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Trump Casino Has Good News for Video Poker Players

15 February 2005

Every now and again - not often, mind you - I get a phone call from a casino executive who wants to tell me exactly what I want to hear.

The bearer of good news this time around was Mark Kashuda, the director of slot operations at Trump Casino in Gary. Trump had upgraded its video poker area, he told me, and he wanted me to come take a look. If the pay tables weren't at least as good as those across the hall at Majestic Star, he wanted to know.

Having a slot director get serious about offering favorable pay tables is something this old video poker player can get enthused about. So I promised to come check it out.

One floor up from entrance level, in a room with as much aisle space and room to stretch out as Trump has ever offered, I found Kashuda was as good as his word. Oh, there were a few nits to pick, but even there I got the distinct impression that Kashuda was listening, and that more upgrades were on the way.

What I found was that really good quarter single-hand players have rarely had it so good within shouting distance of Chicago. On most 25-cent Game King multiple-game units, the pay tables are equal to or better than Majestic Star - the previous quarter champ - all up and down the line. I wrote several months ago that Trump had installed "Not So Ugly" Deuces Wild for quarter players. With expert play, that version of Deuces Wild returns 99.7 percent in the long run, making it top of the line for quarter games in the Chicago area.

The good Deuces game is still there, and now it's surrounded by other strong plays. The Game King machines with red glass also offer quarter players 9-7 Double Bonus Poker (99.1 percent with expert play), 9-6 Double Double Bonus (99.0), 8-6 Bonus Poker Deluxe (98.5), 7-5 Bonus Poker (98.1) and 9-5 Triple Bonus Plus - a nice surprise at 99.8 percent.

So where are the nits? Most of the quarter multiple-game machines at Trump had the good pay tables, but a few did not.

Basically, machines offering 11 games had weaker games than those with fewer. I found one with glass that said "Deuces Wild" that had a few goodies, including 9-6 Jacks or Better (99.5) and 9-7 Double Bonus (99.1), but the Deuces Wild game itself was a low-payer, reducing the wild royal return to 20-for-1 and the five of a kind return to 12-for-1. That reduces the overall payback with expert play to 97.1 percent - a far cry from the 99.7 percent Deuces game on the rest of the floor.

I pointed this out to Kashuda, who said that the upgrade wasn't yet complete. I think quarter players can look forward to even more good games.

The same goes for dollar players, who also get 9-6 Jacks or Better, 9-7 Double Bonus, Not So Ugly Deuces, 9-6 Double Double Bonus and 9-5 Triple Bonus Plus. There's one upgrade to go. I pointed out that Bonus Poker has a 7-5 pay table, while Majestic Star has the full 8-5 payoffs (99.2 percent) at dollar level.

He took out his notebook and jotted down the information.

Dollar Triple Play machnes do have the full-pay 8-5 Bonus Poker, along with Not So Ugly Deuces, 9-6 Jacks or Better, 9-6 Double Double Bonus and 9-7 Triple Double Bonus (99.6) - five 99 percent-plus games. There's a bit of a falloff to 9-6 Double Bonus (97.9) and 8-5 Bonus Deluxe (97.4). Quarter Triple Plays take another step down, with games such as 8-6 Jacks or Better (98.4) and 9-5 Double Double Bonus (97.8).

On the $5 and $25 levels, there's an interesting twist - the first appearance in this market of super-full pay 10-6 Double Double Bonus, paying 10-for-1 on full houses and 6-for-1 on flushes. All the other games have high pay tables, too, with 8-5 Bonus, 9-6 Jacks or Better, 9-7 Double Bonus, 9-5 Triple Bonus Plus and 8-5 Super Aces.

On these, all the paybacks that normally would be 250 coins - straight flushes with five coins wagered on most games and four 5s through Kings on the Double Bonus-based games - are 239 coins instead.

There's a good reason for that. A 239-coin win on a $5 machine brings $1,195, just short of the $1,200 that requires the casino to sign an IRS form W2-G. The 11-coin dropoff doesn't affect the percentages by much. On 9-6 Jacks or Better, the long-term return with expert play falls from 99.54 percent all the way to 99.52 percent. The 10-6 Double Double Bonus, with more such hands, drops from 100 to 99.6.

Among the wide variety of games on the floor - Hundred Play, Multi-Strike, Double Pay, Spin Poker and more - one new game really grabbed my attention: the new Five Play Multi-Strike. With five-hand play and more chances to advance to the hands that pay double, quadruple or eight times the original hand, Five Play Multi-Strike provides extra fun and reduces the extreme volatility of Multi-Strike. Trump's machines are multidenominational - you can play for nickels, dimes or quarters on your choice of six video poker varieties. Pay tables increase with coin denomination. Choose Jacks or Better and you get an 8-5 pay table for nickels (97.3), 9-5 on dimes (98.4) or the full 9-6 on quarters.

I have to say, I was impressed. This is one video poker room where I could play just for pleasure.

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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