Gaming News

Harrah’s Cherokee Kicks Off Fall World Series of Poker on Thanksgiving

WSOP interiorThe World Series of Poker returns to Cherokee this Thanksgiving, with circuit events scheduled through Monday, December 7. Events include two seniors’ events, a ladies event, and a main event with a $1,000,000 guaranteed pot.

Event buy-ins range from $65 to $1,675. Players can register at the Event Center Promotions desk beginning at noon on Thursday, November 26. Those interested in hotel room rates can call 1-844-777-7711 for information.

Starting with a single satellite event in 2011, Harrah’s Cherokee has broken attendance records year over year. In 2016, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort will host two more circuit events in addition to its second straight National Championship event.

About the WSOP Circuit

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit Events are a series of poker tournaments hosted throughout the United States beginning in early August each year, and culminating the following Spring/Summer with a $1,000,000 National Championship televised on ESPN where the victor earns a WSOP gold bracelet as well.

WSOP Circuit Events are designed to give the recreational and amateur player an opportunity to participate in the WSOP experience at a more affordable price point and with less of a time commitment than the traditional WSOP in Las Vegas. Each stop features 12 official events in 12 days, including a $1675 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Main Event—the most expensive buy-in event on the 12-event schedule at each stop.

Official WSOP Circuit events range in buy-in from $365-$1675 and award a prestigious WSOP gold ring to each victor. These poker tournaments are designed to reach a winner within two playing days, with some events even structured to complete in one day.  In 2015-16, the WSOP Circuit season consists of 19 stops all tied together by a cumulative points system that awards points based on finish in individual events.

A season-ending WSOP National Casino Championship is held each spring/summer with the Top 100 qualifiers. The winner of each stop’s Main Event (the only three-day structured event) gains automatic entry into the season-ending WSOP National Championship, as does each stop’s Casino Champion—the person who accumulates the most points throughout the 12 official events at a stop. Two players at each stop earn automatic entries into the season-ending championship, with the remaining players being made up of at large qualifiers whom have accumulated the most points throughout the Circuit season.

Players who finish within the top 10 percent of the field are typically awarded prize money on an escalating scale until there is one player who has captured all the chips. That victor wins the largest share of the prize pool, a WSOP Circuit gold ring and points towards national championship qualification. The WSOP Circuit Events are a regional offshoot of the longest-running, largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world, dating back 45 years to 1970—the famous World Series of Poker.

This marks the 12th year the WSOP Circuit Events have been held. They were initially established by Caesars Entertainment (then Harrah’s Entertainment) after its purchase of the WSOP brand in 2004 as a way to bring the WSOP experience to Caesars-owned properties throughout the U.S. In the inaugural season (2004-05), the WSOP Circuit featured five stops—Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, San Diego and New Orleans. Now, with 19 stops, the WSOP Circuit visits 12 U.S. states and cumulatively features more entrants than the Las Vegas version of the WSOP. Caesars Interactive Entertainment Inc. (CIE) owns the WSOP and the WSOP Circuit Events.

Our Very Merry 2015 Gift Guide for Casino Gamers

Ah, the holiday season. So many colors! So much food! So many special sounds! Hmmm. Thinking of it that way, Christmas is just like one big casino.

Well, OK. That’s probably taking it too far. But when it comes to good times and hoping either Santa or a slot machine delivers the goods, one must admit there’s more than a little in common between the two. Which means that Christmas is the perfect time to think of that special gamer in your life–even if that special gamer is you yourself. Whether you want to give gifts like a whale, or want to operate on a smaller budget, our annual gift guide is back to showcase some of the most interesting and (hopefully) delightful presents you can sneak under the tree just in time for you-know-when.

Ready … Set … Shop!

Christophe Claret Gaming Watches
True, you may have to win some jackpots yourself to put one of these under someone’s tree, but when to watches for gamers, none comes close to matching the engineering marvel and aesthetic sophistication of these gems.

GG_Watch_InteriorThe firm offers watches based on three primary casino games: poker, baccara and blackjack, each of which have two other games built as well. The watches are limited-edition and contain close to 700 individual pieces each.

Here’s a description of the blackjack timepiece:

To start there is Dice. This game features a pair of miniature dice, which are located in a cage at the 4 o’clock position on the side of the case and visible through a sapphire crystal, offering the oldest game of chance.

Next, Roulette: on the back of the watch the winding rotor, which is visible through a glare-proofed sapphire crystal, serves as the roulette wheel. Once set in motion by one or two undulatory movements, the wheel turns for a few moments before stopping. Then Blackjack. On the lower part of the dial, between 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, the player’s four cards appear in windows. Two are visible, the other two hidden by shutters. On the upper part of the dial are three additional windows for the dealer’s cards, one of which is visible, the other two also hidden by shutters. Each time a shutter opens, whether for the player or the dealer, there is a gong, whose mechanism is visible through a side window at 2 o’clock.

Optional: A special crystal that reveals an etching of a dealer when it’s breathed upon. Around $200,000. Yes. $200,000.

The DivPro
Lighten the load for your favorite golfer with the DivPro, an ingenious multi-tool that performs the functions of six different gadgets. It does everything from opening cans, cleaning heads, marking balls—even holding stogies. The DivPro can be customized with a company logo or other image, for those who may want to share the love with larger groups of golf lovers. $12.95.

The secret is their “dual anti-reflective dielectric” lens coating technology combined with the scotopic filter system. Best of all: Unless the player holds cards directly in front of the lenses, they won’t show in reflections to other players. Maybe that’s why their favorites of pros such as Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott and our own Phil Hellmuth. $89.95-$14.95.

Slot machine charger and dock
Know a gamer who still lugs around an iPhone or iPod Touch 4S or earlier? Help them charge their tech in casino style with this slot-machine charger and dock. A slots app can be downloaded for realistic play, and the lever works to help release the device from the cradle. They may not win any money from it, but at least they may not feel so bad about being two iPhone generations of iPhone behind. $34.99.

GG_umbrella_interiorKing of Clubs Umbrella
It’s bad enough walking out of a casino a loser when it’s not raining. Throw in some precip, however, and suddenly the whole night can become a wash. Not so if your gamers stays dry in style. This premium double-layer umbrella features a traditional beech wood shaft and handle with a metal runner and tip cup. The plate is stylishly engraved with the London Undercover logo. $150.

Ammo Can Poker Set
The genuine NATAO spec .30 cal ammo case provides an air-tight, waterproof and virtually indestructible home for some truly top-notch poker gear, including two decks of custom playing cards and 300 casino-weight (11.5 grams) composite chips with a custom chip insert. Ideal for someone who wants to let the world know just how seriously he takes his poker. $99.99.

Vintage-style sign: Poker Bluffing
This nicely naughty vintage-style sign will look great in your favorite guy gamers poker den—and serve fair warning to visitors that the player in chief is a man to reckoned with. The enameled paint on the 12.5” x 16” tin sign is attractive and very durable. $14.99.

Live-Size Elvis Stand-Up
Nothing says gaming like Las Vegas, and nothing says Las Vegas like Elvis Presley. This 70”-high portrait of the King in his full Strip regalia can stood on its own or mounted on a wall. Even better: He speaks from beyond! With an optional motion activated speaker, he’ll greet amazed guests with messages like, “Well thanks for letting me talk to you,” “Hi, this is Elvis Presley” and “Thank you very much,” all from actual Elvis voice recordings. So far, no word on when “Please hand me another doughnut” or “Are you going to take that pain pill?” will be added to the repertoire. $48.11.

GG_Glasses_interiorRoyal Poker Glasses
Most shaded lens help darken bright environments. These stylish and functional glasses actually help brighten dark views, enabling poker players to better see their cards and chips when gamers are operating in subtly lit rooms. $89.95-$149.95.

LLF 24K Gold-Foil Plated Playing Cards
Available in a black or mahogany box, these beautiful and emblazoned playing cards are 999.9 24K gold foil and arrive with a certificate of authenticity. The cards are handcrafted using the latest gold-plating techniques, so you don’t get Gold Finger-ed playing with them. $18.99.

Travel Roulette Wheel
When your favorite game is subject to being outlawed from time to time, you find way to take it with you. Such is the history behind the portable roulette wheel. This style of spin-on-the-go game was popular with the Imperial Army in the 1700s. Simplified with fewer numbers, it still allows for fun gambling. A sophisticated travel version of the elaborate Monte Carlo table mounted wheels, it dates back to the Victorian era, made to order for the Army & Navy stores. Place lid on bowl, spin the ebony shaft, drop in the wood ball through the hole and wait for the wheel to stop spinning. Place bets and open lid. Win or lose! $110.

GG opposuit interiorThe Poker Face
The company motto for OppoSuits is, “Worn to Be Wild,” and this two-piece suit-and-tie combo guarantees a reaction from passersby and other players alike. Hilarity will most assuredly ensue. The suit, available in sizes 36 to 52, works perfectly during any Hollywood, James Bond, showbiz or mafia-themed party. $99.95.

Harley-Davidson Poker Chip frame
You don’t have to have a Harley to appreciate the rugged American individualism the brand has come to represent. In fact, the revered motorcycle name fits quite nicely with the sporting lifestyle also associated with casino gaming. Combine both worlds in this poker chip colletor’s frame. It’s a free standing display for table or shelf and features an attractive Willie G. skull and Bar & Shield graphics. The frame holds 88 poker chips (not included), and the middle picture can be replaced by 4” x 6” photo. $139.95.

Lucky Dog Slots treat dispenser
Hey, just because you’re a loser at slots doesn’t mean your poor dog has to suffer, too. This clever treat dispenser has three chambers you can fill with different or the same tasty nuggets. Fido comes up to the device and can dispense his own morsels by stepping on the tray. How long will the treats last? Probably about as long as your credits lasted the last time you the one-armed bandits. $24.99.

Vote & Win! Midwest Casinos Readers’ Choice Awards!


It’s time to vote for our annual Midwest Casino Readers’ Choice Awards. We want to know where you like to play, stay and everything in between…let your voice be heard!

Cast your vote between now and December 31st and you will be entered to win the Ultimate Casino Getaway to the casino of your choice! The trip includes overnight stays, gambling money, dining and more!

Don’t delay…vote today! Spread the word!

CLICK HERE to vote and enter the giveaway! 

Every year, our awards serve as the time and place where readers can let the properties know what they are doing well, and what they are not doing too well. The voting ballot will only take a few minutes…and you might win a pretty sweet prize too!

Look for the results in next year’s May Issue and on

Good luck!

Strip Teasers: Penn & Teller Join 9 More of Our Vegas Faves

Penn & Teller 2015 for interiorAs the casino industry changes to focus ever more on accommodations and entertainment, the importance of high-quality, broadly appealing acts has never been greater. Mention Las Vegas to most people, for example, and close behind hastily drawn mental images of slot floors and blackjack tables are the modern and historic acts that have helped draw visitors to the desert ever since Benjamin (he hated to be called Bugsy) Siegel opened the Flamingo Casino in 1946.

Even then, star power was perceived as key to success: Entertainers included Rose Marie and Jimmy Durante as entertainment, with guests including Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Cesar Romero, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford and others.

Nowadays, a successful act in Las Vegas can be rightly be called the pinnacle of success. You might be able to make it anywhere if you can make it New York, but when you make it everywhere else, that’s when you get the honor of your name in bright neon lights on the Strip.

That’s why the entertainment industry was abuzz last week during G2E, the annual convention of the American Gaming Association. For the third time, they named a Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year. For 2015, it was Penn and Teller.

Rising as a sardonic, cynical alternative to the glitzy and glamorous style of other Vegas showmen, illusionist and comedy duo have truly helped to redefine just what a Vegas act can be. Blending dazzling and unimaginable illusions and magical feats with biting wit and bruising satire, Penn & Teller have channeled their unique skills into several television specials and an ongoing HBO television show. But their true home is on the Strip, where audiences can see the fearsome twosome in person, on stage where their one-of-a-kind antics can shine.

But they are still relatively new kids on the block. Here are our top nine favorites from over the years.

Liberace. As the talented son of poor immigrant parents, he became the most successful performer in the world for nearly two decades. Wladziu Valentino Liberace came to embody and shape the flamboyant lifestyle and neon glitz of Las Vegas’ golden era . Liberace’s name has since become synonymous with Vegas’ decadence. A blazingly great piano player and endlessly generous showman, First appearing on the strip as early as 1994, Liberace’s Las Vegas performances are considered by many to be the greatest ever seen on the strip. Long live Liberace!

The Rat Pack. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Peter Lawford. Four of the most iconic names in show business all sharing one Vegas stage in the 1960s—there had never been anything like it, and there certainly hasn’t been since. Nights featuring performances by any member of The Rat Pack meant absolute pandemonium on the strip—fans pouring into the city, sleeping on the floors of hotel lobbies, desperate to see these icons in person. Casinos knew that Rat Pack performances meant high rollers and big spenders would be coming into the town. This classic quartet literally commanded the attention of all of Las Vegas during their reign, and it’s the stuff of legend to this day.

Elvis & LiberaceElvis. Las Vegas has seen some of the greatest performers in history grace its legendary strip— but there’s only ever been one King. Elvis Presley, one of the most influential cultural figures of the 20th (or just about any other) century, blended gospel, rock, soul, and rhythm and blues and poured them down upon the masses. After a seven year hiatus that many thought would never end, Elvis made his triumphant return in none other than Las Vegas, which become his performing home for much of the remainder of his tragically short career. Like Vegas, his powerful single name instantly conjures up powerful images of superstardom—there’s nobody quite like Elvis.

David Copperfield. He’s the most successful magician in the history of the planet, having sold over 40 million total tickets and earned $4 billion in revenue over the course of his career, breaking nearly a dozen Guinness World records along the way—and he calls Las Vegas home. David Copperfield has been dazzling audiences for over 40 years, many of those years as part of a Vegas residency that’s the stuff of legend on the strip for its incredible longevity, commitment to constantly producing new and revolutionary illusions and feats. David Copperfield is truly a showman— he credits true artistic visionaries like Orson Welles and Walt Disney over other illusionists as his primary influences, and it certainly shows in his performances. Now you see him…now you see him again, because he’s just that good.

Donny & Marie Osmond. Ever since Elvis, Las Vegas has been a place to not only launch careers, but also relaunch careers that otherwise might have folded. Perhaps no act exemplifies this magic Vegas power better than Donny and Marie Osmond, who after a successful career in pop music as a part of the Osmond family found second life in Vegas as one of the strips most beloved, current productions. Featuring 90 minutes of duets and solo numbers, Donny & Marie’s Las Vegas act has received dozens of accolades from audiences and critics alike, and like the city itself, they show no sign of slowing down.

Jerry Lewis. When you can act, sing, joke, produce, play the piano and command an audience, there’s really only one place for you to go. Jerry Lewis started out in nightclubs with partner Dean Martin but eventually made his way to the big stages of Las Vegas, where thousands upon thousands of adoring fans would gather to see his unique mix of music and comedy on a nightly basis. Jerry Lewis was similar to the city of Vegas— a one-stop-shop for just about every kind of entertainment you could ever hope to see, all in a dazzling, boisterous package.

Wayne Newton. Often overlooked in the great and illustrious history of Las Vegas performers, Wayne Newton just so happens to be one of the highest earning acts in the history of the strip. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at the numbers that have been racked up by Mr. Las Vegas himself—as early as 1979 Newton was racking in $8 million a year from his Vegas residency alone. He’s been a top-billed Vegas act for over five decades. Buoyed by hits like “Danke Schoen” and “Red Roses for a Blue Lady,“ Newton started his explosive run in Vegas decades ago and never looked back, and he’s come to define Las Vegas for generations of fans.

Celine Dion. Her Vegas act is a throwback to the glory days of performers on the Strip in that she didn’t wait until her career was in need of revitalization before committing to a residency in Vegas—she settled in on at the peak of her success, and it’s proven to be one of the most shrewd moves in recent music business memory. Her powerful vocals and dazzling stage show that combines theatrics, ballet and acrobatics create a must-see Vegas event that’s got audiences flocking by the thousands. Big songs, dramatic performances and a little bit of cheese—Celine truly represents the new age of Las Vegas.

Trisha Yearwood to Help Light Up Elvis’ Graceland

MansionXmas_HorizontalResponsiveElvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., will officially begin the holiday season when three-time Grammy award-winning country artist Trisha Yearwood “flips the switch” on the traditional lights and decorations during the annual lighting ceremony on Friday, November 20 at 6 p.m. CST and performs a song for guests gathered for this special event. Patients from Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis will assist Yearwood in lighting up Elvis Presley’s iconic home for the season.

The extensive Christmas display at the king’s castle includes hundreds of blue lights along the driveway, a life-size Nativity scene, Santa and his sleigh and much more, all originally displayed at Graceland by Elvis and the Presley family. The interiors of Graceland mansion will feature the Presley family’s Christmas décor starting on November 20 for seasonal holiday tours through his birthday celebration in January. Included will be his traditional red velvet drapes as well as Presley family Christmas artifacts on display around several trees throughout the home.

Yearwood, a life-long fan of Elvis Presley, is one of the biggest-selling female performers in country music history, a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the author of three best-selling cookbooks and host of the Emmy Award-winning Food Network show, “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” currently shooting its seventh season.

“I LOVE Elvis, always have,” stated Yearwood. “I’ve visited Graceland many times, but never at Christmas. I’m incredibly honored to be invited to flip the switch at Graceland’s holiday lighting ceremony this year.”

In addition to Elvis’ own holiday décor, visitors to the famous Memphis mansion will experience an interactive, state-of-the-art iPad tour that provides a fully immersive experience for guests. Visitors can take a multimedia tour of the music landmark that allows users to dive deeper into the story of Elvis’ life through unique archival audio, video and photo elements. A customized iPad tour experience for kids and tweens features interactive photo activities geared for younger visitors. Read more about the iPad experience here.

Channeling his inner Elvis, Santa and his red jumpsuit-inspired suit will arrive by limousine and police escort. Santa will be available for pictures with the kids following the lighting ceremony. The lighting event featuring Trisha Yearwood is free and open to the public.

Regular paid tours of Graceland will operate the day of the lighting ceremony from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A special Christmas at Graceland Package can be booked online and includes one night at Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel for two, two VIP Tours of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, a Graceland Christmas Ornament, the “Merry Christmas … Love, Elvis” CD and an Elvis Presley collectible Blue Christmas Bear. A detailed list of operating hours and prices of admission can be found at

Not able to be in Memphis? Watch the Graceland lighting ceremony live on, on livestream here or listen on Elvis Radio, SiriusXM Channel 19.

For more detailed information please visit or call 901.332.3322.



Tracy Morgan to Appear at Harrah’s Cherokee

Tracy Morngan interiorMulti-talented comedian Tracy Morgan is back at it, announcing the “TRACY MORGAN: Picking up the Pieces” tour, his latest major multi-city standup tour starting in February 2016. One of his first dates will be at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Morgan was critically injured in a June 2014 crash in New Jersey when his limo was rear-ended by a cargo truck. The crash, which killed Morgan’s friend and fellow comedian Jim McNair, left Morgan with multiple broken bones and brain trauma. At one point, there was doubt whether he would be able to perform again. But after a triumphant return to the Hollywood stage at this year’s Emmy Awards and a visit to his old stomping grounds at SNL, audiences can look forward to the entertainer doing what he does best: bringing bags loads of funny and making people laugh.

“It’s just like falling off a bike and getting back on, that’s all: you don’t forget where the pedals are,” Morgan says on getting back to touring. “People can expect more of what I did before. It’s me: funny + truth = Tracy Morgan. I can’t wait to get back to ya’ll. City to city, state to state, watch me operate.”

Starring for seven seasons on NBC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning “30 Rock,” Morgan appeared opposite Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin as “Tracy Jordan,” the unpredictable star of Lemon’s (Fey) hit variety show, “TGS with Tracy Jordan.” In 2009 Morgan received his first Emmy Nomination for this role, in the Supporting Actor category; he has also been nominated multiple times for a Supporting Actor NAACP Image Award.

Morgan has successfully turned his love for standup comedy tour into a couple of TV specials. His first, “Black & Blue,” was recorded as an HBO special. He followed it up with a performance on Comedy Central titled “Tracy Morgan: Bona Fide,” which brought the station one of its largest viewerships for a standup special in 2014. He also headlined the famed New York Comedy Festival, which featured other acclaimed comedians including Bill Maher, Andy Samberg, and Patton Oswalt, among others.

To round out his list of achievements, Morgan released his first book, entitled “I Am The New Black,” a compilation of studied anecdotes and some of the more serious moments that shaped him and his career.

He was first introduced to television audiences in his role as “Hustleman” on the hit comedy series “Martin.” He went on to join “Saturday Night Live” in 1996 where he appeared for seven seasons and created such memorable characters as “Astronaut Jones” and “Brian Fellows.”

Morgan has been a part of some of the most successful animated films in recent years. In 2009, he made his animation debut lending his voice for Jerry Bruckheimer’s G-FORCE. In 2013, he starred as the bulldog, Luiz, in the colorful and lively film RIO and again in April 2014 when he reprised his role in RIO 2. Morgan’s voice can also be heard in the Oscar-nominated film, BOXTROLLS, as one of the film’s antagonist, Mr. Gristle.

Tickets go on sale starting Friday, October 23 and you can check out to get the full tour list as well as the latest updates on the “TRACY MORGAN: Picking Up The Pieces” tour.

Rising Star Casino Unwraps The Christmas Casino

Rising Star int 1The Christmas Casino at Rising Star Casino Resort is open now through January 3, 2016

The first-of-its kind Christmas Casino was unveiled to community leaders at Rising Star Casino Resort in Rising Sun, Ind. The entire casino has been transformed into a winter wonderland with hundreds of Christmas decorations and scenes depicting traditional Christmas scenes. A live reindeer event greets visitors as they enter the Casino’s Pavilion.

The Christmas Casino is a seasonal transformation of the Rising Star Casino & Resort, which is owned by Full House Resorts. It features approximately 900 of the most popular slot machines plus a variety of table games, all in a highly decorated seasonal setting, with holiday music and free eggnog. Additional guest amenities include 294 hotel rooms, complete with an indoor pool and fitness center, and several restaurants, including Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen Buffet and the Yuletide Inn, which is a fine dining restaurant featuring Holiday favorites served family-style. While principally designed for adult merriment in the casino, The Christmas Casino also offers a lavish Christmas tree and seven live reindeer which can be enjoyed by guests of all ages.

Christmas Casino Restaurants

Mrs. Claus Kitchen Buffet is open seven days per week and provides a 50% discount for Children 11 years of age or younger. Breakfast is $14.99, lunch is $ 16.99, and dinner Sunday thru Thursday is $23.99. Dinner on Friday and Saturday offers additional entrees and is priced at $30.99 for adults. Discounts are available for members of the Rising Star Rewards Players’ Club.

The Yuletide Inn offers a unique dinner experience, with a fixed price menu featuring Christmas specialties served family style. It is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the holidays from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Dinner is $45 for adults and $25 for children, 11 years of age or younger. For reservations, call 877-77-SANTA Extension #7. The Yuletide Inn is also available for private functions and office Holiday parties throughout the holiday season.

The HO-HO-HO offers good food served quickly, including some Christmas specialties and American favorites.

Rising Star int 2The Christmas Casino Design Team

The Christmas Casino Design Team was led by Linda Baker of the Baker Design Group (BDG), which has a national reputation for their Christmas decorating flair. Baker Design Group aligned with world-renowned mechanical genius Lou Nasti to create truly magical, one-of-a-kind displays, complete with the mechanized creations for which he is best known. Mr. Nasti has designed, manufactured and installed custom-animated characters, scenes, window displays and attractions for more than 40 years. His inimitable displays, which combine movement, sound, lighting and countless details, can be found all over the world, from Macy’s and Park Avenue Plaza in New York City to the castle for the King of Morocco. Linda and Lou also incorporated many of the fanciful creatures of The Mark Roberts Company, which specializes in hand-made fairies, elves and other Christmas collectibles.

The Christmas Casino is located at 777 Rising Star Drive, Rising Sun, Indiana 47040. For more information, call the reservation elves at (877)-77-SANTA, Extension #7 or visit

Hard Rock in Sioux City Wins Tourism Award

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City announced it has been named “Outstanding Attraction in Iowa” by the Iowa Tourism Office. The award, presented at the 2015 Iowa Tourism Conference, honors Iowa’s most outstanding tourism organizations and represents the highest tourism honor given in the state.


“Receiving this award means so much to our team,” said Todd Moyer, General Manager at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City. “We strive to deliver the very best in hospitality and entertainment every day, and are honored to be recognized as a new leader in Iowa’s tourism industry.”


The $126 million project that completely restored the historic Battery Building from the industrial manufacturing structure that it was into the AAA Four Diamond rated property that it is now, recently celebrated its one year anniversary on August 1st. In just one short year, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City created over 500 local jobs in the tri-state region. The facility has welcomed more than two million visitors, held over 200 shows, paid out more than $16.5 million in jackpots, and issued more than 85,000 event tickets to customers in 46 states.


Recognizing the very best travel sights in Iowa, the annual Iowa Tourism Awards uses extensive evaluations and countless reviews by industry members to determine award winners. The Outstanding Attraction in Iowa award is one of 24 awards featured during the Iowa Tourism Conference. Other award categories included Outstanding Event, Outstanding retail, and People’s Choice Award.


“We promised our guests the top entertainment destination in the state,” continued Moyer. “Bringing in the best and most versatile line-up of entertainment, from rock icons like SLASH, Deep Purple and Elvis Costello, country music all-stars Chris Young and Clint Black, modern artists along the likes of Colbie Caillat and 3 Doors Down, to national comedians like Tom Arnold or Lisa Lampanelli, is just one way we deliver on that promise.”


Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, located in Sioux City, Iowa, is a fully-integrated gaming resort that includes more than 835 slot machines, a live-entertainment venue, an outdoor event space, multiple bars and restaurants with award-winning chefs, and a AAA Four Diamond Award-winning boutique hotel. The property boasts rock-n-roll inspired decor that has the perfect mix of historical architecture and modern amenities.


To learn more about Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, visit

Arkansas: More Than Just a Gaming Destination

In addition to the two facilities, Arkansas boasts Southern comfort food, thriving downtowns, scenic byways, fascinating history, unusual museums and quaint towns. Start and end with racing and gaming, but you’re guaranteed a win with great views along the way!

Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

The 2015 Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, began his journey at Oaklawn and so should you. Located in the historic city of Hot Springs National Park, Oaklawn Racing and Gaming was named Southern Gaming and Destinations Reader’s Choice for Best Racetrack/Racing facility in the Mid-South for 2014. Live races begin in January and run through April for the 2016 season.

Oaklawn-gamingAside from top-of-the-line racing, late last year, Oaklawn expanded its facilities with 58,000-square-feet. Live Blackjack, a Live Poker Room, video poker, Roulette, Craps, and a High Limits Area – Oaklawn gaming has it all. While you’re there, be sure to grab a bite to eat at Silk’s Bar and Grill and enjoy live music on Fridays and Saturdays.

During your time in Hot Springs, stroll along Bathhouse Row and pamper yourself with a luxurious spa treatment. Stop by the jug fountains downtown and taste water straight from the hot underground springs. Make time to visit the numerous area lakes and take in the picturesque view of the town from atop Hot Springs Mountain Tower. Grab a meal at one of the local restaurants along Central Avenue downtown to complete your Hot Springs experience.

Along the Way

Arkansas has surprises at every stop, no matter what route you to take from Oaklawn to Southland. If you’re not ready to leave the spa life behind, travel north to the “Little Switzerland of the Ozarks,” Eureka Springs, where you can enjoy block after block of distinctive shops, boutiques, fine art galleries, craft emporiums, spas and museums. Just a short distance away in Bentonville, you can visit Crystal Bridges, one of the country’s finest art museums, the original Wal-Mart variety store museum and the breathtaking views of the Ozark Mountains.

If you head through Central Arkansas, you can eat and drink your fill at neighborhood restaurants and breweries with a range of specialties, from barbecue to fine dining and everything in between. Spend time at the Clinton Presidential Center and Park, check out the eclectic River Market and South Main districts in downtown Little Rock and explore everything local vendors have to offer.

If the options are too great to pick, why not pick a route that covers it all?

Southland Park Gaming and Racing

Your final stop at Southland in West Memphis will bring you to another newly renovated gaming facility. Last year, a 41,000-square-foot gaming expansion was completed, and 500 new games were added. You’ll have video poker, virtual craps, live and virtual roulette, blackjack, 3-card poker and more, all at your fingertips. End your trip with a bang at the Juke Joint where an event is happening every night. Southland has the perfect combination of a bar and a lounge, Shine Blounge. Yes. Blounge.

Experience the dramatic live greyhound racing, as well as simulcast races from premier tacks around the world, all year long.

For more information and a free Arkansas vacation guide, visit

Video Poker: Are You Playing the Odds?


Writer_Boyd_Linda-bw_insideWe’ve all heard them—I’m talking about stories describing players or their friends getting two royals on the same machine minutes apart or some other unlikely gambling events. But can these possibly be true? Absolutely! But they’re anomalies, not realistic expectations, and should never be used to guide your play in video poker or any other casino game. Instead, you should use mathematical tenants based on the best possible odds. Here are some tips for maximizing video poker outcomes based on statistics rather than hunches.

Game selection. You should look at the ER (expected return) percentage on either tutorial software (Dean Zamzow’s WinPoker is a good one) or pay tables with numerical data (there are free and removable tables in my book “The Video Poker Edge”) before choosing a game. Too often I hear players selecting a game by pointing to an isolated and infrequent hand payout as the reason for playing. For example, choosing 8/5 Double-Double Bonus (8/5 DDB) because you’re salivating over the payout for 4 Aces with a kicker (2,3 or 4) of 2,000 coins in addition to the 4,000 coin royal payout is misleading. The ER is just a paltry 96.7861% while it has a whopping variance of 41.99487, a major risk to your bankroll. Instead, base you decision on the numbers for the ER, variance and your knowledge of the game’s strategy.

Intuition or software. I often hear a cacophony of VP players muttering the adage “never throw away a winning hand”. This may sound good, but it happens to be untrue. Just when you should toss the sure winner depends on the game you’re playing. For example, if your game is 9/6JOB (ER 99.5439%, variance 19.51468) and you have to choose between holding a paying-pair or three to a royal (assuming a 4000 coin royal payout), you hold the paying-pair. However, you’re playing the same game and the royal is a progressive paying 5000 coins and you have a suited Jack, Queen, King along with another King and a Two you hold three to a royal. If you have a suited Ace, King Ten along with another King and a two you hold the paying-pair. My point is that intuition just won’t cut it for some card holds. Instead you must rely on practice with the software.

Advice during play. If you walked into a dog grooming salon and the proprietor started to dispense hot tips on your stock portfolio would you act on their advice? That’s no different than paying attention to the kibitzer’s card-holding suggestions during VP play. The recent history of the device has zero impact on future hand outcomes. Keep in mind that it’s a machine and lacks a brain so focus solely on the best statistical odds.

Possibility versus probability. Referring back to the stories involving anomalies in any game of chance brings us to the difference between probability and possibility. Anything is possible, including playing with a series of major errors and still winning. For example, recently I held just the Ace of Diamonds (the correct hold for the game I was playing) and got a royal flush.  That was an extremely unlikely draw but in the realm of the possible. In short, any long shot result within the 52-card virtual deck is possible but the likelihood is based solely on the statistics of probability. As a smart player you should base your gambling decisions entirely on probability not on possibilities.

Factoring in volatility. Two games may have similar ERs but can be very different in terms of variance, an indicator of the game’s volatility or risk to your bankroll. Comparing 9/6 JOB to 10/6 DB you might think it’s a no-brainer to go with 10/7DB, ER 100.17% instead of 9/6JOB with an ER of 99.5439%. But you should consider the higher variance of 10/7DB of 28.25554 versus 9/6JOB with a 19.51468. In addition, you will not get the theoretical ER if you don’t use computer-perfect game strategy and 9/6JOB is a much more intuitive game. So consider both the ER and variance along with your skills before making decisions.

Linda Boyd was a long-time table game player before turning to video poker. Her columns appear in Gaming and Destinations magazine each issue, and you may view her instructional videos on YouTube. Her book, “The Video Poker Edge,” includes free removable pay schedules and her free strategy cards for the most popular games.


We Crown the 2015 Culinary King of the South

Culinary King logo_interiorIn all our years of sponsoring this competition, we’ve not seen such a hard-fought and close contest for the hearts and pallets of our readers. We congratulate these chefs for their recognition and encourage all our readers to put their cooking on your must-eat list as you enjoy all the incredible dining opportunities our casinos have to offer.

Culinary King of the South: Chef Gary Riley

Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall-Tunica
Stacked Seared Sea Bass with Crab Cake and Scallop

Chef Gary Riley began his culinary career in Las Vegas at the Famous Stardust Casino at the age of 23. Now, 41 years later, he still enjoys preparing world-class meals for people who love good food and having a good time. Since joining Sam’s Town, he has helped further establish the property as a local and not-so-local great place to order traditional southern food. His commitment to quality and variety shines through the menu offerings.

“As a kid I loved food,” he said in one interview. “Being a chef was the closest thing to working in a pie factory and that was my dream when I was a kid.”

When asked why he chose to compete with this item, his answer was as simple as the list of ingredients is ornate: “You just can’t go wrong with the combination of Seafood,” he said.

Runners Up

Chef Stephen Morgan
Costa Cucina Italian Restaurant at IP Casino, Resort and Spa-Biloxi
Medallions of Beef, Hunter’s Style
Chef Stephen P. Morgan has prepared incredible fare for IP Casino Biloxi for 10 years, which is just one third of a three-decade career.

Morgan, who enjoys spending time on the water as much as he does preparing delicious entrees based on its bounty, spent time donating his cooking talent after Hurricane Katrina walloped the region in 2005.

He submitted this particular item because of how well it pairs the mushroom flavors with those of the beef. He recommends Italian red wines as a perfect compliment to the entrée.

Chef James Shields
Paragon Casino Resort
New Orleans-Style BBQ Shrimp
Chef Shields was a top graduate and leader of the culinary team at the Culinary Institute of America and has more than 20 years’ experience in the culinary field. He has held the position of Executive Chef at several large properties in the New Orleans area. “I’m happy to be back at Paragon,” Shields said. “We have many wonderful plans for the dining options at the resort, and I’m looking forward to sharing my passion for the culinary industry with our guests.”

Interestingly, Shields also is a trained-and-certified ice sculptor.

Chef Shields said his submission was a no-brainer. “My dish selection was easy. NOLA BBQ Shrimp is indigenous to Louisiana, it’s flavorful and it’s a fan favorite. Its mixture of lemons and butter delivers a mellow taste, creating a great balance for your palette.”

Chef Chuck Subra
Tropicana Evansville
Louisiana BBQ Shrimp Served with Goat Cheese Stone Ground Hominy Grits
Savor the taste of New Orleans when you experience cuisine from Chef Chuck Subra. He almost 25 years cooking experience, many of them accrued right in the middle of the French Quarter.

His training began under Master French Chef Rene Bajeux at Rene Bistrot.

Learning Bajeux’s “cooking of the earth” philosophy, Chef Chuck was able to develop his passion for using local, fresh and seasonal ingredients and cooking techniques indigenous to the Gulf Coast.

As a native Louisianan, he has always been an advocate of the seafood community. He said he chose this recipe for Shrimp and Grits because it was one of the first dishes he introduced to his menu as Executive Chef in 2004.

Poo-Bach’s Hot-Hand Gambling Strategy

Writer_Scoblete_Frank-bwThere seems to be almost as many gambling systems as gamblers. There are advantage play methods at blackjack, craps, video poker, casino poker, Pai Gow Poker and, yes, even slots. These can actually work to get the players a relatively small edge. Few players, extremely few, learn advantage-play methods, preferring instead to adopt various betting schemes that don’t work to get the player an edge, which they can’t actually get over the house.

Thus, on the losing end of the spectrum (where just about every player plants himself) you have money management systems, trend betting systems in all their almost infinite variety, (flawed) mathematical systems such as the Martingale, various cancellation systems and on it goes into the light-years equivalent of wrongness.

Still I have to admit there is a system I do like, not because it can give the player an edge (sorry, it can’t), but because it opens up the whole table-game casino universe. This system is called “Poo-Bach’s Hot-Hand” strategy. It is a pure system that requires the utmost in discipline and an acute observation of other players at any table game in the casino. You will learn so much about who plays what games, how they play them and, perhaps, how on any given session some players win.

The Poo-Bach strategy calls for you to latch onto a hot player, one who is having a good streak, run or session and bet with that person. In this way you stand a better chance of catching lightning in a bottle and riding someone else’s good luck to the winners’ circle. You may be an unlucky person but you are not relying on your own luck; no, you are relying on someone else’s luck. Now I will repeat, this is not a winning system but a fun system that actually slows down the number of decisions you play – and that is a good thing.

What makes Poo-Bach such an enticing strategy is the fact that every table in the casino is open for your scrutiny. Think of it. You will get to see so many games and so many players playing those games that this – in and of itself – is a profound lesson in casino gambling. Also, it takes time to ascertain who is or isn’t defeating the house and in that time the Poo-Bacher is not at risk. Indeed, the Poo-Bacher experiences the high of anticipation for an often-prolonged period of time without any harm being done to his bankroll.

Okay, the Poo-Bacher ascertains that Harry the bloated jellybean bag playing over there is creaming the house in craps. The Poo-Bacher just steps up to the table and makes every bet that Harry makes. If Harry wins; the Poo-Bacher wins too. If Harry loses, the Poo-Bacher leaves the table and searches for another “Hot-Hander.” He never hangs around to see more decisions. If he doesn’t win right away then it is get-away time.

It can’t get simpler than that.

Now I have to warn you: There are some grumpy, nasty players who employ the Poo-Poo-Bach strategy, which says they hook onto the hot player and bet against him. So if you are at a mini-baccarat table and you see one lady raking it in, sit down and bet the opposite wagers. She must fail sooner or later, mustn’t she?

The problem here is that if Ms. Hot Hand keeps winning and the Poo-Poo-Bacher keeps betting against her, he is apt to lose his shirt. One bet with or against a player is all you make and if you don’t win, head for the hills or the bar.

My philosophy is not to be perverse. Play the Poo-Bach strategy the way the gods intended it when they invented it during their sunny days atop Mount Olympus.

Frank Scoblete is a best-selling casino gambling writer. His new book, I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps!, is available from Amazon and Kindle or at your favorite bookstore.


Everi Crowns 2015 TournEvent of Champions Winner

After six rounds of thrilling competition at The Wynn Las Vegas’ XS Nightlcub, Everi crowned its 2015 TournEvent of Champions victor. Rita Kellerman bested 181 other top tournament slots players to claim the $1 million first-place prize and champion’s ring.

Kellerman, representing the Ho-Chunk Gaming-Wisconsin Dells casino, survived two days of loud and intense competition to become the 2015 Champion. A relative rookie to TournEvent, Kellerman says she tried TournEvent for the first time when she won the Ho-Chunk Gaming qualifier in June after tiring of other slots tournament formats.

“I can’t believe I won,” said Kellerman. “It’s all so surreal right now. This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me, except for getting married, of course.”

TournEvent for interiorThe 2015 TournEvent of Champions finals pitted 182 finalists representing 99 casinos from across the United States — and even some from Peru — in a high-energy battle for tournament slots supremacy that started with qualifying TournEvents in April of this year.

“Our casino partners do a wonderful job at hosting the TournEvent qualifiers throughout the year,” said Ram V. Chary, president and CEO of Everi, a provider of video and mechanical reel gaming content and technology solutions.

“All the competitors here tonight for the finals represented their casinos with fierce competitiveness, showcasing the intensity of TournEvent. Our congratulations go out to Rita for her exciting come-from-behind victory,” Chary said.


Now in its fourth year, the TournEvent of Champions has exploded in popularity.

“The success of TournEvent of Champions really belongs to the casinos running events throughout the year,” Chary said. “The format of the event adds undeniable energy to the casino floor, and the casinos along with our promotions team, do a great job of drawing in big crowds as well.”

On Tuesday, Everi kicked off the championships with its second annual TournEvent for Charities event featuring a mix of celebrities and local and industry media members squaring off on behalf of their favorite charities. In the end, Steve Burke, publisher of Indian Gaming Magazine, claimed victory and the $10,000 winner’s check for the NIGA Spirit of Sovereignty. The remaining charities were winners in their own right, sharing in the $40,000 total contribution made by Everi.

Everi’s charity of choice, Save A Warrior, also benefitted at the event as Everi presented the organization with a check for $40,000. Save A Warrior benefits returning veterans and active-duty military personnel struggling with PTSD as a result of their service.

Plans for 2016 TournEvent of Champions are already under way, and Everi expects the party to be even bigger. The $1 million grand prize will be back in play, and the five-year anniversary event is slated to coincide once again with the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

Football Bets to Total $95 Billion This Season

On last season’s Super Bowl alone, Americans made $3.8 billion worth of illicit bets – an amount 38 times greater than the total bet legally.

“Illegal sports betting is reaching new heights of popularity in America,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “It’s clear that a federal ban on traditional sports betting outside of Nevada is failing.”


Illegal sports betting is one of four key illegal gambling areas of focus as part of the AGA’s “Stop Illegal Gambling – Play it Safe” initiative, which seeks to distinguish the highly regulated, $240 billion legal gaming industry—which supports 1.7 million jobs and generates $38 billion in taxes across 40 states—from the criminal networks that rely on illegal gambling to fund violent crimes and drug and human trafficking. The initiative is also focusing on black market machines, Internet sweepstakes cafes and illegal online betting.


In June, the AGA formed an Illegal Gambling Advisory Board composed of former top law enforcement officials from the federal, state and local levels.


The Board is comprised of: Tim Murphy (chair), former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); Ed Davis, former Boston Police Commissioner; James Dinkins, former executive associate director at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations; J.B. Van Hollen, former Wisconsin State attorney general, U.S. attorney, and district attorney; and Bill Young, former Clark County Sheriff and head of Las Vegas Metro Police Department; current senior vice president of compliance and security at Station Casinos.



Heartland Poker Tour Winner Cashes for $142,386 in Chicago

East Chicago, IN (September 7, 2015) – Jeremy Kloeckner exterminated the competition at Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago Monday evening to earn $142,386 and the Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) championship bracelet. The pest control employee from Lockport, Illinois had a few minor cashes under his belt coming into the day, but nothing near the six-figure score that he captured for the victory.



“I don’t even know how to feel right now,” said the new champ. “I’m extremely excited and this win is going to change my life.”


The last opponent standing between Kloeckner and the Title was Robert Edelstein of Chicago. A poker player and fisherman by trade, Edelstein got the last of his chips in holding a pair of nines to the eventual champ’s pair of kings. His hand didn’t improve and he was sent to the rail as the runner-up with $87,909.


This was Mike Deis’s second appearance under the bright lights of a televised HPT Final Table. The Ann Arbor, Michigan man was able to improve on his 2013 seventh-place finish by four spots. Deis, who works in logistic sales, will take home $58,503 for his third-place finish.


Chicago Police Officer Michael Younan plans to use his winnings to get a new car for his wife. He’ll have $40,550 to make the purchase after earning that much for fourth place. Younan enjoyed his weekend experience at Ameristar East Chicago. “HPT has been run phenomenally,” he said.


The Main Event at Ameristar East Chicago drew 432 entries, creating a total prize pool of $619,080. Several notables were spotted in the field throughout the weekend, including poker pros Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, Jeff Madsen, and Robert Williamson III. Madsen and Williamson joined Jaymz Larson to provide commentary for live streaming of the event as did past HPT champion Dave Gutfreund.


The overwhelming chip leader at the start of the day was Buffalo Grove’s Greg Koutelidakis. The poker player was able to ride his stack to a fifth-place finish for a score of $30,644. He hopes to put that sum towards buying investment properties.


Local business owner Joe Sidoryk has amassed over $1 million in career earnings playing poker online. Until Monday though, his best reported cash in a live tournament was just over $6,000. Sidoryk, of Elmhurst, Illinois, nearly quadrupled that number by taking home $23,835 for sixth place.


Shortly before Sidoryk’s elimination, the colorful Kenny Nguyen became the third player to get knocked out on the day. Nguyen kept the conversation at the table lively and will be a fan favorite when the episodes from this tour stop make their way to television. The business owner from Lansing, Illinois finished in seventh place for $19,811.


Electrician Steve Sloan was the eighth-place finisher. The Sublette, Illinois man was making his first HPT Final Table appearance since 2007 and he dedicated it to his daughter Ashley who is currently serving in the United States Army. Sloan earned $16,406 for his efforts.


The first elimination of the day came when Milos Ivanovic’s pocket threes were outdrawn by the king-jack of Koutelidakis. Ivanovic added $13,867 to his career earnings total for the ninth-place exit.


Next up for HPT is a trip to Blackhawk, Colorado for an anticipated ninth consecutive million dollar prize pool. That event kicks off Wednesday. From there, the tour heads further west for visits to Reno, Nevada and Lincoln, California. Visit for a list of all upcoming stops.


All Paid Players Listed at

Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago

East Chicago, IN

September 7, 2015

Buy-in:  $1650

Main Event: 432

Total Prize Pool:  $619,080


1st: Jeremy Kloeckner (Lockport, IL) $142,386

2nd: Robert Edelstein (Chicago, IL) $87,909

3rd: Mike Deis (Ann Arbor, MI) $58,503

4th: Michael Younan (Chicago, IL) $40,550

5th: Greg Koutelidakis (Buffalo Grove, IL) $30,644

6th: Joe Sidoryk (Elmhurst, IL) $23,835

7th: Kenny Nguyen (Lansing, IL) $19,811

8th: Steve Sloan (Sublette, IL) $16,406

9th: Milos Ivanovic (Chicago, IL) $13,867


About Heartland Poker Tour (HPT)

Founded in 2005, HPT is built on a grass-roots philosophy of “Real People, Unreal Money”.  HPT is currently filming Season XI and is available in over 110 million homes throughout the United States each week, in addition to widespread distribution throughout Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.  For more information and a schedule of upcoming events, visit


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