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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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Slot Buffs, Get Ready for the Next Millennium

26 April 1999

Certain folks -- like my hoity-toity neighbor, Vera, who drives a '57 Humber once owned by Churchill -- say casinos are "Day Class A." Places for what Vera calls Bezonians who try to be in the right place at the right time so they can get rich quick without working too hard. Anyone who talks this way must not know that blackjack and video poker are "thinkers' games" to get the tough hands right, or that the percents help you figure the sure-fire hedges at craps or sic bo, and so on and so forth down the line.

Maybe there's an omega of truth in what they say connected with the old fashioned kind of slots. The ones with three or sometimes four or five reels that just spin and stop, spin and stop. Picking a hot machine takes doing though, as anyone who reads what the gurus write or dopes it out from personal experience can swear. And, who says striking it rich isn't a thrill even if some solid citizens pretend they don't care about money and buy their lottery tickets at stores where nobody knows them?

But, being "preferred players" at the Beachcomber, the frau and myself got an invite to rate some 3rd millennium slots. And, now that I've seen the future, I can honestly say casinos coming down the pike will be up with operas or ballets. Or higher, since you can win money and get free coupons for the all-you-can-eat buffet while not missing out on the so-called cerebral stuff.

For instance we tested a machine named "MuseuMania." You know those video slots where the screen is made up of squares -- maybe five across and four down? Well, instead of hoping for something silly, like five fish in a row or zig-zag, MuseuMania has parts of masterpiece paintings that connect to form whole pictures. You win big when they do. The model we tried had "The Last Supper" by Leonardo, "Sunflowers" by Van Gogh, "Anatomy Lesson" by Rembrandt, and "The Sleeping Gypsy" by Rousseau, to name a few. You get art appreciation playing these slots -- as much as at a real museum -- with gambling to boot. They even went the artists one better. With animation. The sunflowers are blowing in the wind. The lion is walking across the sand to where the gypsy is snoozing. A lady by Rubens... well, I won't say what she was doing, but these games are for people over 21, aren't they? And, get this, on "The Last Supper," you actually see them eat!

Another new machine that was fun and also informative was "Spellbound." You begin with a set of seven letters. Each is numbered, just like in the Scramble game you always let your kids win when you play at home. You keep some letters and draw more for those you throw away. The idea is to form words that pay by adding up the numbers. Say you get "T1 U1 B3 A1 T1 E1 H4" to start. You could keep --BAT-- for a minimum of five. TUBA--- would score at least six. Holding --BAT-H would be at least five for BAT, six if you pulled an S to make BATS, and a chance to form BATCH which would be worth 12. You can pick English or Spanish and more languages will be added later. Words get cross-checked from a computerized dictionary, and when you win you see them defined and hear them pronounced. So you improve your spelling and vocabulary, learning while you try to earn.

The third machine we tested was "CineMadness" This had three reels and also video, with plots of famous movies in words and film clips. You won when the stories came together right. For instance, you might line up "small boy gets adopted" + "then gets rich" + "but wants his old sled back when he dies" for a huge payoff on Citizen Kane. Or "teenager moves to new town" + "but the popular kids don't like him" + "so they have a rumble where someone gets killed" for a jackpot on Rebel without a Cause.

The bosses from the slot factory all came to thank us after the test session. They said the advances we saw were possible because they "hired some whiz kid from Miko Soft and put big bucks into the project." They added, "it's worth it because our mission in the next millennium is to show a new generation of adults that education can have something to do with success." It reminded me of a ditty by the prize-winning poet, Sumner A Ingmark:

To reach the highest pinnacle,
You must be more than cynical.
Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.