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Best of John Grochowski

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My favorite promotions

28 April 2009

In his boxing careeer, Thomas "Hitman" Hearns didn't rise to the top by picking off any collection of banty roosters. After all, he was the first fighter to pluck world championships in six divisions — welterweight, super welter, middle, super-middle, light heavyweight and cruiserweight.

But in a promotion at Detroit's Greektown casino, his opponent was a bird of a different feather. Hearns was squaring off against a tic-tac-toe-playing chicken, and I know from personal experience that these avians are no dumb clucks.

When I played a number of years ago, it was at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. There was a $10,000 prize for anyone who could beat the chicken, but that rarely happened. I was just hoping not to lay an egg.

I managed a tie, and was happy to do so. I'd seen a woman lose a game, and watched the chicken strutting around in victory.

At Greektown, though, the prize is $100 in free play, and while that's not chicken feed, I hope they've brought in a few birdbrains. The promotion runs through June 9, with all players club card members eligible for a game a day.

Hearns rose to the top of the pecking order in a hurry, beating the chicken in one game, then tying in another.

A beatable chicken? No reason to cry "fowl" there.

** * ** * **

The return of the tic-tac-toe playing chickens set me to thinking about some of my all-time favorite promotions. They're not necessarily the biggest giveaways, but the ones that added some fun and excitement to the day.

Guaranteed prizes are nice, but it's also important that the promotion be interactive and give the player something to do, something a little different than the rest of the day's play.

Let's take a look at some old favorites:

**Airfare spin, Vacation Village, Las Vegas: Until Vacation Village closed in 2002, it was always my first stop on any trip to Las Vegas. There, I'd get in line for a free spin of a wheel, marked off with prize amounts. Most of the time, I'd win $2 and figure I had a couple of extra singles for tip change.

But once, I hit the airfare space. I showed the attendant my airline ticket, and was given a coin cup with $150 in dollar tokens, plus three rolls of quarters — equal to the cost of my one-way airfare. That the Las Vegas Advisor's annual coupon booklet included a Vacation Village voucher doubling payoffs on four of a kind, and that the casino had full-pay 10/7 Double Bonus Poker made it all that much better. A great start to the trip.

**Supernova, Las Vegas Hilton: In the fall of 2004, I was in Las Vegas for the annual Global Gaming Expo, and I joined the throng to blow up a few planets at the Hilton's Space Quest casino. My mission was to use the console to select planets on the giant plasma display, visible throughout the casino. If the exploding planet revealed a letter, I was free to continue my quest to spell M-I-L-L-I-O-N for the $1 million grand prize. If instead my planet triggered a supernova, that was it for me and the star system.

I got as far as M-I-L-L-I — far enough for the excitement to build a little. Then, BOOM! No "o," no million, but a lot of fun on the way to a free T-shirt.

**Any tournament. I've played in blackjack, craps, poker, video poker and slot tournaments. I've played for entry fees in the hundreds of dollars, for 10 bucks, and for free. It's always a good time.

Most memorable, of course, are the tournaments I've won, or at least finished in the money. I won a video poker tournament at the Empress Casino in Joliet, Illinois, finished in the money in a blackjack tournament at the Riviera in Las Vegas and in a slot tournament at the Horseshoe — or was it Empress back then? — in Hammond, Ind.

I had a blast winning the daily tournament at the old Sands in Las Vegas. It was on Magnificent Sevens reel-spinning slots, and I was thrilled as the blue 7s kept coming up, both in my qualifying round and in the finals that night.

Had I won it a year earlier, I could have had my choice of a flat $500 prize or a tour of the casino with maximum bets on every slot machine in the place. That's a slot orgy to sate even the most devoted player. The slot tour had ended by the time I won, so I "settled" for a $1,000 cash prize, paid in 10 $100 bills.

Even better, I was flying home the next morning. I brought the full thousand home. Perfect timing.

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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