Tournaments -- Competition at Its Best . May 2001

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Tournaments -- Competition at Its Best

Part 1

by Gayle Mitchell

As an author of 'intelligent gambling', I had been remiss in not writing about entering tournaments up to now, but that was about to change, as this reporter went searching for answers about these promotions.

Most of the gamblers I interviewed during my search were also first-timers, but a few would follow 'the tourney circuit' in Nevada, making tidy sums along the way.

Blackjack and Let-it-Ride tournaments have been around a while, and the 'king' of tournaments, being the World Poker Tournament in Vegas held recently boasted a record 600+ entrants this year. However let's start small for the new or nearly new players -- slots and video poker tourneys.

A reader told me about a VP/Slots Tournament in Laughlin at the Ramada.

There was a $49.00 entry fee for video poker that allowed the entrant 3 sessions of 15 minutes playing time on the machines. First prize was $5000, second $2500 and third prize $1250.   500 entries were expected, actually over 600 people entered, and the top 250 final scores were allocated prize money of at least $25.

Registration was Sunday evening, with two-15 minute sessions on Monday, and one on Tuesday ending at 4 PM for the awards dinner.  You draw for your assigned times and machine numbers at registration where a tee-shirt, and refreshments were offered.  You are expected to arrive at the roped-off tournament area 10 minutes before your assigned time, but I spent more time there watching the watchers, and players, investigating this promotional phenomenon of casino gambling. 

There were 50 nickel machines with 1000 credits waiting for each 15 minute session.  All machines were set at 'tournament' mode, and winning credits were paid according to the regular 9/6 Jacks or Better pay schedule, therefore 125=4-of-a-kind, 45=full house, 10=2 pair, however a royal flush, normally paid at 4000 credits was reduced to 500 credits, which is a fair calculation, allowing those players who do not snag a royal the possibility of catch-up. A $50.00 bill was presented to the 12 entrants (a record for VP tourney), who snagged a royal to ease the pain of losing 3500 credits.

Some of the machines were Double Bonus, however I was assured that all were set for the same payouts, therefore there was no advantage in the machine drawn.

The announcers were 'warm-up guys'  fueling the competition, explaining the rules, updating us of 'royal' sightings, and reporting that the only button you had to worry about was the Deal/Draw option.

Five credits were automatically played for you, so 1000 credits would last 200 hands. When all your credits were gone or 15 minutes were up, whichever came first;  a tournament rep. would register your total credits accumulated, and ask for your initialed confirmation.

Right bottom of the screen would show credits for play;  left bottom credits earned toward final total, along with a clock to determine time left to play.

I observed that speed is not the best strategy in these competitions, as I watched one player move so fast that before I saw the fifth card, he had moved onto the next hand. Of course, he finished very quickly, but his total credits were only 785.

Although difficult to determine a winning overall total for prize money, a good benchmark would be to accumulate at least 1000 credits per session putting you into the 3000 final score bracket at competition end.

The tournament outcome and more 'tourney tips' will be revealed in Part 2 next time we meet.


Gayle Mitchell is author of  Casino Gambling Made Easier   books, booklets and strategy cards.