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Best of Rudi Schiffer

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Heard it on the river

3 December 2006

January, with Holiday expenses hanging heavily and tax time down the road, is not the busiest time of the year in the casino industry but two TUNICA casinos have year in an year out figured out how to smooth out that bump when they convert the County into the POKER CAPITAL of the world.





Thousands of players will converge on the area and fill its hotel rooms, and increase action on the tables when the WORLD SERIES OF POKER (WSOP) and the WORLD POKER OPEN (WPO) "shuffle up" and millions of bucks and thousands of hopefuls go into play.





The WSOP is a HARRAH'S circuit event that officially starts its action on Jan. 7 and will officially be kicked off on Jan. 6 with a remote broadcast of the casino gaming show, GOODTIMES, (WMC790 AM) from the poker room at GRAND CASINO at 8:30 a.m. The WPO opens earlier on Jan. 3 at Gold Strike, its eighth consecutive season there.





The tournaments are magnets for some of the biggest names in the game today like he of the orange-tinted glasses, GREG "FOSSIL MAN" RAYMER, SCOTTY NGUYEN, PHIL IVEY, BARRY GREENSTEIN, JOE NAVARRO, MEN "THE MASTER" NGUYEN, JOHN JUANDA, DANIEL NEGREANU, ROBERT WILLIAMSON, BARRY JOHNSTON, SCOTT FISCHMAN and ALEX OUTHRED, among others. Mid-Southerners have fared well in past events so don't let the big names faze you.





The impact of all these visitors and their friends and families is huge for the county and the industry. The extensive media coverage that promotes the area is tremendous and the exposure benefits the County and all casinos.





"It is tough to put a fixed dollar figure on the value of this publicity that these events generate but suffice to say it is very extensive and very beneficial as it places attractions here in the national spotlight,"said WEBSTER FRANKLIN, president and CEO of the CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU.





SHERI PUCCI, regional assistant general manager at the Grand, was on the same page with Franklin. "Wildly popular events like the WSOP Circuit tournament will not only continue to guarantee the long-term success of the Grand but we are extremely proud to be part of the future growth of the Tunica region. With each successive event, the popularity continues to grow with thousands of players hosted at Grand who compete against the top names in poker for millions of dollars. We look forward to surpassing all records with the event in Jan."





KEN LAMBERT, director poker operations, who has seen his share of world-class tournaments and is a key component of the WPO at Gold Strike, said, "There is no question that hosting the WPO has helped us stay on the map nationally and internationally. Keep in mind that Tunica County was once the poorest county in the U.S. and unemployment exceeded employment. Gaming in general has created jobs and helped Tunica become one of the best gaming markets in the country. It's simple, the more players, the more jobs and the better the economy. We are proud to be an important part of the progress and the WPO is a solid piece of that equation."





If you bust out of the tournament, there is help in the wings. The WSOP ACADEMY takes place right after the poker tournaments at Grand on Jan. 27-28 and the instructors include Greg Raymer, Joe Navarro, Alex Outhred and Scott Fischman. There are a few gold bracelets sprinkled among this elite group. The curriculum includes Texas Hold 'em tournament strategy, tells, final table play, aggressiveness and all the things an intermediate player would benefit from. Staged in conjunction with HARRAH'S by POST OAK PRODUCTIONS of Toronto, the two day intensive session costs $1,699 and has been sold out every place it has been held. Visit on WSOPACADEMY.COM or call 800-989-9767.





BILL WRIGHT did such a good job managing HORSESHOE and SHERATON casinos that Harrah's has thrown in the Grand for good measure. Bill, no stranger to the casino floor, where I have encountered him many a time meeting and greeting, is now general manager of Harrah's Central Division.





Getting away from poker I bribed a housekeeper to give me a sneak preview of the new room renovations taking place at the FITZ as it gears up for more makeovers that will help to enhance the Castle on the river and attract more and more higher-end players. We were first shown a standard room and the improvement was wonderful, with new furniture, high comfortable beds, flat screen TVs, marble bathrooms and a river view to boot. But the Turret suite was impressive. It has two views of the river, north and south from different windows in the round bedroom, and a warm décor, not to mention two flat-screens. It and its companion suites will stay booked with their boutique look.





More are on the way but management is tight-lipped right now because more surprises are coming soon at the Fitz. But it was hard to hide the fact the lobby has been totally made over and the new VIP check in desk even has a bar to greet customers. Expect more changes to be announced in this column soon. When you visit Fitz in Jan. you will have a shot of getting a $1,000 paycheck for life. Stay tuned. Also, the first COMCAST televised Fights at the Fitz, will take place with another sellout on Jan. 20.





There is a new game in town and so different you might want check it out. It is called RAPID ROULETTE and has been installed at both HOLLYWOOD CASINO and the GRAND, where I played it minutes after it was approved by the Gaming Commission. Darrell Pilant, VP of Casino Operations, gave me a rundown on the game as well as the new in-the-round WHEEL OF FORTUNE carrousel and the BIG EVENT MONOPLY slot game. Grand is making a big investment in new electronic slot games with more to come, according to an excited Pilant.





The new roulette setup has 12 video positions for players, six on each side around a pit where a live dealer is still employed handling the wheel spin and money-exchanges but no shuffling of piles of chips or figuring payouts. The computer does it all now. It is easy to play if you spend a moment perusing the info sheet provided. I like it because you no longer have to stretch out over the table to place your bets and the spacious play positions eliminate crowding and elbow jams.





"It has proved very popular at other Harrah's properties where installed and we expect the same here as the game is one of the hottest in the industry," said Pilant. "The touch screen station is something that today's players are used to and to be able to use this technology for roulette is exciting."





JOE STRONSKI, VP of CASINO OPERATIONS, at Hollywood, was also exuberant about the new electronic marvel. "The dealer spins the ball around the wheel just like the traditional game but in this case we have a camera stationed above the wheel and players can easily see the completion of the spin on monitors which also displays the percentages of what has been hitting for different bets on the layout. It even has a button for tipping the dealer.





"Players place their bets after selecting a denomination to wager by touching the screen facing them, the dealers spins the ball like in traditional roulette and all wagers are simultaneously resolved once the dealer confirms the winning number on the centralized control monitor. It really is fun."





What are friends for? Good guys FRANK ROMAINE, a shift supervisor at SAM'S TOWN, and GARY CLINE, owner of Highway 61 Liquor in Tunica, need your help as they seek to help a friend. Robinsonville resident ROBERT LOCKE has fallen on hard health times that his doctor says appears to be terminal and his friends want to ease his life and have organized a benefit golf scramble at T UNICA NATIONAL in Jan. Call Gary at 662-519-6501 for more details on the four man scramble or check out the article on page 000 of JACKPOT ( www.jackpotmagazine.com ).





Seven casinos in VICKSBURG? Seems a lot for a fairly small jurisdiction but the proposed RIVERWALK CASINO got an extension to Dec. 21 to confirm the developer's appearance before the GAMING COMMISSION. It is one of three casinos in pre-construction phases for the city and if they all get approved and built, it will bring to seven the number of casinos here.





We met ROB BROWN by pure chance one day when registering to play in blackjack tournament at Grand Casino. I queried the lady at the desk as to where I could leave my luggage and before she could answer, this voice behind me called out, "I can take of that for you sir." It turned out he was NOT the valet but in fact was THE vice president of hotel operations. His overall competence has paid off and Rob is now responsible as director of purchasing for over $250 million for regional purchasing for Harrah's Mid-South and if he takes of that strategic responsibility like he handled the minor detail of my bags, that role is in good hands. My bed was even turned down.



PEACE TO ALL GOOD MEN is something this conflicted world could use more of these days and in Israel it is for sale. Billionaire Israeli businessman, AVI SHAKED, who made a fortune from running Internet gaming sites, told REUTERS news agency he wanted the killing to stop and thus he offered one billion dollars to PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER ISMAIL JANIYE if he reaches a peace agreement with his Israeli counterpoint. Bombs haven't worked, maybe bucks will do it. GOD rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing ye dismay…





Auf Weidersehen to a couple of good guys and friends. PATRICK BROWNE has moved on from his post as GM at Grand and ANTHONY SANFILIPPO has done the same, retiring from his position as president of Harrah's Central Division.







FROM THE QUOTABLE GAMBLER, The Lyons Press





What ho! Bring dice and good wine,


Who cares for the morrow?


Live...so calls grinning death…


Live, for I come to you soon.


VIRGIL (43-37 B.C)





LAISSEZ LE BON TEMPS ROULER


Heard it on the river is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Rudi Schiffer
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