Posted by smoothgrh
Mar 12, 2024

The price of poker is going up!

The Mrs. and I decided to swing by our local card room, which still has one $4-$8 limit Hold'em table.

The first thing I noticed is that they added a jackpot for quads beaten, which the card room host said was added about four months ago. (It was at $52,000 tonight.)

So I figured now the regular $5/hand rake would mean $5 + $1. Well, I went to the table and saw the dealer carve out $6 + $1!

On one hand, the big blind put down his $4 and won the pot: $3!

Getting tougher for low rollers! And we never did get on the table — I suspect people were sticking around trying to win the jackpot. Lots of bills pulled out of pockets!

In other low-limit news, the Mrs. said our friends went to Vegas last month and $3-$6 limit Hold'em at both South Point and Red Rock are gone. It's still available at Orleans.

Where y'at?


Morstana Mar 19, 2024

It seems that it has become more expensive to play. It's a pity that I couldn't get to the table. Thanks for the info about Vegas and low-limit games. I'll have to remember about Orleans.

Posted by smoothgrh
Feb 01, 2024

Garage Royal Flush!

I finally got a royal flush in my garage! OK, so it was on Hundred Play Draw Poker, but a royal flush nonetheless. I've never gotten a royal on my home machine or in a casino. Just on my Palm Pilot (actually, a Sony Clié). So yes, I'm happy with this play money accomplishment. Especially because I made myself an Old Fashioned before bedtime — a double!

Here's my mancave slot machine side table. The ashtray is my parents' Reno souvenir they got before I was born. The telephone is from my parents' home from the '70s through the '90s (it's not hooked up). The toy roulette wheel is from a childhood visit to Reno. The coin cup is from Atlantis Reno. (And I smoke cigars only with the Mrs. either outdoors or at a casino.)

Posted by smoothgrh
Dec 27, 2023

Star Wars slot machines

I was looking through my oldest emails and found this one from March 28, 2005 that I wrote to my Star Wars-loving friends. I was a bit a aghast by my writing style back then: unnecessarily verbose. But it's an interesting personal historical document.

Also, it touches on one of the currently hot threads: whether some slot machine bonus rounds are gaffed!

— — — 

In attempt to woo the nerd demographic into gambling, there are now...

Star Wars video slot machines!

It's based on Episode IV (which, I don't need to tell YOU, is "A New

The one I was playing was a 1 cent denomination (don't know if there are
higher values) at Atlantis casino in Reno.

You may play up to 300 credits per spin, and based on how many credits
you use, it plays different themes. For instance, I was playing 3 cents
at a time (what a high roller!) and the theme was moisture farming. It
played Luke Skywalker's theme and sounds from Aunt Beru's kitchen. One
woman who sat next to me for a little while was playing all 300 credits
and she got tie fighters, x-wings and loud space battle sound effects.
If you play mid-range credits, you get Mos Eisley cantina characters.

There are two different bonus rounds. The more frequent one is getting
Darth Vader on line 1 and Obi-Wan Kenobi on line 5. Then you have pick
who will win the lightsaber battle.

My picks:
Obi-Wan: lost (Vader tells you: don't underestimate the power of the
dark side!)
Obi-Wan: lost
Obi-Wan: won
Vader: lost
Obi-Wan: won
Obi-Wan: won

When I lost, I get about 18 consolation credits. When winning, I got
75-125 credits. (The winnings are obviously more if you play more than 3
cents at a time!)

The other bonus round is if you line up three Death Stars. Then you pick
two stormtroopers to shoot and that determines which two of six arrows
on the death star light up. The Death Star spins around and awards you
based on the arrows you picked. But I'm certain it's rigged -- the
numbers are fixed on the death star, so no matter which arrows you pick,
I'm sure it can pay you an amount it wants to give you (I got 20 and 40
credits -- max is something like 500 and 500 credits).

It's pretty fun overall if you're a Star Wars fan. They did a great job
visually on the video displays and cabinet design -- it would make an
excellent home machine (sorry, California law states that all home-owned
slot machines must be at least 25 years old). The sound is excellent.
(There are two pages of credits to John Williams for all the songs and
music). In fact, whenever you "spin," the music plays and fades out, and
if you spin again quickly, the volume comes back up again where the
music left off, so it creates a "keep playing and you'll hear the
complete stanza of the song" psychological effect!

Apparently, the designer also worked on the Star Wars: Episode I pinball
machine (bad movie, but good pinball).

So my highlight: I lined up four Luke Skywalkers and won $1.50! Hey,
that's a 50-1 return on my money! (Although when I played "Twilight
Zone" slots I got five Rod Serlings and won $10 on my 3 cent bet!)
Overall I finished ahead 2 cents -- an hour's worth of entertainment and
I was a winner! (OK, that could be debated!)


Morstana Mar 21, 2024

I noticed that many people are skeptical about the fairness of bonus rounds in slot machines, as in your example with Star Wars. It may be fun for fans, but should we expect fairness from casino games? I wonder how often someone wins big on these machines

Posted by smoothgrh
Oct 17, 2023

July 1998: Sixth Vegas Visit

My 1998 visit to Las Vegas was driven by pinball like the previous year. I asked my brother to go with me this time. He was the one who got me hooked on pinball by being in bowling leagues while I was single-digits-old, which meant I was left unattended near all the late 1970s pinball machines that bowling alleys had. He later owned a Captain Fantastic pinball machine (based on Elton John’s role in The Who’s “Tommy” movie), which inspired me to buy my first pinball machine, Eight Ball Deluxe. As luck would have it, the EM tournament machine at the Pinball Fantasy ’98 show at the Riviera was Captain Fantastic!

The pinball show was great as usual. Again, many of the machines were likely from the collection of Tim Arnold, who founded the current Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame. At one point, I was 13th on the leaderboard for the Captain Fantastic tournament!

I had some kind of offer to stay at Harrah’s, including free tickets to a magic show. This was the show I described elsewhere in the forum about how my brother and I walked out next to a guy who was chosen to go up on stage for a trick. He and his friend told other audience members they were from Boston. I whispered to my brother “let’s follow them!” And so we saw that they walked from the showroom all the way through the casino to the other end and out to the valet parking area to smoke cigarettes against a wall. Sus!

One of the newest Vegas attractions was Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton, which opened in January. It featured the “Space Quest” casino, which had a futuristic look, including some slot machines that you spun by waving your hand through a sensor. Even the bathrooms were space themed in brushed aluminum and black tones.

I was always more of a Star Trek fan than my brother, who was interested in only the original series. I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation with my college dormmates in our televison room and dutifully saw all the movies in theaters starting with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. My brother took me to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the theater, but it was so boring, we actually walked out to see a different movie (“Scanners” if I recall correctly.) I still have not watched ST: TMP in its entirety. It put such a damper on me that I didn’t even see Star Trek II or III during their original theatrical runs — only on home video. Of course, I now believe “The Wrath of Khan” is the best Star Trek movie. But I digress.

Anyway, Star Trek: The Experience had a “pre-ride” queue attraction, “History of the Future,” in which you could see all the Star Trek memorabilia up to that time, which included Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Oh how I wished I drank alcohol back then and tried some of the drinks at Quark’s Bar — including a “Warp Core Breach.” Yes, nerd. Anyway, everything about the “ride” was awesome, including the magical, opening transporter effect. You really felt that you were transported to a completely different place! Standing in a turbolift and being on the bridge of the Enterprise 1701-D was an amazing thrill. Also, back then, cast members were carefully selected to have a um, “Starfleet” look. I noticed that in later years, some cast members wore non-Trek-like eyeglasses (and possibly might not pass one of Dr. McCoy’s physicals).

We rented a red Mustang for some reason — probably just for fun.

One of the places we visited was the shooting range on Tropicana Avenue. I noticed their advertisements a lot in the 1990s, but their presence has declined in the past couple decades — perhaps too much advertising competition? My brother was an Eagle Scout, so he was handy with guns. I had gone trap shooting before, but it was the first time for me handling a handgun. It was one of many “attractions other than gambling” I’ve enjoyed in Vegas over the years.

Posted by smoothgrh
Jul 09, 2023

Bellagio buffet 1999

One of the few AP moves I've done: taking my parents and friend to the Bellagio lunch buffet at 3:10 p.m., then sticking around for the 4 p.m. dinner opening!

Only $12.50 for lunch per person — still "only" $22.64 in 2023 dollars!

I remember seeing a newscast about the Bellagio buffet that they serve butter imported from France. I checked when I got there, and indeed it was! I wish I had taken pictures inside the buffet. I can't find any photos from that period. It didn't look anything like it does now.


wizard13 Apr 11, 2024

This looks so good, It's impressive that is still "only" $22.64