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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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Which Casino is Best? De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est!

25 September 1995

f everything I'm asked about casinos, two items lead the list. Q: Aren't they all pretty much the same? A: Not really. Q: Then, which is best? A: It depends. De gustibus non disputandum est, as you often hear bantered about the glitzy faux-marble foyers of the world's poshest pleasure palaces, "there's no disputing tastes."

Occasional visitors tend to find all casinos alike. Those dazzled by high rollers, sumptuous meals, and live entertainment don't notice rug color or slot machine aisle width. When there's a choice, "best" might mean coin coupons, or where Aunt Mae won $1500, or convenient bus schedule. In one-casino venues, the lone local punting parlor is "best" by default.

Casinos do differ from one another. But the notion of "best" depends on each visitor's individual goals and preferences.

For instance, sophisticated bettors mainly motivated by gambling may think the "best" casinos are those where gaming rules maximize players' chances to win. Say, slots with 93 not 86 percent payback, single- instead of double-zero roulette, craps offering five- rather than three- or two-times odds, blackjack dealt from fewer than eight decks where players can "resplit" and "surrender."

Bon vivants might be inclined to judge "best" casino by the fabled feasts. Is your fantasy a lavish all-you-can-eat banquet priced below fast-food franchise fare, or a pastrami sandwich straight from New York's Lower East Side, or a gourmet meal accompanied by just the right wine? The buffet, or the deli, or the restaurant with real cloth napkins and metal utensils might then be why you head for the joint you do.

Others pick "best" casino by entertainment offerings. Energy released during a rip-roaring review gets some show-goers to one casino, Broadway musicals to another, or the superstar aura to a third.

If your visit is a family affair, your idea of "best" casino will be affected by facilities for the kids. Perhaps the balance is tipped by the swimming pool. Maybe it's as simple as a food court where you won't worry whether the baby disturbs other diners.

Demographics of the solid citizens gravitating toward a casino may also determine which establishment you'll think "best." Do you prefer a younger or an older crowd? Do you revel in cultural diversity? Would you move from slots to table games if only you could find fellow-players who didn't know what they were doing, either?

Frequent patrons often say a casino is "best" because "they treat me well." This translates into things like "staff members greet me by name," "they 'comp' me for free meals," "they enrolled me in their exclusive Hoi-Polloi club," "they didn't embarrass me when I acted churlishly." Casinos all treat their clientele well; it's a matter of who gets treated how well in each place, and why.

You're probably wondering which casino I think is "best." There are a dozen reasons I'd have to say, "it depends." As I learned long ago from Sumner A Ingmark, the perverse versifier of alternative:

A life not bound by piety,
Self-righteousness, sobriety,
Is spiced up by variety.
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.