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Best of Rudi Schiffer

Gaming Guru

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Heard it on the River

6 August 2003

The big news in recent weeks has been the story that we picked up on the website www.casinocitytimes.com under 'gaming news.' By the time this column comes out the story will probably have been confirmed elsewhere but our version announced that Las Vegas-based AMERISTAR CASINOS has offered $1.39 billion, gulp, for JACK BINION'S Horseshoe Gaming Holdings Corp. It was one of those "informed sources said" articles. Sounds like a news leak to this reporter. But Ameristar folks have been buzzing around Tunica Resorts, conducting their due diligence work, I suppose.

The article reported that the purchase would be finalized after this process was completed. If this is all true, and my own "informed sources" say it is, it would be a nostalgic passing of an era for Tunica. Jack Binion has been a key mover and his influence here was significant, to say the least. As one of the last true entreprenuers in this biz, with a long tradition and history behind him and Horseshoe in Vegas, the ramifications of his departure from the scene would be profound.

But no man is a casino and savvy Jack built a team of executives that he is loyal to and they responded by making the Horseshoe a very profitable operation here. Ameristar and Horseshoe appear to be 'complementary companies' so the deal looks to make a lot of sense, according to another unnamed source, this one supposedly from Wall Street.

What the upshot is, if this all takes place, is another chapter in the story for later.

BALLY'S third and final Ultimate Blackjack Tournament of the year takes place Sept. 19-21 and is usually well attended, even in down economic times, a testimony to its popularity and how well it is run by ADOLPH LEPRE and his capable staff and associates. The first prize, as always, is $50,000 guaranteed but usually more entries than expected mean higher prize money all around. In all the pot runs to $125,000 and your $500 entry buy-in will get you two nights in the hotel, a welcoming party, a poolside reception, a gift, buffets, and lots of fun. It is Bally's 21st consecutive blackjack tournament. Call 1-800-38 BALLY, ext 1511 and ask for ACE.

At a recent stop of FITZGERALDS I saw a poster of BLACK ENTERPRISE with Fitz' owner DON BARDEN featured on the cover. Barden Companies was picked by the magazine as its COMPANY of the YEAR. Also learned that SHELLIE COLE has been named the new communication coordinator in Tunica Resorts and not only will work with media but will spend a lot of time on community relations. The company has given more than a $1 million to charitable organizations.

There's a new game in town and I like it. I like it a lot. I was driving by SAM'S TOWN and the marquee said FOUR CARD POKER was here. I like three card poker so this version intrigued me and I decided to try it out. I predict it will be a hit as players apparently have been standing 2 deep around the lone table there to get into the game at night. This SHUFFLE MASTER, INC., game is worth checking out and you can also play it at SHERATON. It's a game that rewards skill, patience and nerve and the details of how to play are too much to be covered here so try it out yourself and I think you will like it. I lost in my first outing but still like it. I hear the house edge is about 1.8 percent, not bad.

REPLAYS, the hot sports bar in GRAND, has become a very lively club what with the recent bikini contest for the PLAYBOY GIRLS of GOLF and on August 15, 22, and 29, qualifying rounds in the MS. HAWAIIAN TROPIC competition. GREG JOSLIN, special events manager, has a tough job. The winner will advance to the Tennessee finals on Sept. 4-7 and guess where that will be held for over 30 finalists. Oh my.

Whenever I am in the neighborhood, I stop by FAIRBANKS STEAKHOUSE bar at HOLLYWOOD CASINO to see what talented mixologist JEN HASKINS has created in new libations. Jen is pictured here with a new concoction, a JAPANESE SLIPPER (Itty Bitty Martini). It's comprised of gold tequila, midori, lime juice and simple syrup. Another new martini is her B-9, ask her next time you visit what's in it. PR lady MARYBETH FELTY caught me off the clock when she wasn't and told me Hollywood's $25,000 CELEBRITY CASH drawings have rung up over 400 winners to date. The last drawing is Aug.23 when 100 more winners get their share of the pot. Never one to pass up getting out the news, she told me the casino was also picked by a leading website on Tunica video poker as having "the best total return" for that game.

The first plane has landed at our new TUNICA AIRPORT and JACKPOT MAGAZINE's new editor,DAVID GRISHAM, was there to scoop the competition. See his story elsewhere in the issue, or at www.jackpotmagzine.com
MORRIS MEDIA, owner of Jackpot, will fly its King Air 200 jet into the facility to check it out on Aug. 13. A grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 2, we heard. It looks like there will be a soft opening for the new RIVERPARK on the river in September also and a grand opening in Oct. That means the TUNICA QUEEN should be getting ready to sail soon.

The airport should come in handy when the 2004 U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials land here, probably Feb. 16-21, at the PAUL BATTLE ARENA. Kudos to our own local promotor, battling BRIAN YOUNG for being a key participant and landing this jewel which is how the American boxing team will be selected for next year's Summer games in Athens. Cleveland, Ohio was the key competitor for the venue. Not only will this event bring a lot of national publicity to Tunica Resorts but it will bring a lot of new guests to town and visits to our glitter palaces. Young has been pursuing this gem for some time and had a lot of support from not only the state,which kicked in some bucks, but from locals like KEN MURPHREE, our capable county administrator, CHARLIE WILLIAMS, a busy director of of projects,and WEBSTER FRANKLIN, the top guy at the Convention & Visitors Bureau who is doing a great job putting Tunica Resorts into the minds and wallets of players everywhere.

HOLLYWOOD'S Fairbanks Steakhouse, one of the very best, has been awarded the prestigious WINE SPECTATOR Award of Excellence for 2003. This particular honor does not come easily and has to be truely earned so congratulations are in order for VP of F&B MARC SILVERBERG and BILL GLASS, who manages the room. And RONNIE AUSTIN is now the chef for the steakhouse. Ronnie comes with some experience in New Orleans and I, for one, would like to some of this influence show up on the menu.

The DELTA BOYS and GIRLS CLUBS were the recent beneficiaries of a $10,000 donation courtesy of GOLDSTRIKE, a nice investment in our area youth and the community. Also at GoldStrike, NANCY DARCY, Director of Player Development, has been selected as one of Mississippi's 50 leading business women by the Mississippi Business Journal. Nancy is also the lead organizer for forming a chapter in Tunica Resorts for the nationwide CASINO MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION. If you are a career oriented casino employee, you might want to join this professional development organization. But high right now on her current agenda for August 15-17 is the $50,000 craps tournament at Goldstrike. There is a guarantee of $25,000 for first place and there is still time to enter. It is limited as to the number of entrants so if you can toss those bones, get going. This is the biggest money craps tournament that I can recall in Tunica and such tournaments are rare occurances. Call 888-24K-PLAY for more info.

If you don't know who BILL DANCE is then you might get interested in him if you had a chance to win his fishing boat. It is the grand prize for the "Big Catch" promotion starring the famous Tennessee pro bass catcher. The event also includes a Boatload of Cash drawings. For details you can call 800-871-0711. Haven't heard anything official but I think PARK PLACE ENTERTAINMENT's three Tunica Resort casinos, GRAND, SHERATON and BALLY'S, will roll out a new CONNECTION CARD players card this month.

I didn't know that casinos had an air operations department but when I met RACHEL MECCA at Grand, my knowledge was expanded. She is the Regional Director of Air Operations for Park Place Entertainment's five Mississippi casinos and the thought of the new Tunica airport opening at last will be a boon to her area of expertise. Keep 'em flying, Rachel.

FROM THE QUOTABLE GAMBLER, The Lyons Press
"Nobody is always a winner, and anybody who says he is, is either a liar or doesn't play poker."
AMARILLO SLIM, (Total Poker 1977)

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