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Best of John Grochowski

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Good Video Poker and a Good Slot Club Go Hand in Hand

6 November 2001

Top-of-the-line video poker pay tables bring returns in excess of 99 percent with expert play. Combine that with a slot club that has a strong cash-back program, and you have an irresistible combination.

So when Bill Renk, the vice president for sales and marketing at Jumer's Casino Rock Island, told me he had the best deal around for video poker players, I just had to take a look.

"We have 1 percent cash back on our slot club," he said. "We have the only Triple Play progressives I know, and we have our famous 100 percent video poker games."

I got in the car and made the three-hour drive to Rock Island, in the Quad Cities area on the Mississippi River in northwest Illinois. Casino Rock Island is the smallest gambling boat in Illinois. It uses barely more than half the 1,200 gaming positions allowed by law in Illinois.

But small as it is, it made a big impression on this visitor.

The first thing I did was to sign up for the EnterFUNment XtraClub--Casino Rock Island's player rewards card. And what Renk said was true. The basic cash back rate is a full 1 percent, both on slots and video poker. Compare that to the rates at Chicago-area casinos that give same-day cash back--0.28 percent on slots and 0.19 percent on video poker at Hollywood in Aurora; 0.25 percent on slots and 0.125 percent on video poker at Horseshoe in Hammond and Empress Joliet, and 0.25 on slots and 0.1 percent on video poker at Grand Victoria in Elgin.

That's generous in itself, but there are bonuses, too. A slots/video poker player who wagers $4,000 in a month not only gets $40 in cash back, but also is entitled to four buffet comps and a $10 voucher that can be used in hotels, restaurants, shops, tour boats, even a golf course. That unusual good-neighbor policy of allowing customers to use comps outside the casino operation helps promote other businesses around Rock Island.

How much do you have to play to run $4,000 on a machine? For a fast dollar video poker player, it's about an hour's play. Rewards go up with more play--$10,000 in coins in brings a $20 voucher and eight buffets; $20,000 brings a $50 voucher and a buffet whenever you play. Table players also get in on the deal. A $5 average table wager for 10 hours a month brings a $10 voucher, while a $50 average wager for 10 hours brings a $100 voucher.

The 100 percent games Renk was talking about are quarter 10-7 Double Bonus Poker machines in a single bank near the table games pit on the first of three gaming decks. With expert play, 10-7 Double Bonus brings a 100.17 percent return. Put 1 percent cash back from the slot club on top of that, and you've got quite a game.

Of course, few players really get 100 percent out of the machines. Expert play on Double Bonus is difficult, and casinos still make money on the games. Rock Island is doing well enough with them that it soon will add more in an upcoming expansion.

Those games fill up at 9 o'clock every morning and stay busy until closing, said Jim Pedulla, the director of casino operations. "When we expand we'll bring in some more, because that's what our people want to play. That's what we're all about, giving the people what they want to play."

One deck up, Casino Rock Island has a video poker room, with multigame Game King machines both for quarter and dollar players, along with progressive single-hand Multi-Poker games on the bartop. On another second-deck bartop are the quarter Triple Play progressives. The progressive jackpot applies equally to all three hands. On the day I visited, the jackpot stood at about $1,700. A royal flush on any of the three hands would win the $1,700, and a dealt royal would win it three times. Most Triple Play progressives either pay the progressive only on a dealt royal, or have separate jackpots of different amounts for each hand.

Other than the Double Bonus games, pay tables are a shade below the top of the line. A bank of non-progressive quarter Triple Plays offered 8-6 Jacks or Better and 9-6 Double Double Bonus--both a bit shy of 99 percent with expert play. Progressive games have lower pay tables.

Casino Rock Island is a good play for low-limit table players, too. There's two-deck blackjack even at $3 tables, and the roulette wheel offered a $1 minimum with quarter chips.

Add good video poker and a great slot club, and Casino Rock Island rates high as a place to spend the day.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski