Slot machines are kind of like restaurants: Patrons are attracted to the newest thing, and if something sticks around a few years, it’s special. And rarely does a brand endure for decades.
In the case of slots, that product is Wheel of Fortune. Since debuting in 1996, Wheel of Fortune has endured — and prospered — on slot floors around the world. The latest version of the game, Wheel of Fortune Double Diamonds 3D, debuted this summer at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood and at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. The graphics include coins that sometimes appear to fly off the screen and into the player’s lap.
Manufacturer International Game Technology has created more than 230 variations of Wheel of Fortune, some featuring the wheel spinning and others even giving players a chance to solve a word puzzle. But all carry the intro shouted by audiences at the start of the TV show: “WHEEL. OF. FORTUNE!”
There are more than 7,500 machines of some Wheel of Fortune ilk scattered across the United States, notes Phil O’Shaughnessy, IGT senior director of global communications. He also notes that the machines have yielded record jackpots, including $14.4 million won in Biloxi in 2009. The Seminole Hard Rock machines are part of a group of “progressive” machines, meaning a little piece of each spin goes into a larger jackpot. Over the weekend, that jackpot was near $400,000.
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Calder Casino patrons Ira Hartzman of Aventura and Cheryl Stephens of Miami have earned trips to Las Vegas and a shot at $1 million.
The pair will participate in the TournEvent of Champions Sept. 28. About 100 casinos held competitions to send customers to the event, with Calder being the only South Florida participant.
Hartzman prevailed in Calder’s eight Saturday slot tournaments ending Aug. 20. He compiled a score of 818,105, winning by just 1,915 points.
The next 399 players returned to Calder on Saturday, which is when Stephens prevailed in four rounds of play.
PPC concludes at Magic City
Magic City regular Sergio Giha won the main event Sunday in the first PPC series to be held in Miami-Dade County. The PPC, created by Broward residents Bryan Oulton and Sandy Swartzbaugh, consists of 26 stops across the country.
The poker series climaxes with a championship event in Aruba in November. By winning the tournament at Magic City Casino, Giha now has a free spot in that tournament, which otherwise costs $2,400 to enter. The PPC Aruba World Championship, which runs Nov. 2-8 at the Hilton Aruba Resort, features a $500,000 guarantee main event.
Giha also won $8,620 to pocket. The $300 buy-in tournament drew 126 entries, enough for the PPC to cover its $30,000 guarantee.
Magic City, known more for its cash action and its designated player pit (Ultimate Texas Hold ’em, 3-Card Poker, etc.), has two regular tournaments, an $80 buy-in at 8 p.m. Monday and a $50 event at 2 p.m. Thursday. Go to MagicCityCasino.com.
▪ Casino Miami has hourly free play drawings from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with $1,000 cash prizes at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Then comes a Ford Escape giveaway at midnight Sunday, preceded by hourly free play drawings from 3-11 p.m.
▪ Hialeah Park has four big high hand promos this month and the first one is Monday. From 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., it’s $400 every 10 minutes. The promotion repeats on Sept. 13, 21 and 29.
▪ Cuban and Puerto Rican Reggaeton, in the form of performers WISIN and Jacob Forever, share the stage at 6 p.m. Sunday at the east parking lot of Miccosukee Gaming & Resort. General admission tickets are $65.
▪ Selwyn Birchwood, winner of the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, kicks off a new blues series at Mardi Gras Casino. Birchwood plays a free show at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the casino’s main stage. Acts are booked on Tuesdays throughout the month.
▪ The Casino @ Dania Beach presents a free show, “A Night at The Copacabana,” featuring Kevin Ceballo at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Seminole Casino Coconut Creek offers a $150,000 cash giveaway this weekend. From 2-11 p.m. Friday, 10 patrons every hour win up to $2,000 cash. From 3 to midnight Saturday, 10 will be chosen each hour for $1,500 cash. And from 2-8 p.m. Sunday, the hourly prize for 10 winners is $2,500.
Get daily gambling news at SouthFloridaGambling.com.