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Bars’ video gaming a convenience at most

John Grochowski

John Grochowski

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CASINO NOTE

Christmas Day is the last TWOsday of the year at Harrah’s Joliet. That means $2 minimum bets at craps and roulette from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and other specials that run till 6 a.m. including points multipliers on selected gaming machines, $2 hot dogs at Ace’s Diner and $2 valet parking. Visit harrahsjoliet.com.

Updated: December 21, 2012 7:12AM



When I first heard of the $2 maximum bet and $500 maximum jackpot video gaming in Illinois bars and restaurants, I wondered what would be done to video poker pay tables. The usual payoff of $1,000 on a royal flush for a $1.25 bet was going to be out the window.

Would there be a make-up for cutting the usual top jackpot in half?

To check it out, I spent a mid-December lunch break at the Assembly restaurant in Hoffman Estates. I headed to the small room that houses five gaming machines — three made by IGT, one by Bally and one by Spielo.

The three IGT games and the Spielo game were all in use by customers playing slot games. So I took a look at the Bally game. The Bally video poker games allow quarter players wagers of four to eight. You have to bet $2 to get the maximum royal flush jackpot of 2,000 coins. If you bet five quarters, royals pay 1,250 coins.

It gets tricky with Double Double Bonus Poker because of the jackpot on four Aces with a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card. That combination pays 400-for-1, or a 2,000-coin bonanza that hits the $500 max payout on a five-coin wager. The Bally machine at Assembly pays that same 2,000 coins for wagers of five, six, seven or eight coins.

With no rise from coin No. 6 on up, something had to be done to give players an incentive to bet the max. That was done with the payoffs on straight flushes. For a five-coin bet, it pays the same 250 coins you’d get in a casino. But then it jumps to 600 coins for a six-coin bet, 1,000 for seven and 1,500 for eight.

Other than that, it’s a normal 7-5 Double Double Bonus game. With expert play, the returns are 95.7 percent on a casino version, 94.5 percent on the restaurant version with a five-coin wager, and 96.2 percent with eight coins on the restaurant game.

Better pay tables are easy to find in Chicago area casinos, where 8-5, 9-5 and 9-6 Double Double Bonus are available. So this is a game of convenience rather than one to seek out. But thought was put into the game, adding extra reward rather than staying within state requirements by simply cutting the top jackpot in half.

John Grochowski is a local free-lance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casinoanswerman.com.



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