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The 100 Most Significant Events of the 20th Century in Casino Gambling31 March 2001
What is the leisure time activity that more adult Americans participate in than any other? Going to movies? No. Playing softball? No. Golf? No. Bowling? Come on! Tennis? Oh, my aching elbow! Stamp collecting? No. Coin collecting? You're getting colder. Quilting? Sure, that's big with the truckers. Reading great literature? Ha! Ha! Ice cold. Freezing.
Think! Over 130 million people participated in this activity last year. Adult people. People with money. Yes, Virginia, I even saw a guy in a Santa Claus suit doing it last Christmas.
From kitchen poker games to sports and horse betting, to dogs and dominoes, more people gamble than do just about anything else other than eat, sleep, work and make more people.
And the biggest draw in the world of gambling is unquestionably casino gambling. The 20th Century has seen an explosion in legal casino gambling unequaled in the history of man. Las Vegas has gone from a sleepy little desert town to a sprawling metropolis. Atlantic City has been resurrected. Tiny delta counties such as Tunica have become giant pools of money. Riverboats ply the waves up and down the Midwest. And Indian casinos are changing the concept of the word reservation from a holding area for an oppressed people to: "We'll gladly take your reservation. Will that be a suite or a deluxe room, sir?"
No question, casino gambling was all the rage as our 20th Century and the Second Millennium came to a close and it does not show any signs of slowing down as the 21st Century and Third Millennium begin.
As with any activity of mankind, the people, places, and things of 20th Century casino gambling fill many volumes. Picking the top 100 events was not an easy task. I had plenty of help from a diversity of sources, many of which I list at the end of the article. Just about every gaming writer I asked to contribute his or her ideas was more than happy to help me out with this herculean effort. Not everyone wanted to be listed as a source and I have respected their anonymity. I give each and every one who helped me compile this list, whether credited or not, a sincere thank you. I couldn't have done it without them.
I am sure that for just about every event I have included, some reader can make a good argument for why I should not have included it but, instead, have included something else in its place. That's the nature of lists.
In my opinion, every event on this list has had an impact on casino gambling in some way, either directly (the creation of Megabucks), or indirectly (Howard Hughes moves to Las Vegas and buys seven casinos), or tangentially (Hoover Dam is completed). Some of the events have helped to create and promulgate casino lore, some simply made splashy headlines. But all were big in the casino scheme of things in my estimation as they have added to the mystique of casinos or casino towns.
[ 76.] 1989: The King's Club in Brimley, Michigan, opens its doors. It is the first Native American gambling club to offer slots and blackjack games, as opposed to bingo. The Indian casino explosion is about to begin.
[ 77.] 1989-1990: Iowa, Illinois, and Mississippi legalize gambling on riverboats (or on the water). Most of the riverboats don't actually go on the rivers, they just sit there at dockside or move a few yards offshore and tread water. Many of the other dockside casinos are on mud holes, some dry as a bone, but, hey, who cares? No one's going fishing and the national gambling explosion is on!
[ 78.] 1991: Beat the Craps Out of the Casinos: How to Play Craps and Win! by Frank Scoblete is published. This number one best-selling gaming book since its publication introduces the Captain, a legendary Atlantic City craps player and the originator of the 5-Count, a system for reducing risk and positioning players to take advantage of hot rolls.
[ 79.] 1991: The Maxim deals its "dream" blackjack game for three months. From July through September, the Maxim Casino Hotel in Las Vegas deals the best single-deck blackjack game the world has ever seen since card counting came on the scene (and maybe even before that!). With the exception of the burn card, every card is dealt out. If the dealer runs out of cards in mid-round, he just takes the discards, shuffles them and continues dealing. Makes a little known aspect of blackjack strategy - called "end play" - pivotal. The rules are out of this world, too: dealer stands on soft 17; the players can double down on any first two cards; the players can split and resplit pairs, including aces, and the casino tolerates wide betting spreads. To add icing to an already incredible cake, if a player gets a blackjack (which pays 3 to 2, not even money as some sucker "we deal all cards to the bottom" single-deck games do) with a $5 or more bet, he gets a one-dollar coupon good for one real dollar's worth of food or merchandise at any Maxim outlet. Four tables are open for this single-deck game every day and many of blackjack's greatest players show up to play it. Interestingly enough, the Maxim has many players playing all the blackjack games offered, the casino is doing brisk business at almost all hours of the day and night - even at their six-deck shoes. Seems the atmosphere is so supercharged that even those players who aren't skilled are enjoying the adrenaline high of a blackjack paradise and playing it up. The author of this article played the Maxim game for eight weeks and mourns its passing more than the passing of my first pet, a cat named "cat."
[ 80.] 1992-1993: Lenny Frome publishes Video Poker: America's National Game of Chance with Marilyn Guberman, which is the first video poker book based on accurate mathematical calculations to gain a widespread audience. He follows this up with Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which gives complete strategies for a host of the most popular video poker games. A former engineer, Frome is the first writer of note to offer mathematically based basic strategies, some of which yield the player a positive expectation. Frome is considered the father of modern video poker strategy.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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