The Horseshoe Casino unveiled its new Blackhawks blackjack pit Thursday.
The special tables were reserved for a select group of winners from a Facebook contest. The group played 15 rounds of blackjack against four guest dealers – NHL Hall of Famers Bobby Hull and Denis Savard, Blackhawks' national anthem singer Jim Cornielson and the team's public address announcer Gene Honda. Whenever one of the guests won a hand against the guest dealers, the casino donated $25 to the Chicago Blackhawks Charity. Guests raised a total of $4,400.
Jennifer Galle, Horseshoe's vice president of marketing, said the Blackhawks and Horseshoe Casino have been partners for several years, and she was thrilled the two are expanding the partnership.
"They are a great team with a great following in Chicago," she said. "Everybody loves the Blackhawks right now."
Blackhawks great Denis Savard, who humorously mentioned he's a Horseshoe Total Rewards member, shared the sentiment saying "it's a natural fit" for the Hawks and Horseshoe to get together.
"Winners breed winners," he said.
Among the Facebook contest winners were two friends – Sheri Burkholder, of Griffith, and Patty McNichols, of Schererville. The two were selected from more than 1,000 entrants.
When McNichols was informed she won, she said she asked if she could give up her seat to her friend, Burkholder, who is a bigger Blackhawks fan and was diagnosed with terminal cancer. However, McNichols said her gesture was not necessary. Burkholder received a call a few moments later informing her she had her own seat.
"She was on cloud nine," McNichols said.
"It must have been an angel; it's a one in a million chance."
Burkholder, who had three blackjacks on that night, said she "had an awesome time."
"It was the highlight of my chemo year," Burkholder said.
The Blackhawks pit will be available for at least the remainder of the 2013-14 season. Additionally, the Horseshoe's Push Bar is now an official Blackhawks bar and will host viewing parties throughout the season. For home games this season and next, the first 20,000 fans to arrive at the United Center will receive a promotional card for a chance to win Free Play money at the Horseshoe and Total Rewards card members who swipe their card at promotional kiosks in the casino are entered for a chance to win seats for a Blackhawks game. The casino will also be selling commemorative $5 Blackhawks chips.
"We have everything for Blackhawks fans here," Galle said.