Asked the biggest change I’ve seen in my 30-plus years on the casino scene, I recently told a reader that the expansion of legal gambling beyond its Nevada and New Jersey homes has to be No. 1.
But there’s been a revolution in the games we play, too. If I were to answer the question and confine myself to gaming, the rise of video slots and their dominant position as the most-played games and biggest revenue generators has been stunning.
Much more has changed in the game mix. Three Card Poker didn’t exist when I started playing. Neither did Mississippi Stud or multiple-hand video poker games such as Triple Play.
What do other players think have been the biggest changes? I asked several long-time readers for opinions.
Paul: Video poker pay tables aren’t what they once were. I’d take a trip and see full-pay Deuces Wild, 10-7-5 Double Bonus Poker and the 100-percent-plus pays on Loose Deuces in the great video poker casinos and 9-6 Jacks or Better and 8-5 Bonus Poker everywhere. Now all those pay tables have been taken down a couple of notches. I don’t play as much anymore.
Amy: Definitely, it’s the video slots, and I find that really exciting. I love all those bonuses and free spins and multi-progressives. I have more fun now than I ever did.
Carl: Craps is much better than when I started in the ’90s. The casinos near home all used to have single odds. Now most have 3x, 4x, 5x odds, and I’ve even seen 20x and 100x odds. OK, I can’t really afford 100x odds, but having the 3x, 4x, 5x makes craps so much better.
Lee: Oh my goodness, how blackjack has changed. I used to avoid the casinos were the dealer hit soft 17, but now they all do. Even on six-deck games, dealers hit soft 17. I guess they think the market will bear that, but I keep seeing emptier and emptier tables, and tables keep disappearing for more slots.
Other rules keep getting tougher, too. I take a hard line at blackjacks paying 6-5 instead of 3-2. I will not play a 6-5 game, and I won’t play other games in casinos that have 6-5, either. The minute I see a 6-5 game, I’m out the door. My wife understands and agrees, even though she plays slots. We go do something else.
Marian: I used to be the only woman at a blackjack table. Now there are more, but it’s getting more difficult to find a table. There are fewer tables overall than there used to be, and more and more of them are for Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud and games like that. You know, poker-style games
The price to play keeps going up, too. There aren’t any $5 tables anymore, and if I go on a weekend, I have to be prepared for $25 minimums. I suppose that’s a supply and demand thing, with there being fewer blackjack tables, but I can’t always swing that.
Al: I’m actually a big fan of the new games. Mississippi Stud is my favorite. They’re easy to learn and play, and don’t seem to take as much focus as blackjack. I can relax and have fun playing. To me, that’s the big change, the increase in games where I’m not on edge when I play.
Karen: You call it rise of video slots, I call it decline of three-reel slots. The three-reel games are the ones I love, and it’s harder all the time for me to find games to play.
Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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