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So when it comes to casino games, is it possible to define which gender has the skill, the commitment, and the ability to win? Is there a pattern to spot when it comes to winning? And is it related to gender at all?

Big money!

The biggest ever win recorded is that of Archie Karas, who enjoyed a three-year winning streak that turned $50 into over $40 million. And according to this list of biggest Vegas casino payouts, men are winning bigger jackpots hands down. Five of the six top winners are men, with just one female mention. We’re sure she’s not complaining with her win of over $8 million in her seventies, but why are the results so disproportionate? Is it because of biased reporting or is it simply that women are trailing behind when it comes to winning casino games?

It’s all in the brain…

Some psychologists believe the main difference between men and women at the tables comes down to basic instincts. All people experience desire, such as the desire to gamble, and this is usually based on the idea that a perceived risk will achieve a certain reward. For example, lying about something might be wrong but it could help prevent a best friend getting into more serious trouble, a job interview may end in failure but it might lead to the perfect job – or at the very least, increased confidence. Likewise, gambling may lead to money loss, but it might also lead to winnings.

When it comes to applying these principles at a casino, research seems to show that on average, women have a more calculated view of the risks involved and play more cautiously. This means they see casino games differently. In general, women are less thrill seeking – they enjoy gambling as entertainment, and an opportunity to interact socially. On the other hand, findings suggests that men are more inclined to try and dominate their rivals and prove their worth in a competitive manner which leads to more aggressive playing – and bigger stakes.

So who plays what?

All of these internal shenanigans are thought to impact the type of games that men and women play. Land-based casino research suggests that women tend more towards slots and keno – straight forward games, played against the house that require little concentration so the social element can be enjoyed. On the other hand, men prefer games with a more competitive element such as Blackjack or Poker, with bigger bragging rights attached. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, but these are the average findings.

Another aspect is intimidation; studies have shown that women may feel uncomfortable in the male-dominated environment of table games in a casino, and that’s partly why some women prefer to stick to the Slots areas. Interestingly, both men and women enjoy Roulette, but on the whole, men still tend to play for higher stakes.

But it’s different online…

Online casinos have brought a different element to playing casino games – they allow for anonymity. This means that the way men and women are seen to play is changing. Statistics show that four times as many women are playing online, compared to just a couple of years ago. Why? Partly anonymity, and, it seems, partly convenience.

When you play online via a username, there is no indication of what gender you are unless you make it obvious. The availability of low stakes games and 24-hour provision available online could be part of the reason behind why women are becoming increasingly interested in casino games as a form of entertainment.

But this could also impact the suggested stereotypical behaviour in male players. Without the face-to-face elements that research suggests inspires dominant behaviour, male players that edge towards more competitive play can also enjoy anonymity – so can also enjoy a more relaxed, lower stakes games.

So who wins?

Unfortunately, we’ll have to sit on the fence with this one. It seems that where people play has more of an impact on winnings and attitude than gender.

More women are definitely starting to play, and also more frequently, and it’s worth noting that the biggest wins displayed online by casinos often go by Username, with the gender of the person remaining anonymous – so it’s no longer as easy to determine who is winning the most in terms of cash.

Of course, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!

 

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We all hear plenty of myths and legends around gambling. Tales of massive wins, outrageous bets, epic lucky streaks are always circulating, with details expanding or decreasing depending upon the teller – so we thought it was high time we got down to the nitty-gritty and separated fact from fiction. Here’s what we found…

Napoleon loved Blackjack – Fact!

As far as we can discern, this infamous (if slightly short) emperor did indeed have a liking for this traditional game – only it was the original French version known as Vingt-et-un (literally translates as ‘twenty-one’). The name Blackjack didn’t come into being until the early 20th century. (You can read about the history of blackjack here.)

Roulette is called the Devil’s Games because the numbers add up to 666 – Fiction!

Roulette has managed to gain such an unsettling nickname because of the rumour that the numbers on the wheel add up to 666 – the number associated with the devil. However, this is in fact untrue, with the numbers actually totalling 720. We have no idea where this rumour started, but we’re guessing it was something to do with regulation and the age-old story of trying to muscle in on profits via legislation.

Nixon’s election campaign was built on gambling money – Fact!

It seems that Nixon used money he’d gathered playing poker during his term as a sailor in WW2 to fund his election campaign of 1946. Apparently, he was a pretty nifty player, but decided to quit the game in 1952 when he decided it was no longer appropriate for his career. But that didn’t stop him detailing how to spot a bluffer in his autobiography.

A Russian Gambler once staked his wife as a bet – Fact!

Poker player Andrei Karpov did in fact stake his wife, Tatiana, during a 2007 game, instead of his car or watch. Opponent, Sergey Brodov, didn’t call the bet – but unsurprisingly enough, the marriage didn’t last. But in an interesting twist, Tatiana went on to marry Brodov anyway! Although it may be hard to believe, this is not the only incident – but it is the best known.

The biggest wagers in the world are on the Superbowl – Fact!

The Superbowl brings in big money every year, with wagers reaching six and (reportedly) seven figures. In an interview on 60 Minutes, sports bettor Billy Walters admits his biggest ever bet was for $3.5 million, placed on the Superbowl XLIV. And to make things even more interesting – his bet was on the underdog! (Read more about Superbowl bets here.)

Las Vegas is the gambling capital in the world – Fact AND Fiction!

When it comes to number, Vegas is the hands-down winner. There are more than 140 casinos in Las Vegas, and over 1000 land based casinos in the United States. In short, Vegas houses 15% of all casinos in the US, boasting over 5 billion in revenue every year. However, if you go by revenue, it is reported that Macau takes in almost double of all the casinos in Las Vegas!

If you have any interesting casino facts or fictions, please share in the comments below!

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THE CROUPIER – FLOOR PLAY

The Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca once famously said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” 2,000 years later – his words still ring true.

If you’re planning on spending some time enjoying a little action at either a real world or an online casino, it is always best to be well prepared.

This week, we are looking at Tommy Carmichael: if you see him playing a slot machine, don’t bother trying it after him. It’s probably empty.

Tommy’s Toys

All it takes is a chance encounter to change the direction of your life. In 1980, Tommy Glenn Carmichael was working at the Ace TV Sales and Service Shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

His career as a television repair man was flatlining and the prospects weren’t great. In walks his old friend Ray Ming and Tommy’s life changes forever.

Ray Ming had been living in Las Vegas. In the boot of his car were two things: a Bally slot machine and a ‘top-bottom joint’.

The ‘top-bottom-joint’ was a curled section of steel that worked in tandem with a thinner – ‘guitar string’ – piece of wire, to cheat slot machines in Las Vegas casinos.

To use the device, you would insert the thin wire into the bottom of the machine and draw a small charge from the machine’s internal electrics. You would then complete a circuit by inserting the top wire into the coin slot. The machine couldn’t help itself – it would start paying out coins.

Carmichael was impressed by his friend’s demonstration and shut up the repair shop forever. Aged just 30, he left for Sin City with his fourth wife. The television repair days were history – a 20 year career as a professional cheat was about to begin.

Nickels and Crimes

In Las Vegas, Carmichael cracked his first slot: a five-cent machine off the strip. He pocketed £35 in nickels. “I could see where it was pretty easy to do. You are thinking you are going to have yachts and cars. You know, the American Dream,” he said.

Five years later, he would be in prison.

At 3am, Carmichael tried to crack a slot in the Denny’s Restaurant just west of the Strip. Police burst in and found the top-bottom joint in his pocket.

Carmichael had some previous and the new conviction was enough to send him to prison. He was sentenced to five years but served only two.

“In the penitentiary there’s not a whole lot to think about,” Carmichael said. “You think about what you did and the mistakes and how to correct them. You either get straight or get better.”

“I was playing a dinosaur,” Carmichael said, referring to the top-bottom joint. “Everybody knew about it. It limited where you could play.”

On his release, Carmichael realized the slots industry had changed. The old machines – that were driven by mechanics and electricity – were being replaced by high-tech games that used computer software and microprocessors. Simply short-circuiting the machine would no longer work.

“Give me a slot machine and I’ll beat it”

Undeterred, Carmichael bought himself a brand new video poker machine and spent six months forensically probing its innards. His solution: the slider aka the monkey paw.

The device was made of spring steel and guitar wire and was worked into the machine where it triggered the hopper and tricked it into spitting out its contents. The device earned its owned up to $1,000 every hour.

“Figure out how a machine counts money and then work your way into the machine” explained Carmichael. “The casinos were so asleep. I lived a nice lifestyle. You’d stop and move to the next machine. You could leave a whole room empty,” he said.

By 1991, slots manufacturers had remedied the security flaw. It was time to wave goodbye to the monkey paw. “You can only ride a horse so far,” said Carmichael.

The Light Wand

Carmichael’s most infamous invention was the light wand. Posing as a customer, he made a cheeky visit to the showrooms of game manufacturer IGT. An engineer unwittingly opened up a machine and answered all Carmichael’s questions.

The light wand was consisted of a camera battery and a tiny light bulb. When it was inserted into the machine, the bulb would ‘blind’ the sensor inside and cause it to pay out coins. Simple and very effective.

Carmichael was on a roll. Not only was he taking up to $10,000 a day out of the machines, he was selling his device on to other cheats as well. He played every day at casinos in Atlantic City, Colorado, Louisiana and all over.

He would take cheating trips with his topless dancer girlfriend and, in 1995, he took seven cruises in six months, scamming casinos in Nassau, Aruba, St Thomas, as well as on the cruise ships.

He drove a Jaguar JX6, had two houses, a pawn shop, and paid his taxes. His ‘average’ appearance and flawless technique helped him dodge the police for years. “Our adventure would have made Ocean’s Eleven seem boring,” said Carmichael’s 34-year-old girlfriend.

Luck Runs Out…

In the end, a combination of arrests, informants, and federal wiretaps put an end to Carmichael’s adventures. “The conversations were devastating,” Las Vegas FBI agent Jerry W. Hanford said. “We couldn’t have scripted them any better.”

On September 7, 2001, Carmichael was sentenced to time served – 326 days – and given three years probation. He also lost both his homes and received a banning order from any casino.

These days, he is poacher turned gamekeeper and develops anti-cheating devices. He is listed as a ‘substantial threat to the gaming industry’ by the Nevada Gaming Board.

In the online world, things are different and playing online slots is very secure. Random number generators use complicated algorithms to continually generate new numbers. These numbers can have more than 200,000 digits. Even Carmichael would struggle to crack these. However, the main advantage of the online slot is that the average payout is around the 97% mark. With land-based slots, the average payout is closer to 85%.

Of course, if all this has put you in the mood for a little bit of action on the slots, look no further. The fun starts here.

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Casino & Gambling Songs – Our Top Picks (Part 1)

‘Tis the season to be jolly and people tend to sing a lot more at this time of year, so while the festivities are under way, we thought we’d do a bit of celebrating ourselves. We’ve already taken a look at some of the top gambling films of all time – so we thought, why not take a peek at some of our favourite songs that have a casino or gambling theme?

Think there aren’t many? Think again! Here are just a few of our favourites….

1) TUMBLING DICE by The Rolling Stones (1972)

Who doesn’t love the Rolling Stones? Especially when their wild rock is combined with lyrics about casino games. This seventies classic, written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, has plenty of dice and card references in it, although the main theme is Craps – who’d have thought it? A song about Craps? Genius! And if you don’t believe us that it’s great, it made number 7 in the U.S charts and number 5 in the U.K charts – and Rolling Stones Magazine listed it as one of their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Our favourite line:  This low down bitchin’ got my poor feet a itchin’/ You know you know the deuce is still wild.

2) THE ACE OF SPADES by Motorhead (1980)

If the Stones hadn’t made a song about casinos, this would have been our first choice. One for the Blackjack fans among you, this is an iconic song that has as much bite as you can get. Sung by the formidable Lemmy, it’s intense and super-hyped, but utterly brilliant and we feel it truly catches the excitement and atmosphere of a really good game. It also spent 12 weeks in the UK charts, reaching number 15.

Our favourite line: If you like to gamble /
I tell you, I’m your man / You win some, lose some / It’s all the same to me.

3) LUCK BE A LADY by Frank Sinatra (and others) (1966)

You can’t have a list of top casino games songs without have a crooner or two in there. Written for the 1950’s hit Broadway musical, Guys and Dolls, and originally sung by Robert Aida, this grew into an iconic tune that has been covered by many artists including Jack Jones (1964), Frank Sinatra (1966), and Chrissie Hynde (1994) – though we like the version by Old Blue Eyes the best.

Our favourite line:  A lady doesn’t wander all over the room / And blow on some other guy’s dice / Let’s keep this party polite.

4) BLACKJACK by Ray Charles, (1955)

According to the legend that is Ray Charles, this song was written when he beat T-Bone Walker at a Blackjack session. Who knows whether it’s true, but we’re happy to believe whatever the man tells us. This song is full of great casino games terminology, as well as insight into a player’s emotions – and that’s why we love it so much. It was released as single on the Atlantic label and reached number 8 in the U.S R&B charts.

Our favourite line: I sat there with two tens /
I thought I’d have some fun / The dealer hit sixteen with a five /
Just enough to make twenty one.

5) GOOD RUN OF BAD LUCK by Clint Black (1994)

An atmospheric and catchy country song loaded with gambling terms, Good Run of Bad Luck also featured in the movie, Maverick, – so what’s not to like? And in case you didn’t realise, the singer Black also made a cameo appearance. This tune reached number one in the Canadian Country Tracks chart and number 20 in the US Country Songs charts. A great song in a great film – what a combination! The song includes some fun gaming phrases like “shoot the moon” and “ten the hard way.”

Our favourite line:  A high roller even when the chips are down / To win her over, I’d seen the tables turn around

So, what do you think of our selection so far? Do these songs get your heart racing with their heart-felt stories and clever allusions to casino games, or do they get your heckles up? We’d love to know.

We’ll be continuing with more great casino songs in another post soon – and we’ll even include our worst of all time. But can you guess what else will make the grade? Or do you fancy predicting the song that gets our absolute blooper award?

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Continuing on from our pick of the top casino games and gambling inspired songs out there, here are a few more of our favourites – and an absolute blooper that makes our ‘what not to listen to’ category.

6) ROLL OF THE DICE by Bruce Springsteen (1992)

This is why he’s called The Boss – he can take any theme, add a catchy tune and mix in some amazing lyrics and – hey presto, it’s brilliant! A song equating gambling with love, it has the luck of the draw at its heart – and amazingly, it was written just after Springsteen quit the E Street Band and teamed up with pianist Roy Bittan. The album it was on, Human Touch (co-released with Lucky Town), hit the charts worldwide, reaching the number one spot in Austria, Italy, and Spain, amongst others.

Our favourite line: High-rollers lay down your bets and I’ll raise ‘em / Well I know the odds ain’t in my favor.

7) VIVA LAS VEGAS by Elvis (1964)

If you thought all Elvis songs were hip-swivelling cheese, think again! This song has been described as a love letter to the world of American gambling – and listening to it you can certainly envision the table, the games, the people. It’s upbeat, exciting and lively – everything you expect entertainment to be. The film it was written for is a decent bit of old fashioned viewing but yes, we admit that Elvis’ diamond-studded suits were a bit much – but this IS VEGAS, baby!

Our favourite line:  How I wish that there were more /Than the twenty-four hours in the day /
Cos even if there were forty more /
I wouldn’t sleep a minute away

8) THE GAMBLER by Kenny Rogers (1978)

This song has everything – emotion, melody, and a heart-tugging story at the heart. OK, so it’s slightly melodramatic but we’re listening to be entertained, not to use the song as our No. 1 games strategy bible! Some of the song’s fans argue that the ‘time is everything’ undercurrent is a great metaphor for life. That as it may be, we just think it’s a great, classy tune.

Our favourite line:  He said, “Son, I’ve made a life / Out of readin’ people’s faces / Knowin’ what the cards were / By the way they held their eyes

9) THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL by Abba (1980)

Seriously – you didn’t think we were going to leave out the cheesy disco, did you? Not just a catchy tune, this is a dance floor must have! Originally on the Super Trouper album and later released as a single that reached the charts worldwide – from Japan to America, Zimbabwe to Europe – this song reached a number 1 placement in Ireland, England, Belgium and South Africa. It has also enjoyed over 40 cover versions!

Our favourite line: I’ve played all my cards / And that’s what you’ve done too / Nothing more to say / No more ace to play

And now, it’s time for our least favourite casino song…

10) POKER FACE by Lady Gaga (2008)

Maybe it suffers from being overplayed, maybe it’s the outfits or the annoying makeup, or maybe it’s the fact that this song throws in every possible poker stereotype to try and jump on a gaming bandwagon and sell records? Some say this is Lady Gaga’s most toe-tapping tune – and it did go to number 6 in the UK charts – but to us it lacks believability. And we know it’s just a song, but surely a song shouldn’t make you cringe.

Our least favourite line: I wanna hold ‘em like they do in Texas please / Fold ‘em let ‘em hit me raise it baby stay with me.

Video link: Seriously? Please, make it stop.

And now it’s over to you… what is your favourite casino games song of all time? Do you like our choices or are you ready to defend m’lady’s poker face? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below… we’d love to add a number ten spot with your help.

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Hungry? You will be… This week, we are getting our teeth stuck into the sugary world of sweets. What’s the perfect chew to accompany a game of blackjack? What sweet should you take for a spin on the roulette table? What do you suck when you’re playing a slot?

We’ve saved up our pocket money and made our way to the tuck shop, to unwrap the answers. Get ready for a sugar rush.

Blackjack – Black Jacks

Sometimes these articles just write themselves. Clearly, the classic sweet to enjoy as you play a game of blackjack is… errr… a black jack.

These iconic aniseed flavoured sweets will be fondly remembered by many. Along with the fruit salad, they are one of Britain’s most popular ‘penny chews’ (although, these days, they cost at least twice that!).

Black jacks were originally manufactured by Trebor Bassett, until it merged with chocolate behemoth Cadbury. Until the 1980s, black jacks featured a smiling golliwog on their wrapping.

Today, black jacks come in a pack of 15 – complete with inoffensive packaging! Their delicious aniseed flavour makes them hard to put down. However, the fact they make your teeth go black, and have a mild laxative effect, may cause complications if you are in the middle of a hot run at the table.

Roulette – Haribo Roulette

Once again – we have a winner. Can there be a better sweet to suck as you toss your chips on the table? When playing roulette, eat roulette.

Haribo roulette are tricky to find. You can track them down online and they often appear in shops like Poundland. They are also available as multi-packs in supermarkets.

I think that the Haribo roulette sweets are identical in taste to gummi Gold-Bears. They’re just not shaped like bears. (The vagueness here is due to both a lack of information on the Haribo website and fact that my taste buds are under assault from a thick coating of sugary gelatin).

The actual sweets look like casino chips and come in some of the key colours of the roulette table. They are sweet, fruity, and very moreish. However… just like black jacks, they share an unfortunate side effect. Read the comedy comments here.

If you want to create a stir when you next enjoy a game of roulette, whip out your sweets at the table and sing “Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of HARIBO”. Just make sure you’re sitting pretty close to a toilet.

Slots – Cherry Drops

The diabetic coma is approaching fast. No one should have to endure this quantity of confectionery so early in the day. We looked high and low for a sweet called slots and just found 100s of online slots featuring sweets.

So… as one of the most highly featured symbols on any slot is the cherry, we plumped for the classic cherry drop.

Cherry drops are the ultimate boiled sweet: rock hard, buttock-clenchingly sour, and very sweet. They keep forever and will guarantee you a lot of quality time with you local dentist.

The history of the cherry drop is tied up with the history of the cough sweet. There are a few people claiming credit for the cherry drop.

We have the artisan business Willhem Mueller in Duisburg, Germany. He started his boiled sweet business in 1949 and still uses copper kettles to boil up his ‘pure, natural’ ingredients.

Across the pond, in the USA, it’s the Smith brothers from Poughkeepsie who lay claim to the sweet. The brothers met a snake oil salesman in 1852 and bought his recipe for cough drop syrup. This was refined into a sweet. Years later, a sour cherry version was created.

However, we think the real winner is none other than George Bassett – the man behind the licorice allsort. George started his sweet manufacturing empire in 1842. Today, you can still get as fruity as you like and buy the classic Bassetts cherry drops

So… there you have it: three sweets all perfectly suited to some tasty online action. If you want to sweeten up your game, start sucking!

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Were you in Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve 2014? If not, it’s time to start saving for 2015. Every casino on the strip flexed its party muscle for a classic night of good time one-upmanship.

Drake, Bruno Mars, Tony Bennett, Iggy Azalea, Calvin Harris, Olivia Newton-John and Snoop Dogg were just a handful of the A-list stars who rapped, rocked, sung, and partied the new year in.

Las Vegas is a destination devoted to entertainment. Visitors expected the wow factor and they got it by the firework-filled bucketload. More than 340,000 people hit the strip and spent a whopping $226 million with a view to thrill even the most daring casino game players.

Rollin’ High…

Let’s start at the top. At 550 feet above the Las Vegas Strip, the High Roller guarantees its visitors a breathtaking view of the city. Normally, the 30-minute ride costs a modest $34.95 at night.

For New Year’s Eve, however, tickets started at $2,500 up to $5,000. The premium package included a 777 flight, cupcakes (really?), Champagne, and – most importantly – the best view in town.

Also popular with the vertigo embracing partygoer was the Tower Party bash at Stratosphere. Open bars, a $199 price tag, and a 108 storey-high view guaranteed that good times – and a great panorama of the midnight fireworks – were had by all.

Punters enjoyed Go Go dancers and drank all they could at the ‘all you can drink’ bar. For the hardcore partygoer, pin up model Sabina Kelley hosted an after party until 5.15am.

Perhaps the classiest choice on the Las Vegas New Year’s Eve menu was the delicious combo of classic crooner Tony Bennett and maverick pop icon Lady Gaga. There may have been a 60 year age gap between the two but the chemistry was plain for all to see at the Cosmopolitan owned Chelsea venue.

Also hosted by the Cosmopolitan on New Year’s Eve, was Drake at the Marquee Nightclub. The sell out event included complimentary admission to the Dome Pool Party the next day. What a great way to work off that hangover.

Doggy Style

Over at the Venetian, they brought out the big guns with live performances from DJ Fatman Scoop, at the Red Bull Midnight Mix lounge, and Snoop Dogg at the Tao.

Not to be outdone, the MGM Grand had resident DJ, and music maker extraordinaire, Calvin Harris booked for business at Hakkasan. The iconic DJ smashed it at the venue that Playboy considers to be the ‘#1 nightclub in the world’.

For revellers who like their entertainers blonde, it was a choice of either Britney Spears or Olivia Newton-John. Spears has been on the strip for sometime with her dazzling ‘Piece of Me’ show at the Planet Hollywood.

For those with longer memories, it was over to the Flamingo Las Vegas to see Olivia in her resident show ‘Summer Nights’. The fans were hopelessly devoted and it was the one that they wanted… (sorry)

Booty Duty

Booty lovers enjoyed their fill of rear action with a twerky performance from everyone’s favourite ‘babe with back’: Iggy Azalea. Known for her hits ‘Fancy’ and ‘Black Widow’, Azalea performed at Drai’s Nightclub to a capacity crowd.

Her performance was featured on ABC’s bicoastal New Year’s Eve special which also included Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line, Bastille, Pentatonix, and Fergie.

And – just like blondes – booty comes in twos as well. Over at Caesars Palace, it was Jennifer Lopez who set the stage on fire, performing with 25 musicians in her show: ‘the Best if Yet to Come’.

For pure class, it was down to the Las Vegas mainstays, the Bellagio and Mandalay Bay, who pulled out the stops with a luxury line up for New Year’s Eve 2014.

The Bellagio invited revellers to enjoy some ‘Five Diamond flair’. All five restaurants at the casino offered gastronauts fine dining from $158 to $575 per person.

Meanwhile at Mandalay Bay, it was time to Paint the Town Gold for ‘a night you’ll want to try to remember’. Not the catchiest strapline but a solid 8 out of 10 for funny.

The musical highlight at the Mandalay was Maroon 5 at the events centre. At the Light nightclub, it was Nicky Romero who had ravers rockin’ their socks off, as the sun came up for the first day in another year.

Of course, most of us will have enjoyed a more modest New Year’s Eve. When it comes to a little Las Vegas action, the answer is at your fingertips. Whatever and wherever you partied, let’s hope you have a lucky, prosperous, and fabulous 2015.

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Casino games, films, sports; we all like a bit of entertainment from time to time. But what about when two of our biggest loves – film and casinos – combine? Is the end result any cop or do these screen versions of our much-loved card and table games fall short of the real thing?

Thankfully, with today’s incredible technology and cinematic capabilities – as well as outstanding attention to detail – we have a wide variety of casino-based films to choose from, many of which are truly great films. They’re realistic, well acted, well researched, and enough action at the Blackjack tables to keep any player satisfied.

So when it comes to the big screen, which casino films have the best characters, the best casino games action, and the loveliest leading ladies? Which tells a great story but also gets the setting right?

Here’s our top five pick of the best casino films of all time…

Leaving Las Vegas

One of the most heart-wrenching films you’re ever likely to see, and arguably Cage’s best ever role, this is a tale of the seedy side of Vegas life in all its bright lights, glitzy, yet destructive glory. Drinking one’s self to death may not seem like an appealing topic for a film, and it’s certainly not one to watch if you want cheering up, but this stellar production from Mike Figgis, that deserves its place in the top five.

Film Facts: starring Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue, and Julian Sands, this film won Oscars for Best leading actor and actress, plus a further 32 wins and 19 nominations

The Cooler

This 2003 instant classic directed by Wes Kramer is based in an old-school Vegas casino, and focuses on the idea of reverse fortunes due to love and luck. You have mobsters, a corrupt casino director and a beguiling leading lady as well as fraud, deception and one of the best Craps scenes ever shot.

Film Facts: Starring William H Macy, Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello, this film was nominated for an Oscar, plus 12 award wins (including National Society of Film Critics awards) and 22 further nominations

Rounders

Another gritty, hard-hitting tale, this time of a reformed gambler who is forced to return to high-stakes poker to help save his troubled friend from being hounded by loan sharks. Made in 1998, this star-studded beauty has lots of action and a story of loyalty, love and loss at its heart. It is known for its excellent big name performances and considered by many as Matt Damon’s best ever role.

Facts: Starring Matt Damon, John Malcovich, Edward Norton, and Gretchen Mol, Rounders won a best actor award (from the SFCAA) and earned a Venice film festival nomination.

Casino

Take greed, power, deception, love, and murder, throw in a few mobsters, a trophy wife and mix it up inside a flashy gambling house Scorcese-style and what do you get? A cracking film with more action than you can shake a stick at. Sharon Stone sizzles as Ginger, Ace’s wife, while the casino scenes are action packed and atmospheric.

Film Facts: With an A-list cast including Robert de Niro, Sharon Stone, James Woods, and Joe Pesci, it’s no surprise that this received 1 Oscar nomination (best actress), 4 wins (including a Golden Globe) and 7 further nominations.

Revolver

There’s even more at stake in this illegal gambling crime drama from tough guy Director Guy Ritchie. Made in 2005, Revolver upped the stakes by taking away from the money aspect, and focusing on playing for life itself. Centred around a confidence trickster hell bent on revenge, this is pure entertainment from start to finish.

Film Facts: Starring Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, and Vincent Pastore this film won the 2008 Golden trailer award for Best Foreign Action Trailer.

These are just a few of our favourite casino films – but now it’s over to you. What are your favourite casino films of all time and why?

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If you like playing online casino games, then you’ll already be familiar with the fun, excitement and entertainment that they provide in the comfort of your own home. But where did such entertainment come from? And how did casino games evolve into the convenient form we can enjoy today?

You can’t argue with the ancients

Believe it or not, evidence of gambling games has shown up in archeological finds from the most ancient of sources – cave paintings! China, Rome, Egypt – each of these ancient cultures had some form of gambling game that involved playing for a stake. The Ancient Roman’s celebrated gambling during the Saturnalia feast, and there is a vase in the Vatican dating from around 530BC that depicts Achilles and Ajax head to head, not in battle, but at a board game.

Throwing a double six in many games today would be considered lucky, but did you know that this dates back to Ancient Greece, when the combination was known as ‘the throw of Aphrodite’? And don’t go thinking that all of these games are so ancient they have now completely disappeared – Keno originated in China 2000 years ago, and has changed very little in that time.

Popularity across the ages

The popularity of casino games spread across the globe, especially as travel became easier and more affordable, and as they found new locations and audiences, the games were adapted to suit the local players, creating lots of game variants and special rules – as well as new and more generous payouts.

As far as we know, there has never been a culture that has not enjoyed gambling games of some sort. Napoleon was a huge fan of the original Blackjack game, ‘Vingt-et-un’, while World War II soldiers adopted Craps as their game of choice in the trenches, and as we discussed in an earlier post, Nixon actually paid for a presidential campaign using funds from his poker wins.

The first ever casino

Despite the constant popularity of gambling games, there was no formal casino building until the 1600s, when officials in Venice tired of the illegal gambling that went on during festival time and decided regulation was the answer. It was closed in 1770, but by that time, the concept had already caught on – especially in America.

The U.S. played an integral part in the growth of casinos, with major cities such as New Orleans, St Louis and Chicago at the forefront of casino games provision, innovation and development. As casinos developed, they tailored their floors to suit their clientele, with whole areas designated to Slots and Video Poker, with a separate area for table games such as Roulette, Baccarat, and Craps.

Players were rewarded with comps such as free food and drink as they played – and free suites and ‘gifts’ as costly as a car for high rollers and whales. But the logistics of a bricks and mortar casino meant that people couldn’t always access the game they wanted to play because the casino didn’t provide that version, or the tables were full, or the geographical location made it difficult for people to get there in the first place.

It all moves online…

When the internet was created, it provided all sorts of new opportunities. When it became a standard household feature, the opportunity for online casinos sprung up, and a new era of casino games evolved. Players could now access their favourite games from the convenience of their own home, without any travel time or expenses and games became available around the clock, with all variations available.

There was no longer any need for free food and drinks, but online casinos offered alternative rewards such as Welcome bonuses and Reload bonuses, designed to enhance the overall online casino experience. Lately, things have improved even further as casinos have gone mobile, with a range of games now available on mobile devices – including iPads, iPhones, tablets and androids – and each boasting state of the art functionality and design.

We’ve come a long way – but it feels in many ways like this is just the beginning. What would you like to see from casino games in the future?

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Once again, the movie industry has chosen to take a classic film and turn it into a contemporary remake. Following in the footsteps of Alfie, Annie, and The Amityville Horror, The Gambler is the latest iconic film to be given a modern makeover. Now you may think it’s a fool’s errand to take a classic of such iconic status and give it a current twist – and we may be inclined to agree with you – but when the movie industry has dollar signs in their eyes, there’s no stopping them.

The rise in popularity of online casino games – particularly with the advent of mobile casino apps which make games more fun and accessible than ever – undoubtedly had a huge influence on Hollywood’s decision to revisit this casino-based drama. But how does the modern remake stand up to the old timer? Did the industry do a grand job or did it sink like a sack of stones?

The original version

Made in 1974, the original film starred James Caan as Jim Bennett – a self-loathing literature professor by day and a high-stakes gambler by night. It follows the story of Bennett’s struggle to come to terms with a gambling addiction and charts his actions as he runs up considerable debts, despite his wealthy background – first, to a Korean casino manager and then to a dodgy loan shark – and as he tries to correct the situation using his loved ones around him. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of rhetoric, self-denial and cringe-worthy bad decisions – and the casino scenes are tantalisingly authentic.

The modern remake

Released Christmas 2014, Mark Wahlberg steps into the shoes of the main man Jim, accompanied by Brie Larson as one of his concerned students and Jessica Lange playing a convincing role as Bennett’s wealthy mother. This Rupert Wyatt version certainly gives the original a run for its money, following the same plot as closely as possible but bringing the self-loathing element to the fore with Wahlberg’s signature pouting. When it comes to the action, the Blackjack moments definitely rival the original with some extremely atmospheric scenes that have you on the edge of your seat.

You can watch the official trailer here…

Some film facts

Our favourite line (2014 version) – ‘What’s wrong with you? You got brain damage?’

(Frank addressing Jim: a bit of a bombshell after listing Frank’s good qualities such as charm, looks, privilege and education).

So – which is best?

Remaking any classic cult film is a risky move, and the critics have certainly been active. We think the main plus of the modern version is Wahlberg’s performance, combined with a strong effort from (a notably bald) John Goodman as bad guy loan shark, Frank.

However, it seems that not everyone is in agreement – while Wahlberg’s acting was described as ‘dynamite’ by the UK’s The Guardian newspaper, Vulture dubbed his delivery as the ‘ultimate buzzkill’, pointing out that his rhetoric sometimes feels too staged. We think this is a bit harsh. Even though Caan was nominated for a Golden Globe for his killer performance – and was definitely more convincing – and although it doesn’t look like Wahlberg will receive any such attention, his was a notable effort, especially when you take into consideration that it was such a hard act to follow.

As for leading ladies, Miss Larson definitely has charm but Lauren Hutton is certainly more smoldering. You can watch a scene here and decide for yourself!

The IMdB website currently rates the modern version as 6.9, but the original pips it at 7.2 – and who are we to argue? A nice try guys – and great timing with Christmas, to give us a break from the usual trite – but sometimes, the original is just…better.

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Located on the east coast of the United States, in the middle of the mighty Grand Strand beach in South Carolina, Myrtle Beach is one of the country’s most tempting tourist destinations.

A winning blend of subtropical climate, and beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, make Myrtle Beach a winner for fun and sun loving visitors. In fact, it is estimated that more than 14 million people make the trip down South every year.

There’s one more reason why Myrtle Beach is such a crowd pleaser. Just three miles offshore, the casino cruise ships are open for business. In the last century, a three mile limit off the coast was set as the boundary of the United States. This was based on the distance a shore-based cannon could fire.

All Aboard

Entrepreneurs seized upon the fact that – if you took a boat into international waters – US laws did not apply. Simple: equip your boat with all the accoutrements a casino needs, load up with eager punters, and head out to sea for a distance of three miles.

Known as the ‘cruises to nowhere’, the casinos rapidly became big business. Happy holiday makers enjoyed the opportunity to have a flutter and the state’s political leaders soon realised there were revenue raising possibilities with the offshore betting boom.

Earlier this year, residents of Myrtle Beach and South Carolina were asked a simple question: would you rather raise infrastructure funding through a tax on petrol or through gambling?

These questions, however, related to land-based casinos. This would be a disaster for the casino cruise business which already operates legally. The last thing it wants is the introduction of land-based casinos.

Bet on Blue

The Myrtle Beach casino cruises operate mainly from the Little River waterfront which is also home to the annual Blue Crab Festival

There are several gambling boats, including the SunCruz Aquasino and the Big M Gambling Boat.

The SunCruz Aquasino is a 220 foot long boat that can accommodate 600 passengers. Trips normally last for five hours and a wide range of classic casino games are on offer, including blackjack, craps, and the ever-popular slots.

All You Can Eat Action

The Big M is a slightly smaller boat that claims to pay out ‘more jackpots than any other casino in South Carolina’. Games on board include Let It Ride, 3 Card Poker, and the ‘loosest’ slots. All it costs to enjoy a five hour trip is $25 and there is an all you can eat buffet on board.

Frequent Myrtle Beach visitor and casino cruise fanatic Todd Jones is a regular daytripper on the Big M Gambling Boat.

“Me and my family have been coming to Myrtle Beach for as long as I can remember. We live in Columbia and it takes less than three hours to get to the beach,” he said.

“The kids are grown up now so now my wife and I can do exactly what we want. The Big M is the third boat that Diamond Management have owned. The first time we tried a casino cruise, we sailed on the Southern Elegance. That was eventually replaced by the Diamond Girl Two and now the Big M.

“We enjoy the actual cruise as much as we enjoy ourselves playing at the casino. It’s a lot of fun and the staff are very patient. They are friendly and helpful because there are a lot of novice players to consider.

“I do remember one time when the surge was quite strong and the roulette chips flew all over the table. It definitely adds another dimension to the game,” he said.

Sing a Happy Thong

There is – of course – much more to Myrtle Beach than just the casino cruise business.

Crime writer Micky Spillane used to help judge the Miss South Carolina Pageant at Myrtle Beach in the 1950s. These days, you could face a fine or even arrest if you bare too much skin. Thongs are banned and revealing any portion of the buttocks is not permitted.

Country music lovers are also well catered for at Myrtle Beach. The Carolina Opry was opened in 1986 by Calvin Gilmore and has earned a reputation as the best country and western music destination outside of Nashville.

And Finally…

Struggling to choose a holiday destination for 2015? Of the 14 million annual visitors to Myrtle Beach, only 100,000 are from outside the US. So, if you want to experience some deep south hospitality, blue crab, and a famous cruise to nowhere, you know where to come.

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Just imagine: It’s Sunday, November 30, 2014, you live in Las Vegas and your old friend from out of town has decided to pay you a visit. You’re not a keen gambler but he really loves the action down at the strip. He’s up for a good time and you’re a trusted wingman.

You both head off to 221 North Rampart Boulevard, where the JW Marriot owned Rampart Casino is open for business. The Rampart bills itself as ‘the place where savvy gamers prefer to play’.

In reality, the Rampart Casino is a modest casino – popular with an older and more local crowd. It lacks the Bellagio bells and whistles. It doesn’t have the Steve Wynn wonder factor. It’s not the online option.

Stake and Steak

What it does have however are great slots, friendly staff, a bowling alley, a movie theatre, and a bingo parlour. Not forgetting, a highly-rated steakhouse and both Mexican and Italian restaurants.

Our anonymous hero is not a ‘savvy gamer’ but he enjoys the occasional flutter on the slots. As his excited friend works his way around the casino floor, he decides to gamble a meagre $20 on the infamous Megabucks progressive slot – just one of more than 1,000 machines ringing away.

Suddenly, the lights flash, bells ring. People lift their heads to see what’s causing the commotion. A smiling floor manager strides towards you. You’ve just won a jackpot – it’s massive – it’s huge – it’s mighty – it’s a financial behemoth. It’s what the business calls ‘a life changer’.

Megabucks Back Story

At this point, it’s worth giving you a little history about the Megabucks Progressive Slot Machine. First things first: if you want to play Megabucks, it has to be Vegas, baby.

The game is one of the most popular slots in Las Vegas and has created a clutch of millionaires in its 20 year old history. To win the jackpot, players need to gamble just three coins – $3. The primary jackpot is generated by a 750 game network, across 136 different Nevada casinos.

(Actually, there are Megabucks slots in California, New Jersey, and Mississippi but they don’t take a share from the massive Nevada pot. Their progressive jackpots are considerably smaller).

The odds of winning the Megabucks jackpot are pretty long – estimate vary from 1 in 17 million to 1 in 50 million. Whatever way you skin it, it was a very good night for our lucky Las Vegas local.

Collection Plate Karma

Back to the story. Now more than $14 million richer, our hero clearly thinks divine intervention was a factor behind his astronomical win. Just a few days after hitting the jackpot, he announces his intention to give all his winnings to charity.

He is keeping his identity secret but plans to build a new house of worship for his church, which currently holds its services in the local high school gymnasium. Let’s hope they reserve a front row pew for him and let’s hope God fast tracks him.

Any money left after the construction of the new church is to be donated to a variety of good causes throughout Las Vegas. Saintly behaviour from a man who lives in Sin City.

Our hero is the not the first jackpot winner to shrug his or her shoulders are hand the money to a good cause.

Crist Knows…

In 2013, Canadian Tom Crist won $40 million in the Calgary Lotto Max. Crist heard the news when he was enjoying a trip to Palm Springs. His wife of 33 years had died two years earlier of cancer. Crist decided immediately he would give all the money to cancer charities in a bid to beat the disease.

In Northern Ireland, EuroMillions jackpot winner Margaret Loughrey won £26 million on her way home from the local job centre. Loughrey was living on just £58 a week when she won the money

“I spent half of my adult life unemployed and the other half on the minimum wage so I know only too well how hard things can be,” she said. True to her word, Loughrey has already given more than half of her fortune away.

Finally, we head to Germany for the bittersweet story of Angela Maier. Maier was 63 when she won £330,000 playing the German national lottery.

Once the news of her win became public, the care home where her husband had died wrote her a letter asking her to pay towards his medical expenses. Instead of paying the bill, Maier drank five bottles of Champagne and tore up all 800 of her €500 notes and flushed them down the toilet.

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If you like playing casino games, you know that setting, atmosphere, choice and value are important. But with so many options out there, how do you choose where to play? We’ve done the research for you and checked out the gaming action in cities across the world, considering the choices on offer, quality of games, range of stakes and limits and comps (of course) to see how they compare. Here’s our verdict…

5: Gambling Cruise

Never thought of playing casino games on the high seas? Then you’re in for a treat. Not just equipped with a casino on board, gambling cruises can take you to several hot spot destinations in one single trip, so you can visit a variety of destinations without having to organise mammoth travel itineraries. Simply pick a cruise and it’ll all be done for you. Whether you fancy cruising the action in the Caribbean islands – Aruba, Curacao and Dominican Republic, for example – or you want to try a few Southeast Asian cities, you can choose a cruise that suits your needs. You get the benefit of sampling a range of casinos, their hospitality and their comps, making this a great choice for those wanting a gambling holiday with a difference!

4: Melbourne

A vibrant city that recognises arts and culture on a grand scale, Melbourne is the perfect spot for some serious casino games fun. Home to the Aussie Millions, played at Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex every year (think award-winning hotel, spas, weddings, restaurants and casino games all under one roof), casinos in this fabulous Australian city mean business. Whether you’re looking for poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat or pokies, you’ll be able to find a game in Melbourne – and in luxurious settings too. Although the Aussie attitude to comps isn’t as generous as its counterparts in America and Macau, this is a great destination for those looking for some classy action and a professional feel.

3: Viva las Vegas!

There’s no getting away from the fact that Vegas is a gambling capital that’s here to stay – and it deserves to be in the top five of any list. You may have expected Vegas to be in the number one spot, but as the world of gambling grows, so does the quality of what’s available, and so it was a tough (and close) call for the top three spaces. If you want glamour, glitz and plenty of comps, then Vegas is the place for you. The shows are unrivalled and the twenty-four hour games full of action. However, some of the casinos are getting a bit tired, and the clientele is often more holiday maker than casino games enthusiast, thanks to its fame. But this is Vegas, baby – so we really can’t complain.

2: Macau

Maybe some of you will be confused by the fact that we picked Macau over Las Vegas, but there are many reasons. Firstly, Macau feels less contrived compared to its older cousin, and secondly, it is home to the biggest casino in the world – which means unrivalled luxury. The lifestyle is cheaper in Macau, and although the action is fast and exciting, the overall atmosphere is more relaxed than Vegas. Convinced yet? Now becoming noticed as an excellent gambling holiday destination, we recommend you visit the place for a game or two before it gets overrun with holiday-makers and the atmosphere changes.

And in the number one spot…

1: Your own home

The reason we’re putting online casinos in the top spot is because of convenience, choice, value and accessibility. The beauty of playing online is that you can access your favourite games twenty-four hours a day in the comfort of your own home, without the added cost of travel expenses. You can also enjoy a wide range of stakes and table limits – from $0.01 per bet – so low stakes players and high rollers and everyone in between can find something to suit their bankroll. The range of games offers unusual variants, and progressive games offer some of the richest jackpots around – and because online casinos don’t require physical space, you’ll never have to wait for a game. There are no free drinks, but you can earn comp points to swap for merchandise, and the range of promotions is impressive. With this much on offer, it had to be our No.1.

What do you think? Did we get it right or have we completely missed the mark? We’d love to know your thoughts.

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It’s 1891, the United States of America. The Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago selling soap and baking powder. It will be 12 months before chewing gum arrives. In New York, Carnegie Hall has its grand opening with Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky conducting.

Mark Twain writes of a Gilded Age: a period of economic growth and high wages. Railroads are the backbone of industry, with immigration fuelling rapid growth in the western states. The United States is the economic giant of the world, leaving Europe in the shadows.

Skyscrapers climb higher. Inventors apply for more than 500,000 patents between 1860 and 1890. It is an age of prosperity, urbanisation, and invention. It is the perfect environment for the birth of the slot machine.

The First Spin

In 1891, the Sittman and Pitt company created the world’s first mechanical betting machine. The Brooklyn based business produced a five drum/reel poker machine.

Each reel had drawings of ten different playing cards. This totalled 50 cards which meant two cards were removed. Hence the machines were nicknamed ‘drop-card’ machines.

The dropped cards were normally the ten of spades and the jack of hearts. This made it very difficult for players to hit the jackpot Royal Flush. The machines cost a nickel a spin. There was no way to draw new cards. When the reels stopped – that was your hand.

Prizes were at the discretion of the bar. Nothing came out the machine. You would just let the barman know you had hit a pair and enjoy your free drink, cigar, or whatever was on offer.

Go West

The poker game was so popular, nearly every bar in New York City had at least one machine and it wasn’t long before they made the 3,000 mile journey to unofficial gambling capital of the world: San Francisco.

The Wild West lived up to its name. In San Francisco, there were more than 3,117 licensed bars – one bar for every 96 citizens. This proliferation made the city a gambling machine hot spot.

Enter Augustinus (Charlie) Fey. Fey was born in Vohringen, Bavaria on February 2, 1862. He was the youngest of 16 children and had been an apprentice as an instrument maker in a British shipyard.

Fey arrived in San Francisco in 1885 and got a job with the California Electric Works. After work, he would head out for a drink and was fascinated by the new mechanical poker machines arriving from the east. He decided to make his own.

In 1895, he completed his first machine: the elegantly named Fey 4-11-44. The machine looked like a grandfather clock and was based on the popular lottery game ‘Policy’.

Policy is a simple numbers game that dates back to the Italian lottery around 1530. Players would pick three numbers – known as a ‘gig’ – and 4-11-44 was a favourite with many people. These three numbers were known as the ‘Washerwoman’s Gig’.

Instant Win

Fey’s new wheel of fortune style machine bought into the superstition, with 4-11-44 being the $5 jackpot combination. The game was an instant hit. There is only one surviving example of the machine which is held at the Fey Collection in Nevada.

Buoyed by success, Fey quit his job and set up shop. Between 1896 and 1899, Fey continued to develop his games. Wins were still paid by an attendant because it was not (yet) mechanically possible for the machines to pay out.

In 1896, the Fey Three Spindle awarded prizes ranging from 5 to 25 nickels. Paid out when three spinning arrows landed in similar numbers. One year later, the Fey 6-Way allowed players to increase their stake – betting up to six nickels in one play for a bigger payout.

In 1897 the Fey Klondike introduced another aspect of slots gaming, by allowing players to bet on a preferred colour. Bet the right colour and you win. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle was put into place with the arrival of the 1898 Fey Liberty Bell with card symbols.

This machine was the first slot machine that could pay out awards automatically. To make this happen, Fey removed two of the reels. The new three reel machine would automate the entire process.

There is only one 1898 card Liberty Bell machine in existence. Fey saved it from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The following year, Fey would replace the card symbols with suit symbols, horseshoes, and the iconic Liberty Bell.

The new machine would set the standard for automated slots for years to come and provide the foundations for every slot machine since. More on this next time….

TO BE CONTINUED…

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We’ve looked at casino films and casino songs, but what about TV? Several million people watch TV on a daily basis across the globe, and millions of people play at an online casino every day – so you’d expect there to be some sort of crossover. We decided to check out whether there are any television shows worth watching that feature gambling and casino games.

You’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty – actual TV shows, not the high stakes poker or Vegas-based reality shows – and thankfully, the quality is high and the laughs are plenty. We’ve had a grueling few days watching a number of our favourite shows that feature poker, horse racing, and Blackjack etc (we know, it’s a hard life!!) and we’ve whittled it down to a list of ten. These are the first five of our top picks that we recommend you watch as soon as possible…

10) The Simpsons – Bonfire of the Manatees (2005)

Written by Dan Greaney and directed by Mark Kirkland

Episode 357, season 7

This is the episode that features Professor Pigskin – a fictional betting system that the characters use to predict the outcome of American Football games. Homer, of course, falls for the idea hook, line and sinker, but ends up losing a small fortune to the mafia thanks to one of the Professor Pigskin system’s tips. To repay the debt, Homer has to allow the Springfield Mafia to shoot an adult film in his home. As you can imagine, Marge’s reaction alone is worth the viewing.

9) The Office (US) – Safety Training (2007)

Written by B.J. Novak and directed by Harold Ramis

Episode 20 of season 3

Shown in the third season of the hit US show, Michael decides to prove to his colleagues that ’s working in an office is equally as dangerous as working in a warehouse. And in the background, as a side-story, you witness office life as office workers make bets on anything and everything – bringing you a doubly clever gambling story that highlights the banality of office life as well as the thing people will bet on to try and win. Truly hilarious.

Here’s a taster:

8) Derren Brown – The System (2008)

Shown on Channel 4, UK

This is an unusual episode for the magic and illusion show, and consists of Derren Brown creating a no-lose horse betting system that he relays to a member of the public, Khadisha, claiming it can beat the bookies. As Khadisha follows the system, we see her lucky streak of five successive wins. Her sixth bet is much bigger due to some coercion from the sow’s host – and the horse loses. But, of course, Derren proves himself – as always! – by having already intervened, predicting and betting on the winning horse. As a double whammy, the overall idea is to break down and reveal the thinking behind the fraudulent pyramid scheme.

You can watch the episode here on YouTube.

7) Friends – The One On The Last Night (1999)

Written by Scott Silveri and directed by David Schwimmer

Episode 127, Season 6

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that this episode is a masterpiece in comedy writing – and acting. The card game Cups is the star attraction, a ridiculous game invented by Chandler so that he can help out his friend Joey with some cash, without Joey feeling like a charity case. You don’t get the rules, and OK, it’s not a real game – but the concept is brilliant and it’s perfectly executed. This is comedy TV genius.

6) Black Books – A Little Flutter (2004)

Written by Dylan Moran, Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley

Episode 4 of Season 3

In this hilarious episode of the cult English comedy, the loveable rogue Bernard Black gets addicted to horse racing after nailing a small win on the ultimate English horse race: The Grand National. The episode ends with a hilarious high-stakes poker game, complete with cheesy gangster-style disguises, in which Fran bails Bernard out once again – highly recommended viewing. Watch this episode here – but we warn you, you’ll end up having to watch the complete series!

So, what do you think so far? Are these shows a big hit or miss in your eyes? Any new ones you weren’t sure about? Our top five will follow soon…

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Numbers can be baffling. For example: if you could fold a piece of paper 45 times, it would reach the moon. Casinos are all about numbers: big numbers, little numbers, winning numbers. Every table or card game has a statistical risk for both the gambler and the house.

So, when New Jersey grandmother Patricia Demauro grabbed the dice at the Craps table of Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa on May 23, 2009, she probably had very little idea that she would beat odds of… wait for it… one in 3.5 billion.

Long Shot

Just to put that in perspective. The odds of becoming President of the United States are one in 10,000,000; the odds of getting struck by lightning – one in 700,000, and the odds of shooting a hole-in-one on a par 3: one in 12,500, That sounds easy!

The fact that Mrs Demauro managed to hold onto the dice for an astonishing four hours and 18 minutes, and rolled them an unbelievable 154 times before hitting a seven is… to use the word correctly for once… incredible.

The odds of rolling a seven with two dice is one in six. In theory, you will hit a seven at least once with every seven rolls of two dice. It’s the most common number combination for a pair of dice (1+6, 2+5, 3+4, 4+3, 5+2, 6+1).

Test the odds yourself. Grab two dice and roll. Chances are, you will hit a seven fairly quickly. This simple exercise will make you realise just how remarkable Demauro’s performance was.

Rollin, rollin’, rollin’…

And it’s not as if Demauro was even a professional casino player. She had travelled to the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, in Atlantic City, with her friend John Capra because they both relished a little action at the tables.

Demauro decided to play things safe and propped herself up in front of one of the Borgata’s many penny slots. Meanwhile, her friend John decided to try his luck playing a few hands of three-card poker.

A few hours later, at 8pm, Demauro was bored and went to find her friend. He was in the poker room – directly opposite the Craps table. Demauro had only played Craps once before and was keen to improve her game. They decided to have a roll and test their luck.

There are 14 tables at the Borgata. At 8.13pm, Demauro bought into the game for $100 and was handed the orange coloured dice. It was her turn to be the shooter. She started to roll.

Snake Eyes and the Stickman

Craps can be a confusing game for the beginner. The Come Bet, the Hardway, the Inside Combination. All this and snake eyes, a stickman, pass lines, the boxman, and the shooter. If you’ve never played Craps before, you should take the time and learn.

A game of Craps starts with the initial roll – known as the ‘come out’ roll. It is either a four, five, six, eight, nine, or ten. Demauro rolled an eight. At this point, players bet the table.

Demauro rolled… and rolled… and rolled. By the time she crapped out and hit a seven, it was another day. Four hours and 18 minutes had passed and the dice had been rolled 154 times.

Prior to Demauro’s streak, there were a few claims to the Craps throne. In Las Vegas, a man known only as the ‘captain’ managed 147 rolls in 2005. Also in Las Vegas, Stanley Fujitake managed a three hour six minute streak at the California Hotel. Demauro eclipsed them both. (btw – the average amount of rolls before hitting a seven is about eight).

Demauro said: “I got on a roll and just kept going for about four and a half hours and I was learning the game as I went along. Most of the men that were there were really excited because I was bringing them good luck.

“There was a woman and we happened to catch each other’s eyes. She smiled at me, and I smiled and said, ‘I don’t know how to play the game.”

Demauro has never revealed how much she won on that fateful night but her winnings are estimated to be in the high $100,000s.

“It was a really a great table to be at, great vibes from everybody,” she said. “This was very exciting for me to be a part of history. I’ve visited Borgata many time and I always have a lot of fun.”

After her winning streak, the hotel treated Demauro and her friend to Dom Perignon, dinner and a complimentary suite. Nice job, Patricia…

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It’s that eureka moment. The moment when all the pieces fall into place and history is made. Most inventions are driven by a process of evolution and refinement: think scissors, light bulb, bicycle. The slot machine was no exception.

Our hero, Bavarian immigrant and mad inventor Charles Fey, has been making mechanical betting machines for nearly five years. He’s quit his job and business is booming. With each iteration, his product continues to improve.

Players can now bet more to win more, they can ‘choose a bet’ and play specific colours. His final enhancement: the machine can now pay out its winnings automatically. There’s no need to employ an attendant or distract a busy barman from his work.

Two’s Company, Three’s Perfect

Fey needed to reduce the number of winning combinations to enable a mechanical payout. To do this, he disregarded the poker win table format, which required five reels, and used three reels instead. This generated fewer winning combinations but made automation viable.

Now Fey was no longer using poker hands as the winning combinations, there was no need to exclusively use playing card iconography. To the card suits, Fey added horseshoes, stars, and the cracked Liberty Bells. 20 symbols in total with six winning combinations.

The machine was compact and sturdy: sheet metal reinforced by a brass frame, riveted and soldered together, standing on four sturdy feet. It was 1899. In the next 50 years more than half a million ‘Bell’ machines would be manufactured.

Until now, Fey had had little or no competition. Bars and gambling venues that wanted to offer players the chance to play the new Liberty Bell slot had to pay Fey a 50% commission rate. Fey flatly refused to share distribution or manufacturing rights with anyone.

A Business Jackpot

However, Fey couldn’t keep up with demand and – in 1907 – he teamed up with the Mills Novelty Company.

The Mills Novelty Company was a Chicago-based business, manufacturing coin operated vending machines. It started trading as the MBM Cigar Vending Company. In 1897, seizing on the popularity of the new gaming machines, the company produced the Mills Owl – an upright cabinet slot machine and a commercial success.

In 1898, founder Mortimer Mills sold a controlling interest of the business to his son Herbert who renamed the business to the Mills Novelty Company. Herbert’s collaboration with Fey in 1907 resulted in the Mills Liberty Bell. The basic design of the machine is still used in slots today.

Fruity Facts

In 1909, San Francisco banned the slots. There were about 3,300 machines in the city. To get around the law, Fey and his competitors turned back time and – once again – produced machines with no coin slots that paid out in drinks and cigars. Most of the manufacturers also relocated to more liberal Chicago.

Another technique for circumventing the moral minority, was renaming the machines ‘chewing gum dispensers’ and changing the symbols on the wheels from suit symbols to fruit.

The machines really did pay out in gum and the flavour of gum was often determined by the win line. This is where the cherry and melon symbols came from. The image of a pack of chewing gum is the origin of the classic BAR symbol.

In 1910, the Mills Novelty Company produced its most streamlined machine to date, which included a gooseneck coin deposit slot and fruit symbols on the reels Although each machine weighed more than 100 pounds, 30,000 were manufactured and the business was now international with significant sales in Europe.

In 1916, Mills made its final major contribution to the slot machine: the ‘jackpot’. Players could now completely empty the machine, if they hit correct combination of symbols.

Prohibition

With prohibition in 1919, the consumption and supply of alcohol was made illegal in the United States. The nationwide ban lasted until 1933. The slot machines ended up in the speakeasies and the cash payouts returned. Managers figured they were already breaking law with the sale of alcohol so why not bring back the cash payout.

The machines were also made both quieter and lighter, manufactured in wood with the bells removed. In Nevada, in 1931, gambling was legalised. Bugsy Siegel was one of the first casino proprietors to embrace the games, adding the exciting new machines to the casino floor of the legendary Las Vegas Flamingo Hilton.

As for the man who started it all. In January, 1944, Charles Fey sold his company to his long time foreman. He had spent 50 years in the business. In that time, he had never stopped improving, evolving, and developing his machines. He died nine months later at the age of 82.

By the end of the 1950s, the mechanical era was almost at an end and Big Bertha was about to make her electro-mechanical debut. Eight reels, 20 symbols per reel, and $150,000 if you wanted to own her.

Higher jackpots, multiple coin play, Bally… Money Honey… the bottomless hopper, and the 500 coin unattended pay out. Catch up on the electric generation next time in part three.

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We hear about many tales of massive jackpot paydays, both in Vegas and online, but there seems to be a popular recurring number amongst jackpot wins, with the figure $2.4 million popping up regularly. This recurring figure is a nifty amount to pocket, and has changed the lives of many. Probably the most famous case is that of Jennifer Lopez’s mum – though whether it changed her life, we very much doubt. Here’s a bit more info about some of the people who have pocketed this nice little earner…

J-lo’s mum gets (more?) millions

Let’s start with the best-known case… J-Lo recently relayed this story on The Tonight show, explaining how her mum was playing slots in the Borgata casino, Atlantic city, when she won a progressive jackpot. The story is that she phoned her daughter to tell her the news, initially calm and then screaming the details at the top her lungs (I think we’d scream too!). The host of the show, Jimmy Fallon, shared his own story of winning $200 with his dad in Atlantic City that very same night, playing the Wheel of Fortune slots machine. They were so delighted with their win until the next day when they woke up to front page headlines on the New York Post, saying that J-Lo’s mum had won the massive windfall on the Wheel of Fortune slots – the same machine they’d been playing! Here’s the interview with Jennifer Lopez on The Tonight Show that tells all.

Grandparents hit a jackpot that didn’t pay out for 20 years

Another example of a $2.4 million casino jackpot win is the middle-aged couple from New Hampshire, U.S.A, Linda & Walter Misco, who played at MGM Grand, Vegas, in August last year (2014). They decided to try their hand at Lion’s Share, the casino’s original progressive slot, which hadn’t paid out its jackpot for over 20 years. It is the most famous slot machine in the MGM casino, and is played on average every five seconds of every day. Walter & Linda staked $100 in total before bagging their massive payout. In an interview afterwards, they said they were delighted that they could now put their five grandchildren through their education.

A young man misses $314 million but still becomes a millionaire

Moving to lottery games, a 32-year-old man named Tarik Hawa won $2.4 million in 2013 on the Powerball section of the lottery – having only just missed the jackpot of $314 million. However, you can’t really feel sorry for the guys when his five numbers – 1, 17, 25, 37, and 44, made him an instant millionaire anyway. Hawa snagged the massive win after buying his ticket at a gas station in South Pasedena using the ‘quick pick’ system, and although he just missed the biggest windfall of all, he was pretty pleased with his new millionaire status, saying it would enable him and his wife to buy a house. A rather nice house, we might add! You can read more about his win in a press release here.

Games that offer a $2.4 million jackpot (and above) online

If you’re looking to play a game that offers a massive jackpot win, then there are a number of online slots machines that have progressive jackpots, which have reached (and broken through) the $2.4 million jackpot amount. Beach Life (currently at over $3.3 million at the time of writing) and Gold Rally, are two of the most popular online slots games due to their ever-ascending jackpot amounts. Gold Rally is the highest-paying online slots machine from Playtech, with a total of $9.1 million in wins paid out, closely followed by Marvel Ultimate Power and Magic Slots, each with a total payout of over $6 million to players.

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It’s 1963. In this year, Beatlemania will rock into life, Martin Luther King will be arrested fighting for civil rights, the Vietnam war will grind to gridlock, and a president will be assassinated.

These are modern times. The world is growing up. In Las Vegas, the casino business is booming and the city is busy earning its crown as the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’.

The Rat Pack is in full swing, with Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Junior holding court and bringing glamour to the strip. On the casino floor, it’s electric – literally. The mechanical machines have gone and the electromechanical motor is purring away.

Armless Action

As for the slot machine, the ‘one arm’ of the ‘one armed bandit’ is now purely for decoration. It’s a nostalgic nod to the days when a physical effort was necessary to spin the heavy reels. All you need to do now is press a button.

The big player in the 1960s is Bally Gaming. Founded in 1932, the Chicago based business, under the stewardship of founder Raymond Moloney, quickly became a market leader, manufacturing mechanical slot, vending, and pinball machines.

Moloney died in 1958 and the business wobbled. In 1963, it was bought by a group of investors and, in 1964, it debuted the world’s first electromechanical slot machine called the Money Honey.

The three reel machine was fully automatic and had an electric hopper. This meant it could hold very large quantities of coins which subsequently made wins much more spectacular. The jackpot of 200 coins was triggered when you lined up the three eponymous ‘Money Honeys’.

Serious Money

It was the ‘machine that changed Las Vegas’. Slots now had sound effects. They could be operated with the simple push of a button and the jackpots started to get serious. The Las Vegas dream of hitting the jackpot – and changing your life with just one spin – was now real. Even the Drifters got on the Money Honey bandwagon.

By the end of the 1960s, Bally’s dominance of the slots market was almost complete, with a 90% share of all slots operating in Nevada. The company went public and started swallowing up its smaller competitors. In 1975, Bally was the first gaming company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

On the casino floor, the action continued to evolve and heat up. Extra reels on slots meant bigger jackpots, as well as an increased number of symbols on each reel (the maximum set at 25). Stakes were also increased. Players could now gamble up to $100 on a single spin of the reels. The risk was greater but so was the reward.

Bally employed Norwegian mathematician Inge Telnaes to really push the envelope and enable the slots to pay the truly life-changing jackpots. He did this by using a random number generator to generate the winning lines.

Crunching The Numbers

Here’s the explanation: imagine a three reel slot machine, with 12 symbols on each reel. Statistically, the odds of hitting three cherries in a row are 1 in 1,728. With no house advantage, a $1 bet could win you a jackpot of $1,728 (the jackpot would probably be $1,700 with the house vig).

The only way to increase this jackpot is to increase the odds, by adding an extra reel (jackpot is now about $20,000) and extra symbols. This assumes that the machine has only one win line. In reality, there are many which reduces the jackpot further.

The problem is: in order to offer players a huge jackpot, you need a machine with a dozen reels and 100 symbols on each reel.

The genius of Telnaes was to get a random number generator to determine the wins and get the reels to merely represent this. Now the winning odds could be set by the casino. The operator could decide that three cherries will hit only once in a million spins. This enables a million dollar jackpot and makes the machine more attractive.

It worked. By 1990, slot machines accounted for two thirds of gaming revenue in Las Vegas. It’s a figure that remains the same today. Nearly three quarters of all casino floor space is filled with the singing sound of the slots.

Next week, we end our history of the slots with a look and what’s happening on the casino floor now and what the future could hold for lovers of the one armed bandit.

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Once up a time, Hollywood A-list stars who wanted to earn some serious yen or yuan would secretly hop on their private planes and head to Asia. Secure in the knowledge that their secret was safe, they would shoot a bizarre commercial for a Japanese or Chinese company, pocket the massive fee, and head quietly home.

Today, we have the internet. This means the world is a much smaller place and what happens in Tokyo no longer stays in Tokyo – or Macau. It ends up on YouTube.

Macau is the world’s biggest gambling destination and dwarfs both Las Vegas and Atlantic City – individually and combined. In fact, Macau casinos generated revenues of $44.1 billion in 2014. That’s more than seven times the amount of money created in Las Vegas. Macau is mighty. It dominates any and all competition.

And it’s this swagger that enables Macau – specifically the soon-to-be-opened Studio City Resort and Casino – to recruit arguably the world’s most revered film director to promote its launch.

A-List Action

In January, a 60 second trailer, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo Di Caprio, and Brad Pitt was previewed. The vignette is just a taster for the full nine minute ‘movie’ due for release later this year – presumably when the casino opens.

Entitled The Audition, the short film was written by Wolf of Wall Street screenwriter Terence Winter and has Di Caprio and De Niro competing for the same film part. Brad Pitt pops up in the background. His exact role is still a mystery.

Scorsese is one of the world’s finest directors, with films like Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Casino to his credit. The teaser is packed with some of his trademark cinematic tricks: quick zooms, sweeping shots, fast cuts, and a cool retro soundtrack.

Scorsese is more than happy to take the advertising dollar, having created and directed commercials for the likes of Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, American Express, and AT&T.

What makes this advert so exceptional is the supporting cast. Not only is Scorsese old school favourite De Niro in play, but it also features his new ‘go to’ actor Leonardo Di Caprio. These two Hollywood heavyweights plus Brad Pitt could open a movie.

Raging Billions

The Studio City Resort and Casino marketing team have clearly decided not to pull any punches on the budget. The actors are all pocketing $13 million each and the total cost of the production is $70 million.

However, in reality, it’s small change. The Studio City Resort has cost a staggering $3.2 billion. Modelled on Gotham City, and featuring both a Batman and Wonder Woman virtual reality ride, it is expected to open mid 2015.

The resort’s central skyscraper has two ‘asteroid holes’ through its core which incorporate a 130 meter high Ferris wheel. It will be the highest in Asia. There are 30 restaurants, a massive luxury shopping mall, a 5,000 seat stadium, and – of course – a state-of-the-art 500,000 sq ft casino.

The Rising Sons

The project is the work of the Melco Crown Entertainment group, a major casino operator with a collection of huge resorts. It’s two co-chairmen Lawrence Ho and James Packer are the sons of business legends Stanley Ho and Kerry Packer. They have big shoes to fill.

Although Macau’s casino revenue is enormous, a crackdown by the Chinese government in 2014 sent share prices tumbling. This all adds pressure to the launch of Studio City. It has to succeed. Perhaps this is why they’ve got Robert De Niro in to check the quantity of blueberries in the muffins.

Some advice: if you’re planning a trip to Macau to tread in the footsteps of De Niro and Scorsese and enjoy the thrills of Studio City, make sure your brush up on your Baccarat.

Baccarat is far and away the most popular game in Macau and the superstitious Chinese gamblers simply can’t get enough of it. Two thirds of Macau’s casino revenue comes from VIP Baccarat players.

Perhaps the next instalment of Scorsese’s mini-masterpiece will feature this iconic game. Pitt against De Niro at the table, as the Wolf of Wall Street pops Quaaludes and sells penny shares. Watch this space. We will be!

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Life is like a box of chocolates. In 1994, Forrest Gump, the Lion King, Friends, and the Sony Playstation all made their debuts. In the charts, Oasis and Blur were fighting it out. Kurt Cobain committed suicide, the Channel Tunnel opened and Charles and Diana called it a day.

Meanwhile… in South Africa… a small team of programmers, developers, and shrewd investors was about to rewrite the future of gambling. The casino was coming home and the online slot would lead the charge.

On the casino floor, things had been steadily progressing. The mechanical machines were now museum pieces and both video poker and video slot machines were ubiquitous.

Video Killed the Radio Star

It hadn’t always been like that. Inventor Walt Fraley and the Fortune Coin Co. had released a video version of a classic ‘Bell Slot Machine’ in 1975. The machine was not well received.

There were trust issues. Patrons complained that they couldn’t see the reels spinning. They were uneasy about the new video game, despite the fact the video slot had been rigorously tested by the Nevada Gaming Board.

Undeterred by the video slot’s lukewarm reception, SIRCOMA – which stood for Si Redd’s Coin Machines – bought the Fortune Coin Co. and continued development. A video version of draw poker was released in 1979 and was an instant smash hit.

Shy players who were wary of playing live could now enjoy a game of poker at their leisure, away from the crowd. People got used to the idea of the video screen, money was won, and the foundations were laid for a future of video gaming.

Poker Wins

SIRCOMA changed its name to IGT (International Gaming Technology) and the popularity of both video slots and poker boomed throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

There were no physical or mechanical constraints. Games could now have the lure of second screen bonus rounds: a feature developed in Australia and first introduced in 1994, with the game Three Bags Full.

Multi-line payouts were also possible. Players could increase their stake and bet on several win lines – up to 1024. Games were also themed on films, music, or popular entertainers. Graphics and animation were now part of the package, adding to the overall experience.

The main attraction of the new video games was their ability to offer players huge jackpots, by using a random number generator to create the odds and having as many virtual symbols on a reel as the jackpot dictated.

A virtual three-reel game, with 256 symbols on each reel, would have 16,777,216 possible combinations. This allowed the manufacturer to offer players a million dollar jackpot on a $1 bet, safe in the knowledge it will happen only once in every 16.8 million spins.

The technology also enabled slots to be linked. Not only in casinos but nationwide. The global progressive game depended on a good Internet connection.

The Internet Explodes

Now… back to South Africa. By 1994, the Internet has 25 million users and ebusiness is the new business. Spam is just starting to appear, Yahoo is launched, and people are asking ‘what is the Internet, anyway?’

Microgaming is a small start up business with a great idea. In April 1994, it launches the world’s first online casino. The Internet will never be the same again.

In the next three years, Microgaming continues to enhance its product with player tracking and casino management. It stops trading as an online casino and focuses purely on game development. It also relocates to the Isle of Man.

Meanwhile, more players enter the gaming software development market. Playtech, Cryptologic, Real Time Gaming, Wagerworks, Boss Media, IGT, and many others all stake their claim for a slice of the online casino pie.

And what a pie it is. Currently, the online casino market continues to grow. In 2018, it is forecast the EU 28 countries will generate a market worth €3.3 billion.

Send in the Clones

And the games? Today, anything is possible. Initially, online developers emulated the casino games of their real world cousins. Note perfect versions of all the classic games like blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat soon appeared.

Slots started off as clones but rapidly became much more, taking full advantage of every leap forward in computer technology. As our laptops, tablets, and PCs became more powerful, the games got better.

Now you can play a slot on your phone or marvel at Hollywood-style animations, games have a narrative which encourages repeat play and loyalty. Online slots are no longer just three spinning wheels. They can be a complex and engaging form of entertainment.

Charles Fey started the reels spinning more than 100 years ago. Now, you can play in 3D, with friends around the world, or for a jackpot that could change your life for ever.

The history is over but – next time – we look to the future and speculate on the slots. What will the next century hold for the spinning reels?

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All’s fair in love and war. In the battle between player and casino, the spoils are shared and the odds are no secret. The casino’s profit is represented by the house edge: the margin of money that ends up staying at the table, when all the bets are paid.

It’s no secret that a casino wants to make a profit. It’s a business. Some games – like Craps – give players a good edge. Some games – like the lottery – are a long shot. Play them for fun – not profit.

As with most things in life, there are good players and bad players. This week, we are looking at the crème de la crème of casino players. These are the people that didn’t need to cheat to beat the house.

The Card Counter

These days, every casino on the planet knows about card counting. They’ve even made films about it. However, in the early 1960s, the phrase ‘card counting’ didn’t even exist.

Edward Thorp – a mathematics professor with a masters in physics and a doctorate in mathematics – is the father of card counting and the man who invented the original system.

After a visit to Las Vegas, he became fascinated with the game of Blackjack and convinced himself that there was a way to beat the odds. He was right. First, he taught himself the programming language Fortran. Next, he used the code to program a massive IBM 704 computer to carry out billions of calculations.

The calculations analyzed the game of Blackjack and determined that the probable outcome of a hand was related to the cards remaining in the deck.

Thorp had discovered an edge. In a nutshell: if there were a lot of picture cards in the deck, the player had a 1% to 5% advantage over the house.

Casino bosses were mystified. No one knew what card counting was so they couldn’t figure out how Thorp continued to win. They studied. They watched. They gave up and just asked him to leave.

Thorp went on to make millions on the stock market and was eventually inducted in the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

The Wheel Watcher

Roulette wheels are precision instruments but they are not perfect. This simple fact made Spaniard Garcia-Pelayo an estimated $1.5 million before he called it a day and had been banned by every casino on the planet.

His crime: nothing. All he did was exploit wheel bias by watching and watching and watching and watching. Every roulette wheel has a certain bias. It could be the size of the wheel, the balance, variations in pocket size, or the gears of the mechanism.

Garcia-Pelayo would spend hours staring at a wheel watching 1000s of spins. He even got his kids to help him count. He would analyze the results with a computer to discover the roulette wheel’s hot numbers.

Using this information, he could turn a 5% house edge into a 15% player edge. It worked. Garcia-Pelayo cleaned up in Spain before he was forced to move to Las Vegas where he employed the same modus operandi and made a million.

One casino tried to sue him but the court ruled in his favour saying all that Garcia-Pelayo had done is use ‘ingenuity and computer techniques”.

The Dice Man

Known as ‘the Man with the Golden Arm’ and ‘The Dominator’, Dominic LoRiggio is the perfect partner for a game of Craps at the casino. LoRiggio spent years learning ‘controlled shooting’ and can throw dice to order.

LoRiggio’s skilled dice rolling technique was not illegal. It just took a lot of practise. He would toss the dice so they stayed together in the air and took a gentle bounce off the back cushion.

Armed with his arm, LoRiggio hit the strip and cleaned up. These days, casinos make shooters throw the dice in different ways to prevent another dominator cleaning up.

The Bonus Better

With so many online casinos plying for your trade, it’s not surprising that the cautious better who’s prepared to play by the bonus rules, can bank a profit. In January, 2015, Andrew Napier bought his dream car – an Aston Martin Vantage – thanks to money he had made playing at a variety of online gaming sites.

There’s no technique here. It was just a simple a case of taking your time, playing smart, and being very patient. Napier was disciplined enough to stick to the rules and win.

Have you got what it takes to play and win? These are just smart people who stuck to the house rules and cleaned up. If you can think of an angle, you could have an edge! Play safe. Play sensible and good luck.

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Predicting the future is a risky business. In fact: it’s the business that casinos and sportsbooks are built on. In 1994, the world’s first online casino hit the Internet. It’s been 21 years. Where is it now and what does the future hold?

It’s ironic: today, one of the most innovative areas in online gaming technology development is creating the perfect virtual casino. That is: a rendered representation of a real world casino in a virtual world. It’s a little bit like using a computer to develop the pen and paper.

Developer Lucky VR describes itself as a ‘virtual reality provider’. The Toronto-based business offers players an ‘immersive experience’ and is busy developing casino applications for both the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR headsets.

Blackjack Galactica

Users will be able to walk around note perfect virtual versions of the world’s most popular casinos. They will be free to wander, play a slot machine, roll the dice at the Craps table, chat with friends at Blackjack, or even have a virtual cocktail at the casino bar.

Although virtual representations of real world casinos are an amazing branding tool, and a great way for curious gamblers to experience the character of a casino on the other side of the planet, the potential for ‘the fantastic’ is where the fun’s at.

RiftSino is Lucky VR’s showcase and designed exclusively for the Oculus Rift. It mimics a Las Vegas style casino. Getting the detail right is key to its success, according to Lucky VR CEO Jeff Lande.

“When I saw the potential of the Oculus Rift and virtual reality I knew that it would have an immense impact on many different industries, including casino gaming. I created Lucky VR to become the leading software VR development studio for VR casino content.”

“VR software development is extremely specialized, compared to developing for other platforms like web or Android/iOS. There are so many more factors that go into creating great VR games/apps that you really need to have VR experts on board,” he said.

To Boldly Bet

The idea of the virtual casino is not new. Developers have been toying with the concept since online gaming started. Poker platform PKR uses lifelike avatars to create a more ‘rounded’ gaming experience and it works.

Up until now, the problem has been the supporting technology but we are now boldly entering the VR age. Microsoft recently announced the HoloLens and it looks stunning. Facebook bought Oculus and both Sony and Samsung are in the game. It’s coming.

Adult and gambling websites are both at the forefront of developing innovative ways to use new technology. You can guarantee the 3D virtual casino is coming soon, as well as the virtual companion.

Tall Stories

Another significant development in online slots is the narrative. As we play online, casinos can track our behavior. More and more games now have extra incentive to keep playing.

Slots reward loyalty with rankings and extra bonuses. In certain games, you earn extra money by being an ‘online slot frequent flyer’. Many games carry dynamic animations and engaging storylines, which all help to keep players involved.

Online casinos have been available on mobile devices for some time. In the household, devices like Chromecast enable us to consolidate all our mobile devices and broadcast them to the same screen.

Jeux Sans Frontieres

All we really know for certain is that online gaming will be at the vanguard of technological development in the next century. It’s a competitive and profitable business and these two attributes drive innovation.

For the past 21 years, online gaming has developed at an exponential rate. It took more than a century for the mechanical slot machine to evolve – the online version is light years faster. Wherever there is an advance in either the delivery method or medium, online gaming is close behind with an application to suit.

Combine holograms and interactive storylines and you can visualize a future where you are playing the part of a dwarf, heading into the mines of Morder, to fight for the gold – literally. Beat the dragon and the jackpot is yours!

Alternatively, you could just book the weekend off, lock yourself in your room, grab a gorgeous virtual friend, and head to all the casinos of Las Vegas.

The virtual experience would give casinos the chance to comp players by rewarding them with exclusive online virtual experiences: live shows, one-to-one performances, or the chance to hang out with the celebrity of your choice. The possibilities are endless, exciting, and a little bit scary. Bring it on.

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Chips… for a citizen of the United States, a chip is a deep fried, thinly cut, slice of potato. In the UK, chips are served with battered fish, wrapped in paper, and eaten with a wooden fork. In the casino, the chip means only one thing: money.

On August 23, 2011, Anthony Carleo was sent to prison for between nine and 27 years. The self-described ‘Biker Bandit’ or ‘Cranberry Kid’ admitted robbing the Bellagio and Suncoast casinos. His father – a former Las Vegas municipal judge – was at the sentencing in Clark County District Court.

Ocean’s One

Carleo’s crime was common enough. On December 9, 2010, dressed in black and wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet, he had walked into the craps pit area at the Bellagio and grabbed more than $1.5 million in casino chips, including many cranberry coloured chips worth a cool $25,000 each.

Earlier in the year, he had used the same modus operandi to steal $18,945 from the Suncoast Casino. He had used a weapon for both robberies and made his escape on a motorcycle.

What makes this sad case so fascinating lies in the casino chips that Carleo stole.

The Bellagio is a high end destination and takes its security very seriously. High value chips at the casino are embedded with a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). This means they can be instantly deactivated and rendered unredeemable.

Immediately after Carleo left the casino, the chips were worthless. In effect, he robbed a whole lot of nothing.

Chip Shape

For several years, RFID chips have been a vital part of the security armoury for many casinos. Increasingly, they are also becoming a key component of a casino’s marketing strategy.

The chips are almost impossible to counterfeit and allow casinos to track player behaviour and movement. Ultimately, it can enable casinos to reward players depending on their betting activity.

Gaming Partners International Corporation is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of casino chips and gaming furniture. President and CEO Gerard Charlier said: “We believe that within the next ten years, RFID-embedded casino currency will be the norm around the world, and that casinos will look back on the time before RFID as the dark ages of player tracking and anti-fraud efforts.”

Although gambling has been around since one caveman bet another that their friend would get eaten by the Sabre-toothed tiger, the casino chip didn’t appear until the late 19th century.

Chips and Dips

Clay composite chips were produced to clear the clutter of gold coins, ivory, bone, and nuggets from the casino floor. Initially used at the poker table, the chips would soon be everywhere. By the 1930s, as Las Vegas blossomed, the casino chips were branded.

In fact, today an original $5, die-cut casino chip, with brass inlay, from the 1946 opening of Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel is worth more than $4,000. If you are lucky enough to have a 1950s era $5 chip from The Sands, that would be worth in excess of $30,000. That’s one way to win a lot of money at the casino: don’t spend the chip, store it for posterity.

Some casinos are crafty with their chips and produce commemorative editions. The Hard Rock Casino produced some limited edition chips featuring famous musicians, safe in the knowledge that people would pay for the $25 chip and just keep it. It’s basically an uncashed cheque.

Early security methods for chips included elaborate artwork, serial numbers, and UV markings. Although the best security remains the croupier’s familiar touch. Even so, all casinos are legally required to have an alternate set of chips ready to deploy in case of fraud.

For now, it would seem that RFID chips are the future. Casino security is critical. People are always trying to beat the house – one way or another. Anthony Carleo thought he had got away with a lifetime’s supply of chips. With a flick of a switch, his stack was reduced to rubble.

Meanwhile, RFID innovators Gaming Partners International Corporation announced a deal last year to supply $6.4 million worth of chips and high value plaques to Macau. It’s fairly safe to assume these will be RFID enabled.

If you are betting in a casino, then the chances are that big brother is probably watching your every move and possibly tracking every play you make. There is an alternative of course: play online.

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The new Fifty Shades of Grey film may be getting a mixed reception from critics but the kinky tale of Anastasia Steele’s erotic baptism of fire, at the hands of horny billionaire businessman and S&M aficionado Christian Grey, is a cultural phenomenon.

The core of the book – Steele’s relationship with Grey – is essentially all one big gamble. Should she or shouldn’t she? Should she go into the Red Room? Should she bow to his kinky will? Should she surrender to his warped charms? (Spoiler alert: she does).

The book’s prose is awful. The film is mediocre and underwhelming. Despite this, Fifty Shades of Grey has enraptured a generation and sold more than 100 million copies world wide.

Sex and gambling has always been a seductive combination. In Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the strip clubs sit alongside the casinos. Players are driven by the thrill of the chase, the adrenalin of the win, and the shear excitement of the game. Motivators which can apply equally to both gaming and dating.

Bunny Money

Hugh Hefner’s world famous Playboy Clubs elegantly combined gaming and girls. Bunny girls mingled with men in sharp suits. Everyone could be James Bond, with a beautiful girl on their arm, at the Baccarat table for an evening.

The formula worked: in 1981, the Playboy Club, at 45 Park Lane, in London, was the most profitable casino in the world and contributed £32 million to the Playboy empire.

James Bond is defined by his lust for gambling and sex. He is the archetypal playboy with an added twist of violence. He is man who loves the casino and the company of the opposite sex. Anastasia Steele would love Bond post Grey.

Indecent Proposals

In 1993, the film Indecent Proposal featured yet another randy rich man making a play for the younger lady. This time, it’s billionaire John Gage, played by Robert Redford, who offers David (Woody Harrelson) a million dollars to spend the night with his wife Diana (Demi Moore).

After losing their bankroll with a rather unwise all-in bet on roulette, they accept the offer. The film was both controversial and not very good. It won seven Razzie Awards, including worst Actor, Actress, Director, and Original Song.

In real life, spare a thought for the wife of Russian poker player Andrei Karpov. In 2007, Karpov was drawing blanks playing poker and had blown his stack. In order to stay in the game, Karpov put his wife Tatiana up as the stake.

He didn’t win. His opponent Sergey Brodov went to Karpov’s house to claim his prize. Tatiana went along with it. Divorced Karpov and eventually married Sergey. “Sergey was a very handsome, charming man and I am very happy with him, even if he did “win” me in a poker game,” she said

One way to sex up your gambling is to make an outrageous bet. French weather girl Doria Tillier ended up presenting the weather in her birthday suit, after losing a bet that the French national team would qualify for the World Cup.

True to her word, Tillier stripped off, after France overturned a 2-0 deficit to win and qualified for Brazil. On her big day, the forecast was for a particularly cold front!

The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey and online gaming are proof that humans will always be human. Our innate curiosity and lust for life are what makes the world go round. We can’t resist the thrill of the chase or the excitement of the win.

Of course, if you’re playing online: it’s always clothing optional! Finally… a joke.

Two bored croupiers are standing at the craps table when suddenly a beautiful young woman walks up to the table and says she wants to bet $10,000 on the roll of the dice but she wants to play in the nude.

The croupiers eagerly agree and the woman duly strips off. She rolls the dice and jumps up and down, screaming: “I’ve won… I’ve won…”. She hugs both dealers, grabs the winnings, picks up her clothes, and heads for the exit.

One croupier looks at the other and says: “What did she roll anyway?”. The other replies: “I don’t know. I thought you were looking!”

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It’s gambling Jim, but not as we know it… Scratch beneath the surface of some of the world’s most famous casinos and you will discover a wealth of obscure, little known, games.

We have all enjoyed an evening at the blackjack table or spent a night spinning the roulette wheel but have you ever played La Boule, or Trente et Quarante, or Red Dog?

Although hard to find, some of these relatively unknown casino games are worth seeking out. It’s often the case with casino games that: the more complicated they are, the lower the house edge. If you learn the rules, you improve your chance of walking away a winner.

Some of these games are just minor variations or tweaks of the classics. Others are completely unique and unlike anything you have ever played before. It’s true what they say: variety is the spice of life. So, get ready for a well-seasoned smorgasbord of spicy action.

La Boule

Vive La France. You can always count on the French to do things differently. In fact, several of these obscure games have French roots. La Boule is basically a simplified version of roulette, with a spinning wheel, betting table, and a rubber ball.

Although there are still 36 numbered holes, the numbers range from 1-9 and are repeated four times. The number 5 is the same as the 0 in roulette and negates all colour bets.

In La Boule, you have a much better chance of hitting your favourite single number but the odds are much lower. The house edge is around 11.11%. You can find La Boule mainly in European casinos.

Seven and a Half

Seven and a half is a game similar to blackjack, popular in Italy (Sette e Mezzo), Spain (Siete y Media), and Brazil (Sete e Meio). The basic aim of the game is to collect cards that total as near as possible to 7 and a half.

The game is played with a 40 card deck – eights, nines, and tens removed. Aces count one point, 2-7 as per card, face cards are half a point. You make a bet and get a card face up, you then hit or stand – blackjack style – to try and get as close to 7.5 as possible. Go over, you bust.

The dealer then draws – stopping at five points. All wins pay even money. The house edge varies according to the amount of decks of cards used.

You can enjoy a game of Seven and a Half in Italian, Spanish and Brazilian casinos. It’s also an option at the Conrad Punta del Este Resort and Casino in Uruguay.

Russian and Oasis Poker

These two variants of Caribbean Stud Poker are worth taking the time to learn because they both extend the game and improve the player’s odds of winning.

In both Russian and Oasis poker, the player can change one to five cards at the cost of the ante. In the Russian game, you can also buy a sixth card to improve your hand. In both games, the bonus bet pays from the straight.

These two variants on stud can be found in East European casinos. Oasis poker can be enjoyed at the Casino Helsinki in Finland. You can find Russian Poker at the Hotel Casino Mulino in Croatia.

Trente et Quarante

Trente et Quarante – Thirty and Forty – is unlike any other card game. Also known as Rouge et Noir (Red and Black), this 17th century game has a French heritage and requires a special table to play.

It has a great edge for players and can be found in Monaco’s world famous gambling rooms and in other casinos in France and Italy. It’s basically a combination of roulette and baccarat with players betting on black, red, colour, and inverse.

Without getting too tied up in the specifics of the rules (they can be found here), basically players choose either the red hand or the black hand. Cards score points and live hands total between 30 and 40 points. The lowest hand wins.

The only involvement players have with the cards is making a bet. Only the croupier handles the cards. The game is more than 300 years old but has a very generous player edge. It’s worth searching out.

In conclusion: if you’re looking for something a little different and fancy your chances in a European casino, there are some very interesting games waiting for your attention. Learn the rules and take advantage of some of these vintage classics with a low house edge.

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Do you say ‘touch wood’? Are you careful to avoid walking under ladders? Is it panic stations when a black cat crosses your path? Have you got a lucky charm that you always take to the casino?

In February and March this year, there are two Friday the thirteenths. Will you be hiding behind the curtains or throwing caution to the wind and logging on to your favourite online casino?

Always After Me Lucky Charms

Believe it or not, in the USA only 40 per cent of the population believe in evolution. At the same time, more than half have some kind of superstition: from knocking on wood, to opening umbrellas indoors, and lucky charms.

In the world of gaming, luck plays a huge role. Certain classic casino games like blackjack and poker have a degree of strategy which can help the skilled player maximise his or her return.

However, games of pure chance – like roulette or keno – depend entirely on the turn of the wheel and the good will of Lady Luck.

Shakes and Ladders

Superstition is broadly defined as ‘an irrational belief or action that is inconsistent with science’. It’s also completely random, deep rooted in the human psyche, and enduring.

Halloween is an advertisement for superstitions,” says Tom Gilovich, professor of psychology at Cornell University. “One of the interesting things about superstitions is their seemingly arbitrary nature. Why 13? Why black cats? Why ladders. Don’t walk under that ladder – it has no rational bearing.

“But now you feel like you’re tempting fate and the outcome could be worse because you deliberately did something that people told you not to do. Superstitions have the power to overcome your rational brain,” he said.

Chinese Whispers

When it comes to casinos, superstition, and luck, Chinese gamblers are probably the most wary. They serve up an all-you-can-eat buffet of routines, rules, and rituals to maximise their winning potential at the tables.

If you’re playing craps in Macau, here are some hints to boost your luck and help you avoid incurring the wrath of your fellow players.

Feng Shui plays a huge part in the Chinese game. According to this ancient philosophy, the world is full of both positive and negative chi which can be manipulated.

Entering a casino through the main door is considered unlucky. Players should try to enter from the west and then keep to the west side of the room. It’s also auspicious to find a spot where you can see the door.

Wear red. Red – as you can see from the Chinese flag – is considered the lucky colour and represents joy and good fortune. To ensure a winning streak on the slots, make sure your budgie smugglers or lingerie is of a cerise persuasion.

Avoid books. A lot of Chinese superstition is based on language and words sounding similar. The Chinese word for book sound like the word ‘lose’ making the complete works of Shakespeare a faux pas at the pai gow party.

No Sex Please, We’re Blackjack Players…

No sex and no shoulders: physical contact is frowned upon. It’s considered both rude and bad luck to touch someone’s shoulder when they are at the tables. It’s also unlucky to have sex before hitting the casino.

There are many more Chinese superstitions. Numbers are critical – the number 8 is the luckiest. An inward belly button is auspicious. You must feed the baby ghost behind every gambler. You should leave the lights on at home. The list goes on.

It’s not just the Chinese who are superstitious. Franklin D Roosevelt suffered with paraskevidekatriaphobia and would never travel on Friday the 13th. Guns N Roses singer Axl Rose refuses to play in any city beginning with the letter M, believing the letter is cursed.

Even weirder: Transformers star Megan Fox always listens to Britney Spears when she flies because she believes it is not her destiny ‘to die listening to a Britney Spears album’.

Believe it or not, superstition can make a difference. Researchers found that anxiety and nervousness can affect performance. This is why professional athletes are very susceptible to superstition.

The Good News (Just as Well You Crossed Your Fingers)

If a lucky charm or specific routine can reduce anxiety, it can improve performance by making the player more confident. This has been scientifically tested.

Researchers gave two sets of golf balls to different groups of players. One group was told the balls were ‘lucky’. The lucky group were 35 per cent more likely to make their putts. Perception can aid performance.

Poker players know the phrase ‘in the pocket’ and casino players can be ‘on a roll’. Confidence can improve decision making and – by default – improve the outcome.

So… Don’t by shy. The next time you are enjoying a little online action at your favourite casino, feel free to play with your left hand, wear red pants, glue a lucky horseshoe to the monitor, or walk backwards patting your head after every win. It might just improve your game!

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Imagine: you’re 21 years old, your image is tacked to the wall of a thousand teenage girls, you are one fifth of the world’s most popular boy band. What are you going to do on your night off?

If your name is Harry Styles, it looks as if like to unwind at the roulette table and enjoy an evening in your favourite casino.

Young Mr Styles was spotted this month at the Crown Casino, in Melbourne, with his fellow band mate Niall Horan. According to Twitter, Harry won £350 and danced around the casino, hugging fans, and generally making merry.

To be honest, Styles, who is worth an estimated $23 million and is one of the youngest pop singing millionaires on the planet, probably didn’t get too excited about his win but he clearly enjoys a little bit of action at the Crown.

Big Down Under

The Crown Casino is the largest casino in the Southern Hemisphere, with a main floor that is a third of a mile long. It has hosted the likes of Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, and Justin Timberlake.

Two years ago, all of One Direction were spotted at the same casino. Styles was playing roulette in the casino’s VIP area – the Pearl Room. Harry even has a tattoo on his shoulder that reads ‘17BLACK’. No prizes for guessing what his single number roulette bet is.

It would appear that Australian tours bring out the player in Harry. As band mate Niall kisses a girl (turning swarms of heart-broken girls into vicious Twitter trolls), Harry settles down for a night at the roulette table.

Cal Neva

Celebrities, casinos, and gambling have been bedfellows ever since Sinatra strutted his swinging stuff at the legendary Cal Neva Resort and Casino on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

Cal Neva was built in 1926. Judy Garland was discovered there in 1935 – performing as Frances Gumm, aged just 11. In the 1950s and 1960s, the casino was in its prime, hosting celebrities like the Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Clara Bow, and the Rat Pack: Sinatra, Sammy Davis, and Dean Martin.

Sinatra owned the resort briefly. In its heyday, it was where celebrities came to take time out and play blackjack, craps and the slots. It’s exactly where One Direction would be seen today.

(In fact: last year, it was announced the Cal Neva Resort was to get a $29 million makeover. At the time of writing, the new opening date is set for early 2016. Perhaps, Harry can walk in Frank’s footsteps one day).

A-List Action

Today’s A-list action hunters are a mixed bunch. Demi Moore’s ex-husband Ashton Kutcher is a massive fan of sports betting and once headed a gambling syndicate that raked in $750,000 on college football in a single month.

50 Cent, Charles Barkley and Charles Sheen also all love to bet the sports book. 50 Cent aka Curtis Jackson famously ‘followed the voices in his head’ and won a cool $500K. Not bad for a hunch.

Casino loving celebrities are easy to find. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s well documented love of poker is reflected in the fact that Affleck won the California State Poker Championship in June 2005 and Damon is a regular in the World Series of Poker.

George Clooney, Tobey Maguire, Jennifer Tilly, Martin Sheene, Matthew Perry, Denni Rodman are all poker fans. Some with major wins to their names.

For straight up casino action, it’s often the celebrity sportsmen who take to the tables. Tiger Woods is rumoured to play $25,000 hands of blackjack and Michael Jordan often tries to slam-dunk it at the craps table.

McCain’s Casino Chips

Gladys Knight – yes, the one with the Pips – was once a huge fan of baccarat. One time presidential nominee John McCain is renowned for the occasional 12 -24 hour session at the craps table.

Psychologist Frank Farley, from Temple University in Philadelphia, thinks there is an underlying reason why so many celebrities seek succour at the slots and relief via the roulette wheel

“Many people who get to the top in sports, politics or business thrive in uncertain, challenging, situations from an early age,” he said. “They have thrill-seeking personalities – defined as having a strong appetite for change, novelty and a desire to test their own limits.

“These are people who are not just confident but believe they have control over their own destinies,” he said, ”

Combine this with the legendary hospitality of Las Vegas and their code of discretion and you can see why a night at the casino is such an attractive proposition for a paparazzi-pursued celebrity.

The chance to kick back, have some fun, and bank a winner. Don’t worry Harry. You are in great company.

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Everyone loves a little action at the casino. The rattle of the roulette wheel, the turn of the card, the surge of adrenalin when the reels start to spin in your favour. It can be a lot of fun and – if you play your cards right – there is money to be made.

Lady Luck is the perfect partner for an evening at the tables. Although, she sometimes needs a little encouragement before making an appearance. Stick to these 10 golden rules and improve your chances of making a date with destiny…

#1. The Knowledge

London taxi drivers spend years learning the ‘knowledge’ before they get their licence. All cabbies have to know every street in central London and the best routes through them. From a punter’s perspective, it’s perfect. You can hop in a black cab and feel confident you won’t get lost.

The casino is no different. Every game has different odds. Keno and the slots may be fun but you are much more likely to win playing a game of blackjack. Spend a little time learning the house odds, to improve your chance of winning.

#2. Choose Your Casino Wisely

It’s common sense. There is a reasonable to good chance that the Russian casino, with the wobbly website, that only accepts wire transfers via Nigeria, to a small post office in Minsk, is probably not a safe bet.

Be sensible when you choose both your online and offline casinos. These days, all serious online casinos are monitored and belong to official regulatory organizations. The protection is there for both the players and the gaming industry. Use it.

#3. Go Go Promo

Casinos want your business and will go out of their way to earn it. Real world casinos can comp you with free drinks and accommodation. Online casinos have bonuses and cash rewards to tempt you to the tables.

If you have a good understanding of the game odds and can combine this knowledge with the advantage of a promotion or a bonus, you can dramatically increase your edge and your chances of winning. Be sharp and take advantage of special offers.

#4. The Loyal Family

Casinos not only want to tempt you in with seductive offers, they want to keep you playing for as long as possible. Loyalty and VIP programs are set up for the casino’s frequent flyers and can earn a regular player a business class experience.

Loyal casino visitors can earn points and rankings, enabling access to exclusive tournaments and special offers. Once again: clever management of a loyalty program – for example: ensuring you meet the exact criteria – can give the canny player a real financial edge.

#5. Take a Break

Even if you are on a winning streak – take a break. Casinos know that the longer they keep you at the tables, the more likely you are to stop concentrating and get careless. It can be an expensive lesson to learn.

When the adrenalin is pumping, sometimes it is hard to be rational. Make sure you stop for a coffee and take stock of where you are. A five minute break could be the best investment you make all day.

#6. Ban The Booze

If you’re settling in for a serious night at the tables and want to walk away a winner – don’t drink. It impairs your judgment – that second cocktail could be costly.

#7. Take Up Sports

Pound for pound, one of the best ways to make money in a casino is at the sportsbook. Most online sites have a sports betting option and lots of real world casinos have a sportsbook on site.

Betting on sports is leisurely and the odds can work in your favour. You can make a bet on the big game, enjoy the action, and reload – ready for a return to the casino floor.

#8. Be Progressive

Everyone knows the slots are fun but the house odds are very good. If you are going to take the reels for a spin, play a game with a progressive jackpot. These life-changing sums are where dreams come true. You may as well take a shot, if you’re playing a slot.

#9. Know Your Limit

It’s simple: playing in a casino should be fun. Whatever you do – don’t get out of your depth. Only play with what you can afford to lose. Make sure you stop if things aren’t working out.

#10. Enjoy It!

Very few people earn a living gambling professionally. Don’t expect to make millions playing in the casino. Just enjoy the experience. If Lady Luck does decide to spend the night with you – make the most of it.

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Most things in life can be improved by moving them closer to the sea. The holiday home with a sea view, a romantic dinner on the beach, a gentle snooze in a hammock as the surf rolls in.

Casinos are no exception. We have scoured the world’s most beautiful beaches to discover the casinos that come with UV protection, flip flops, and a bucket and spade. Is there anything better than blackjack on the beach?

#1. Atlantis Paradise Island – Bahamas

The Atlantis Paradise Island is not only the biggest casino in the Caribbean, it is also one of the world’s most astonishing resorts. There are six hotels on the 5.5 mile long private island, a marina, a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course, a water park, and – of course – a world class casino.

The main Atlantis Casino spans a seven acre lagoon and has 75 table games and more than 750 slots. For high rollers, there is a wealth of VIP treasures to discover.

The best thing about the Atlantis is Cain at the Cove – where poolside gaming and blackjack in a bikini is a reality. You can sit outside, play craps, drink cocktails, enjoy the DJ, and watch the sun go down over a gorgeous two mile stretch of white powder sand.

#2. Conrad Punta del Este Resort and Casino – Uruguay

Uruguay is cool. It’s very cool. Located just below Brazil and next to Argentina, it’s small 3.3 million population enjoy the finest quality of life in South America. It’s liberal, socially developed, and was named country of the year by the Economist in 2013.

It also has the Conrad Punta del Este Casino – 3,400 square metres of gaming with 63 blackjack, roulette, and baccarat tables. All located a stone’s throw away from the crystal clear waters of La Mansa beach.

The casino has nearly 300 rooms with sea views and weary gamblers can refresh in the pool or take a dip in the nearby sea. With Shakira and Paul Anka in the hotel guest book, you won’t be the only person looking for some al fresco fun.

#3. Holiday Palace Sihanoukville – Cambodia

Casinos first appeared in Cambodia in the late 1990s, after decades of civil war. There are now nearly 60 across the country but our favourite is the Holiday Palace, on Independence Beach, in Sihanoukville.

Turquoise waters, palm trees, and white powdery sands are the hotel’s idyllic backdrop. The casino is open 24 hours-a-day and is relatively small with just 24 table games and 200 slots. Baccarat is the favourite game but it’s the beach that’s the star of the show.

#4. Hard Rock Punta Cana – Dominican Republic

It’s the second Caribbean casino on the list but it can’t be ignored. The Hard Rock Punta Cana is a huge hotel and casino with an even bigger attitude. There are 450 slots, 41 tables games, and a poker room in the massive 45,000 sq ft casino.

If you can tear yourself away from the resort’s 13 swimming pools, Punta Cana beach is world class with white sand, clear water snorkeling, and horseback riding. If you get bored with both the casino and the beach, the hotel will lend you an electric guitar so you can brush up on your axe skills.

#5. Grand Hotel and Casino – Vanuatu

Vanuatu is the perfect South Pacific paradise. Amazing islands, stunningly clear waters, an active volcano, and the chance to play roulette in a room with a view.

The Grand Hotel casino has both a main room and a VIP suite. There is also the Laki Tam Tam room with 136 poker machines to satisfy the cravings of visiting Australian pokie lovers.

The casino overlooks the harbour and is a hop, step, and jump from the kind of beach most of us only ever dream about. What are you waiting for? Book your tickets to paradise now…

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Beating the casino is always a thrill. You split. You double down. You beat the dealer. You play your lucky number and the roulette wheel plays ball. You roll the dice and the chips pile up.

For most of us, a night at the casino, or a few hours playing online, is not going to change our lives. For some, however, dreams have come true. Here are five players who really made the casino pay.

#1. The Man Who Broke The Bank

Believe it or not, most casinos are thrilled when a player wins a big jackpot or has a record night at the tables. The win is good publicity and can attract new business. It’s a marketing tactic that the Monte Carlo Casino was happy to use more than 130 years ago.

In July, 1891, Charles Deville Wells went to Monte Carlo with £4,000 and broke the bank 12 times in an eleven hour roulette session. The bank was ‘broke’ when every chips on the table was won.

Wells netted more than a million francs during the marathon session and returned four months later to do the same again. No one knows how Wells did it. His bets included successfully betting on the number five for five consecutive spins and hitting a 23 spin win streak.

The song ‘The Man Who Broke The Bank at Monte Carlo’ was recorded a year later about his winning ways.

#2. Double Down

Sometimes lightning strikes twice – or a Megabucks jackpot, if your name is Elmer Sherwin.

Not content with winning $4.6 million, in 1989, at the tender age of 76, Elmer continued to spin the slots and was rewarded again with a $21,147,947 jackpot 16 years later.

Now 92 years old, Elmer had used his initial jackpot win to travel the world. His bucket list was complete. In the end, he used his new winnings to support good causes and set his family up for life.

#3. The Run

If your win streak if so ridiculous they give it a name, you know you are making gambling history. Greek American Archie Karas sustained a six month long winning streak, turning $50 into $40 million.

‘The Run’ started for Karas in Las Vegas. He was playing limit Razz and turned $50 to $10,000. Then onto pool where he hustled his bank roll up to $1.2 million. Next poker, where he took over Binions and beat every top player – amassing $17 million. Finally, onto craps where he peaked at $40 million. You can read the bet by bet account here.

#4. All Or Nothing

Would you be prepared to bet everything on a single spin? In 2005, Ashley Revell did. He sold all of his possessions, including the clothes on his back, for one spin of the roulette wheel and a bet on red.

In the end, Ashley got lucky and doubled his $135,300 wager when the ball ended up on red 7. A television crew was there to capture the moment

#5. THE PACKER-MAN

Possibly gambling’s greatest legend is Kerry Packer. The Australian media tycoon is the ultimate whale. His tips paid off croupier’s mortgages and he was blamed for closing down London casino Aspinalls in 1990.

In Las Vegas, a Texan playing at an adjacent gaming table wanted to join Packer and said to him ‘I’m a big player too. I’m worth $100 million’. Packer just said: “If you really want to gamble, I’ll flip you for it”. Humbled, the Texan quietly returned to his table.

Packer gambled millions. The casinos wanted his business but they knew this was the man who could literally break the bank.

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These days, very few casinos still insist on black tie and a dinner jacket. Elegance and sophistication may be harder to find but there are still a handful of casinos where you need a little class to cut it at the tables.

#1. Casino de Monte-Carlo

Iconic and world famous, the Casino Monte-Carlo is a gem of the Belle Époque era and gambling home from home to infamous British spy James Bond. The buildings were constructed between 1850 and 1900 and the casino is as grand as they come.

In the private rooms, a jacket is required after 8pm. Baccarat and blackjack sit alongside less well known games like trente and quarante and Chemin de Fer. If it’s a casino with class you want, head to Monaco.

#2. Crown Aspinalls London

Bookie to the upper class John Aspinall was the mastermind behind the Mayfair Crown Aspinalls members only club. In 1962, he opened the Clermont Club which played host to dukes, marquesses, earls, and cabinet ministers.

The exclusive club still thrives today but, before you discover the dress code, you need to become a member – and that’s strictly application only. If you want to enjoy roulette with royalty or shake some dice with a sheik – this is the place to play.

#3. Grandhotel Pupp

The Grandhotel Pupp is more than 300 years old and a Czech Republic institution. Located in the spa town of Karlovy Vary, the hotel and casino was featured in the 2006 remake of Casino Royale.

Although the casino doesn’t insist on black tie, it just won’t feel right wandering the elegant halls of this stunning location in anything less. Definitely one for the James Bond fan who wants to walk in his idol’s footsteps.

#4. Grand Lisboa Macau

Macau is now the world’s leading gambling destination, surpassing even Las Vegas. The Grand Lisboa Hotel is one of Macau’s leading casinos and is best known for having four Michelin starred restaurants under one roof.

Although the dress code in all Macau casinos is fairly relaxed, you will need to smarten up to dine at either Joel Robuchon’s Robuchon Au Dome or The Eight. Both restaurants hold three Michelin stars.

#5. The Venetian – Macau and Las Vegas

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Maybe, when Sheldon Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands Corporation opened the Venetian Las Vegas in 1999, they had a few spare gondolas left over because they repeated the formula.

At the time, the Vegas Venetian cost $1.5 billion to build and was one of the most expensive resorts in the world. Eight years later, costing $2.4 billion, the Venetian Macau is now the biggest gaming destination in the world.

Once again, the Macau dress code is relaxed but when you are staying in a hotel with marble floors and gold plated taps, it’s time to dust of the tuxedo and play like a pro.

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Double down? Split? Fold? Run for the door? For the first-time visitor, the casino can be an overwhelming experience. Impatient players and grumpy gamblers can pressure you into making the wrong move. It’s potentially an expensive lesson to learn.

Here are a few tips – free of charge – that will help you make the most of your time at the tables.

#1. Know Your Limits

First things first: trying your luck in a casino – whether online or offline – should be fun. Only a handful of very fortunate players ever win that life-changing jackpot. Leave your credit cards at home, or in the hotel room, and take only what you are prepared to lose.

You will win some and you will lose some. Hopefully, whatever the final outcome, you will enjoy the experience.

#2. (Don’t) Know Your (Drinking) Limits

We would never advocate irresponsible behaviour but one of the joys of gambling in a Las Vegas casino is the free drinks. If you are planning a big night out, start with the penny slots.

At the Wynn, gamblers get free mojitos but don’t forget to tip your waitress a dollar a drink. That will keep the freebies coming. Probably best to stick to the slots, if you are planning a long night of fun.

#3. Don’t Drink

Alternatively… If you are a dice debutante or a roulette rookie, it’s probably not a good idea to get hammered on highballs before you hit the tables. You need to keep your wits about you and stay sharp, if you plan to profit on the night.

#4. Join The Club

Most casinos have a player’s club. They are usually free to join and come with benefits. It could be a free drink, a buffet voucher, bonus chips, or some complimentary blackjack lessons. It’s a no brainer: make sure you club up.

#5. Comp My Account

This relates to online casinos. Shop carefully and find out who has the best offers. If you are new to gambling, it makes sense to play with as much free money as possible before you dig into your own pockets.

Some online casinos offer first time players the chance to try their luck with a £20 free play. It’s a great way to learn.

#6. Roll High

If you want to make the ‘right’ impression and have the self-discipline not to gamble it all, take out a huge marker. If you play big at a casino, you get more than just free drinks.

If you took out a $6,000 marker at a Las Vegas casino, there’s a very good chance you could get offered a free room, tickets to a big show, and a meal. Grab your freebies and then just gamble $200. You can cash in the rest of the marker and put your feet up in your free suite.

#7. Get An Education

Some Las Vegas casinos offer free table lessons in the afternoons, or you can head for downtown and lower limit tables. Alternatively, get online and play for free. You can spend as long as you like learning the ropes, before you reach for your wallet.

#8. Don’t Be Greedy

If you lose what you have won, you’re being greedy. If you are lucky enough to hit a streak and add some beef to your bankroll, it could be time to stop for the day. There’s no sweeter feeling than walking away from a casino with some winnings in your pocket.

#9. Chat

Chances are that the people you are playing with have more experience than you. Casino gambling is not a competition (expect poker!). Make friends at the table and they can help you make the right moves.

#10. Enjoy It

It’s not a job. It’s not a living. It’s fun. A night at the casino is about having a good time and stretching your bankroll as far as it will go. Soak up the atmosphere, make a few bets, have a free drink, and enjoy yourself. It’s that simple.

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Heading out on the town tonight? Have you got a celebrity chum who needs entertaining? The famous love a flutter. We’ve put together a list of the top casino games to suit the glitterati.

#1. Blackjack – Ben Affleck, Tiger Woods, One Direction

Blackjack is the world’s most popular card game. Not surprisingly, it has a lot of celebrity fans. Ben Affleck is barred from the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas for allegedly card counting. The actor is reported to have won a total of nearly $1 million in just two trips to a casino.

Tiger Woods famously staked $25,000 a hand playing at MGM Grand’s The Mansion, alongside Michael Jordon and Charles Barkley. Expensive peer pressure. As for One Direction, the teen idols just can’t stay away from the blackjack tables when they are touring Australia.

#2. Slots – Pamela Anderson, Marge Simpson

Rumour has it that Baywatch star Pamela Anderson loves the slots. As well as playing them occasionally, she also appears in the special edition Pamela Anderson Playboy slot machine and the Baywatch game.

As for blue-bouffanted mother-of-three Marge Simpson, her trials and tribulations with slots were documented to comic effect in 1993, in the Simpsons episode ‘$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling’).

#3.Sports Betting – Ashton Kutcher, Charlie Sheen, 50 Cent

Kutcher allegedly fronted one of the biggest sports betting syndicates in America and knows college football inside out.

Infamous bad boy Charlie Sheen whose catchphrase was ‘winning’ once fronted a gambling website. He now claims to be a ‘retired gambler’. His biggest wager was one million dollars on boxer Manny Pacquiao beating Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.

(He did).

As for 50 Cent, he ‘followed the voices in his head’ and won $500,000 on the NFC Championship game in 2012. That’s a lot of 50 cents…

#4. Baccarat – Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight famously got addicted to baccarat and blackjack when she was living and performing in Las Vegas. Famous for such musical classics as Midnight Train to

Georgia and If I Were Your Woman, Knight ended up getting out of her depth. Fortunately, she managed to get a grip of her game and still performs regularly in Las Vegas.

#5. Poker – Lots of Celebs

From George Clooney Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to Jennifer Tilly, Macy Gray, and Paris Hilton, poker is the game that celebrities really love to play. Thanks to the Internet, in the 1990s, the game emerged from the Las Vegas underground to the mainstream.

And celebrities are much more than just eye candy… Footballer Teddy Sheringham has earned more than $330,000 playing, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Tobey Maguire have all cashed in major tournaments. Clearly confidence and self-belief are all vital ingredients for both the actor and the good poker player.

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Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s also the reason why the world’s leading covert agencies look to Las Vegas to see the latest surveillance, security, and monitoring systems in action.

Las Vegas is where money meets the motivated. Not everyone visiting town wants to gamble. Some have a system – others just like to cheat. For the security teams on the strip, it’s a battle of wills and a constantly evolving game of casino cat and mouse.

Here are five ways the casinos stay on top of the game.

#1. The Human Hierarchy

Everyone remembers the classic scene from the film Casino where Sam Rothstein, played by Robert De Niro, describes the lay of the land.

‘In Vegas, everybody’s gotta watch everybody else. Since the players are looking to beat the casino, the dealers are watching the players. The box men are watching the dealers. The floor men are watching the box men. The pit bosses are watching the floor men. The shift bosses are watching the pit bosses. The casino manager is watching the shift bosses. I’m watching the casino manager. And the eye-in-the-sky is watching us all.’

It’s all true. The human system is still the first line of defense for any casino. Collusion between dealers and players is a common scam. A player will secretly palm a deck of perfectly ordered cards to the dealer. It’s up to the box men to spot this.

Of course, the biggest alarm bell sounds when a winning streak bucks the typical table odds. If a player starts to win a disproportionate amount of money, the casino’s security team will take more notice of what’s going on.

#2. Eye in the Sky

A major Las Vegas casino like The Bellagio probably has more than 2,000 cameras operating at any time. The cameras feed into dozens of monitors where a handful of security experts watch what’s going on.

Ninety-nine per cent of the time, the gaming at the blackjack and roulette tables is of little note. It’s only when the action suddenly heats up that the cameras zoom in.

In the case of the palmed deck, a scam which helped the players rake in more than $250,000, the video footage was reviewed and scrutinized and the ‘palm’ was discovered. The cameras don’t miss anything.

#3. NORA

If you suffer from paranoid tendencies, stop reading now. NORA (Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness) software is as controversial as it is effective. Developed by SRD (System Research and Development), the software was developed initially for casinos.

It basically alerts security if there are non-obvious links between people in the same casino. For example: if the player at the craps table once shared the same telephone number as the woman enjoying a game of slots in the casino, the software would create an alert.

The software probes data to find connections between people in the same casino. Maybe you attended the same university, shared a common address, or use the same bank. NORA can access this information.

Not surprisingly, this software is used by the US Homeland Security, the CIA, and (probably) lots of other secret services.

#4. RFID chips

Most modern casinos use radio frequency identification chips these days. If stolen, the RFID chips can be immediately deactivated and rendered worthless. The casino can also track player behaviour by following the chips.

If you win more than a certain amount of money, a casino will want to track you. The chips can facilitate this. They also prevent fraud at the table by recording the total amount of chips in play.

#5. Facial Recognition

Facial recognition protects the casino on several different levels. As well as helping to spot known cheats and criminals, the system can also spot problem gamblers. All casinos are obliged to prevent problem gambling.

And Finally…

At the end of the day, the security is there to make the games and casinos safe for everyone. However, if it still makes you feel a little paranoid, you can always fire up the laptop and log onto your favourite online casino. You’ll also save on a plane fare to Las Vegas.

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Lots have been cast since time began. In the bible, the casting of lots is mentioned 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New. Even rogue disciple Judas was replaced with the throw of some ancient dice. Divine intervention is suspected.

Today, gambling is regulated and precisely calculated. Modern casinos know the precise odds of every games they host. Players are also aware of the risks and rewards. It hasn’t always been like this.

This week, we look at five pioneers who elevated and enlightened gambling. From Roman Emperors to the man who first blew the whistle on sharp practice and rogue players.

#1. Mercury, Hermes, Rhea and Thoth

According to legend, even the length of a year came down to a gamble. In Plutarch’s book on ancient Egypt Isis and Osiris, the goddess of female fertility and mother of the ancient gods is Rhea.

Wayward Rhea gets herself impregnated by Saturn. Her jilted husband Helios justifiably gets the hump and curses Rhea: preventing giving birth on any day of the year.

However, love struck Mercury comes to the rescue and plays a gambling game with the moon. He wins a seventieth of the moon’s light – just enough to add an extra five days to the calendar, and enough to give Rhea the opportunity to give birth. Result!

#2. Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus

The emperor Claudius was called a ‘monstrosity of a human being’ by his own mother and there is speculation that he may have suffered from cerebral palsy or Tourettes.

His infirmities probably saved his life. Perceived as a halfwit, he dodged assassination – unlike most of his family. He was actually an accomplished historian and shrewd politician. He was also a fervent gambler and loved to play dice.

Claudius even went so far as to publish a book about dice and had a special board fitted to his carriage, enabling him to play when he was out driving. He was also known for giving his dinner guests money so they could gamble with him.

#3. Galileo, Blaire Pascal, and Pierre de Fermat

At the root of every casino game or sports bet is probability. Probability is defined as ‘the extent to which an event is likely to occur, measured by the ratio of the favourable cases to the whole number of cases possible’.

It was geniuses like Galileo, Pascal and Fermat that got to the bottom of ‘the odds’. Galileo blazed the trail when he proved a favourable proposition for a dice game. He proved that increased probability existed. Fermat and Pascal would establish the theory of ‘expectation value’ 100 years later.

#4. Edmund Hoyle

Born in 1672, Edmund Hoyle became the leading authority on the rules of the game. Whist, backgammon, piquet, chess, brag, were all subject to the definitive Hoyle makeover – resulting in the phrase ‘according to Hoyle’.

Even though they are 250 years old, his rule books are still available today. Hoyle was a charter inductee in the Poker Hall of Fame – even though he died 60 years before the game was even invented,

#5. Jonathon Harrington Green

Jonathon Green is the classic example of poacher turned gamekeeper. Born in 1813, Green was a professional gambler plying his trade as a riverboat gambler on the Mississippi River.

Known as Captain Green, he famously won more than $20,000 in one night at the Old Chestnut Arcade when he was in his twenties – a fortune in today’s money.

In 1842, Green had an epiphany. He repaid all those he had beaten at cards and travelled the country exposing conmen and illicit gambling clubs. His pioneering work helped to regulate gambling across the country.

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The fishmonger, a zookeeper and a case of manslaughter: sometimes, life really is stranger than fiction. It takes a special kind of mojo to run a casino and these three larger-than-life personalities had it by the bucket load.

Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s start at the beginning. It’s the dawn of the nineteenth century – shortly before the Battle of Trafalgar – and an over-confident butcher is about to lose a fortune playing cribbage against a very canny fishmonger…

#1. William Crockford – From Fish to Fortune

William Crockford was born in 1775. The American Revolution would start this year, Mozart was busy composing, and James Cook was circumnavigating the globe.

Crockford was a third generation fishmonger; poorly educated and living in a run-down and dangerous part of London. In his teens, he discovered an uncanny ability with numbers and a genius-level ability to calculate odds. It was a skill that would change his life.

By the time he was in his twenties, he had already earned a reputation as one of London’s most highly skilled gamblers. He moved to a more salubrious location and the ‘play got deep’. He started to accumulate some serious wealth.

However, it was a game of cribbage, with a cocksure butcher, that changed everything. In a pub called The Grapes, off St James, Crockford broke the wealthy butcher, described as ‘a braggart, a fool and a rich man’. Crockford won £1,700 (about $250,000 today) which was enough for him to finally establish his own club.

London had several gaming houses. They were interested only in wealth and were happy to cheat players and unsuspecting punters. Crockford decided to create an exclusive club ‘for gentlemen’, where an honest game and house odds would triumph.

It was to be the most exclusive destination in London. He invested in celebrated French chef Eustache Ude, at a cost of $275,000 per year, to the delight of his upper class members.

Crockford’s opened in 1828 and was an instant success. It was the grandest club in the country and membership was a who’s who of the aristocracy, the famous, and the ridiculously wealthy.

The game of choice at Crockford’s was the complicated dice game Hazard: an early version of craps. Well-to-do members wagered colossal sums of money. No written records were kept (far too gentlemanly) of the club’s finances but the sums won and lost were huge. Not bad for a former fishmonger.

Today, a version of Crockford’s still operates in London’s upmarket Mayfair. It’s exclusive and popular but could it ever recapture the insane early days of Crockford’s?

#2. John Aspinall – Monkey Business

Expelled from Rugby School for ‘inattention’ but still managed to get a place at Jesus College. Feigned illness on the day of his finals, went to see the Gold Cup at Ascot instead. Never got the Oxford degree but ended up a millionaire. Welcome to the world of John Aspinall.

In the late 1950s, casinos were illegal in the UK. After leaving university, Aspinall (known as ‘Aspers’) worked as a track bookmaker. In his spare time, he hosted gambling parties where chemin-de-fer was the game of choice.

Aspers targeted the rich and famous for his parties and rented luxury homes and flats for the occasions. It was illegal to host a gambling party in any house more than three times. Aspers was always on the move.

Stakes were eye-wateringly high. As much as £50,000 on a single hand. Eventually, the police raided one of his parties. The charges were dismissed and the case resulted in the 1960 Gaming Act – opening the door to casinos in the UK.

Aspers opened the Clermont Club, in Berkeley Square. The Earl of Derby, the Duke of Devonshire, and his close friend Lord Lucan were amongst the club’s 600 members.

Aspers used his profits to open two zoos. He kept tigers and mountain gorillas. It’s alleged he knew where Lord Lucan hid. If he did, he took the secret to his grave, when he died aged 74 in 2000.

Aspinalls is still a high end members only casino in Mayfair, operated by Damian Aspinall.

#3. Victor Lownes – The Real Playboy

No history of London’s most famous clubs and casinos would be complete without a nod to the legend that is Victor Lownes. At the age of 12, he accidentally shot and killed his best friend. He got married at 18, fathered two children, was leading a respectable ‘normal’ life, and then ran away from it all.

Lownes met Hugh Hefner in Chicago and started working for him. He moved to London in 1966 and opened the Playboy Club. He added a casino to the trendy Park Lane venue and every A-listed in town made a visit in the swinging sixties.

Lownes was with Playboy for 26 years. His infamous 1978 25-hour party is the stuff of legend. Although Hefner is the name associated with Playboy, the empire’s fortunes came and went with Lownes. He was the business brain behind the bunny.

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You’ve got your free drink. You’ve bought $5,000 worth of chips and your complimentary suite has a great view of the strip (don’t forget: you’re only gambling $200). You’ve picked your table. It’s time to play.

Whatever game you choose, the cards, wheel, or dice can swing either way. These tips will improve your chances at the table and stop you looking like a roulette rookie or a blackjack beginner. Pay attention now and remember: it’s your money.

#1. Roulette – Go European

There really aren’t many tips for the roulette player, as it’s basically a game of chance – but this one is a no brainer. Always play the European game because it has only one green zero.

The zero represents the house win. American roulette has two zeroes. Therefore the house has a higher edge. Unless you love betting the colour green, or enjoy donating money to casinos, keep your roulette game European.

#2. Roulette – Study Form

This is really a tip for someone with a lot of time on their hands: roulette wheels are not perfect. There will be a bias but it can take a long time to spot. Spaniard Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo spent hours studying roulette wheels around the world and made millions. It takes patience but it can be done.

Keep an eye on the screen next to very roulette table that lists the winning numbers. Quick trends can occur. It could be something as simple as fluff on the wheel but it’s worth a sneaky bet.

#3. Roulette – Bet Outside

The returns are less when you bet the outside: red/black, odd/even, high/low, columns and dozens. However, you can wager more and your win rate will be higher.

#4. Roulette – Collect Your Win

If you win, croupiers will often just shove your winnings at you and leave your original bet to ride on the table. Make sure you pick up all your chips when you’ve had enough. You’ve had a great night at the casino, you’re up. Go home.

#5. Blackjack – Never Split Tens

The dealer has a six and you have two tens. Tempted to split? Don’t do it. You already have a great hand. Only a blackjack will beat it. You’ve (probably) won already.

#6. Blackjack – Always Split Eights

You’ve got a grand total of 16 – the worst possible blackjack hand. You may as well split them and hope for some better luck. Even if only one hand wins, you’ve recovered your stake and drawn even.

#7. Blackjack – Double Down When…

#8. Hit Soft, Hold Hard

If get a soft 17 (ace – 6) always hit it. If it’s hard (10-7) stand

#9. Never Take Insurance

Unless you can count cards, this is a loser’s bet.

#10. Take A Crib Sheet

There’s no reason why you can’t take a detailed strategy chart to the table that outlines every play. It’s perfectly legal not considered cheating. You might get a few funny looks from your fellow players but you’ll be smiling when you cash your chips at the end of the day.

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Zayn Malik has left One Direction, Jeremy Clarkson has been towed away, and Jay Z, Beyonce, and chums have launched a music streaming service that’s twice as expensive as Spotify.

Don’t despair: spring is in the air and we’re celebrating by taking our 5 fave slots for a spin. Why not join us for the ride?

#1. Gladiator

Has Russell Crowe done anything better than Gladiator? We don’t think so which is why we love the Gladiator slot. This five reel video slot features animations from the Ridley Scott blockbuster and the chance to win $50,000 with just one spin.

As well as Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Oliver Reed, and Derek Jacobi are among the all-star cast featured in the game. The 25 pay-line slot has two bonus rounds: the Coliseum and the Gladiator.

If you love a little bit of sword and sandal action with your online slot play, Gladiator is worth revisiting. Are you not entertained?

#2. Beach Life

As Liverpudlian legends The Beatles once said: here comes the sun. It’s spring, the clocks have gone forward, and everyone is planning a summer getaway. Why not get yourself in the mood with a few spins of the hottest slot on the block: Beach Life.

Beach Life is the perfect game for this time of year. The five-reel, 20 pay-line slot is colourful, fun-to-play, and comes with a progressive jackpot that could change your life. Line up five smiling suns, with a maximum bet, and you’ll be permanently relocating to the Caribbean.

#3. Spamalot

“It’s just a flesh wound…” Monty Python’s brilliant live show gets the online slot makeover with this quirky comedy classic. The game is hilarious but there is serious money up for grabs. All you have to do is locate the elusive holy grail.

As the five reels spin, you hear the clip clop sound of the coconut-fuelled horses. There are four crazy bonus rounds: None Shall Pass, Killer Rabbit, Knights Who Say Ni, and Storm the Castle.

All this with the song ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ playing in the background. It’s clearly a game developed by someone with a genuine love of Monty Python. Put a smile on your face – give Spamalot a spin.

#4. Iron Man 3

The Marvel Comics franchise continues it superhero domination, as Iron Man 3 transforms into an online slot. Based loosely on the Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow movie, the five reel, 25 pay-line, slot packs a significant financial punch.

Iron Man appears as both War Machine and Iron Patriot. The Mandarin is also featured in the game. There are four jackpot levels to play for: Power, Super Power, Extra Power and Ultimate Power.

In brief: it’s another addition to the Marvel online slots franchise and follows the path laid out by the previous Iron Man games. It’s a little piece of metallic magic.

#5. Dr Lovemore

The birds… the bees… the sweet smell of love is in the air. There’s nothing like a little bit of April sunshine to put some spring in your step and give your libido a lift. It’s time for a visit to Dr Lovemore.

Dr Lovemore is a popular five reel, 20 pay-line, slot with a jackpot worth up to 10,000 times your bet. The game is crammed with corny clichés like banana flavoured condoms, unpopped champagne corks, and a lot of heavy breathing.

The bonus round is triggered by hitting the bonus symbol of a pair of pants. You can also play the Dollar Ball Side game by picking five numbers with every spin. Fancy something cheeky? This hits the spot. Give it a go.

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A massive Wild West-style brawl has shocked news reporters, casino owners and casino games fans the world over, after reports of a four hundred-person strong fight in a top New York casino have hit the headlines.

Started at 10pm on Friday, April 3rd, the incident broke out in the Resorts World Casino, next to JFK airport in Queens. It was the opening night of a new daiquiri bar, and although the casino had hoped to pull in the crowds, this wasn’t quite what they were expecting.

Resorts World Casino is known as a high-class venue, with a complete range of casino games including craps, slots, blackjack, roulette, and sic bo, with an area providing innovative electronic games. It’s also known for its excellent bars, dining and entertainment.

The New York Daily News was first to report on the astounding event, after disturbing images and video footage were posted online across several social media sites including twitter and facebook. It all kicked off around the bar area, and despite arrests and plenty of footage, it’s still not clear why the fight actually broke out.

More than just a fist-fight, people involved in the brawl were using some of the casino decorations and furniture as weapons, hurling chairs at each other in a bloody battle that onlookers claim erupted into one of the biggest fights ever seen at a casino.

However, police report that the fight has been exaggerated, that it looked much worse than it was – because of the carnage and flying furniture – but only around 20 people in a venue of 400 patrons were actually involved.

Regardless of the numbers, the brawl spilled into the car park where numerous security guards and police spent more than an hour trying to quell the disturbance. Ambulances were also called to tend to the wounded, making this an opening night that people would rather forget than remember.

Eyewitnesses claim that people the fight was between two separate groups, that they just started turning on each other for no apparent reason – and this has lead to some speculation that gangland activity is involved, though this suspicion has not yet been confirmed.

In the end, police managed to bring the crowd under control and four people were arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. According to the Daily Mail, two names have been officially released by police; Andre Rivers aged 23, from Brooklyn and Jovan Bovell also aged 23, of Queens.

Total damage to the casino is reported to be approximately $2,000 – but this is a minor loss to this rather ill-fated casino…

In 2011, the Resorts World Casino suffered another unfortunate incident, when a thief managed to steal a whopping $63,000 in cash, just six months after opening their doors! Let’s hope they get a better run of luck soon!

Although this is an isolated incident, it’s clear that there are many advantages to playing your favourite casino games online! Firstly, games are available around the clock in the comfort of your own home, and secondly, there’s no need for expensive travel or expenses. The range of games on offer is extensive, with 3D and progressive jackpot options available, as well as Craps games that can often be difficult to find in bricks and mortar casinos. And instead of free drinks or food, you get casino bonuses that offer extra cash to play with – such as the $3,200 Welcome Bonus currently on offer at Casino.com!

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Ready to bust that block? Summer is coming and that means its time for movies to get a superhero makeover. This year, the Avengers franchise gets another reboot with The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Check out this promotion for an Avengers Vacation. You can join the adventure with the chance to win a trip to Universal Studios Florida!

All the usual gang are there: Thor (played by Hollywood heartthrob Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Iron Man (Robert Downey jr), Captain America (Chris Evans) and assorted supporting Avengers.

If you can’t wait to see the film, and yearn for a little action with the Avengers, we’ve got the answer: just head to your nearest online casino. We’ve used our x-ray vision to find some superhero-powered slots guaranteed to get you in a Marvel mood.

The Incredible Hulk

‘You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…’ No… We love you when you’re angry. Bi-polar biochemist Bruce Banner is a wind up merchant’s wet dream and an anger management counselor’s nightmare. He’s also the star of these fantastic online slots.

There are two different versions of the Incredible Hulk: both a 25 and 50 payline game. Although more or less the same, the five reel, 50 payline, game is the most recent.

Both games feature cut scenes from the films, as well as the fantastic Smash Bonus round, where the eponymous hero gets to beat up cars and helicopters and generally do the kind of stuff Hulks like to do at the weekend.

There are both Wilds and Scatters in play as well. Hit the Expanding Hulk in the free spins feature and you’ll be splitting your trousers with excitement.

Thor

Another Avenger getting the online slot work up is Asgard’s very own blond bombshell Thor. Played by six-pack sporting Chris Hemsworth, the five reel slot packs a hammer-sized punch with animations from the blockbuster film.

Thor the Mighty Avenger has 30 paylines, as well as two respin modes: Lightning and Thunderstorm. There is also a Rainbow Bridge feature: players opt for either Earth or Jotunheim where lots of bonus cash awaits.

Like all the Marvel Slots, Thor is linked into the Marvel multi-level progressive jackpot. There are four levels of jackpot up for grabs: Power, Extra Power, Super Power, and Ultimate Power.

Captain America

Blue-eyed all-American hero Captain America gets called up for online slot duty and does a great job keeping the gaming troops happy. Howard Stark’s shield carrying super soldier is the original Avenger and the five reel game does the patriotic superhero proud.

Next to Thor and the Incredible Hulk, Captain America always seems like the poor relation. The online slot is a different story. The 20 payline game is great, with two sets of wild symbols (Captain America and his arch enemy Red Skull) which both trigger free games.

Captain America – the First Avenger is based on the original movie staring Chris Evans as the hero. The game has great cut scenes, engaging animations, and a jackpot that pays 5,000 times the original bet. It’s a red, white, and blue winner.

Iron Man

Hollywood maverick Robert Downey Jr has proved to be perfect for the part of billionaire polymath weapons designer Tony Stark aka Iron Man. The slot is also one of the most popular Marvel games online today. That’s why there are three to choose from.

With each new film comes a new Iron Man online slot. The first game had 20 paylines, subsequent games 25. Despite this, the original game is still very popular with its missile attack bonus round and ground breaking graphics.

Iron Man 2 upgraded the graphics and the latest edition – Iron Man 3 – has the full suite of bells and whistles, including three different free game modes, scatters, and respins. Tony Stark would be proud.

The Avengers

Finally, no celebration of the new Avengers film, Age of Ultron, would be complete without a review of the slot that bears its name. The Avengers is a 20 payline, five reel, game based on the original film.

As well as all the superheroes featured above, the slot also stars Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and Samuel L Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury.

There is a massive 10,000x jackpot to play for and the game has four rounds of bonus games to play: Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. It’s one of the more recent games from Marvel and is a blast to play

If you can’t wait to see the Age of Ultron, or you simply want to keep hanging out with the heroes, give any or all of these games a spin. Good luck being a superhero!

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Life’s a beach and occasionally a bet. If you like a little action when you head for your holidays, we’ve picked out a few dream destinations that fit the bill. Here’s where you can have a flutter when you’re slapping on the factor 50.

#1. Las Vegas

Surprise, surprise… The city of Las Vegas may be just over 100 years old but… What a history. Immortalized in music and the movies, the city is the spiritual home of the casino. It is also a holiday destination second to none.

If it’s just the casino you are after, there is something to suit every taste: from the wild west vibes of Sam’s Town to the Golden Nugget where you can lose your shirt and swim with the sharks.

Brad Pitt, Quentin Tarantino, Katy Perry, Matt Damon, and Britney Spears… If they are not performing on stage, there’s a good chance they could be sitting at the roulette table next to you.

With its mind-blowing hotels, enormous swimming pools, larger than life shows, and party mentality, few destinations can rival Sin City for the perfect getaway – all this and it’s in the middle of the desert. Truly remarkable.

#2. Macau

Macau? Macau? Yup… Macau. As the Chinese dragon continues to grow, more and more middle-class, wealthy, Chinese are looking for a little r&r at the weekends. The Chinese love to bet and Macau is the new gambling Mecca.

Financially Macau now dwarfs Las Vegas. The hotels are bigger, the bling is OTT, the vibes are intense, and the action is relentless. It’s like arriving on another planet.

The casinos are all competing for your holiday dollar. That means Michelin starred restaurants, spectacular shows, and luxury on tap. However, Macau’s real beauty is its Portuguese colonial architecture, ancient shrines, and history. Go visit.

#3. Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo is a great example of marketing. How did a relatively small principality earn such a global reputation? Answer: the casino. The Formula One Grand Prix also helps.

Monte Carlo’s location makes it a vacation no brainer. You can head east into Italy or west along the French Riviera. Switzerland is to the north and Sardinia is a ferry ride away. All this and one of the world’s most famous casinos.

#4. Jamaica

Jamaica’s reputation as a holiday destination is assured but it makes the list because of the Terra Nova Hotel and Casino in Kingston. The hotel was built in 1924 and is a ‘great house’, in the European style.

Blanche Blackwell once lived here. She is the mother of Chris Blackwell – the founder of Island Records. She also had an affair with James Bond author Ian Fleming. All this and blackjack too! It’s the excuse we need to stick this on the vacation bucket list.

#5. London

Let’s show a little London bias. No beaches but one of the most exhilarating cities in the world with the casinos to match. You could try and wangle your way into Aspinalls, The Clermont, or the Ritz. Just make sure your pockets are deep.

Alternatively, there is the recently revamped London Hippodrome with three floors of gaming and a burlesque casino bar in the basement. It’s just one of many amazing venues and sights to see in London and a great reason to visit.

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Casino games are risky, but everyone that plays them dreams of making a quick million bucks (or two) to set themselves up for life. Here are some rather dubious ‘success’ stories and the questionable ways they made their fortunes happen – though they’re hardly reputable and don’t happen to work out for the best in the end. The moral of the story: read, chuckle, even be in awe if you’re so inclined – but don’t try this at home!

Remote Control Roulette

Yes, believe it or not, back in 1973, a gang of three tricksters – including a famed beauty named Monique Laurent – managed to scam their way to over 5 million francs with a remote controlled Roulette ball!

The three involved worked their scam as follows: they had a roulette croupier on their side, the other man (the croupier’s brother in law) working as the player, and Monique controlling the ball from nearby via her cigarette case. The radio receiver inside the ball had a 90% accuracy rate, giving this dodgy trio the chance to control the outcome of every game and spice up their bankroll without any visible cheating.

So, over the period of a week they managed to clock up the francs, but what gave the game away in the end? A manager with an eye for the ladies who spotted Monique’s hand constantly in her cigarette case while going through video footage of the guy that kept winning. He asked her for a cigarette and the pack was snatched before she could realise what was happening – which just goes to show, beauty doesn’t always pay!

Tech Geeks & Gadgets

The infamous Dennis Nikrash managed to rip off a massive $6 million from computerised slots machines in bricks and mortar casinos with his secret hacking skills. He went so far as to purchase his own slot machine for practice experiments, figuring out how to modify his chips so he could trigger payouts at will. Once this was mastered, he moved on to casino games with a specialised team of assistants… or so he thought.

Nikrash’s team would position themselves conveniently in front of cameras to block the view, while the ringleader would open the slot, swap the computer chip with his own, and then seal it back up – all in less than a minute! One of his gang buddies would then play the machine and win – with the jackpot magically triggering each time. Sounds foolproof? Well, yes, it might have been – if one of his own team hadn’t busted him.

Ronald Harris is another infamous tech geek who managed to scam the casinos – only he was an inspector with the Nevada Gaming Control Board so he was in a juicier position to act. He hid his equipment while working, so the machine would then payout in accordance to the combination of the coin amount and the way the lever was pulled.

Of course, Harris needed help to cover his tracks, so he enlisted the assistance of Reid McNeal – who turned out to be the worst possible choice. Not only did he act far too weird when he won his first $10,000, allowing security to follow him; when they turned up at his room minutes later, they found all the evidence they needed – including with his partner in crime. Yep, talk about being caught red-handed!

If you can’t win, cheat, seems to be the motto of these guys… But as you now know, the magic didn’t last long. And thankfully, there’s no record of online casino cheats, so it seems the online world is still the safest way to play.

Do you have any funny or shocking gambling cheat stories? Do you know of any other famous incidents or legends that we’ve missed? Or did your mate try and scam you in a home game and get him comeuppance? We’d love to hear your tales – so do share in the comments below!

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High speed beefcakes Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Jason Statham are back on the big screen this month, as the seventh iteration of the Fast and Furious franchise roars into life.

If it’s thrilling stunts and death-defying action that butter your turbo-charged muffin, it could be time to head to Las Vegas.

Aside from the blackjack, roulette, and craps, the capital of the casinos is also home to some of the world’s most outrageous and mind-blowing stunts. Here’s our top 5.

#1. The $2 Million Stunt

On January 1, 2009, Australian stunt motorbike rider Robbie Maddison performed arguably one of the world’s most amazing stunts, in front of the Paris Las Vegas Casino.

He jumped 96 feet vertically onto the casino’s Arc de Triomphe and then jumped back down – breaking his hand in the process. The audacious stunt earned him $2 million from sponsors Red Bull.

#2. Evel Gambles at the Palace

One of the most iconic and popular stuntman of the 1970s was American Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel. In his career, he attempted more than 75 motorcycle jumps and suffered a staggering 433 bone fractures.

One of his most famous jumps was the failed attempt to leap the fountains at the Caesars Palace Casino, on December 31, 1967. Knievel used all his savings to promote the event. On the day of the jump, he stopped by the casino in the morning and played his last $100 at the blackjack table.

At the time, the 141 feet jump was the longest ever attempted. As he approached the ramp, the bike lost power. Knievel landed short, suffered multiple injuries, and spent a month in hospital. He survived to ride another day.

At the time, the 141 feet jump was the longest ever attempted. As he approached the ramp, the bike lost power. Knievel landed short, suffered multiple injuries, and spent a month in hospital. He survived to ride another day.

#3. High on a Harley

The troupe first gained notoriety after filming themselves in action in the desert of Nevada, with the casinos of Las Vegas in the background.

Seth Enslow is best known for his near misses and very close encounters with the grim reaper. Against the odds, Seth survives and has his own tattoo parlour today.

#4. Bally’s Base Jump

If motorized stunts just seem too easy, why not take the plunge and throw yourself off a building. Stuntman Shawn DiGeorge earned a place in the base jumping Hall of Fame when he threw himself off Bally’s Casino in April 2008.

His unauthorized stunt nearly ended in disaster as DiGeorge landed in a busy road, narrowly missing an oncoming truck. Perhaps, it’s better to risk it all playing inside the building.

#5. High Wire Antics

if it all gets too much on the casino floor, just rise above it… that’s exactly what has put vertigo-dodger Andy Lewis in the record books, with the longest slackline walk in an urban environment.

Lewis used the Mandalay Bay Casino is the venue for his audacious crossing. A slackline bounces and moves in the wind, making the crossing much more challenging. Lewis successfully made the 360ft crossing on his third attempt.

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Beyonce’s got one, Katy Perry’s kissed hers, and Karl Lagerfeld is strutting the catwalk with his. Like it or not, the iWatch has started to tick. Apple thinks the future is on our wrist. Who are we to disagree?

What we can guarantee is this: where there’s a new technology to drive media, you can be sure that gambling will soon follow. You can rest assured that sooner – rather than later – you will be rolling dice and spinning roulette with your wrist.

Right now: developers are hard at work creating ways to use the iWatch as a wagering platform. Here are a few ideas that might make wagering – with your watch – fun.

#1. Craps Will Be a Classic

(If this idea is not already in development, please forward any royalty cheques via this blog).

It’s simple: the dice pop up on the iWatch screen, you shake your wrist and then ‘throw’ the dice. Now, watch the screen, marvel as your virtual dice tumble, and hope your numbers hit.

This idea could also work for roulette: you could spin the wheel and throw the ball in. If you were playing in tandem with a computer screen, you could play blackjack and use hand gestures to place bets and turn cards.

#2. In Game Will Get Better

In game sports betting could definitely be enhanced with a clever watch app. At the moment, betting in game means grabbing your phone. It can cost valuable seconds and make you miss a big play.

A simple ‘tap tap’ on the wrist to make a quick bet could be the perfect application for the new tech. You will also be able to see exactly how many minutes are remaining in the game. These watches do tell the time as well (apparently).

#3. Always On – Loyalty Bonus Opportunities

It could be good or bad but there will be no getting away from your iWatch (well… unless you just take it off!). This means that you never need miss out on a loyalty bonus or promotion that requires you to – for example – play a game at least once a day. Your iWatch can give you a reminder to ensure you quality for that all important bonus bump.

#4. Add Virtual Reality and You’re Cooking

In the next year, we will start to see the early widespread roll outs of Oculus Rift, the Sony Morpheus, and many other virtual reality headsets. The iWatch will be able to act as a security device, a bank, and/or an integrated motion device in the 3D environment.

For example: you will be able to carry credit on the iWatch, step into a virtual casino, and yank the lever of the slot. If you hit the jackpot, you could be transported into outer space. The possibilities are limited only by the developer’s imagination. The watch could be a key part of the overall experience.

#5. Fab New Games

Online slots have evolved from carbon copy clones to graphic-rich games with bonus round animations and embedded loyalty rewards. The technology has enabled the online slot to develop.

The iWatch will undoubtedly breed a new generation of wrist based games. Games that require motion and interaction. It could be an updated version of a Tamagotchi that gives the player spins of the slot as it evolves.

Whatever the future holds, you can rest assured that the casino and online gaming will eventually find its way onto your wrist. Watch this watch space.

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Source: casino.com