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When you are shopping for the casino games that give you your best opportunity to win while at the same time making your gambling budget stretch a little further you simply can’t go wrong with poker, both the live and video varieties.

Video poker is more advantageous to play than slot machines, but it can result in maximum benefit for players only when you learn proper strategy and employ correct playing decisions.

You must first become a discriminating video poker player by learning to read pay tables and avoid video poker machines and games that are designed to extract a greater percentage of your gambling dollars.

Video poker games are available in a variety of pay tables. Casino operators select which percentage they want. Unlike slots, video poker games and their associated pay tables are an open book to educated players.

The huge plus with video poker is that there is one virtual deck with which you calculate the percentages based on the pay table. For example, a Jacks or Better pay table set at 9/6 (nine coins for a full house and six for a flush) is going to have a return to expert players of 99.54 percent.

Unlike slots, the random nature of video poker does not change with denomination. Playing a quarter video poker game as opposed to a nickel version will return the same percentage given the same pay table.

On a similar note, sitting down to play live poker holds similar advantages for those willing to learn to play the games correctly.

Any time you can avoid a “house banked” table game, you are trimming the edge against your chances of turning a profit. There is no better place to do this than in a live poker environment. The house takes a “rake” on every hand, but the rest goes to the players.

Every hand is a competition all its own with a beginning and an end. The mechanics of the game create a tempo for the playing experience. The subtleties which revolve around timing and decision making give the game life.

Success at poker seems to feed upon success, which largely comes from playing from a position of strength.

The bigger your stack of chips, the more daring you can be. The damage inflicted by mistakes is minimized by the cushion you enjoy over your opponents.

Overly conservative play, or playing with “scared money,” dilutes the disciplined, tactical behavior that is required to succeed consistently. One mistake can spell defeat.

Failure in poker feeds upon impulsiveness and desperation. When you are compelled to gamble big on one hand in an effort to get back in the game, hoping that luck will be on your side instead of relying upon skill and strategy, you set yourself up for defeat.

One bit of advice: The biggest mistake most players make is quite simply playing too many hands.

One of the true beauties of the game is that you have the option to be selective about which hands you are willing to play. Exercise that option and you’ll be surprised how long you can make your playing session stretch while maximizing your money making opportunities.

BONUS ROUND-UP

BLUE CHIP: Wayne Newton, the legendary “Mr. Las Vegas,” is bringing his smash Las Vegas hit show “Wayne Newton: Up Close and Personal” to the Stardust Event Center on Friday, Nov. 16, for an 8 p.m. performance. This original production celebrates Newton’s return to the stage after a five-year hiatus. He will perform a selection of his iconic all-time hit songs, including "Danke Schoen," and will entertain with intimate stories about his long show business career, including videos about his life and successes. Please visit ticketmaster.com or the Blue Chip Gift Box on property for ticket information.

FOUR WINDS: Tickets are on sale for the Silver Creek Rockin’ Brew Fest which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 28, in the Silver Creek Event Center at Four Winds New Buffalo. The 17,000 square-foot venue adjacent to the casino floor will feature live music and an outstanding line-up of participating breweries. Each $20 ticket includes a commemorative glass and five coupons that can be used for drinks or food. They can be purchased through ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Hotel packages for $224 are available for the night of Brew Fest. They include a one-night hotel stay on Sunday, Oct. 28, and admission for two into the event.

HORSESHOE: The World Series of Poker Circuit is coming to the Hammond casino next week (Thursday, Oct. 11) for a 12-day tournament extravaganza that will continue through Oct. 22. The property, including The Venue and the poker room, will be transformed into a poker player’s dream with events to fit every player’s budget. In the spotlight, of course, will be the WSOP Circuit gold ring events including the Oct. 19 Main Event with a one million dollar guaranteed prize pool. Please visit wsop.com/circuit for complete information about the competition and the entire schedule.

MAJESTIC STAR: The promotional schedule for the month of October is filled with fun interactive and rewarding experiences for Majestic Rewards player’s club members. Every Tuesday the “Trick or Treat Prize Patrol Hot Seat” will be active from 4 until 8 p.m. Every Friday it’s “Kitchen Aid Fridays” starting at 6 p.m. for a chance to get your kitchen ready for holiday parties. Finally, every Friday you can participate in “Skeleton Scratch Card Lotto” excitement starting at 6 p.m. Check out the details at the Majestic Rewards promotion center on property.

Opinions are solely those of the writer. Reach him at jgbrokopp1@gmail.com.

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