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The Grochowskis' Super Weekend in Vegas

28 March 2002

When brother Jay, dad Jerry and I decided to head for Las Vegas for a few days starting the first Sunday of February, we didn't realize it would be Super Bowl Sunday. We were just looking forward to our annual tradition, a few days together filled with video poker, blackjack and the odd turn on the slots and other games.

But when the offers for a complimentary Super Bowl party at the Tropicana arrived in the mail, the timing was perfect. I e-mailed my host at the Trop, Patti Schiralli, and we were on our way.

We arrived early Sunday morning and had a chance to play a little in the casino before heading toward the ballrooms near the Island tower toward the back of the resort. I made a quick stop at the sports book. I'm not a big sports bettor, but I eyeballed all the odd propositions available for the Super Bowl: Which team will kick the first field goal? Which team will score first? Will the first score be a running touchdown, passing touchdown, field goal or something else? Which player will score the first touchdown?

In a moment's temptation, I considered betting the money line on the Patriots: Bet $100, and win $300 if the Patriots win the game. But I didn't really see how the Patriots could stop the Rams' offense, and I went conservative: $55 on the Rams to beat the 14-point spread, just to keep things interesting.

Shows what I know. The Rams had their chances to pull out the game before falling to the Patriots 20-17, but there was never any danger of my winning the bet. Fortunately, the party was enough to keep us all entertained. As we picked up our tickets—-available to the general public at $70 a pop—-we were given Super Bowl sweatshirts, footballs and Mardi Gras beads. (Why should those at the game in New Orleans be the only ones in the Mardi Gras spirit?)

Inside the ballroom, set up for hundreds of fans, the walls were lined with 9-foot by 12-foot TV screens. No doubt some fans in New Orleans had a better view, but not all of 'em. I didn't make my way all the way around the ballroom, but there were at least eight serving stations in sight, all with homey Super Bowl party-type foods: Pizza ("Do you want a whole pizza? Take the whole box back to your table," one server told me. I offered thanks, but declined.); hot dogs; mini-burritos and salsa; chili ("Not as good as your mom's, but very good," said my dad); chicken strips; nice rare roast beef; potato salad; assorted chips. Waitresses made certain no one's beer bottle or Coke glass emptied before offering another.

That's the way to watch a football game, even if my $55 bet was a loser. This casino party would have been cheap at twice the price.

ROYAL SPLIT: As in any gambling vacation, there are wins as well as losses, and if you're fortunate, everything balances out. For Dad and me, the balance sheet looked a little better the morning after the Super Bowl.

My dad had a rough Sunday on video poker, so Monday morning, while Jay was off making some business phone calls, Pops and I decided to stretch the budget and play together. We each put $20 into a quarter 8-5 ACES Bonus Poker machine. This is the same game as 8-5 Bonus Poker, meaning full houses pay 8-for-1 and flushes pay 5-for-1, with one key difference. Each Ace is assigned a letter, and if a four-Ace hand spells out ACES in the correct order, the player wins 4,000 coins for a five-coin wager instead of the usual 400-coin payoff.

We didn't hit the ACES, but we did hit something just as good. In order, I was dealt Queen-10-Jack-King-Ace of hearts—-a royal flush. That's also a 4,000-coin jackpot, or $1,000 on a quarter machine. We split that for $500 apiece, and suddenly found ourselves in much better shape to face the last two days of our trip.

It wasn't the only time we won together on this trip. A nice, dealt four of a kind gave us a little breathing room later on. But we never won when all three of us were playing together. I'm a believer in math, odds and percentages, not omens and jinxes, but every time Jay played with us, we lost.

He did have a royal flush on his own at the new Palms casino near the Rio. On a PENNY machine. (OK, it was Hundred Play Poker, so the maximum bet is $5. But the thrill is in hitting the royal more than in the payoff, a whopping $40).

No doubt the three of us will have better sessions when we play together again, but in the next 12 months I'll be expecting Jay to work on upgrading the jackpot dance that has drawn wonder—-or at least stares-—from customers and cocktail waitresses throughout Las Vegas.

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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> 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