from loan and policy rackets, and $25,000,000 from all other gaming and dog tracks. However, the amount from slot machines was only a small proportion of those ill-gotten goodies.
As noted in Mob City: Reno, casinos that had eight or ten gaming tables consisting of 21, craps, roulette, Faro, and poker, usually had only the same number of slot machines. Harold's Club became the more successful casino in the world in the 1950's, but when it opened in the 1930's it had just two slots, a nickel and a dime.
Detailed records from Harold's Club show daily net income in the early 1940's of $4028 from gambling, but just $226 of that came from slot machines. That's about 5% of the gaming income. When Bally's Money Honey slots skyrocketed in popularity in the 1960's, casinos added more and more slots. In 1980, Harrah's in Reno had 2,000 slot machines, with 106 table games (plus race book, keno, poker, bingo) and the slots brought in about 35% of the revenue. Today that same casino has revenue of about 75% from slot machines! That's a big change, for better or worse.
Thursday December 5, 2013
That's right, even the great Ferris Bueller is hitting the casinos these days. I mean the guy was everywhere, I saw him at the Palms, the Tropicanna and Treasure Island in Las Vegas, and then he was at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsale, Arizona. Oh, wait, it's the slot machine. The slot machine Ferris Bueller's Day Off. In fact, I never actually saw Ferris, like he was never at 31 Flavors, no matter what Simone said about her friend's, sister's, cousin.
If you don't know anything about Ferris or the 1980's skipping school to spend the day in Chicago touring the city movie, bummer. It's a classic John Hughes film. Hughes also did films like Pretty in Pink, Home Alone, and National Lampoon's Vacation. Unfortunately, as with most any movie sequel, Hughes' films are better than the slot machine, but that's understandable. The slot does have the characters and clips from the film, and a colossal-companion-spin where you suddenly get 75 additional lines, so that's fun .
The slot machine is already on the east coast too. You can catch it at Connecticut's casinos and watch any of the eight mini-bonuses or the wheel spins pop up when there is a car symbol on the fifth line, if you are playing enough lines! And, you can catch a few other new slots too, like Dolly Parton, Avatar, Family Guy, Willy Wonka....
Saturday November 30, 2013
I've been reading the Lee Child book Never Go Back, which features Child's quasi-detective tough-guy Jack Reacher as the main character. It is set mostly in California and Virginia, both states I have lived in, as well as West Virginia, which is both a beautiful state, and one of the states in the US with commercial casinos. Reacher doesn't go in for any casino gambling, I mean the guy only travels with the clothes on his back and a toothbrush, so you can't expect him to hit the slots.
However, the book's descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, close to some of the casinos in West Virginia, was a pleasant reminder of the mountains, the moist weather, and the greenery of the area. West Virginia had racinos early on, but now Maryland and Ohio have joined with Pennsylvania to offer casinos surrounding the state, so they aren't exactly booming with new business, but a couple of them are very large. And, the Mardi Gras has 40 poker tables, so that's a big draw.
As for Lee Child's Reacher, in Never Go Back he keeps calling his options 50-50 propositions, simply because they will either happen, or they won't. Obviously that's a simplification, and he called them all a flip of the coin. If he had any money I'd want to get him in a poker game myself! As for real poker (kind of), I never mentioned the final table of the 2013 WSOP! Whoops.
If you missed it, Ryan Riess, a 23-year old poker pro (aren't they all these days?) from Waterford, MI picked up the totally sick amount of $8.4 million by beating a field of 6,352 in the $10,000 buy-in No Limit Texas Hold'em Championship. Jay Farber took second place for $5.2 million and Amir Lehavot pocketed $3.7 million. Previous gold metal winner JC Tran landed in fifth for $2.1 million in prize money. Wow.
Friday November 29, 2013
Choosing your spots to gamble may be one of the most important things a winning player ever learns. As the football season heads into December with a few more weeks of bets before the playoffs, I take heart in the fact that I've got a winning season going. I don't always do that great at the NFL, and while I was telling a friend that 57% is a good number for choosing winners in the NFL, he showed me some stats that tend to obliterate my puny percentage: he hit 75% for more than a year. Wow.
Now I'm not likely to do that, but I do like to bet the NFL playoffs, because I find them to be much easier than the regular season. In fact, there has been more than one year where I entered the playoffs in the hole and went 5-1, 6-1, 7-1 at the end to wind up with a nice year. You can too, but first, a story:
When I was in third grade I lost all my marbles (my wife can attest to this), and couldn't play anymore (we always played for keeps) until I found a broken shooter on the playground. I took it home, glued it back together, and challenged the kid I figured was the worst marble player in school to a match-up. When my shooter hit his, it broke again, but I got to keep his marble and we kept playing until I had several new marbles and I was on my way.
Now I have no defense for the fact that I was cheating, because if he won, he would have gotten a cracked marble, but I had to be very careful and really choose my spot to gamble. I had one (well, almost one) marble and I had to win. Think of the playoffs like that. Every team knows they have to win, they should all be at a seasonal peak, playing to win and win big. Obviously the best team usually wins in the playoffs. Start with that idea before you bet any NFL playoff games this year, and start figuring who will be playing now, so you're ready when the NFL's second season starts!