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The Good, Bad, Ugly & Horrendous Slots

During a recent visit to Niagara Falls traveling both sides of the border, I visited three casinos and yes, the weather and company was wonderful, the Falls magnificent as ever, but let’s discussGayle MitchellGayle Mitchell is the most recognized female expert of casino gambling and has written extensively and presented seminars about casino gambling since 1996.  She is the author of the Casino Gambling Made Easier series of books, numerous E-Books, booklets and the Slots Trilogy.  She is also the editor of five online gaming newsletters including Casino Players Ezine.  Gayle's website is  the reason for travel—slots.
As most players have experienced, I discovered the good, bad and ugly. There is now a fourth category and that’s horrendous. I mean, this has to be the worst VP pay schedule on earth and deserves a rant. 
The good is the brand spanking new FallsView Casino in Niagara Falls, Ont. with over 3,500 slots, and an impressive layout with a splendid dome overhead.  There were all the latest versions and I had a sit-down with my friends, the bonus slots, mostly 9 lines, but jumping a couple of times to 20 lines.
The bad for both Niagara, Ontario casinos, old and new is the sky-high prices for dining and paying for valet. Although dining choices are varied at the new location, I don’t need to feel that I am ‘breaking into’ a good portion of my gambling bankroll for good eats and parking.  I have always warmed to the idea of a couple of bucks that allows you to step right up to the casino and have some good-natured valet take care of your car.
I can imagine the skimpy tips the Niagara valets receive when you have already skimmed the patrons for parking fees.
My third stop was Seneca Nation ‘across the river’ at Niagara Falls, NY. I was all smiles when I came upon two banks of the new QuarterMillion $ Frenzy machines and yippee, there were a couple of seats.
After playing some basic slots, I began to explore the VP offerings. Readers know that I usually rant about the ugly Joker Poker VP schedule where the minimum hand payout is two pair rather than the more generous Kings or Better.  However, here are the three exceptions at this bank: Payouts for Straight Flushes AND Royal w/Joker is 500, 5 of a kind is 4000 (that’s a big WOW, it’s usually 1000 coins) and a progressive Royal payout, therefore 4000+ coins.  I did a mental calculation that this would increase the overall payout to almost 99%.

Here’s the full pay schedule below, one that I have never found in Vegas.
Pays - Jokers Wild 8/5 one-coin return max. coin return

Two pair (2 PR)=returns the bet=5 coins
Three-of-a-kind (3/kind)=pays 2-1=10 coins
Straight (ST) (sequence, not same suit)=pays 4-1=15 coins
Flush (FL) (non-sequential, same suit)=pays 5-1=25 coins
Full house (FH) (3 of a kind and a pair)=pays 8-1=40 coins
Four-of-a-kind (quad)=pays 16-1=80 coins
Straight flush (SF) (in sequence, same suit)=pays 100-1=500 coins
Joker Royal (includes Joker)=pays 100-1=500 coins
5-of-a-kind pay=4000 coins
Royal flush (RF)=progressive, 4000 coins+ for max. play.
Unfortunately, it gets ugly. There are only ten quarter machines in the bank and there sits a player who has decided that she ‘owns’ three machines. Her strategy is put some money in each machine, plop a plastic bucket down on two and ‘dance’ around among them, thereby leaving seven to whoever has the fastest sneakers and pointier elbows.
It was no use asking if someone was playing there, (a subtle way I have of letting the ‘hog’ know I am on to them).  Wait, it gets uglier—casino employees won’t intervene. When I approached them, I was told that as long as there are credits on the machine, there was nothing they could do.
So much for the ‘one machine at busy times’ policy obviously not practiced here.  Normally, not a patient person when I’m in a casino, I wander off for a couple of hours and upon my return, the ‘hog’ is down to two machines and all but one other is empty.
I go in for the kill and even though out of practice for the 2 pair schedule strategy, I take a chance and hold only the Jack. Bingo---three more plus the Joker and $1000 is mine. I can’t help but smirk, for revenge against hogs is so sweet.

Most of the ugliness had worn off by now, but little did I know I was in for horrendous at a nearby bank of Multi Game VP.
My selection was of course, Joker Poker and as always before I play, I check out the pay schedule. I was pleased to find that this version also paid 4000 coins for five of a kind and 500 for both straight flushes and Royal w/Joker, but wait---the Royal Flush paid only 500 coins!  I rubbed my eyes and checked again-yes, it was only 500 coins.
Never in my long playing career, had I seen a pay schedule less than 4000 coins and certainly not a paltry 500. Why would anyone of sound mind play this horrendous machine?  Imagine the grief of hitting a Royal and receiving as much as you would for a straight flush or royal w/Joker.
Later, I did an analysis of this horror and found the overall payout is about 97%.  Now, I know that it is expected that VP and Slot payouts outside of Vegas will take a plunge, but this is well, just—horrendous and worthy of any casino players’ scorn.
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