NASCAR Betting On The Rise

I’ve made a couple of posts on betting NASCAR races around the past couple of Daytona 500 races.  Few people have told me that they actually bet on any NASCAR events.  From what I’ve read NASCAR television ratings are dropping so the fact that betting on NASCAR is on the rise is a little surprising.

“We have grown every year in NASCAR wagering,” Hilton manager Ed Salmon told ESPN. “Our odds to win handle has increased an amazing amount from when we started in June of 2004.”

Ya learn something new every day.  I don’t know NASCAR well enough to bet on it, but I have noticed myself watching it a little more than I used to so maybe I’ll dabble in this down the line.

Allen Iverson Has Some Problems

I came home to the end of a report about Allen Iverson having some personal problems.  As it turns out he’s been kicked out of casinos in Atlantic City and Detroit and has gambling and drinking problems to go with an upcoming divorce.  I just checked to get the details.  Here’s the report.

I like Allen Iverson as a player.  He was gritty.  I love the small scrappy types.  Hopefully he can get his life together.  Good luck AI.

Seven Stars Insider – Feb March

Seven Stars Insider is a great resource for Harrah’s players looking for information and ways to possibly improve their Total Rewards experience.  The Total Rewards system is a little confusing so the more info the merrier.  As the disclaimer says in the newsletter this info isn’t only for Harrah’s top tier players.

Sign up for Seven Stars Insider on their site.

Seven Stars Insider – February/March 2010

[NOTE: While this newsletter was originally designed exclusively for Seven Stars Club members, there is useful information for anyone who has a Total Rewards® player’s card and/or plays/stays at a Harrah’s property.  Please feel free to pass this on to your friends.]

Planet Hollywood Becomes Part Of Total Rewards April 1

By now you probably know that a subsidiary of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. has assumed ownership of the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.  As of April 1, Harrah’s Total Rewards program should be fully integrated, enabling guests to earn and redeem Reward and Tier Credits every time they play at the casino.  Points earned in Planet Hollywood’s loyalty program, A-List, will automatically convert into Total Rewards credits at the time of the Total Rewards integration.  This is similar to what happened when Harrah’s purchased Caesars several years ago.

Harrah’s Cherokee Now Serving Alcohol On Limited Basis

Alcohol is now being served at Harrah’s Cherokee from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon until 2 a.m. on Sundays. Note, though, that only non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary and you cannot use comp dollars to purchase alcohol.

Aces Closes

In preparation for recently approved table games in Pennsylvania, Aces Diner at Harrah’s Chester closed in mid-February.  Not a big loss, in many guests’ opinions.

Snow Days In Atlantic City

Once again, Harrah’s angered its most valued customers by closing its Diamond Clubs the last Thursday and Friday of February “due to inclement weather.”  Meanwhile, the bars at Showboat Thursday night were packed to capacity, and most other Harrah’s food and beverage outlets around the city were open for business.  By Friday, there were no significant weather problems that should have delayed most guests or employees from getting to Atlantic City.  As a matter of fact, Trump Marina’s Chairman’s Club was open both Thursday and Friday, as was the Borgata’s Amphora Lounge.  Trump Taj Mahal’s Chairman’s Club was closed Thursday, but offered eligible players coupons for the buffet at a reduced rate (10 comp dollars for a lunch or dinner valued at $21).

Seven Stars Insider Site Updated

Google did a wholesale conversion of all its Web sites, and caused a number of sites – including Seven Stars Insider – to lose much of its original formatting.  This has since been fixed, some factual errors corrected, and information on several properties updated.  If you visit a Harrah’s property and find incorrect information on the site – or information that needs to be updated, please send an email to  In addition, as always, we are looking for reports on properties currently not represented on the site.  If you can provide any insights, again, please send an email to

Did You Attend A New Year’s Eve Celebration?

Not a big response to this question, but everyone who commented had “raves” (especially for the events at Harrah’s Resort and Bally’s in Atlantic City).  See specific comments below:

  • “My husband and I attended the party at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City.  It had a Moulin Rouge theme in one of the upstairs ballrooms.  The dinner was wonderful – an ‘11’out of ‘10’.”
  • “We attended the party at Bally’s in Atlantic City.  It was an excellent event, just as good as previous years’.  [The 12-piece band] played and sang everything from the ’40s through ’90s rap music.  The meal was lobster, shrimp and filet mignon.  We did not expect it to be that good.  Recent events at Bally’s had been very disappointing.  One previous dinner featured a chicken cutlet and one stuffed shrimp.”

What’s Your Recommendation For The Annual Seven Stars Trip?

A lot of new members, in particular, would appreciate your thoughts on where to take the annual trip.  Did you have an outstanding experience somewhere, or, conversely, is there some property you wouldn’t send your worst enemy?  Send me an email ( and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course – with everyone in a future newsletter.  (Be sure to check out some tips for your annual trip by going to


P.S.  Back issues of the Seven Stars Insider newsletter are available online at  You will need Adobe Acrobat to view them, but this is a free program available at

Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher

Seven Stars Insider

Harrahs Buying Palms Next?

New rumor: Harrah’s is buying Palms next.  How can this be possible?  Steve Friess from The Strip Podcast was the first person I saw with this rumor.  After reading his blog and the accompanying Financial Times article it seems as if we have a repeat of how Harrah’s purchased Planet Hollywood.

The piece relies on anonymous sources, albeit more than one, and notes that “the investment points toward a systematic strategy by Harrah’s to acquire other casinos through their distressed debt.”

Friess followed up this with a call to George Maloof, owner of Palms, to get even more information on the subject.

I just hung up with George Maloof, who cast doubt on the Financial Times’ report that Harrah’s has been buying up Palms debt by saying, flat-out: “They’re not going to take over my company. It’s so far remote.”

Great job of digging for info here.  I love the Palms in the same way I love Planet Hollywood.  Maybe it’s the independent nature of those casinos that draws me or maybe it’s the youthful, energetic crowd that both casinos seem to draw.

Mass homogenization of casinos is boring and it seems as if that’s where Las Vegas is heading.  This will create a wider gap for casinos like Wynn/Encore from MGM-Mirage and Harrah’s properties.

There is part of me that will pay for great service and there is another part that loves the comps provided by “The Man.”  I will sit here torn a little as I ponder whether or not I’m going to make it to Harrah’s in Atlantic City.

ALSO: Props to Steve Friess for the info here.  Follow The Strip Podcast on twitter, read the blog for more info and check the podcast.  A great source for Vegas info from a person that’s actually in Vegas.

Pennies From Hell

I like to play slot machines and I know that the lower the denomination put in, the lower the payout.  I like to think of myself as a somewhat intelligent gambler.  Well, when it comes to the loud noises and bright lights of penny slots I become zombie-like and move forward slobbering for a new penny slot.

Dr. Dave Schwartz at Die Is Cast has a breakdown of which slots are most played and make the most money.  The answer this year is penny slots.

The information is from Las Vegas and I’ve certainly contributed a few bucks to the totals for 2009.  Dr. Dave has more information on the subject and economy on Die is Cast.

Even though I know penny slots will take my money, I’m pretty sure I’ll keep on playing.  Thankfully I have the one bill rule per slot now to quell my losses.

Where Will The World Series Of Poker Go?

While I was writing up rumor of Penn National’s purchase of the Rio in Las Vegas, I saw a tweet wondering where the World Series of Poker (WSOP) will move.

Harrah’s owns the hosting rights to the location of the WSOP.  If this deal is put into motion quickly location will likely be moved from the Rio, unless that is part of the deal Penn National makes with Harrah’s.

Let’s assume that this deal happens quickly and rights remain with Harrah’s and the WSOP moves.  Where does the WSOP go?

Most people, and my initial thought, is that the WSOP is a natural to move to Caesars Palace.  Caesars Palace is the flagship casino for Harrah’s in Las Vegas.

However, there may be a thought to use the WSOP to raise the visibility of another property.  Here are some possibilities.

Planet Hollywood isn’t much of a poker oriented casino, but it’s a coo, hip spot and the bright and shiny star of the Harrah’s empire.  It’s also been set up to host special events such as movie premiers and TV events.  Going to Planet Hollywood would also allow for Caesars Palace to keep their Heads Up Poker/NBC alignment.

Paris (and Bally’s) is another option.  Paris is just down the list of Harrah’s property priority scale.  Barry Manilow and Pussy Cat Dolls are possibly going to add a little life to the property.  Adding the WSOP would add even more shine on Paris.  Because it’s connected with Bally’s you have a very large selection of rooms attached to one area.

I think Caesars Palace is top of the list to get the WSOP from Harrah’s, but I could see it going somewhere else as leverage to bring people to other properties.  I’m a little past my poker prime, but I’m a marketing guy and curious to see what happens here.

Las Vegas Gambling – Everything Else

I didn’t just play slots and video poker when I was in Las Vegas in December.  I played 3 card poker, 4 card poker, blackjack, blackjack switch and of course, bet on sports.  Unfortunately phones and cameras are shunned at the tables and sportsbook so there aren’t any pictures.

I didn’t only gamble at the Palazzo. I played a little at Wynn, Encore, Bellagio and Palms.  The people I was traveling with were blackjack players so most of my time at the tables was spent playing blackjack.

3 Card Poker
I only played at Palazzo and only played a couple of times.  If the table isn’t full I like to play multiple hands.  Palazzo didn’t allow me to do that.  I went at it with just one hand both times I played.  I lost everything I put in both times I played and lost it quickly.  I’d like to blame this loss on the rules at Palazzo.  I’ve had no problem playing two hands in Atlantic City.  Thumbs down to Palazzo.

One point to note; there was only one 3 card poker table open all weekend and it was rarely full.

4 Card Poker
I put a couple hundred bucks up while killing time at Bellagio.  I’ve only played this game once before and wasn’t too familiar with the rules.  Thankfully, I happened upon a table of very nice people.  The game was a slow bleed until my friends found me.  I wanted to play the hand blind, but was told not to.  I didn’t want to look at the cards, so I showed them to someone else at the table and ended up with a straight or a flush.  Whatever it was I won all of my money back + $5!  WOOOHOOO!

I probably won’t play this game again.  Most of the non-blackjack card games at Bellagio were packed.  This was the only table that had players that also had room for me.  There were a couple empty tables.  I don’t like playing these kind of games alone.

Blackjack Switch
This was the game I was most looking forward to trying out.  I wrote about it when I first heard about it last year.  Blackjack Switch it a newer table game where you are dealt two hands of blackjack and can switch cards dealt.  I learned two things about this game after playing at Wynn after a great steak dinner at SW.

First, I had a little too much wine with my steak and probably wasn’t in condition to experiment with a new game.  I lost my initial buy in of $200.  I was too confused to play the game properly.  I lost patience fairly quickly.  As a result I lost my money, but I had a good time losing it.  The game was fun and kind of slow.

The second thing I learned about Blackjack Switch came the following night when talking to a pit boss at Encore.  More people walk away winners at Blackjack Switch.  In fact I was one of the few losers they met that played the game.  Oh well, there will be a next time.  In fact, I just got an idea on when that next time will be!

The tables in this area at Wynn were pretty crowded for a Thursday night.  There was an entire pit area that was empty, so I guess they did a good job shuffling people to one area.

Sports Betting
I ended up at Legasse Stadium every day of this trip.  Unfortunately, I didn’t record all of my bets, but I did ended up on the plus side at sports betting.  I split my action between the NBA and NFL.  I may have lost one NBA game and a couple NFL parlays.  You can see my review of in game betting at the Palazzo here.

One resource I found shortly before my December trip is  I like to use trends to help with my knowledge of NBA and NFL. color codes and simply lays out game and total trends.  It’s an easy read on an iPhone too.

I played a lot of blackjack on this trip because that’s what the others on the trip played.  The best time I had at the blackjack table was at Encore.  It was one of those runs that keep people gambling.  Read full details at Wynn and Encore Win Me Over.

I only played blackjack at Palazzo once and I went from up $700 to losing $300.  This was my first gambling session of the trip and it lasted about an hour.  It was a wild ride.  Kenny Rogers said it right..have to know when to walk away, know when to run!

We made a stop at Palms after a quick stink at Bellagio and it was a quick stop.  I turned $200 into $500 in about 20 minutes.  I don’t even remember the game.  A friend of a friend happened by and introduced his girlfriend.  Chit chat began and I just kept pressing winning bets.  Palms rules.

The best thing about my blackjack play is that none of the games I played were 6/5 payouts.

Overall, the tables didn’t treat me too poorly.  Bad runs in 3 card poker and Switch were made up for with wins at video poker, sports betting and blackjack.  I’ll take an even trip to Vegas every time!

Gambling in Las Vegas – Video Poker

I played a lot of video poker on this trip to Las Vegas.  My sleeping habits have me starting my day with slots.  That’s usually followed up with video poker after my first cup of coffee, when I can think a little.

One of the first emails I received when I landed in Las Vegas was a warning that the Palazzo and Venetian no longer had 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker games.  That is my game of choice, so I was disappointed.  Checking vpFree’s database I knew that these machines would come and go.  Unfortunately, they went away when I arrived.  I’ll call that sketchy.  🙂

Poor pay tables don’t deter me too much, but I’ll usually play less.  I mostly played the $1/$2 8/5 Jacks or Better games outside of the high limits area at Palazzo.  This trip was fulls of ups and down in gambling as usual, but Video Poker at Palazzo was probably what made me the most money throughout the whole trip.  Let’s take a tour…

Early in the trip I was hitting a handful of medium sized jackpots like this full house.  Jacks or Better seems to be a slow grind and multiple Full House’s is where the profits really come from.  That’s why the “9” in 9/6 matters so much.  In one session I hit about 3 Full House’s in about 5 hands.  Overall, these machines seemed to have a boatload of Full Houses.

Video Poker at Palazzo made up for a lot of my gambling losses.  I only played video poker one other time and that was at Wynn.  I think I won $20 after putting $20 in.  I don’t recall much as this was after a bad run at black jack and after a little too much wine at dinner.

I was down a little for the trip, when I sat down for my final session of gambling for the trip.  The session lasted about an hour and I was unstoppable.  This session erased all of my losses for the trip.  I count every dollar spent as a loss, since I spent the money.  Losses include tips, drinks, coffee, etc.

After grinding about 30 minutes to double my money, I finally had some big hits.  Four of a kind…

Four of a Kind is a great hand.  When playing the $1/$2 games these hands can make up a lot of distance, but they aren’t game changers like a Royal Flush and even a straight flush.  With about 5 minutes left on my trip I hit my first straight flush ever!

All of this brought me back to even for the trip.  NICE!  Even though the pay tables were not in my favor, I was able to make the best out of what I was given.  If I wasn’t winning, I wouldn’t have played but my luck was such that I didn’t feel so bad playing.

Unfortunately, it looks as if any hotel I’d want to stay at in Las Vegas has poor video poker pay tables so this won’t be the last time I deal with this.  As a result I see less video poker in my future trips, but I’ll keep checking the awesome vpFree to see what games are available where.

Gambling In Las Vegas – Slots

Last week I realized that I didn’t write up all of my gambling in Las Vegas.  I’d like to touch on slots here.  Video Poker was good to me and Slots were ok.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with slot machines and I’m closer to love right now, probably in the “like” zone.  I guess I like the highs and lows as well as the time spent without thinking.  I will play anywhere from penny slots to $5 slots.  Last year I even threw away money in a $25 slot after hitting getting a royal flush in video poker.

I’m an early riser and instead of staying in my room I will head out and grab a cup of coffee and get my day started.  The day usually starts with low limit slots.  Along with coffee, the bright lights and loud noises give the day a kick start.

To go along with a wide selection of coffee, the Palazzo had plenty of slots from me to choose from.  The casino, itself, is on the small side but there were plenty of morning slots (low limits) for me to choose from.

Millionaire Sevens was one of the obnoxious games I played.  The bonus round sends you to a multiplier ladder.  This was a penny slot and I walked away up $40.  Not bad!  I’ve only seen this once before in Atlantic City.  It’s in a corner by the Harrah’s Poker Bar.  There’s only one and it’s always being played.

It seems that the new thing in penny slots are layover screens.  Basically, the bonuses are laid over a reel slot.  Bonuses come up often to entertain and slow the bleed of money.  The games I played allowed me to choose a theme.  If I didn’t get a bonus after a few spins I’d switch themes, hopefully changing the RNG.  All of the games are loud and fun.  Jackpot Party may be the most fun and (loud) annoying of all the penny slots.

Another of the interchangeable games was Red Hot 7’s.  This became another favorite.

Overall I was about even on the penny slots, never going above my $20 per machine limit.  They did the job for me.  I played a few other $1 slots at Palazzo.  All were losers.  However, my trip to Aria proved fruitful.  All of the slot machines were new and I found a new $1 Top Dollar slot machine.  Top Dollar is a favorite.  I won a couple hundred dollars and walked out of Aria with a smile.

Up next…Video Poker

Daytona 500 Odds

Last year was the first and only time I placed a bet on a NASCAR race.  At least it was the Daytona 500.  I don’t know enough to gamble wisely on NASCAR.  Below are the odds if you’re into driving.  If I get bored later I’ll throw a few bucks on Brian Vickers and/or Kyle Busch.

As a reminder + means you bet $100 to win the amount below.  For example; AJ Allmendinger is +5000.  A $100 bet would pay $5,000 meaning he’s 50-1.

•    AJ Allmendinger +5000
•    Bobby Labonte +8000
•    Brad Keselowski +5000
•    Brian Vickers +4000
•    Carl Edwards +1800
•    Clint Bowyer +2500
•    Dale Earnhardt Jr +800
•    David Ragan +2500
•    David Reutimann +4000
•    Denny Hamlin +1200
•    Elliott Sadler +4000
•    Greg Biffle +2500
•    Jamie McMurray +3000
•    Jeff Burton +2500
•    Jeff Gordon +1200
•    Jimmie Johnson +500
•    Joey Logano +4000
•    Juan Pablo Montoya +2000
•    Kasey Kahne +1500
•    Kevin Harvick +900
•    Kurt Busch +1500
•    Kyle Busch +800
•    Marcos Ambrose +6000
•    Mark Martin +1000
•    Martin Truex Jr +5000
•    Matt Kenseth +2000
•    Michael Waltrip +10000
•    Paul Menard +10000
•    Ryan Newman +3000
•    Sam Hornish Jr +6000
•    Scott Speed +10000
•    Tony Stewart +600
•    zx Field (Any Other Driver) +6000