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SHIFTING GEARS

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Favorite games come and go

By John Grochowski

 

All casino players have their favorite games, but those favorites aren’t always set in stone. These favorites evolve as games change and players gain experience. Today’s blackjack player might be tomorrow’s three card poker player, and today’s slots player might be tomorrow’s roulette player.

I opened the question to several table players who have written to me in recent years. How did they choose their favorite game? Have their favorites changed?

Here’s what they had to say:

NEIL

I’d been a poker player since my misspent youth. In college, we always had card games going. It was dealer’s choice, and we played all kinds of crazy games, variations on stud poker with lots of wild cards. There was Bed Partners with kings and queens wild and Jackson Five with jacks and 5s wild.

I really loved seven-card stud, low hole card wild, roll your own. Every card was dealt face down, then you’d have to turn one up to leave yourself with two hole cards. So if l had an 8 and a 5 face down and I was dealt another 8, I’d roll the 5 face up to leave the two 8s as wild cards. When I finally went to Las Vegas in my 30s, I headed straight to the poker room. You know what? It was BORING! Hand after hand of the same game. At one table, nothing but hold’em, or at another table nothing but Omaha. Couldn’t they mix in a little Ace, jacks and the Man with the Axe?

So I wandered onto the casino floor. Slots didn’t do anything for me. Blackjack was OK. But I surprised myself and found I really loved craps. The pace of the game, the feel of rooting for the shooter and winning together – that was NOT BORING!

Twenty years later, craps is what I’ll play. I’ll play blackjack and some of the others for a change of pace, but craps is the game.

JODIE

I play a mix, but the game I usually go to first is three card poker.

I started on slots. Most people do, don’t they? After a while, I wanted to try new things.

Friends kept telling me the odds were better on the tables, so I tried to play blackjack. I HATED it! I was trying to learn, and every time I made a mistake, people got mad at me.

Three card poker was another matter. It was FRIENDLY. The game was easy, and if l made a mistake of when to play and when to fold, people tried to help me but they didn’t get mad. Nobody told me I was costing them money.

Now I start at three card poker, then mix in a little slots and video poker, and maybe try a little roulette. It’s fun and low-stress, which blackjack WASN’T.

BOB

You’ve called me “Blackjack Bob,” and blackjack is what I’ve played for 20 years or more. But before that, I was a craps player.

I was never in the service, but some of my best friends are ex-Army and Marines. They played craps and taught me how to play.

The first time I went to a casino, that was the game I knew and was comfortable with, so that’s what I played. In fact, that was my game for four or five years.

But really, blackjack more suits my personality. I’m sociable enough, but it’s more of a laid-back sociable. I like to think about what I’m doing. Craps is more high energy than I am. Heck, as I get older, craps is A LOT more high-energy than I am. Let me sit back over a drink while I decide what to do with my cards.

SIG

My first time in a casino was with my wife, and we were just going to ease into things together. We played slots. We played video poker. We gave roulette a try.

All the while, the big cheers were coming from the craps table. I had to see what that was all about. I watched for about five minutes, then took the plunge.

I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea how pass worked. But I kept hearing this one guy put down money and say “six and eight,” so I put down money and said “six and eight.”

That’s all I did for the next half hour or so, and it worked pretty well. So I’m a craps player. I know more about it now, but I don’t play anything else.

TERRI

I was a slot player for a number of years, and now I’m a blackjack player. It took me several steps to get there.

From slots, I went to video poker. That’s natural enough, right? I found I liked playing my own cards and feeling like I had more control than on slots. I think I ventured into live poker once, but didn’t play very long. I was used to the draw poker on video and wasn’t comfortable with the stud poker in the live rooms.

The game that finally brought me to the tables was Caribbean stud. The idea of the big jackpot on a table game got me past my phobia about stud instead of draw. I even won a mini-jackpot for a straight flush once, a little less than $8,000. That was fun!

I kept playing Caribbean stud, but played let it ride, too, then three card poker when that came in. Eventually I tried blackjack, and other players showed me there was skill like in video poker, and it wasn’t that hard. I studied basic strategy, had some nice winning sessions, and finally here I am —

a blackjack player.

 

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