Tournaments a popular alternative for slot fans
By Kristine McKenzie
Have you ever walked through a casino and happened to run across a roped-off area where a bunch of people were noisily and furiously tapping the spin buttons on their slot machines? No, it wasn't some mysterious gambling ritual - it's more likely the people were just playing in a slot tournament.
Slot tournaments are popular among slot enthusiasts because they offer camaraderie with other slot fans and goodies such as cash prizes, special room rates and more. Some casinos even offer a special tournament package that includes a welcome party, an awards banquet, door prizes and raffles.
Many people prefer tournaments to regular slot play because they know ahead of time what their potential losses will be - most tournaments have a set entry fee. It's not quite as risky as regular slot gambling because you can lose only the amount of the entry fee.
Entry fees can range from very minimal ($10) to several hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some casinos offer free tournaments that are open to the general public. They hold weekly or sometimes daily tournaments as a way to attract players to the casino.
There also are a number of casinos that offer invitation-only, private tournaments. Invitational tournaments are usually held as a reward or comp for loyal players or high rollers.
You don't have to be a regular slot player or a slot expert to participate in a slot tournament. The rules are fairly simple. Here's how it works.
The slot machines start with a predetermined number of credits. The object is to use up all the credits and rack up as many points as possible in the allotted time frame.
A common format is to give each player 1,000 credits with 20 minutes to play them. Each time you hit the spin button, the amount of credits for a maximum bet (usually three credits) are deducted from your starting credits. Any credits you win are shown on a separate meter. You do not get to replay any credits that you win.
When your time is up, the machine will lock up and play is over. Any credits that you have not played will be lost. This is why you will see people furiously hitting the spin button - they're trying to use up every credit on the machine as quickly as possible.
After you finish playing, you wait at your machine until the official comes by and records your score.
Most casinos have only a limited number of machines set aside for a slot tournament. Therefore, there will usually be several sessions to accommodate all the players. Most of the times they will update the list showing the leaders after each round. This allows you to judge how you are doing compared with the other players.
The score on your winning credit meter will be compared with those of the other players to determine the winner of the tournament.
El Cortez: Free daily slot tournaments are available to Club Cortez members. Any Club Cortez member earning 500 Club Points in a single day is eligible to play in the daily slot tournament the following day. Available 24 hours a day, players insert their Club Cortez card in any tournament machine, play the session and check their standing beginning at 10 a.m. the following day. New Club Cortez members staying at the El Cortez also get a complimentary entry into the slot tournament. The highest daily tournament point winner receives $250, the second highest receives $150 and the third highest $100. The daily top 10 players receive an entry into the weekly Saturday night 40-inch LCD HDTV giveaway and $2,000 cash prize drawing.
Fiesta Henderson and Fiesta Rancho: Senior 50+ Wednesdays are held each week from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. All members of the Boarding Pass program who are ages 50 or older automatically get one entry. They may earn additional entries based on points earned through play. The top 50 scorers win cash, with $1,000 being the top prize.
Gold Coast: For video poker fans who are B Connected club members, there's a $5,000 free video poker tournament every Friday from 2-10 p.m. in Tournament Alley. The first-place winner will get $1,500. You get your free tournament entry ticket at a kiosk after earning 300 same-day points.
Golden Nugget: The property does not offer ongoing slot tournaments, but does feature themed events. The $60,000 Topsy Turvy Slot Tournament (May 10 - 12) has a $100 entry fee, and the $30,000 Tipsy Turvy Slot Tournament (May 21 - 23) has a $50 entry fee.
Main Street Station: The Big Kahuna Tournament runs daily. Qualifying sessions are held at 11 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.with the final round at 4 p.m. Top scorers in each session compete for three places in the finals. The prize money is an accumulation of the total entry fees.
Plaza: The hotel hosts its $40,000 Daily Double Giveaway and Slot Tournament. This is for players club members only. Get one entry with a new member sign-up. You'll earn 50 base points on the casino floor, at hotel check-in, with a suited blackjack or for a $25 bingo buy-in. The giveaway part takes place daily from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. by the Players Club information booth, with the bonus slot tournament at 8:30 p.m.You can win cash, free slot play or an iPad.
Silverton: Every Tuesday the property hosts the Progressive Power Slot Tournament from noon-6 p.m. Players have the chance to win progressive jackpots up to $2,500 when they get an individual round score of 30,000 or more points and earn 1,000 base points between 6 a.m.-6:30 p.m. in a single tournament day. The progressive jackpot also increases by $100 each week that there is no winner. The first entry is free when players register and play between the hours of noon and 4 p.m. Earn one additional entry for every 100 points earned with the limit of two times. Forty winners are chosen each week and more than $2,500 in weekly prizes are awarded.
Station Casinos (including Boulder Station, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa, Santa Fe Station, Sunset Station and Texas Station): Senior 50+ Wednesdays are held each week from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. All members of the Boarding Pass program who are ages 50 or older automatically get one entry. They may earn additional entries based on points earned through play. The top 50 scorers win cash, with $1,000 being the top prize.
Tropicana: The property does not offer ongoing slot tournaments, but does feature themed events.
Tournament phone numbers
Here are the numbers to call to find out more about tournaments in Las Vegas casinos.
|Aliante Station||(702) 692-7484|
|Boulder Station||(702) 432-7777|
|Caesars Palace||(800) 262-2502 or (702) 731-7485|
|The D Las Vegas||(800) 678-LUCK|
|El Cortez||(702) 385-5200|
|Fiesta Henderson||(702) 558-7000|
|Fiesta Rancho||(702) 631-7000|
|Flamingo||(800) 225-4882 or (702) 733-3117|
|Four Queens||(800) 634-60645 or (702) 385-4011|
|Fremont||(800) 874-0711 or (702) 385-3232|
|Gold Coast||(800) 331-5334 or (702) 367-7111|
|Golden Nugget||(800) 777-5687|
|Green Valley Ranch||(702) 617-7777|
|Harrah's||(800) 392-9002 or (702) 369-5088|
|Imperial Palace||(800) 351-7400 or (702) 794-3160|
|LVH - Las Vegas Hotel & Casino||(800) 547-2600 or (702) 732-5111|
|Main Street Station||(702) 387-1896|
|Palace Station||(702) 367-2411|
|Plaza||(702) 386-2110 or (800) 634-6575|
|Red Rock Resort||(702) 797-7777|
|Rio||(800) 777-1711 or (702) 252-7706|
|Sam's Town||(702) 456-7777|
|Santa Fe Station||(702) 658-4900|
|Sunset Station||(702) 547-7777|
|Texas Station||(702) 631-1000|