Features Articles

Tips & Tricks of the Triple Crown

The Triple Crown is the most elusive prize in sports.

Baseball has its own Triple Crown. It happens when a player leads the league in three statistical categories and since baseball began in 1838, there have been 17 batters and 38 pitchers that have accomplished this amazing feat.

In terms of other horsepower, to win the Triple Crown of motorsport is to capture Formula 1’s most important races: the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix. Only 17 drivers have won a single event while competing in all three, and just 1 – Graham Hill – has pulled off the near impossible.

This year will see horse racing celebrate the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, the 140th Preakness Stakes, and 147th Belmont Stakes: and just 11 horses have captured all three. Unlike any other sport where an athlete can try for a Triple Crown over and over, a horse only has one chance to be three-years-old on the first Saturday in May.

But just as herculean a feat it is for a horse to capture all three jewels of the Triple Crown, horseplayers face the same tough task. As much as we want to think “it’s just another race…” It isn’t. None of them are.

There were 48,580 races run in North America last year. While that number represents a lot of betting opportunities, consider that there were only 463 graded stakes races and only 110 Grade Ones. Plus, while it is common for mid-level races around the globe to feature fields of 20-some-odd horses, the average field size in the United States is just under eight horses per race: making the Kentucky Derby the largest single-run field in America.

What most people don’t realize is how truly difficult it is for a horse to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. According to statistics from the Jockey Club, 21,016 foals were born in the United States in 2012, which means the chance of one being the 2015 Kentucky Derby winner is 0.0048%.

Just because a Thoroughbred is born with the right pedigree and looks, doesn’t mean they will automatically make it to the races. Let’s say an owner is lucky and his horse has ability: no horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without having a juvenile race record. So he’s looking at a seven-month campaign (at least) at racing’s highest levels to qualify as one of the nation’s best before he steps foot into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.

Church Hill - Attribute to Bill Brine

So how are bettors supposed to make decisions in a full field of evenly-matched horses? Well, there are experts out there who can – and will – help you ~ some for a fee, some not. The problem is that unlike used cars, racing experts don’t come with a Carfax report. You have to handicap them too, pedigree and records aren’t just for horses. You need to find people who have specialist knowledge of racing circuits and patterns, not just information on specific entrants. It’s important to remember that access to Twitter and an opinion doesn’t automatically give someone ‘Expert’ status.

Clocking services are readily available as well. If you have never handicapped with one, it will change the way you play the game. Be sure to find a service that has workout analysts, not just clockers, anyone can click a stopwatch. Analysts provide context behind the number printed on the bottom of your Racing Form with the goal of gauging how a horse will perform in his next start.

Also be sure to look at the overall workout pattern, whether a horse worked in company (and the caliber of the workmate), the quality of the workout (Ie. Was the horse under pressure from the rider or moving easily), was any new equipment used, and what was the actual distance of the workout (some trainers will send a horse to work a published 5furlongs but have the rider keep them going at racespeed to work an extra furlong or more).

To find the Kentucky Derby winner, you need to analyze more than just a race record. You want to find a horse who is mentally and physically able to overcome trouble if the field size gets the better of him. A horse with the ability to get the longest distance he’s ever had to run whether his style is to set the pace (can he stay?) or come from behind (How long can he sit back before pouncing? Will he have a clear shot at daylight?); and lastly remember the Derby winner is not necessarily the best horse in the country. It is the best three-year-old on that Saturday when the gates break open.

When you’re playing the Preakness, it’s important to remember that most topnotch horses would get two weeks off after a big race before they even come back to work out. With the schedule of the races, though, a horse must be resilient enough to bounce back and perform at their best on short rest.

What was most impressive about California Chrome’s win last year was the way he scooted off the turn and drew off: that had been his style all year and Pimlico is also the perfect track for that. Look for a horse that you think will be sitting in the first flight of runners, two- or three-paths off the rail at the quarter pole.

Belmont - Attribute to Dennis W Donohue
If the two weeks rest between the first jewels is tough for horses, the three weeks rest to the Belmont is the true test of a trainer. A horseman will balance whether to let the horse have a workout (which could drain their energy reserves or prime them to peak performance) or just allow slow-and-steady gallops to preserve fitness.

Not only do we start the Triple Crown by throwing the largest field these horses will ever face at them, we then end it with the longest distance most will ever run. The 1-1/2 miles marathon distance is truly the test of a champion. Not only does the horse have to have the fitness and stamina, but the jockey has to correctly gauge the depth and breadth of the turns. More than one Triple Crown has been lost by a misjudged millisecond.

No matter what angles you develop over the years, the single biggest betting trick is to Trust Your Gut. Some of the best scores come from looking over at the TV, seeing a horse, and thinking “he looks ready to run today.” For all the angles and studying you do, if your gut gets tingly looking at a Thoroughbred: put a few bucks across the board on it- the worst that happens is you’re out a few bucks.

Lady Luck may have a very unladylike way of running out at times, but you can limit the doubt when playing the Triple Crown races with a few simple tips and tricks.


by Molly Jo Rosen

Social Media: Win, One Tweet @ A Time

TwitterTwitter, the “microblogging site” that lets people communicate with others 140 characters at a time, is a way of life to some – and a complete mystery to others. Southern Gaming’s recent reader’s survey found that many of you consider yourself to be in the latter camp.

We totally understand that. On the surface, it just doesn’t make sense that people talking randomly in such short bursts could ever be more interesting than “Here’s what I had for lunch today.” But once you do a little digging, you’ll find that there’s some fascinating stuff being written and published, much of it treating the limit of the medium as a strength rather than a weakness.

So, if you’re ready to take the plunge, install the Twitter app on your smart phone—or simply go to twitter.com—and get ready to “follow” some folks based on your unique playing interests. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of experts and personal favorites who should be a great start as you start exploring the online world of sports, gaming news and information.



Let’s start with some general sites and accounts that cover multiple sports. Arguably one of the best written is SB Nation (www.sbnation.com), and it has a characteristically excellent Twitter account at @SBNation.

Several of its writers are also doing the Twitter thing, among them Michael Katz (@KatzM), Bill Hanstock (@sundownmotel), Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman), and the great Jon Bois (@jon_bois), who is as much a humorist as he is a sports writer. Be sure to seek out his regular series “Breaking Madden,” in which he takes the latest Madden video game and turns all of the player stats to ridiculous extremes, to hilarious effect.

Before we leave aside the general sports sites, let’s make sure we run down the “big guns”: Of course there’s Sports Illustrated (@Sinow), ESPN (@espn) and SportsCenter (@SportsCenter), but don’t miss Grantland chief Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons), ESPN’s SportsNation (@SportsNation), Twitter Sports (@TwitterSports) Wayne Allyn Root (@CWayneroot) and Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports), and the official accounts of the NFL (@NFL), NBA (@NBA) and the MLB (@MLB). The big networks are all on there too, from CBS (@CBSSports) and NBC (@NBCSports) to USA Today (@USATO DAY Sports) and Deadspin (@Deadspin).

Soccer your thing? Gary Lineker was a top “striker” for a number of the world’s best soccer teams between 1978 and 1994, and among many other achievements, was the top scorer at the 1986 World Cup. Today he’s retired from the game but has a new career as a sportscaster: He’s been the host of the BBC show “Match of the Day” since the 1990s, and also tweets prolifically at @GaryLineker. If hockey is more your thing, you’ll want to follow Philip Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) and hockey historian @NHL historygirl.

For basketball lovers, there are almost too many interesting accounts to choose from. So here are a couple, selected because of their diversity—if you don’t care for any given one, just move onto the next: ESPN’s Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN), the official @NBAFantasy account, Chicago Bulls columnist Sean Highkin (@highkin), VICE Sports contributor David Roth (@david_j_roth), CBS Sports writer Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie), Washington Post NBA reporter Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee), Grantland’s Brian Phillips (@runofplay), and for a view from the hardwood itself, there’s Houston Rocket James Harden himself (@JHarden13).

Of course, we don’t want to neglect the WNBA, so make sure you follow James Bowman (@Jbowman_ATL ), the
Los Angeles Sparks’ Candace Parker (@Candace_Parker), the long-running Women’s Basketball Daily (@WBBDaily), and the official account of the WNBA itself (@WNBA).

Horse racing will bridge the gap between these two sections, as it is equal parts sports and gaming opportunity. Since we’re based in Louisville, KY – the home of the greatest thoroughbred racing inthe world – we suggest you follow the official home of the Kentucky Derby, @ChurchillDowns. Other great options include long-time horse racing expert John Asher (@johnasher), tip site Horse Racing Nation (@HR _Nation), a British perspective from Horse Racing News (@HorseRacingUK), and horse racing expert and Southern Gaming contributor Bruno DeJulio (@RacingwithBruno).



The world of professional gambling has some of the biggest personalities you will ever encounter, and it stands to reason that those personalities translate well to Twitter. There’s no better example of this than the world of poker, and there’s no better example of the poker attitude than our own contributor Phil Hellmuth. He tweets prolifically (@phil_hellmuth) about not just his poker career, but the other things he’s really into – his family, reading and sports betting, among other things.

Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) also gives you a behind-the-scenes look into the life of a professional poker player, but it’s more of a kinder and gentler approach – he’s just as likely to recommend a new self-help course or an exercise regimen that he’s excited about as he is to talk about poker hands.

Chris Moneymaker arguably did more to change the game of poker than any other, when he became the first “homegamer” (someone who won his entry fee in an online satellite tournament) to take home a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2003. That was the win that launched a thousand amateur poker players, stars and chips in their eyes. Moneymaker is still playing, and still tweeting (@CMONEYMAKER).

And of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of our favorites: @SouthernGaming, a one-stop Twitter shop for news, tips and highlights for gamers and gaming enthusiasts of all kinds.



Like any good subculture, Twitter has evolved into having its own set of secret handshakes and cryptic phrases. It can be intimidating at first, but there are really only a few things you need to know.

First, what’s a “hashtag”? That’s what happens when you put the pound sign (#) in front of any series of characters. It basically turns those characters into a clickable search term, so it’s a very easy way to explore topics of interest, as well as a way to play “hashtag games” (tune into the Comedy Central show “@Midnight” some evening for a beautiful example of how hashtag games are played).

Then, there is the “at-message,” which is simply using a person’s Twitter handle, complete with the @ symbol, inside a tweet. When you do that, the person who owns that handle will be notified that you have written something about them. This is “tagging” someone, and it’s a popular hobby among people with too much time on their hands to try to get someone famous to respond to one of their tags. Oh, it’s also a good way for friends to communicate, too.

A variant of the at-message is simply to reply to someone. In the iOS Twitter app, this involves hitting a button that looks like a typical “reply to email” button. Type your message, and the at-handle is automatically placed at the start of your message. Threaded conversations take place all the time on Twitter, with people replying and re-replying to one another.

Finally, let’s discuss “retweets” and “modified tweets,” which are similar to one another with a key difference. Let’s say you found a tweet that you adore and you want to share it with your followers. You just hit the “retweet” button (the two arrows that wrap around to each other) and it’s added to your timeline, for all your followers to see.

If you need to make a change to it—say, shorten the text or add a comment, it’s good form to use the “modified tweet” by placing MT in front of it. This alerts readers that you’ve changed the text from its original form.

The bottom line: Don’t be intimidated. You can’t really mess up on Twitter. Well … okay, yes, you absolutely can. But you can also hit “delete” if you do.


by James Bickers


10 Ways to Maximize Your Play

Maximize Slot PlayWhen we sit down to play a slot machine, our task is simple: Make a bet, spin the reels and the machine takes care of the rest. Except in rare instances, there are no strategies to learn or skills to master. The flip side is that while we can’t affect the outcome in any predictable way, nor tell from the outside which games are the highest-paying, there are things we do know about slots and the casinos that operate them to get the most out of a day on the machines. Here are 10 things every slot player should know.




1 – The games are as random as humans can program a computer to be.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing a three-reel game or an up-to-date video slot with half a dozen different bonus events. Results are determined by a random number generator (RNG), and what you see on the reels or screen is just a user-friendly interface to display the game being played out on the RNG.

It doesn’t know how much you’ve wagered, and it has no record of past results.



2 – The games make money for the casinos by paying less than true odds.

In that respect, slot machines work just like other casino games. In double-zero roulette, for example, the true odds against winning the bet are 37-1, but the house pays winners only 35-1. Slot machines have many more possibilities, and the odds are different from machine to machine, but the principal is the same. Whether your winning combination is three bars, five Eyes of Horus or any other of the millions of possibilities spread among thousands of games, the amount you’re paid is less than the true odds of winning the bet.



3 – Games with lower-denomination bets almost always give lower payback percentages than games at higher denominations.

Even in the video age, where multiple pay-lines means penny games can have $5 maximum bets that exceed the traditional $3 on three-reel dollar slots, $5 slots give a higher percentage back to the player than $1 slots, which pay more than quarter slots, which pay more than nickels, which pay more than pennies.



4 – Your chances of hitting a large, lifestyle-changing jackpot are greater on reel-spinning slots.

Three-reel slots, especially those with a single pay-line, are designed to be more volatile than five-reel video slots. You have many fewer winning spins on the reel-spinners, but nearly all of them are for at least several times the size of your bet.

On video slots, more frequent small wins are a big part of the overall payback. Three-reel slots put more of their return into bigger hits. If you’re playing a three-reel slot, you’re more likely to hit a big jackpot than on a video slot, but you’re also more likely to lose your money quickly. Which experience you want is up to you.

All those small paybacks do add up, and help keep you in your seat longer on video games.



5 – Video slots with pick ’em bonuses usually stretch your playing time more than games with free spin bonuses.

When video slots first rose to popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s, they were mainly concentrated on nickel games. A prime attraction was “time on device” – they kept you in your seat longer than three-real games, and one of the ways they did it was with pick ’em bonus rounds. A big win might be 100 or 200 credits, but that wasn’t bad. A 200-credit win was worth $10 on a nickel machine.

But when penny games came along, designers had to find a way to pay bigger bonuses. A 200-credit bonus is only $2 on a penny game. There was a need to offer prizes worth playing for. The dominant method has been free-spin bonuses. You might win thousands of credits on free spins. You might also win nothing. It’s the possibility of nothing that makes the thousands possible.



6 – Players should never play a progressive slot machine without making the wager necessary to be eligible for the progressive jackpots.

On progressives, a percentage of wagers are added to the jackpot, or spread across multiple jackpots on many modern games.

On three-reel slots with single jackpots, you usually have to bet maximum coins to be eligible for the jackpot. On video slots, you’ll sometimes be asked to make a separate bet to be eligible for the jackpots. Just keep in mind that progressive games put a larger percentage of their overall return into the jackpots, and usually pay less on the base games.



7 – On games with mystery jackpots, those who bet more credits per line have a better chance of winning the jackpot.

Some progressives don’t require max coins bets, nor do they require separate wagers to be eligible. Players who bet minimum coins per line are playing for the same jackpots as those who bet the max. On such games, the jackpot isn’t triggered by a combination of symbols on the reels – it’s just launched as a complete surprise to the player, even sometimes after losing spins.

These are mystery jackpots, and it’s a mystery how you win. One common method is for a random number generator to select a jackpot amount. Then the player whose bet pushes the jackpot to that level wins it. If you bet more credits, your bet pushes up the jackpot by more cents, bringing you more chances to win. Without such programming, casinos couldn’t offer the same pot to players betting different amounts.



8 – Always use a players club card when you play.

Per dollar played, slot players get more comps and free play than table games players. You can’t overcome the house edge, but you can take everything the casino will give you. Don’t increase your bets for the sake of comps, but if you play your normal amount and the casino buys your lunch and gives you a few bucks in free play to boot, so much the better.



9 – Take advantage of double points days.

You can’t overcome the house edge with slot club freebies, but you can narrow the gap a bit with a little smart play. Let’s say your normal amount of play brings you $5 in free play. On a double points day, you’ll get $10 instead, or $15 on triple points days.

Every little bit counts, and if you know a multiple points day is coming up, you might think about timing your trip to
take advantage.



10 – Watch for opportunities in promotions.

It’s sometimes possible to improve your chances of winning at promotions with a little smart play. For example, if a casino schedules a lucky seat day in which each hour it awards $100 in free play to a player at a randomly selected game, your timing can make a difference.



by John Grochowski


The Ultimate Guide to Spring Festivals

Outdoor festivals are one of summer’s truest pleasures and the South hosts some of the finest festivals and cultural celebrations in the country. Whether you prefer a big gathering of thousands or an affair that’s family-friendly, the region offers opportunities aplenty. Need help choosing which one(s) to attend? The festivals and fairs highlighted below are worthy of checking out. This list caters to a wide range of tastes, so there should be something for everyone down south.


New Orleans, LA | April 24 – May 3
(504) 410-4100

“Jazz Fest,” as it is called, is a cultural institution of New Orleans and a joyous celebration of the sights, sounds, and culture of the city. NOLA is known as the birthplace of jazz and when the NOLA Jazz Fest debuted back in 1970, the likes of Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington were the first to perform. Jazz Fest embodies its original vision and delivers a stacked musical lineup without fail, every year. The Who, The Meters, and Elton John are among the headliners in 2015. (Photo by Takahiro Kyono)





Memphis, TN | May 1-3
(901) 525-4611

The Beale Street Music Festival usually features an eclectic lineup of performers from many different musical genres. Artists who have performed at the festival in previous years include Bob Dylan, Al Green, The Black Keys, Kid Rock, and The Foo Fighters.



Baton Rouge, LA | May 23-24

The Bayou Country Superfest is a spirited country music celebration held at LSU’s Tiger Stadium. In true LSU Tiger fashion, festival goers are encouraged to arrive early to participate in LSU’s longstanding tailgating tradition.



HangoutDucks-Josh RhinehartHANGOUT FEST
Gulf Shores, AL | May 15-17

Once a small festival held along the Alabama coastline, Hangout Fest recently entered into a joint venture with the same company that produces Coachella. It will be interesting to see if Hangout Fest retains its relaxed vibe and killer lineup, or if SoCal will extend its corporate influence to Gulf Shores, Ala. and make the festival more Coachella-like. The Foo Fighters, Beck, and the Zac Brown Band are all slated to perform this year. (Photo by Josh Rhinehart)




Ozark, AR | June 4-7
(785) 749-3434

This summer marks Wakarusa’s 12th year in existence and the lineup of artists who are slated to play will not disappoint. This festival, located in a cozy nook of the Ozarks, has retained its bohemian spirit and sticks to its original grassroots ethos. While Wakarusa does offer non-musical activities like Yoga and a water slide, the weekend’s entertainment revolves around the music. The description of Wakarusa on the festival’s website says it best by summing up Wakarusa as “an experience that was created BY music lovers, FOR music lovers…never corporate, always progressive.”



Louisville, KY | July 17-19

Founded in 2002 by Louisville native JK McKnight, the Forecastle Festival has transformed from a local, community-oriented event to a highly-anticipated summer festival that’s garnered a lot of notoriety. Forecastle Fest uses Louisville’s beautiful 85-acre Waterfront Park as its venue and also emphasizes environmental activism, outdoor recreation, and tastings of Kentucky’s finest bourbons and BBQ fare.



Manchester, TN | June 11-14

Bonnaroo is one of the best-known and widely-attended festivals in the country. It’s hard to believe this fest began as a jamband-centric, homegrown venture! Each year, people from all over the globe travel to Manchester, Tennessee for the big event. As Bonnaroo did in previous years, the festival this coming June will feature an amalgam of old and new acts in its lineup, including Billy Joel and Trampled by Turtles.



Memphis, TN | August 9-16
(901) 332-3322

Each year, the whole city of Memphis for one week in August lives, breathes, and exudes a burning love for Elvis Presley. Elvis fanatics from all corners of the U.S. travel to Memphis during Elvis Week, an eight daylong celebration to honor the King of Rock and Roll. A variety of different events are scheduled to unfold, including a Best Jumpsuit Contest and a candlelit vigil in remembrance of the King.



Floyd, VA | July 22-26

FloydFest intends to keep it real and return to its roots this year by espousing the festival’s original mission and embracing the family-oriented atmosphere coveted by fans who have attended FloydFest since its humble beginnings. Considered a “boutique” music festival, Floydfest maintains a more intimate atmosphere and has a very large percentage of loyal attendees who return every year. Can’t listen to enough Bluegrass and Americana? Do you appreciate healing arts and world peace? This festival is for you.



Clarksdale, MS | August 7-9

Known for its authenticity, this festival is a true celebration of Mississippi’s rich musical heritage. The Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival features the best blues musicians in the country, showcasing local blues artists and nationally-known acts alike. In addition, the festival offers fascinating educational discussions and seminars about blues music and its unique roots.



Renfro Valley, KY | July 3-5

Considered by many to be the premier Bluegrass festival in the area, The Old Joe Clark Bluegrass Festival takes place right in the heart of bluegrass country. For those who are serious about Bluegrass, the family-friendly festival is a wonderful way to spend July 4th weekend.



Louisville, KY | April 18- May 2

The Kentucky Derby Festival, simply put, is the most celebrated horse race in America; the event usually draws close to one million people! Established in 1875, the Oaks and the Derby are the oldest continuously-running sporting events in history. During the two weeks leading up to the famous race, the festival boasts non-stop concerts, contests, parties and parades all throughout Louisville. For 2015 the Derby is offering an app that makes it easy for attendees to create a customized schedule, access interactive maps, and share their festival photos via social media.



Martinsville, VA | August 8

This local event celebrates the scenic Smith River by presenting a wide range of outdoor and sports-related activities. Offerings include paddling and running races, canoeing, and biking. Like any good festival there is also a whole host of music, demos, and food trucks to enjoy. The best part? Admission is free!



by Erica Block

A Day In The Life Of…. A Casino Valet

55845_SOGD_Valet_Illust_optFor most casino-goers, the experience begins when they step out of their car and hand it over to the valet, and ends when the car is brought back hours or perhaps days later. For the valets, though, those bookends represent time at work rather than play. And depending on the time of day, the attitude of the patrons and the cleanliness of the cars, that work can be enjoyable – or it can be the pits.

Josh Kuykendall worked as a valet at the El Cortez in Las Vegas for 12 years. He says the shifts align pretty closely with other hourly jobs – there’s the coveted day shift, the not-so-desirable swing shift, and the graveyard hours, which work well for certain people but are anathema to others. He says he spent about half of his time on the day shift, and the other half on the graveyard.

“I think grave is hard for most people because they can’t adjust to sleeping when the sun is out,” he said. “I never really got used to it, it just became more of a tolerance thing.”

As with most service jobs, your valet lives and dies by tips. But Josh points out that a tip doesn’t have to be excessive to make a difference – he said “$2 in $2 out” is usually the best tip, $5/$5 if you want service to be a little bit faster. “Now, if you want your vehicle kept super-close, $10 goes a long way,” he said.

“I can say that 99 percent of all valet work for their tips,” he said. “The hourly you get is usually minimum wage or slightly above depending on the casino. Tips are for the most part always higher. People have to understand that valet, bartenders, waiters, and cocktail waitresses primarily work for tips and that’s what pays our bills, puts food on the table, and keeps a roof over our head. So when someone stiffs you, you take it as their saying ‘screw you and your family.’”

With 12 years experience under his belt, you can imagine that Josh, like most valets, has some stories to tell. Many of them are just downright disgusting: “I got into this truck one time, garbage all over the place. It stunk like a porta-potty, and after I parked it a damn mouse comes flying out from under the dash,” he said. “I jumped out of that truck so fast and used some colorful language at the same time.”

His scariest moment, he says, was getting mugged – after parking a car, he noticed a man walking around in the lot. “I asked if he needed any help and he walked up to me and stuck a knife to my neck and asked for all my money,” he said. “I said, ‘Dude, I don’t have any money – I’m a valet.’” The man snatched a set of keys from him and took off. He was never caught.

His most interesting story, he says, came one morning around 2 AM, when a beat up Crown Victoria pulled in. He noticed right away that a “really crazy smell” was coming from it. As the driver went into the casino, Josh tried to park the car, but the smell was too much, and he had to get out. Moments later, about 10 police vehicles come screeching up to the valet station, and their drivers jump out, guns drawn and dogs barking. The driver of the car was taken away by a few officers, while the ones remaining on the scene started putting on their HAZMAT suits. Josh had almost just parked a rolling meth lab, which at the time was filled with 300 baggies full of the drug.

Despite not working at one of the bigger prestige hotels, Josh still got the chance to park cars for some big names – Flava Flav, Coolio, Penn Gilette, NFL running back Steven Jackson, Woody Harrelson, Mike Tyson and Floyd Maywhether came to mind for him. “I never had a bad moment with any of them,” he said. “They all tipped good and were super nice.”

Josh says that on the whole, it was a fun job, and he misses the guys he worked with. Oh, yeah, and there’s one other perk of the job that he really misses.

“I will miss driving the half-a-million-dollar Rolls Royces, the Lamborghinis, the Ferraris,” he said. “I drove a 1939 Bugati one time.”


by James Bickers


Gaming Mogul Adelson Wants You to Play His Way

P16_shutterstock_19955_optThe Internet has revolutionized just about every aspect of modern life. So leavened throughout culture and commerce is the technology that it’s taken for granted that just about anything one can do in terms of transactions can be online. Banking, shopping, dating—the list is infinite. Well, almost infinite. Readers of this magazine are doubtless more aware than most that their particular pastime—gambling—is still unable to fully plug-in to the World Wide Web. And if another force well known to gamers—81-year-old casino pioneer Sheldon Adelson—has his $100 million way, the disconnect will endure. You’ll need to continue to play, roll your dice to your nearest casino and leave your iPad at home.

With virtually infinite resources come virtually infinite political say. On election day of this year, the Republican Party succeeded in winning enough seats to regain majority in both houses of Congress. But republican politicians aren’t the only ones who won at the polls on election night. Moguls like Adelson, who bet on the right party, did all right for themselves, too. Power to the people? Maybe not. But certainly power to the person.

Adelson, 81, probably doesn’t require much of an introduction to readers of this magazine. It is worth knowing, however, that the Las Vegas casino mogul’s political expenditures have grown much larger in recent years. During the 2012 election cycle alone he contributed over 50 million dollars to Super PACs supporting Republican candidates. Certainly he has “earned” his influence among G.O.P. lawmakers.

Why does Adelson’s outsized presence and lobbying matter so much? Because he is the financial force driving the move to enact a national ban on online gaming. It doesn’t so much matter whether your personal opinions align with the tenets of Adelson’s campaign to prohibit online gambling. That Adelson’s actions indicate his belief—or at least his hope—that he can use his money to goad Congress into passing legislation to outlaw online gambling in the U.S. According to an article written by Connie Bruck in the June 30, 2008 issue ofThe New Yorker, Shelley Berkley, a former representative for Nevada’s 1st congressional district, gave testimony in 1998 for the Nevada state ethics commission that is consistent with Adelson’s perception of his power to influence. In her testimony she explained, “Adelson seeks to dominate politics and public policy through the raw power of money.” Berkley worked for Sheldon Adelson in the 1990s.

When he is speaking on the record, Adelson maintains that his vehement opposition to legalizing online gambling is rooted on moral grounds. Online gaming would be a corruptive influence on society, Adelson says, citing the ease with which criminals and hackers could fix online games to launder money. He believes, or so he says in public, that having casinos readily available on the smartphone in one’s pocket will also increase pathological gambling and make it easier for underage kids to gamble.

And yet, if criminals do in fact pose a threat to the integrity of internet gaming, a sustained ban would make all those problems worse by moving online gambling into the black market. Statistics recorded by the American Gaming Association (AGA) supports the logic that a prohibition on online gaming will result in the increased patronage of black market gaming outlets; Americans spent 2.6 billion dollars on illegal offshore gaming websites in 2012.

Notably, other prominent casino operators, including Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, disagree with Adelson’s views and seem to be open to the legalization of online gaming. Advocates of online gaming emphasize that it represents the future structure of the industry and that it has potential as a marketing and economic strategy to attract more business. Of course, the convenience and digital cache of offering a legal outlet to gamble online would almost certainly increase demand for gaming opportunities, particularly among younger customers. Adelson’s movement, it can be said, opposes new technologies and exploits his political influence to thwart his gambling empire’s competition within the industry.

A racing and wagering law expert and former executive for New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation elucidates the matter of consumer choice, explaining how adults who frequent Adelson’s casinos prefer to decide for themselves how they would like to spend their own time and money. “Notwithstanding Adelson’s ability to spend large sums on lobbying for federal legislation, he risks frustrating his loyal clientele who have an appetite for gambling from their computers and mobile devices,” says the former Off-Track Betting Corp. executive, “His money would be better spent on expanding resources for people who engage in problematic gambling behavior.”

In other words, letting consumers choose how they want to gamble is better for business and Adelson’s stance isn’t customer-friendly.

Is Sheldon Adelson a small-minded octogenarian luddite resisting 21st century technology? Or is it more accurate to understand his motives as those of a self-serving gaming czar seeking to protect his own interests and casino investments? Considering that the retail industry hasn’t been destroyed by offering online commerce and services (people still enjoy real-world shopping), or, for instance, people continue to attend professional sports games (even though they are televised), it makes sense that Adelson is criticized by members of the iGaming industry for his views, which are seen as divisive and out of touch. Legalizing online gambling seems like the logical next step and an unavoidable development, too, for the gaming industry.

On November 17, The Poker Player’s Alliance stated in a tweet, According to @ppapoker, there will be no hearing to ban Internet gambling during the lame duck session. Although the bill that proposed the internet gaming ban didn’t make it to the floor during the lame duck session of Congress, opponents of the ban with a degree of notoriety, such as John Pappas, who is the executive director of the Poker Player’s Alliance (PPA), continue to be vigilant of Adelson’s political maneuvers. “The expected House hearing on the Sheldon Adelson-backed legislation to ban internet gambling was called off…but the fight is not over as there is still a very real chance this legislation could be tacked on to a non-relevant, must-pass bill at the last minute,” Pappas said in a November 21 PPA press release. Republican leaders “decided it was too heavy a lift” to move the bill through the House Judiciary Committee and onto the floor in the limited amount of time surrounding Congress’ Thanksgiving and
Christmas recesses.

Without regard to the postponement of the bill, Adelson is likely to show up at the next session of Congress in an effort to push the bill through. What will his next move be? It will be interesting to see how Adelson’s efforts unfold in the coming weeks. Because he is fervently opposed to online gaming and because he is Sheldon Adelson, he is likely to make his voice heard again soon.


by Erica Block


Casinos on Cruise Ships

P22_Carnival_Breeze_T_opt1The dice fly, the wheels spin and the chips stack up! Winning at sea isn’t about a Naval fleet; it’s about gaming on the waves, by they ripples or high rollers. Taking all the elements of Vegas from the desert and loading them onto a boat is what these liners have in mind. From poker to craps, slots to wheels, bingo to baccarat—there is truly something for everyone.

Perhaps there is maritime magic involved with luck on the way to a Caribbean destination or maybe the mythical Nemo himself has some pull in Central American waters, but there is no doubt that a sea cruise transports passengers in more ways than one. Take a chance, toss the dice and work on your best poker face while basking on the deck with a tropical drink.

The casinos are fully stocked and loaded, from the bars to the décor, games and grandeur. The essence of any cruise is the carefree spirit, pampering, indulgence and discovery. Whatever floats your boat is the unspoken rule of the waves.

A few suggestions for gaming as you sail are presented here for your perusal. Make sure you visit the websites to locate your departure ports and destinations, then draw your own comparisons and find the best fleet for a personal fit.

Bon voyage!



If you’re new to cruising or casino culture, we received some professional insight from, Dori Saltzman, News Editor, CruiseCritic.com.

“The main difference between casinos on different cruise ships, and cruise lines, is overall size and the availability of live table games,” she said. “Typically the bigger the ship, the bigger the casino. Also, on some ships certain table games like Texas Hold ’Em are with live dealers and actual decks of cards while others use machines.”

Saltzman reminds poker players in particular.

“It’s important to a person they really should check with the cruise line or a travel agent beforehand. Same with craps, not all cruise lines have a craps table. Another difference is hours. On the larger ships, the casino is pretty much open whenever the ship is in open water. On smaller ships, the casino (or more specifically the table games) may have set hours only in the evenings or at night.”

And a casual note to non-smoking preferences.

“One thing to point out is that casinos tend to be one of the few places on a ship that passengers can smoke. There may be a non-smoking section of the casino, but it’s usually small. Many times smokers will congregate in the casino to smoke, so non-smoking casino players should be aware of this ahead of time.”



1 855 206 2759 | carnival.com

Pioneering the fun, shorter, and less expensive cruises, the British-American owned line is anchored in the Miami, Florida suburb of Doral.

Whether you cruise three days or seven days, to the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, or the Bahamas, there are memories to be made on any of the Carnival ships.

The fleet of 24 ships bear such names as Freedom, Miracle, Fantasy, Breeze, Liberty, and Imagination and the crew on each line is ready to live up to the name on your chosen cruise.

Casino action is wide-ranging with a Las Vegas element and very accommodating and friendly floor. Everything from nickel slots to the High Rollers Club await. There are all the traditional games including Roulette, Poker, Craps, Prize Games, Blackjack, Slots, and tournaments. If you cast off and find that you are only proficient in Go Fish, there are instruction classes on board to transform the beginner into a winner.

Get ready for some celebrity encores. New to the Carnival LIVE stage in 2015 Carnival welcomes Rascal Flatts, Journey, Smokey Robinson, Styx, and Little Big Town. There is also live music and libations on hand at the Red Frog Pub and theatrical and music productions are a hot ticket in this floating off-Broadway boat.

There are two dozen restaurants available to Carnival cruisers as it is best advised to be a gambler fueled by a full stomach. Dining from Guy’s Burger Joint serving up the juiciest burgers on land and sea from celeb chef Guy Fieri’s menu. The savor and charm of an Italian countryside villa is at Cucina del Capitan and if the young’uns are on board, there’s Suess inspired theme of Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast.


Royal Caribbean

(866) 562-7625 | royalcaribbean.com

Founded in 1968 in Norway, this international cruising fleet is now located in Miami, Florida. From the shipping lanes and fiords to the sun-kissed sands of tropical destinations, Royal Caribbean sails 21 ships and at grand capacity.

The maiden voyage was Song of Norway and since 1991, all ships under the Royal Caribbean International brand have had names ending in “of the Seas.” Voyages to Alaska to the Mediterranean, Northern Europe to America aboard the Rhapsody, Enchantment, Splendor, and Legend of the Seas. Visit the Royal Caribbean International page on Facebook for a complete list of vessels.

Each Royal Caribbean ship includes a top-of-ship lounge called the Viking Crown Lounge boasting panoramic views, onboard rock climbing walls, bars, lounges, spas, gyms, a main dining room and 24/7 alternative dining venues. Your little ones and older children on board the Adventure Ocean program will provide them with entertainment and education.

Score some M Life perks! Royal Caribbean International and MGM Resorts International have partnered to bring the best in cruise vacations and at-sea casinos. M Life members have access to these benefits so consider which level fits your cruise schedule and budget: Sapphire, Pearl, Gold, Platinum, or Noir.

To price and plan call the casino call center at 1-800-762-0702

Travelers can enjoy weekend getaways or cross the ocean. Either way, there are Baccarat, video poker, craps, blackjack, and poker, roulette. Texas Hold ’em, slot, and blackjack tournaments

The environment is lively and a natural for relaxing, celebrating, and making new friends. Tenured casino host Bee Zietsman gets the last word.

“It’s difficult to specify only one thing because hosting has so many exciting and challenging facets to it that make this the perfect job; however, I reckon the friends I’ve made would have to trump all! Meeting new guests and going from that to a friendship is the most valuable aspect of my job; that and reuniting with guests from previous cruises after months or even years to see them return, and not only remember them but have them remember me!”


P22_SGD Regal Princess_optPrincess

1-800-774-6237 | princess.com

The beautiful fleet of Princess Cruises celebrates 50 years on the water and all on board in 2015 will enjoy the benefits of this festive silver anniversary.

World-class chocolatier Norman Love partnered with Princess Cruises to launch Chocolate Journeys, an industry-first, premium chocolate experience onboard. A sweet deal to say the least and the future seems to be bright and calls for smooth sailing.

Two Princess ships were used as locations for filming the series, which ran for 10 seasons in the late 70s and early 80s. Those who board with gaming in mind will probably hope they are on the Luck Boat but all’s fair in love and cruising.

All traditional table games and slots create an ultimate ocean-going casino. Easy options to access cash are onboard. Hours vary from ship to ship depending on the itinerary. Please check the Princess Patter online for hours that the casino is open. We offer 24-hour slots while the ship is at sea.


Victory Casino Cruises

855-468-4286 | victorycruises.com

It takes two! The solar–infused Florida locations of Port Canaveral and Jacksonville offer double the bounty in a gaming cruise.

Located on the east coast of sunny central Florida, in the historic Mayport district of Port Canaveral offers a number of attractions and activities that are close and accessible to Victory voyagers. Claiming to have more recreational opportunities than all of Florida’s 13 other seaports combined have kept a steady stream of fun-loving vacationers making Canaveral their destination.

Make your casino cruise a win-win affair with entertainment, dining and an array of tables and slots to help you earn your spending money on shore. Let It Ride, roulette, Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, poker, slots, blackjack, craps and more. From bingo to baccarat, there is a diverse menu of options for your gaming appetite.

Theme events from sports to service industry Mondays, ladies nights and DJ disco floors prove there’s something for everyone. An investment with the Player’s Club might be your first wise move. There are three levels of the Victory Card: Gold, Ocean and Elite. Each card has benefits, rewards and bonuses.

Victory Casino Cruises sail seven days a week, twice daily, Departures at 11 a.m. returning at 4 p.m., 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. or noon to 6 p.m. Take advantage of holidays and occasions by booking cruises from personal to corporate, birthdays to weddings in both ports.

Spend the shank of the evening, a sun-drenched sky or beneath the rising moon on this affordable, casual cruising casino. The Dolphin Bar is one of the most popular decks of the ship, perfect for cold beverages and watching turtles and dolphins and other wild creatures—like people.

Visit the website for the Captain’s post of weather, sea conditions and points of interest. Of course, he won’t be able to give you any gaming tips—those are less predictable than the sun and waves!


Norwegian Cruise Line

1-866-234-7350 | ncl.com

The real freestyle cruising experience. With endless options and entertainment, you have the freedom to do it your way.

This cruise line was founded in 1966 and is headquartered in Miami, Florida. They offer transatlantic cruises and cruises to places like Hawaii, Panama, Europe and Bermuda. Norwegian Cruise Lines currently have a fleet of 13 ships with names like the Norwegian – Epic, Breakaway, and Getaway. And each of these ships offer opportunities to create a truly epic getaway.

Thanks to the flexibility and the no-fixed dining times, you can choose where and when to eat. Whether you prefer café’s or buffets, room service or specialty dining, Norwegian Cruise Lines has something for everyone.

And let’s not forget about the on-board casinos. With over 2,800 slots and nearly 200 table games across the fleet, it’s no wonder they were voted best Cruise Line casino by Porthole Magazine. Gamers can participate in tournaments and events. You might even join the Casinos at Sea players club to earn points while you play.

Visit their website for more information about their gaming facilities and entertainment options. Their website also contains information on travel packages and departure ports. Norwegians live life to the fullest. They smile bigger, explore further and relax longer, because they’re free to let inspiration guide them. So, climb aboard and discover how it feels to Cruise Like a Norwegian


by Cindy Lamb

Have a Bucket List? Make sure these Southern Stops are on it.

Southern Gaming strives to provide our readers with the best in gaming and travel. The South is chalked full of so many amazing ‘to-do’s’, from festivals and attractions to historic landmarks and relaxing getaways, and we wanted to share a few of our favorites with you. So, as you begin planning your 2015 travel itinerary, consider mixing it up with a few of these Southern selections!


Unleash your inner Chef at Wind Creek Casino & Hotel – Atmore Alabama
If you are looking for a different experience on your next casino adventure, consider cooking! Unleash your inner chef with hands-on cooking classes from the culinary pro’s at Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore, Alabama. The three-hour classes are led by the property’s award winning chefs and ‘students’ will learn everything from kitchen basics to some more evolved cooking techniques. The classes are relaxed and usually involve a glass of wine or two. The classes range in price but are generally around $70. The menu for the classes rotates seasonally, from Italian classics to traditional family-style fare, be sure to check the calendar prior to booking. There is also a ‘Chef’s Table’ option ($59 pp) where your table is located ‘in the kitchen’ for up close and personal preparation of your meal. Plus, it always helps that it is located on a property boasting resort-style amenities such as a spa, pool area and steakhouse. For more information, visit WindCreekAtmore.com/kitchen or call 1-855-393-7227.


P26_IndGolfTrip_PeteDy_optGambling Golf Getaway – Indiana and Mississippi

There is nothing better than a great golf getaway, especially when there is  gambling involved! A remarkable golf trip is one that includes a good group, pre  and post round entertainment options and, probably the most important, a  variety of courses to play. If your group is up to it, try squeezing in 36 holes per  day, because sometimes 18 just isn’t enough. So, by planning ahead, you can  spend your day taking advantage of the fairways and greens and when the sun  goes down you can enjoy the nightlife and casino action. One of the top areas in  the country to pull this off is the ‘Indiana Golf Superfecta’ There are four properties within a short drive of each other that will make for a phenomenal three day getaway. Our recommended itinerary would be to start at Rising Star Casino’s Lynx-Style Course (Rising Star, Indiana) on day one for an early afternoon tee time. Either stay at Rising Star and enjoy a great steak dinner at Wllington’s Steakhouse, or journey down the road just 23 miles to Belterra Casino Resort and dine in one of their restaurants. We prefer to stay where we play next. So, day two includes a morning tee time at Belterra’s Tom Fazio-designed course and lunch poolside in the Out of Bounds Bar and Grill. You might even consider cooling off in the pool before hitting the road to your next stop… Horseshoe Casino’s Chariot Run course located about two hours from Belterra, just North of Louisville. Stay at Horseshoe, or take a short journey up the road to the historic French Lick Resort & Spa where you will find the world famous Pete Dye championship course. Now, to play, it will cost you $300, but there are few layouts you will find that rival it. You can replay for set rates and when you are finished, four cigars and a bottle of bourbon await your arrival!

P26_Krewe of Centaur _opt1Experience Mardi Gras…for real!
You’ve heard about it, probably celebrated it, but, have you ever really participated in Mardi Gras? We aren’t talking about wearing some beads, having a piece of King Cake and calling it a day. We are talking about joining a Krewe (the name for a parading or social organization), dedicating the time, and money, building an awesome float and tossing ‘throws’ (beads, trinkets and toys) to thousands of screaming fans. The most famous city for Mardi Gras parades is New Orleans…but there are places throughout Louisiana and Mississippi that celebrate in a similar capacity, including casino-centric towns like Shreveport-Bossier City, Biloxi, Mississippi and Baton Rouge. Shreveport-Bossier City will hold their annual Krewe of Centaur parade on February 7th this year, and it is definitely one to check out. Crowds are estimated at nearly 100,000 showing up to see around 30 elaborately decorated floats rolling down the parade route. For more information about Mardi Gras, visit MardiGrasNewOrleans.com and to check out the festivities in Shreveport-Bossier.


Memphis in May with a Tunica Stay
What could be better than combining awesome music acts with the world’s best barbecue, good times with great gambling? Well now’s your chance! Memphis in May is a month long celebration that includes the Beale Street Music Festival (May 1-3), the World Championship Barbecue Contest (May 14-16) and much more. The music festival offers a range of bands from the likes of Blues Traveler and Jerry Lee Lewis to Kid Rock and Alabama Shakes. And when it comes to cooking, witness the biggest names in barbecue compete for over $100,000 in prize money as they prepare their top selections of chicken, ribs, brisket, sauces for judges to decide their fate. The elaborate ‘kitchen’ set-ups are nicer than some kitchens at home and the names of the teams might be one of the most entertaining parts of it all. You will see team names like The Bastey Boys, Boar’s Night Out, Sweet Swine O’ Mine, the Rack Pack, and more. Plus…with Tunica, Mississippi is just a short drive away and you can retreat to the home of some of the best casinos in the region for some great gambling action. Find a full list of events at MemphisinMay.org


P26_DPC_Hellmuth_Ficht_optHanging with Celebrities at the Kentucky Derby
Roses and Mint Juleps might come to mind when you think of the Kentucky Derby,  held annually in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May. But, this is much  more than a horserace, friends…it’s a party…or should I say, lots of them! Louisville  comes alive the week leading up to the most exciting two minutes in sports with race  fans, party fans and lots of celebrities. There are several celebrity parties, most  benefitting charities, where guests can mix and mingle with celebrities in town for the  races. We are partial to Southern Gaming’s Derby Poker Bourbon Bash held on Thursday night of Derby week. The event is hosted by world renowned poker pro’s Phil Hellmuth, Robert Williamson III and Hall of Fame Coach, Denny Crum. It’s a mix of music, gambling, Kentucky bourbon, food, and tons of fun. This event followed by two days of cashing in winning tickets at Churchill Downs and parties each night, it is sure to create a collection of great memories that should be on everyone’s bucket list! Get more info about Derby Poker at DerbyPokerChampionship.com and the Kentucky Derby at KentuckyDerby.com


Southern Invasion: Good, Better, Besh!

IF YOU DON’T THINK THAT Southern food and dining culture claims a seat at the head of the American table, you haven’t been to the bookstore, watched television, or enjoyed a road trip below the Mason-Dixon line in quite some time.

The diverse foods and people of the changing American South have given the world both curiosity and inspiration in the form of authors, educators, journalists and musicians. But perhaps most commonly appreciated of all Southern ambassadors is the Southern chef.


Tailgating Tips: A Talk with the Commish…Joe Cahn

The football season is upon us which means tailgating in in full swing too. Whether you are a tailgating aficionado or someone who simply shows up and throws some cash in a bucket, without a doubt, the time before a sporting event is sacred to all sporting fans no matter how big or small.
Southern Gaming and Destinations caught up with Joe Cahn, The Commissioner of Tailgating, (yes…there is such a person!) to talk about everything from fun foods to best tailgates. Cahn is the real deal and you can take what he says seriously.


Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi Celebrates Lucky 7: Top Shows at the Property

Sheryl Crow. The name says it all. When people think of southern pop/rock music, it’s her voice and well-strummed guitar that fans across the world hear in their minds.

All I Wanna Do, Soak up the Sun and If It Makes You Happy are amongst her biggest hits. Her genre-blending music has earned her nine Grammy Awards and a spot on VH1’s list of the Greatest Women of Rock N’ Roll.

She has performed for millions of fans over the years at venues world-wide including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, where she has earned a top spot among the best shows at the rock n’ roll-themed property.




SUMMER TIME and the living is breezy

THERE IS NOTHING better than a Southern summer getaway. Whether you are looking for a gambling excursion on the Gulf Coast or trails to meander in the mountains of Tennessee, chances are you will find your perfect escape without ever boarding a plane. If your trip is for a week or just a weekend, you owe it to yourself to check out some of the many attractions of the region. These are a few of our favorites.


Power Players

For a fun and rewarding penny slot experience, check out the new “Penny Lane” area at IP Biloxi.

Power Players

In 1941, Sam Boyd and his family arrived in Las Vegas with not much more than determination to succeed and fulfill a dream.




A Better Wagering Experience



DAY AT THE RACES IS NO LONGER LIKE it was a generation or two ago when betting on horse racing was virtually restricted to wagering at the track where live racing was being held. A boom in simulcast off-track betting (OTB) locations brought the action closer to home, to where more than 90 percent of wagering on horse racing is now done away from where live racing is taking place. An ever-growing share of that percentage is now done on the Web in what is the only legal form of online wagering in the United States.


A matter of COURSE


HERE’S THAT KID AGAIN. Hacking little plastic golf balls around the front yard.

All. Day. Long. If you were Bubba Watson’s neighbor in tiny Bagdad, Fla., in the late 1980s, you likely picked up your share of those plastic balls from around your house. You might have thought the kid nuts for spending so much time on a game like golf.