Chasing jackpot can be expensive

May 29, 2006 11:20 PM

You have to hand it to those Station Casino slot marketers. Their Jumbo Jackpot promotion for Boarding Pass members is so compelling it has players hunkered down at the slots for hours in the hopes of cashing in on the Big One.

The most recent edition of Slots Till You Drop occurred last week, when the Jackpot eclipsed $146,000 on Thursday, thus attracting thousands of hopeful players.

Keep in mind that the Jumbo Jackpot not only pays the six-figure progressive to a lucky player, everyone else playing at the time with a Boarding Pass card receives $50 in free slot play as well.

I was one of the willing sheep, happy to enter the Palace Station fleecing pen with dollar signs in my eyes, shortly after dinner, around 7 p.m.

As many of you know, the progressive Jackpot has to hit before reaching $150,000, and in the past it usually has hit before reaching $147,000.

But by midnight, the jackpot was still unpaid at more than $147,000, the second highest of all time, according to one of the lambs playing next to me.

Most of the other players had also been playing for hours, all in the hopes, realistically, of winning an additional $50 in slot play.

Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense to pour hundreds of dollars into the machines in order to win $50 in credits, so most of those around me were plunking away on penny games, often one penny at a time.

For me, I played my usual nickel, 20-card-keno game, and was fortunate enough early in the evening to catch a solid 7-spot, which I used to fuel my pursuit of the Jumbo Jackpot.

In an effort to conserve their bankroll, others played the 1¡ version of 20-card-keno, but unfortunately, those games have a diminished paytable.

Specifically, some jackpots, such as 6-of-7 and 7-of-8 and 7-of-9, pay significantly smaller jackpots on pennies, as opposed to 2¡ and higher denomination games.

I tried to point this out to a couple of nearby players, but they elected to remain muttonheads and continue in their "slow play" mode.

At about 1 a.m., Friday morning, the Jumbo Jackpot finally hit at about $147,400 (it wasn’t anywhere near me) and everyone rejoiced — as much out of relief — that they had finally corralled their precious $50 in credits.

I played my $50 off and took back about $35 for my effort. It was somewhat anti-climatic I must confess.

But the real lesson for keno players should be to look carefully at those paytables. You’re already in a tough position trying to win a mere $50 in credits. Don’t compound it by taking the worst of it with a diminished paytable.