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Best of John Grochowski
Online Video Poker14 October 2003
When the video slot revolution began a few years ago, I used to get questions from befuddled readers all the time. They'd ask how to trigger a bonus round, or how the bonus worked once they reached the second screen, or just how they could tell they'd won with all those lines and symbols.
I don't get such questions that often anymore. Players have gotten used to multiple paylines and bonuses, and those who play video slots have a fair idea of the concepts and basics now, even if there are details to explore when they sit down to play.
Now, I'm more commonly asked where players can find the games to play online without betting any money. The best video casino games are fun to play even without a wager riding, and learning just how the games work before playing for money is always a good idea.
I've not found many web sites that offer free play of the same games you'll see in casinos, but Wheeling-based Leading Edge Design provides a welcome exception. Go to www.multistrikepoker.com, and you can try out Leading Edge's hit video poker game, Multi Strike Poker. Two earlier Leading Edge games also are available for play online, with Cash King Checkers at www.cashkingcheckers.com and Othello--the most slot-like of Leading Edge's video games--at www.ledgaming.com/othello.
The Multi Strike site is of special interest to strategy game players. While Cash King Checkers developed a following in the Las Vegas locals market, it looks as though Multi Strike is going to be a national breakout hit for Leading Edge.
It's a game worth practicing before you bet. For a 20-coin maximum bet, you see one video poker hand. If you win or get a randomly dealt free ride on the first hand, you get to play a second hand, worth double the first-hand payoffs. Win or get a free ride on the second, and you get a third hand worth four times the first, and win or get a free ride on the third brings you a fourth hand, worth eight times the first.
All that takes some getting used to, and free play online is just the way to see how it works. I spent part of a morning playing online and had a royal flush dealt to me on the first line, for 4,000 credits. The next day, I went back to the site and drew a royal on the third line. The quadruple payoff made that worth 16,000 credits--I'd like to see that one for money sometime. I also had dry spells in which I couldn't get past the first hand or two, leading to some rapid losses.
It was all good fun. Kudos to Leading Edge for putting it online for free play.
MORE FREE PLAY: Video poker players have much more opportunity for free play online than do reel-slot players. Another good video poker site is www.videopoker.com, which belongs to Action Gaming, the company that started the multiple-hand video poker revolution.
On the site, you can play Triple Play, Ten Play and Fifty Play versions of standard video poker games, along with Action's Spin Poker, Chase the Royal, Trade Up Poker and Fast Action Triple Play.
There's plenty more, including game descriptions, playing tips and a message board. The site is free--just sign up for a password.
REWARDS UPGRADE: Several weeks ago, Harrah's rolled out its "Total Rewards II" player rewards program at its casinos throughout the United States, including the Joliet and East Chicago locations. It looks like this time, Harrah's is accomplishing what players hoped for when Total Gold--which later morphed into Total Rewards--was introduced in 1997.
Back then, Harrah's executives told me that player ratings would be portable, that Harrah's Las Vegas could comp a room based on Joliet play. In practice, some customers have been disappointed to learn that Rewards points themselves weren't portable, that someone who had plenty of points for meal comps in East Chicago didn't automatically eat for free in Lake Tahoe.
This time, the points themselves are portable. A player who earns Rewards points in Joliet or East Chicago can choose to redeem them in Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City or anywhere else Harrah's operates. And this time, there is a redemption chart for each casino, telling you just what your points are worth.
I looked at the Harrah's web site and checked out the redemption tables for Las Vegas, Joliet and East Chicago. Need a lunch buffet for two? You can get it for 2,200 points at Harrah's Las Vegas, 2,400 points for the Carnival World buffet at the Rio in Las Vegas, 2,800 points at Harrah's East Chicago or 2,400 points at Harrah's Joliet. Whether you're looking for complimentary rooms, meals, shows or anything else offered by Harrah's, the point values are clearly defined, and the points don't have to be earned at the casino where you redeem them.
No doubt there will be some hiccups, and players who don't travel to gamble sometimes will find benefits that suit them better at other local casinos, but Total Rewards II is a program with loads of potential. Check out the details at www.harrahs.com.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of John Grochowski