Playing for Money at Money Plays

Saturday video poker tournament a great value for players

Last month, Money Plays was one of the five inductees into Vegas Seven’s Bar Hall of Fame. This bar is one of my all-time favorites, with more than 100 beer selections, an awesome shuffleboard culture, sports showing on all the TVs and a super-friendly bar staff. It’s also a decent place to gamble. The video poker schedules are standard bar issue, but it has its own players card and has been laying down some good promotions of late. One is a free weekly video poker tournament on Saturdays. Here’s how it works:

There are three rounds of three minutes each, and players are called up to play on specially programmed machines three at a time. When you press the “deal” button, your three minutes begin, and the object is to play as fast as you can. You don’t have to do anything but play—no money is wagered, and the machine tallies your payouts until the timer hits zero and the deal button is disabled. After your score is recorded you can go back to drinking or shuffleboarding or playing video poker on the square (for real) until it’s time to play the next round.

It’s fun, easy and unintimidating, because you can’t really make a mistake. If you happen to hit something big—say, a four-of-a-kind—you’ll be the tournament big shot, at least until the next round. And if you don’t, then you don’t.

After three rounds, there’s a break to add up the scores and the winners are announced. Places 5 through 8 get $5 loaded into a machine of their choice. Third place gets $25 cash. Second gets $50. And the winner gets $100.

Now here’s what’s important: There’s a total of $200 in prize money, and there were 15 players on a recent Saturday. Therefore, each player was mathematically entitled to 1/15th of $200, or $13.33. It’s not a perfect assessment, because there are strategies you can employ to nab some of your opponents’ “expectation,” but saying that it’s worth an average of $13 for you to play it is fair.

The tournament is advertised with a 7:30 p.m. start time, but it doesn’t actually begin till 8. Get there by 7:45 and you’ll be good. It takes about an hour and a half to get through the rounds and another half-hour if you think you’re in the money and stick around to get paid.
For a powerful parlay, head a half-mile east to the Palms, where Frankie Perez plays for free in the Lounge at 10:30. Or just stay at Money Plays, where a crowd will definitely have formed by then. It’s a good (and mildly profitable) way to spend a Saturday night.

Check back next week and I’ll tell you how to play this baby for best results.


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