G2E Preview: New Shuffle Master Games

3 Card Poker Bonus Bet At Caesars Casinos by Shuffle Master
3 Card Poker by Shuffle Master

Shuffle Master was rebranded as SHFL a couple of years ago but was purchased by Bally Technologies. Shortly after that acquisition Bally Technologies was purchased by Scientific Games. In the video below it seems as though Scientific Games has reverted to the old branding of Shuffle Master. Got it? Okay.

The video below shows a tease of new Shuffle Master table games that will debut at G2E. Shuffle Master controls most of the space on the casino floor that’s devoted to Carnival Games. They’re called Carnival Games mostly by traditionalists that grew up with blackjack, craps, roulette and slot machines occupying the casino floor.

Carnival Games are the newer casino games like 3 Card Poker, Mississippi Stud Poker and so on. It’s easier for a company like Shuffle Master to test a new game in place of one of their 3 Card Poker games, for example, than it is for a new manufacturer looking for extra space on the casino floor.

Do any of the titles in the preview below sound interesting? Leave a comment and I’ll try to get some information on that game.

I’ll get more information on the branding as we get closer to G2E but that’s not important right now.

Why I Deleted MyVegas Blackjack

MyVegas Blackjack Game
MyVegas Blackjack

I play blackjack every now and again in the casino but unlike some of my friends I enjoy other games like 3 Card Poker or Mississippi Stud. When I do play blackjack in a casino I always want to play using correct basic strategy. Over time wins and losses will even out so I don’t really worry about other players. I just want to make sure I make the right moves – for me and for the table.

MyVegas Blackjack was introduced in the beginning of October (see details on Vegas Chatter). I downloaded the MyVegas Blackjack game to see what it was like. While MyVegas Blackjack is a game for fun it wasn’t as simple as a traditional blackjack game.

There’s a “Bold Play Meter” (aka “Wrong Play Meter”) which makes the game fun but rewards the player for making the wrong plays. This feature made me pause. I enjoyed playing MyVegas Blackjack more than I expected. However,

I had to delete MyVegas Blackjack from all of my devices.

MyVegas Blackjack was creating some bad habits in my blackjack game because of the ability to earn more points for bad moves. I enjoyed this feature a bit too much and had to stop. I have some friends coming to town that will play blackjack, almost exclusively, for a 4 straight days. I need my blackjack skills sharp for when we play.

Continue reading “Why I Deleted MyVegas Blackjack”

Mississippi Stud Poker Is Your Next Popular Casino Game

Mississippi Stud Poker
Mississippi Stud Poker

I stumbled onto Mississippi Stud Poker last year. The night is a little hazy but if I remember correctly a friend and I were stumbling through Harrah’s looking for a low limit table game to play while we had a few drinks. Even though the table may have a $5 minimum you can have as much as $55 in play at a time. We had no idea what the game was but there were some open seats so we sat down. A couple purple chips later and I was sucked in.

Let’s not get twisted – Mississippi Stud Poker is as awful as it is awesome

The house advantage on Mississippi Stud Poker is almost 5% according to Wizard of Odds. By contrast a good game of blackjack will have a house advantage around 1%. Mississippi Stud Poker isn’t a smart game to play but it can be damn fun. The game has huge swings – usually to the downside. However, the jackpots hit more often than you’d expect.

Earlier this year my friend hit 4 of a kind twice in one 7 or 8 hour session. 4 of a kind in Mississippi Stud Poker pays 40-1 and you can have up to 3 bets of $15 – each of which get paid 40-1. This isn’t chump change as you can see from the photo of her winnings on the first 4 of a kind. There may have been some yelling, running and jumping around afterwards.

Moving forward to last weekend I noticed that there are more Mississippi Stud Poker tables in casinos than ever before. This used to be the kind of game where there was a maximum of only one table in most casinos. A few larger casinos might have two. More casinos seem to be offering Mississippi Stud Poker now than ever before. The casinos that were already offering Mississippi Stud Poker are beginning to have multiple tables.

3 Card Poker has made the jump into the mainstream of casino games. I think Mississippi Stud Poker will be the next table game to step out of the fringe/carnival status.

Get to know Mississippi Stud Poker:

For odds and strategy read Wizard of Odds.
Read about my excitement when I found the game last year on Vegas Chatter.

3 Card Poker Popularity Growing Rapidly On Vegas Strip

3 Card Poker Bonus Bet At Caesars Casinos
3 Card Poker

This past weekend was my annual vacation in Vegas. This started when I lived back east and it continues even though I live in Las Vegas now. I stay with my friends on the Vegas Strip and enjoy a few days in Vegas like a tourist. The once crazy Vegas vacation has turned into a catch up of friends from different parts of the country now. There are three parts of this trip:

  1. Eat
  2. Drink
  3. Gamble
  4. Repeat

This group mostly plays blackjack. After many hours of play blackjack can become a little boring so we may move to slot machines for a change of pace. Since I play other table games we’ll explore those.

I visit casinos often but usually for a reason so I’m not wandering and looking around. Over the weekend I noticed how many more 3 Card Poker tables there are. Most, if not all, of those tables are filled. 3 Card Poker has quickly grown from that game where there was just one table to two tables to upwards of five tables at the larger casinos today.

3 Card Poker’s popularity has separated it from the other fringe “carnival” type games that have one table in most casinos. Cosmopolitan has multiple 3 Card Poker tables and Bally’s has almost as many 3 Card Poker tables as they do blackjack.

When given the choice between 6:5 blackjack and potential for huge 40-1 jackpots with 3 Card Poker it’s easy to see why the strip casinos have more 3 Card Poker players than ever. Downtown Vegas casinos pay mostly 3:2 on blackjack and only have one or two 3 Card Poker tables.

If the Vegas Strip casinos had a plan to increase profit from other games by decreasing blackjack playability they’re on the right track. Tomorrow I’ll look at the next fringe game that looks as if it will be the next one to expand from one table. It’s already happening.

Why Tipping The Dealer Matters

3 Card Poker Bonus Bet At Caesars Casinos
3 Card Poker

To a fault I’m probably an over-tipper. Not everyone tips as freely as me and that’s fine. We can all spend our money however we feel comfortable. I look at tips as tokens of appreciation that will come back to me with some form of positive karma in the future. It’s a win-win for me and the people I’m tipping.

I’ve written about why tipping dealers in a casino matters before (See Gaming Today article) but I had a great, real life experience last week in Atlantic City that I want to share.

When I arrived at Showboat in Atlantic City I met up with some friends for a drink at the bar and to catch up with each other. Shortly after a little video poker and BSing we decided to hit the tables. We approached an open Pai Gow table and told the pit boss that our group would play the entire table if they lowered the limits. The pit boss “called his supervisor” to ask permission to lower the limits. In a call that seemed like a scene from Seinfeld our request was denied. That’s cool, the table remained empty until 7am when I called it quits and headed back to the room.

The casino actually made the right business move as we went on to play a game with a larger house advantage. There was an open 3 card poker table across from Pai Gow where we ran into one of the most fun dealers I’ve ever had, Billy.

3 Card Poker is a game of minimal skill and perfect for a bunch of friends to catch up, drink and have a little gambling action. Billy was our dealer all night/morning – from 1am-6:30am. Billy knew that we were looking for a good time and helped stoke the flames by giving us all nicknames (I was “The Attorney“) and constantly encouraging us to “Take a Siiiiiiip“. He was very loud and we obliged and took many sips.

He kept reminding us that 3 Card Poker was an “Easy Game” by yelling it all night. Billy was louder than any dealer I’ve had but he was  perfect for our group on this night. He was the conductor to a great night/morning in the casino. He would be rewarded with tips all night for helping us steer towards a fun time.

The nature of playing low limits 3 Card Poker is that you’ll win a few big hands, lose a bunch and repeat. Ultimately the low limits don’t really ever dent the bankroll when you hit a bad run. I tipped Billy every time I got a straight or better. A straight pays 6-1 on the pair plus line and I’d tip a unit each win. He always played with me instead of keeping the tips and we won pretty quite a few hands playing together. Billy’s largest tip was when my $5 bet paid him $150. I played the Caesars bonus and he gave me 4 of a kind for a cool $1,000! It was awesome for both of us.

When you tip craps or blackjack dealers they can remind you to place the bets you want, offer simple strategy and generally keep an eye on you. There really isn’t much assistance a 3 Card Poker dealer can offer besides a good time. I wasn’t winning because I tipped. Or was I? I wasn’t getting any strategic advantage. So, why tip?

Billy is a working stiff like most of us and his level of service was fantastic. He was providing a great time for everyone that came to the table. As long as I’m winning why not share some of the money with the person helping create a great memory? He deserved it and now I have a great memory that will last forever.

Photo: Vegas Chatter

SHFL Clones Little Cat For New Shuffle Machines

Little Cat
Little Cat!

I’m back from my short east coast/G2E vacation and boy are my arms tired. G2E was a lot of walking and talking while the east coast was a lot of driving. You can see much of my G2E coverage on Vegas Chatter and there is still more to come.

Most of my trip was away from casinos and gaming but I did end in Atlantic City. My east coast trip began in Pennsylvania. This portion of my east coast trip I spent a couple of days around the Lancaster area with my parents. They took me to a milk farm for dessert one night where we had some ice cream. That’s where I met Little Cat (above) and some of the cows that provided milk for our ice cream. Sitting out on the patio of this house was a nice relaxing end to the evening and Little Cat just added to the fun.

When I made it to Atlantic City I played 3 card poker for a few hours. The 3 card poker shuffle machines get stuck pretty often but this machine didn’t. My friends and I joked that SHFL (formerly Shufflemaster) was cloning little cats to run their shuffle machines and that’s why they were working. Our awesome dealer, Billy, wouldn’t confirm this but he wouldn’t deny it.

Billy did pay me a couple purple chips when I got 3 of a kind dealt to me and 4 of a kind with one of his cards on the Caesars bonus bet. He got paid nicely too as I had a $5 tip bet out since I had a straight on the hand before. I always seemed to win when I tipped. Good karma. 

Video Poker Of The Beast

I’ve written about my fascination with “Number of the Beast” at the casino more than a couple times but I have yet to capture the beast on camera. Until last week (see photo above).

Not only did the “Number of the Beast” find me playing video poker, but a hand I like to call “The number plus one” found me when I got 4 6’s! I was playing a video poker variant that has a wheel feature when I got the four of a kind. The SPIN feature covered up the 4OAK so I wasn’t able to capture it. Should I see this rare number + 1 on a normal video poker game I’ll be sure snap a pic and share on tumblr.

Finding Number of The Beast in the casino began as an excuse to get Iron Maiden into this blog, but it’s become sort of an obsession. You may have noticed that.

I’m not sure how many times the beast and I will cross paths in the future without being repetitive. It’s difficult to get the phone out without being yelled at when playing blackjack or 3 card poker but last week I was playing video poker and the number of the beast found me for the first time in a while.

Here are some links if you want to add the number of the beast and video poker to your holiday gifts.

WinPoker app on iPhone
Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” remastered CD
Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” single download
Iron Maiden – “Number of the Beast” Vinyl Picture Disc

Come On Gimme The Number of the Beast!

I’m not the biggest Iron Maiden fan in the world, but I like them and know the hits. When I gamble I think about them often. Specifically when I play video poker and 3 Card Poker I think of Iron Maiden.

If I’m I’m dealt a pair of 6’s in either game I never ask for a third 6. I always ask for “Number of the Beast“. Sometimes I’ll say it to myself and sometimes I’ll say it out loud.

I was playing 3 Card Poker at Paris Las Vegas after dining at Gordon Ramsey Steak (see review at Vegas Chatter) when I saw two 6’s and just put the cards down. I was joking with the pit boss all night and sometimes when he walked over he’d look at my cards. This time he did and I asked if I got the number of the beast he replied with “you and I are probably the only 2 people in here that might get that reference.” After we chuckled I asked again and he said “no.”

I finished that session even, but had a blast with the players, dealers and pit boss. I also had a handful or Grand Marnier, which didn’t hurt.

While writing this I learned that “Number of the Beast” is now 30 years old. I guess that would make this classic rock? You can get “Number of The Beast” at Amazon for $13 on CD. It’s only $8 for digital files. That’s how I roll.

The pic of Chris Mason’s mask comes from Metal Insider. They link to his old Iron Maiden mask too.

3 Card Poker Face Up at Mandalay Bay

I saw a post on the board at Vegas Tripping over the weekend that they are now dealing 3 Card Poker with the cards face up at Mandalay Bay.

3 card poker is now dealt face up to all players at Mandalay Bay. The players hate it. The dealers hate. I cycled through two dealers and they both asked if we’d write a letter to complain. Apparently the decision was made to increase the number of hands dealt per hour.

At first glance I wasn’t bothered by this because I don’t really care much about the surprise, but after thinking about it…I do care about the surprise. Actually, I care more about the option to be surprised by the cards than I do the surprise.

Besides the fun of the game being altered the speed of the game is being altered in the houses favor, of course. Even though the odds in Three Card Poker aren’t very good, I play it every now and again because it’s a pretty brainless game and the pace it pretty relaxed.

I’m hoping this change is only being tested at Mandalay Bay and doesn’t spread across to other casinos. Adding pace to 3 Card Poker is only bad for the player and I’ll probably stop playing.

My Vegas Vacation – Gambling

Going into my solo adventure to Las Vegas I thought that I would end up gambling a little more than I would if I was with friends.  I met that expectation.

Being with out anyone else to consider I found myself wandering to just about any slot machine that looked remotely entertaining.  That was both good and bad.

Munny was located on the edge of the walkway to the rooms at the Palazzo.  I put $20 in and left with $50.  This is a 5 reel penny slot. There were tons of line combinations, but all that really mattered were the bonuses.  The big bonus set free a lotto ping pong ball scene.  Each ball had a multiplier.  I got a couple of 10x balls and bingo!  I played this game a few times and ended up positive each time.

I played a lot of slots in all denominations with unspectacular results, but not awful results.  I played my new favorite Time Machine at Palazzo, a new version of Top Dollar at Wynn and many more.

By definition, slots include video poker.  I played a good amount of video poker too and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.  There were some nice wins like 25 straights playing multi-video poker at Planet Hollywood.

Unfortunately there was nothing better than 8/5 Jacks or Better anywhere I played.  I did pretty well on my last trip to Vegas playing 8/5 JoB…

..this trip to Vegas was the complete opposite.  It happens.  It’s time to move away from machines to the tables.

Let It Ride
My greatest session gambling was a win of a couple hundred dollars in Let It Ride.  I haven’t played Let It Ride in a while and didn’t have much of an idea what I was doing.  Maybe that’s the trick.

Sports Betting
The best gambling for me this trip was sports betting.  I won about 8 of 10 games.  I only wish there were more games that were that I felt strongly about.  I spent a good amount of time at Legasse Stadium and I can’t wait to get this TV setup in my house.  Someday…

Blackjack Switch and Blackjack
Wynn was a second home for me and I played slots, bet on games and played Blackjack Switch for the second time.  Being sober helped a lot as I almost doubled my money in about 15 minutes.  Not too shabby.

Blackjack is always the same for me.  Up and down, up and down.  I did have a great time playing blackjack at the Palazzo on my final night.  I went to a table to play alone, but that changed quickly as the table filled with a variety of fun people.  I doubled my money and even spotted comedian, Brad Garrett, across the way!

3 Card Poker
My worst gambling came playing 3 card poker.  I did not have a winning session or even a big hand.  My experience in 3CP was so bad I had to stop playing.

My downfall at 3 Card Poker began at Planet Hollywood where I fell prey to extremely hot dealers and plenty of vodka in the Pleasure Pit.  I wasn’t in the section with Go-Go Dancers.  That’s a bit too distracting.

I had a great time playing at the Pleasure Pit.  The music, other players  and dealers were all fun.  Drink service, to no surprise, was very quick.

I’ve had a pretty good year and a half run gambling.  I may have gotten a little reckless gambling alone, but I gamble to have fun and I succeeded at that.  Moving forward I have to get back to smart gambling.