All bets are on

NOTE: Today's column is about gambling and is not an endorsement for gambling or any kind of gaming but is written as an experience and is no way an advertisement for casino gambling.

Many of you out in Gazette land have gambled on something, whether it be a penny ante poker game or filling out a square on a game card. Your scribe is a bit of a gambler as well, having visited 7 Cedars Casino and other casinos, as well as Emerald Downs horse race facility on a somewhat regular basis, as well as playing in many a game of "Old Maid" on the Elwha River during summer camping trips.

I have been lucky enough to hit one large slot machine jackpot in my lifetime that helped pay for the Chapman kitchen remodel a few years ago, but, remember this fans, I only gamble with the Chapman bankroll when I can afford to lose the amount I intend to wager.

I've taken part in a cribbage tournament or two and occasionally take a gander at poker on the World Poker Tour and marvel at the guys and gals who go "all in" for $750,000, but I really wanted to take part in a slot machine tournament that I have watched from a short distance.

Many of you have visited casinos and played the slot machines hoping for the big payout and many a time I have watched as slot players engage in something called a tournament. I think it's a tournament as shifts of players pound away on the max bet button as if they want to break it.

I decided to try one last Sunday at 7 Cedars to see what the attraction of the slot tournament really is.

Sign up

A slot tournament is limited to 64 players. The entry fee is $55 each and last Sunday included a chance for cash drawings during the day and also included a dinner, so I consulted Mrs. Chapman about the idea and she grinned from ear to ear as she also likes to push the slot machine buttons herself. Make that really likes to push the buttons on the machine, especially if she is being staked.

I figured, what the heck, let's play and see what the attraction is. After, all it includes a dinner and I'm a sucker for anything that includes food.

Glenn Smithson, slot manager, gave instructions to the players. He had 80 signed up as they had to skip December's event because of weather. It's pretty simple. They turn on 16 special machines and fine tune them to pay off about 600 per cent for the tourney players. Each player gets a card for $300 that nets 6,000 points before starting play and each player draws a machine.

There were A, B, C, D and E rounds lasting 15 minutes each. When Smithson's cadre of helpers gets everyone set, the start is sounded and fingers fly and pound and people yell and scream and sing and woof and the sound of points piling up is awesome.

Yes, woof. It seems that when 911 comes up with a dog next to a fire hydrant, that triggers a big bonus and players yell and helpers yell ... "Who let the dogs out? Woof, Woof." You know, like that song. It's wild.

Two players on either side of me wound up 40,000 or more to the good and my machine paid off to the tune of about 13,000. In the second round, I drew a better machine and wound up with nearly 40,000 as I hit one jackpot line but I did not have enough points to crack the top 16 as points are added after two rounds. The top player had about 137,000 or so.

After five rounds, the top 15 point winners go at it for the payoff and one wild card is drawn. Mrs. Chapman drew the wild card and she finished in the money to get $80. I reminded her that I had staked her $55 to the tournament but I did not receive a payback. Top winner netted $1,000, so it's well worth the investment.

So what to do between rounds? Ah, folks, that's why the casino has tournaments. Each player gets a bag of goodies, a couple of drink tickets and a special buffet was set up for the 80 slot players. The fried chicken dinner was great (JT note that I did take the skin off the chicken) and dessert was included.

They had drawings for other prizes but the casino comes out pretty well as there are 64 players milling around between rounds playing other machines, taking a whirl at roulette, playing a little blackjack or "practicing" on other machines.

Being ever the sports reporter and since I was on "field research," I did manage to watch a couple plays, seeing Arizona upset Philly and Pittsburgh beat Baltimore.

How popular are slot tourneys? The January event probably is sold out by now as players were signing up as they left the building.

It was a great learning experience and I'll be better prepared for the next one, Smitty.

Columns by KONP 1450 AM sports announcer Scooter Chapman appear weekly in the Sequim Gazette. He can be reached via e-mail at

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