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Best of Rudi Schiffer

Gaming Guru

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Heard it on the River

1 August 2005

Tunica's casinos do not have to take a back seat in entertainment to any gaming jurisdiction and this was proven with the recent debut of the much-awaited production show, BALAGAN. This column rarely reviews shows after the fact, preferring to publicize them before to help spur attendance, but this Broadway-scale event created from the genius of Russian-born MISHA MATORIN, whose father was a director of the famed MOSCOW CIRCUS, is a must see, absolutely.

We attended the private party premier of the show with a certain amount of cynicism held in reserve that it would be just another collection of clowny circus acts tossed together and with appeal more for kids than adults. Whoa, Nellie! It turned out to be a rare show that really would entertain to all levels…adults and families, including the generation of "whatever" teens.

There is a more complete feature story on this production that runs through October in this issue of JACKPOT so we will leave the details to Editor DAVID GRISHAM. Some serious praise is extended here because Balagan is an outstanding assemblage of a troupe of the finest athletes in the world (they come from 12 countries) who present a series of powerful, graceful and amazing images that are layered together in a stimulating choreographic and unique musical presentation.

As the genial MATORIN, owner of DreamCast Entertainment and creator of the production, explained on the GOODTIMES RADIO SHOW, "We have a select group of talented international artists who come from creative environments as CIRQUE du SOLEIL, the MOSCOW CIRCUS, and showrooms around the world"

The performers have dazzling artistry creatively applied to extreme aerial acrobatic performances and ranging to cirque style acts. The show seamlessly moves along, involving the viewer in each performance and then swiftly taking him into the next act moving to a stunning conclusion that brought me out of my seat, first from horror and then with a loud sigh of relief. It is too good to reveal, I want you to enjoy it in person, so it's not described here.

Balagan was a great show but also the first public event introduction in this market of MGM MIRAGE who recently became the new owners of GoldStrike. Forget a ribbon cutting grand opening, the show accomplished all of that. After the performance we met with JEFF DAHL, president of GoldStrike and its sister casino in Biloxi, the fabled BEAU RIVAGE.

"This show was the most successful production performance in Beau Rivage's history…it had a six month run," he said. "When I first went to review it in a corporate setting, my reaction was 'Oh man!'"

"I knew we had to bring it to Tunica because it is so classy and has such appeal. It also represents and is a precursor of the high quality of change in gaming, entertainment and cuisine that this organization will soon become known for in this market. If you've been to the Beau, you know what to expect here."

There is a front page feature in this issue on the WORLD SERIES OF POKER CIRCUIT TOURNAMENT starting at GRAND soon (Aug. 10-25) and you can get your details there but this huge event, owned and operated by HARRAH'S ENTERTAINMENT, is significant for TUNICA, which was honored to be the first casino to host the series. Some of the biggest names in poker are expected to be here, players like BRUNSON, FERGUSON, HARMON, DUKE, LEDERER, WILLIAMSON and more. If you don't play, you might want to take in the action and excitement, especially the final table with its $10,000 buy-in that is set for August 25. If you can't attend, you can probably catch it on ESPN. Some 72 tables with handle the tournament and 38 are set aside for side action that is not for the faint hearted or low bankrolls.

Grand is also hosting another big money event, the $150,000 blackjack tournament on Sept. 16-18. Table Games Director MIKE TOBIAS tells us a large field is expected for the $500 buy-in, probably because of the fab first prize…$60,000. The buy-in includes hotel accommodations for two nights, based on availability, a tournament gift and a reception in the Gold Card Lounge on Friday Sept. 16. Call VIP Services at 1-800-550-4473 and use the code name "Blackjack". See you there.

SAM'S TOWN is already promoting LABOR DAY and September promotions there. Is the Summer nearly over? Perish the thought. Anyway, marketing director MARK CONNER and his gang are offering a $5,000 LABOR DAY WEEKEND HOT SEAT that involves cash payments to randomly selected slot and video poker players, the great 6th Annual DELTA RIVER CRUISIN' CAR SHOW is on Sept. 16-18, the free $12,500 PRIME REWARDS slot tournament is on Sept. 29 and a continuation of its $100,000 HOT WHEELS 'N COOL CASH open slot tournament through Oct. 2. Visit the Prime Rewards booth or call 800-456-0711.

ISLE OF CAPRI continues its very successful fight nights with 'RUMBLE IN PARADISE" on Saturday, August 6th. Seven bouts are the on the card and it's always a sell-out so buy in advance at the Cabana Gift Shop or call 800-789-5825.
Here's something else to make the trip to Lula shorter…During Wednesdays and Fridays in August you get in on the MERCEDES & MOOLAH drawings. On August 26 finalists have a shot at winning the 2005 Benz convertible. And the one and only ISSAC HAYES is performing the same night in the Flamingo Ballroom.

Don't hear much about cigar smokers anymore at casinos, which causes me to wonder, as these are poplar events, but PEARL RIVER is smoking on Thursdays in August with four free admission CIGARS UNDER THE STARS parties. The outstanding DANCING RABBIT golf course will host one on the smokers with SERGIO FERNANDEZ performing in the Clubhouse from 6 to 8 p.m. with a golf tournament at 1 p. m. For more information call the HABANA SMOKE SHOPPE at 601-713-0010. If you want to win a family 4-pack of ATVs, and $1,500, check out selected quarter slots at Golden Moon.

The GOODTIMES RADIO SHOW on the MIGHTY 79 AM, Memphis, is now on one hour earlier at 8:30 and ends at 11 a.m. each Saturday morning. If you want great gaming tips or a chance at winning some trivia prizes, call in at 901-274-7979.

Enjoy the rest of your summer while you can but with college and pro football seasons just down the road, that will ease some of the pain as the high vacation season winds down. Don't forget to tip your dealers, wait staff and slot attendants who give you great service.

Laizzez les bon temps rouler!
Rudi Schiffer

Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com
Rudi Schiffer
Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com