The high-limit life: Some play for show, others play in peace

Casinos’ high-limit areas often include player lounges, casino hosts – and machines with higher payback percentages.
Casinos’ high-limit areas often include player lounges, casino hosts – and machines with higher payback percentages.

The carpet is a little plusher, the slot machines are more secluded — and the price of gambling is much higher.

Most casino visitors saunter past the high-limit section, if they even notice it at all. But every casino has a special area for those who want to go big with bets. A security person usually stands near the entryway, but anybody can walk in, because sometimes even casinos can’t tell the penny-pincher from the big spender.

“There are really two types of big players,” says Mike DeLuca Jr., slots director of Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach. “There are the players who want a ton of attention, the peacocks. But more times than not, the high rollers don’t want people to know who they are. They drive normal cars, and they want to be left alone.”

Calder Casino in Miami Gardens has changed its more luxurious area to “VIP Slots” instead of “High-Limit Slots” partially because sometimes the bigger players prefer to play “penny slots,” which are misnamed because a maximum bet on such machines often approaches $1. Like Mardi Gras and a few others, Calder has a VIP room for bigger players, with snacks, TVs, lounge chairs and beverages. Getting access to that room — VIP status — requires zealous slot play, and in some cases can bring more business.

“Having incentives like our VIP lounge and dedicated host team gives guests more reasons to attain a higher card status.” says Matt Harper, director of marketing at Calder Casino.

Seminole Coconut Creek Casino VP of Marketing Jonathan Marcus compares treatment of high-limit players to going first class on an airplane: “They want a higher level of service, but they pay for it by wagering more.”

Casinos help out the bigger players in that respect, though, especially with slots. A slot costing $1 or even $5 per spin often is programmed to pay back about 97 percent of the money put in. Machines that cost a penny or a nickel often return only about 90 percent. But the casinos still make most of their money on the bigger player because of volume.

King of the Hill

Any poker player who has ever hit a high hand early during a time period can identify with sweating out each minute of the clock running down.

Well, Gulfstream Park now has promotions that reward being the first up on the high-hand board. The card room has added a “King of the Hill” payout, meaning if you’re the first person to qualify for a high hand and it holds up to the end of the time period, you garner an extra $250. Gulfstream has added other new bonuses in May: Quad kings wins $250 instantly and hitting your high hand on the flop scores a $250 bonus.

Deep stack poker series

The Seminole Hard Rock Deep Stack Poker Series, which consists of seven events and buy-ins ranging from $150 to $1,650, begins Thursday. The tournament series is especially popular for those who like to sit down with loads of chips: Starting stacks range from 30,000 in the early events to 50,000 for the main event.

For those looking for a cheaper way into the main event, the Seminole Hard Rock has a Tuesday Night Special at 6 p.m.: A $150 buy-in awards a seat into the event, which normally costs $1,650.

This week

▪ This is the third consecutive Sunday that Casino Miami has given away a Ford Fusion. Hourly free play drawings are from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., with the grand prize at 11 p.m. The group Palo performs a free show at 9 p.m. Saturday.

▪ Sunday is the monthly Birthday Bash at Hialeah. Players club members who have a birthday in May receive a free cupcake and are entered to win their share of $1,000 in drawings at 8 p.m.

▪ Miccosukee Resort & Gaming has $575 giveaways at noon, 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Slot players must accrue 75 points to be placed into the drawing and have their card in a machine when their name is called.

▪ Magic City Casino continues its popular “Spin to Win” hourly from 4-7 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. Patrons receive, cash, free play or other prizes.

▪ Macallan scotch is paired with a four-course dinner at 7:30 p.m. Friday at NYY Steak at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. Tickets are $199. Call 954-585-5379.

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