A place to sharpen your player skills

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In describing casinos to my sons when they were younger, I would tell them it was like Dave and Busters, but for adults.

You pay some money to play some games and maybe at the end of the day you bring home a prize. The games at Dave and Busters are mostly skill based games as are most of the games in the casino. Somebody has decided to blur the lines a bit further.

This past week, I was invited to the grand opening of Casino Quest, which is located on the second floor of the Fashion Show Mall near Macy’s. I had never heard of the place, so I looked it up.

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They offer players the opportunity to play casino games for a fixed price per hour with no opportunity to win any money. Essentially after you pay your fee, you can play the game ‘for free.’

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical. I remember playing poker for pennies with my high school friends and gambling generally isn’t taken very seriously when the stakes mean nothing to the players. 

As I read more on their website, I found that the idea was also about giving beginner players the opportunity to both learn the basics of a game in a less intimidating atmosphere than a real casino and to learn proper strategy for the game.

That got my attention for a variety of reasons. When we arrived at the event, Mike Rubin, the vice president of Concierge Services gave us a bit more information. He also told us that more experienced players were using their place to shore up their strategy further, especially at Craps.

I’ve heard of people trying to manipulate the dice using methods of setting them and throwing them. Again, I was a bit skeptical on this one, but if someone believes they can do it, it is better they try while playing without money, but on a real Craps table.

Overall, I found the concept intriguing. I’m not convinced that it will definitely be successful, but I do think that what they are offering is needed. Casinos have at times offered up ‘classes’ in Blackjack, Craps and Roulette, but I doubt they are teaching players proper strategy.

On the night we were there, Casino Quest was offering up free Blackjack Strategy cards. The dealer was more than willing to slow the game down and explain the different options and help the player learn how to use the Strategy Card.

I personally don’t get too upset if a dealer does this in a real casino a bit, but I’m guessing most other players would not take too kindly to it. Having the opportunity to learn in this setting should make a lot of novice players a lot more comfortable.

I think Casino Quest has a good chance of success if they stick with the beginners. They do offer lessons as well, so I believe they realize this is an area of opportunity.

I do think they need to expand their offerings to other table games. There are literally hundreds of books out there about Blackjack, Craps and Roulette. The only other table they had on display was Baccarat, which takes about 10 minutes to learn and with no strategy whatsoever, no time to ‘master.’

I think if they include Three Card Poker, Mississippi Stud Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em and a few others, they will find the interest will increase. These games generally have one book out on each — mine.

While I’d be happy to have everyone order my books, I don’t think that is reasonable of me to expect and some people prefer to learn by doing, not by reading a book.

Another avenue of success for Casino Quest might be in showcasing new games which are not yet in the marketplace. Right now, the small inventors don’t really have a way of showing their games en masse to either players or casinos. As a showplace for these new games, inventors might be able to rent time and space and have focus groups for players and/or show the game to multiple casinos at once without having to bring it from one casino to the next.

I found our evening to be enjoyable and I’m wishing Casino Quest much success. 

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About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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