April 30th, 2008

By Charles Jay

Over the years, slot machines have come to be known as a universal symbol for gambling; Most members of the general public only have to take one look at the machine itself and they will invariably identify it with the pastime. Indeed, the “one-armed bandit” has become a part of Americana.

The machine, of course, represents a game that is not only one of the most popular with players but has also become a cultural phenomenon.

So how did the slot machine get its start?

You’d have to go back all the way to the 19th Century.

A company called Sittman and Pitt – located in Brooklyn, New York – developed a machine in 1891, containing five “drums” with fifty card faces. In a way, you could equate it with a five-card stud game, where ultimately the best poker hand won.

The new machines met with tremendous popularity in hospitality establishments around New York City, and prizes were given out to winners by the bar and restaurant owners themselves because no money was paid directly out of the machine. Although it laid the groundwork for the development of the slot machine, it really was more like the predecessor of the video poker machine.

The slot machine, in the general way we are familiar with it, had its origin in the city of San Francisco, courtesy of Charles Fey, a mechanic who developed it in his humble shop. The San Francisco Chronicle documented a demonstration Fey made for this new machine in 1887, but exact reports are a little sketchy.

He used the term “slot machine” to describe the device, a designation which confused some people, since that was also the word used for a vending machine – the type that dispensed cigarettes, for example. It wasn’t long, however, before there was no mistaking it at all.

Fey was the inventor of the original three-reel slot machine. Those reels had ten different symbols on them – spades, diamonds and hearts were derived from card decks; there were also horseshoes and bells. And on each of the reels there appeared a cracked Liberty Bell symbol. because this was so identifiable, the machine came to be known as the “Liberty Bell machine.”

It process was familiar – the player put a coin into it, pulled a handle, and the reels started to move. They would stop automatically, and would pay off three in a row on the center line. The big payoff was achieved when three Liberty Bells in a row were realized, at which point the player got 50 cents for the effort.

Of course, it’s a little different today, with multiple paylines and the evolution of different symbols and icons and – with the I-Slots that have become a staple at Superior Casino – characters and storylines. But it all had to begin somewhere.

We’ll have more information on the history of slots as we progress. For now, log on to Superior Casinoand enjoy the great casino game in its state of the art!

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April 23rd, 2008

Charles Jay

There are poker players who will occasionally indulge themselves at the blackjack table. There are probably more blackjack players who also play poker, many of them in response to the game’s surge in popularity over the last few years. In fact, I know quite a few serious blackjack players who have pretty much abandoned it to play poker online.

On balance, I’d say there most likely aren’t too many people who play both games religiously.

Part of it may be that there is more human interaction in poker, whether it be in a brick and mortar situation or online. Maybe they’re just looking to follow the crowd to the game that seems “hot” right now.

Well, let’s say you’ve never really taken on either game to any considerable extent but would like to, and need some counsel on how to approach it over at Superior Casino.

Let’s put you through sort of an informal interview.

If you are not the kind of person who likes to battle a house edge, but would rather be in a game where the best player at the table has a chance to win the money most of the time, then poker might be the game for you. If you frequent a particular card club in person, or to a degree even if you play in a casino online, you may have a chance to control the level of opposition you play against, which changes the dynamic of the game for you, and thus, your chances of winning. In blackjack, on the other hand, the rules are the rules are the rules. If you want to change the dynamic of the game, you’ll probably have to switch to another version of the game, and take advantage of subtleties those variations have to offer.

If you’re not looking for a lot of variables that can affect your end result, then blackjack is probably better for you. Once again, the rules are the rules. You essentially have a stationary target to aim at in blackjack. It is called “the house.” In poker, it is completely dependent on factors that change all the time, like who else is at the table, how well you’re able to read them (a little tougher online than in person), how well they’re able to read you, how well you are able to coerce another player into going into a pot with a hand that’s not as good as yours, etc., etc., etc. In other words, the target is far from standing still. In fact, it’s moving all the time.

Different players want different things out of the games they play. How about you? Are you torn between poker and blackjack? Which is better?

If you prefer more “science” from a mathematical standpoint, choose blackjack, where, if you really want to reach a high level of proficiency, you can utilize a Basic Strategy in the online game that can give you the best play to make for any particular player vs. dealer situation. In poker,you’re using whatever information is at your disposal, from both a mathematical and psychological perspective, and both are far from an exact science.

If you want as many places as you can possibly play, you should opt for poker. That’s because you can play anywhere, against anyone, because the house has no stake in the matter. Blackjack obviously has the house involved, so you might not always get the rules you want.

This is mostly something I would advise to people who participate in the physical casino setting, but if you’re a card counter and you don’t want to get barred from a casino because you’re winning, choose poker over blackjack. If you get nervous when some pit boss is staring you down, you want to first get online to play blackjack. Or you may want to play poker instead. This way, you can have a whole bunch of people observing you (yuk, yuk).

In online poker, even though you don’t get to read opponents by detecting physical expressions and movements, there are still some techniques you can use to determine “tells.” And the basic fundamentals are still the same, in that there is no “house” to battle against, and if you’re the best player at the table, you’re likely to win the most in the long run.

We hope that helps.

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April 16th, 2008

General Gaming
By Charles Jay

Did you ever hear this expression from some players – “I’m playing with the house’s money”? I really hate it when I hear that. Can there be any expression that is a worse representation of the gambling experience? I don’t know, but it certainly sounds like the kind of thing you would hear from a loser. In fact, it might be the most characteristic “loser’s statement” there is (although I’d have to check on that, because I’m sure if you gave me enough time, I’d find something worse).

Hey look – there’s a big difference between OPM, which stands for “Other People’s Money.” and the “House’s Money,” especially when it is in your possession. With OPM, you are literally using someone’s else’s bankroll, from the get go. And folks, if you’re doing that, you don’t need any advice whatsoever from us. If you’re like most people, however, you are pulling that playing bankroll out of your OWN pocket, which means that it’s either yours or the house’s, depending on whose fingerprints are on it.

And you know, even though at the all-new, redesigned Superior Casino we are the “house,” so to speak, we still feel like an educated consumer is our best customer.

So pay attention, because there is something very fundamental you need to know; so fundamental, in fact, that we’ll put some stars next to it:

** It’s only the house’s money when it’s on the other side of the table, in the bankroll of the house. When it makes that transition from the dealer’s rack (think virtual, if you’re online) to your pocket, it is YOUR money, plain and simple.

Repeat that again, class.

Hey – it’s not simply a matter of semantics either. It really goes much deeper than that. This really reflects on the attitude of the player in general and can, in the long run create a very unhappy player, which we sure don’t want to see over here at Superior Casino.

When you take the attitude that the money you win is really the house’s money, that’s precisely what it will revert to again. That’s because you are basically giving yourself any and all excuses to lose it back. You have conceded that the laws of nature will send it all back to the other side. So you force it back in that direction.

There is also, in a strange way, a false sense of acceptance at work here; that somehow it is “okay” to lose that money back because the worst that can happen is that you wind up even. Sure, that’s the WORST that can happen. Right, and I’d like to sell you a house for the same price I paid for it two years ago. Anyone who has been around people in a casino knows how much truth there is in THAT statement.

Listen – we’d like you to play in our beautiful casino all you want. We are in business for a reason. But we hope you think we’re working in your best entertainment interests at the same time. Players take it on the chin enough in the casino without doing things they can actually control to prevent it. When you finally have a leg up, it’s not a condition that should taken so lightly. Remember, only a loser feels that it’s alright to lose. In the gambling business, possession is TEN tenths of the law.

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April 10th, 2008

General Gaming
By Charles Jay

Anyone who knows anything about casino gaming is aware that a key point in the game – in fact, the main determinant of success or failure – is the management of one’s money at the tables. And one thing’s for certain – smart money management begins BEFORE you start to play. We said that right – BEFORE.

How many times have you heard the stories about players who went away for a week’s vacation but were “tapped out” after just a couple of days? Those horror stories can be averted through the use of a few simple money management techniques.

We’ll give you an example of a money management system for all forms of gaming, and one that can apply whether you are playing at a land-based casino or an online casino. Remember, this is not the hard-and-fast way to go, but just a useful suggestion.

First, it is important to establish a CASINO (OR TOTAL) BANKROLL, a pre-determined amount of money that is set aside as bankroll for the sole purpose of playing the game (whatever that game is). This money should be an amount which the player can afford to lose at the tables, in as much as playing with “scared” money is not a good practice at all.

One-half of the casino bankroll constitutes the TRIP BANKROLL, which is the money you actually use in the casino. Then you want to set aside money for each session, i.e., each individual time you endeavor to play. Divide the trip bankroll, which serves as your playing bank, into five parts, each of which becomes a SESSION BANKROLL. You don’t want to lose more money in any one playing session than the amount you have allocated, because it’s always better to be able to come back to play in a separate session.

BET-SIZING should be made in proportion to your bankroll. A good policy to follow is to make sure that your minimum bet be no more than 1/25th of your current trip bankroll.

Let us exemplify some of the principles of sound money management. We will use a figure of $2000, set aside for casino play. The $2000 is your casino bankroll. Half of that amount is to be used for the trip bankroll, so that means that you will actually bring $1000 to the casino, with $1000 in reserve. Remember that each session bankroll is equal to one-fifth of the trip bankroll, so you would use $200 in each session of play, and this will also serve as your stop-loss figure.

Since the minimum bet will have to be no more than 1/40th of the session bankroll figure, divide $200 by 40 and you come up with $5.

Now what does that tell you? That’s right. If you’ve got $2000 for total bankroll and you are playing at a table that has a $5 or $10 minimum bet, you are probably better off at the $5 table to greatly reduce the risk of ruin.

The maximum bet, as stated before, should be no more than 1/25th of your trip bankroll, so divide by 25, which gives you $40. Remember that your trip bankroll will increase or decrease while you continue playing, so you must make your adjustments accordingly.

The above rules are designed to reduce the risk of ruin and to serve as a guideline for players to manage money according to their capital.

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April 3rd, 2008

Charles Jay on Blackjack

With the Sweet 16 of the NCAA basketball tournament upon us, it’s a reminder that having a 16 dealt to you at the blackjack table is decidedly not very sweet. In fact, it’s a horrible hand to have, since you can easily “bust” (go over 21) with a hit, and it’s not very advantageous to stand with it.

So if you’re sitting in a game and get a 16, how are you going to handle it?

Suffice it to say that this is a hand which is probably misplayed by a most people. On a psychological level, you may in fact be scared to hit a 16. That’s understandable, since in all likelihood you’re going to break 21. But there is a hard reality, which is that the best way to help yourself here is to hit the hand, that is, against the so-called “pat” upcards that run from the seven through the Ace (it goes without saying, at least we think, that you will stand against anything from a two through six as the dealer’s upcard, because those are generally bad cards for the dealer). If you think about it for a second, the dealer has to play by strict house rules in the casino which require him to hit on a total of 16. And if you notice, he winds up making hands to beat you, to the point where there is a house advantage to blackjack. That is no coincidence, believe me.

You need to operate on that principle too. Hitting hands is the best way you have at your disposal to make hands, and when you are playing against a dealer who is most likely going to make a hand for himself, there’s no way you can preserve your bankroll in this case while employing a “no bust” strategy. Experts also call that a “no-win” strategy.

Let’s take the example where you’re going against the dealer’s weakest “pat” upcard – the seven. If you stand in this situation, you are going to win 26% of the time and lose 74%. If you hit, you’ll win only 27%, which is only a small improvement but an improvement nonetheless. More importantly, you’re going to wind up losing less, to the tune of 67.5% (with the rest being pushes). So by hitting the hand, you are, for the most part, making an attempt to SAVE some of your bankroll.

As an addendum to this discussion, let’s make sure we’re very clear as to what to do in one particular situation – when you have a 16 and the dealer is showing a ten (or ten value card, like a Jack, Queen or King).

That puts you into one of the tougher spots a blackjack player can find him/herself. There is virtually no chance at all to win the hand. The necessary point of focus here is how you’re going to LOSE LESS on the hand. More so than some of the others, this is a very close call. Let’s say you took the posture that you were always going to stand on this hand. That strategy would bring you a defeat 77% of the time, which constitutes roughly the number of times the dealer is going to be pat with a ten showing. Hitting the hand will obviously leave you busting out quite a bit, and you will win 2.7% less. But you will also LOSE 3.1% less, making it a slightly better decision to hit the 16 here. Minimize your losses when you can.

Because it counts for something.

I’ll tell you one instance where you can indeed get a “Sweet 16.” It’s when you are dealt a pair of eights. In this case, they are indeed “Elite Eights,” because you will always split them. It’s a much better opportunity, especially if you can take advantage of doubling down after splitting.

That counts for something too.

Try it for yourself at Superior Casino.

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