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Baha Mar Casino – a kaleidoscope of Caribbean culture and entertainment

-Oana Mihalache

For old figures in the gambling industry, casinos in exotic locations are real oasis for relaxation and escapism! Surrounded by beaches, with views towards the sea or the ocean, in an impressionistic mixture of green and blue, but also with many facilities meant to amplify the magic place – these are the coordinates of the famous casino Baha Mar Casino, in Bahamas. Live entertainment, games to suit all tastes and income levels, but also a range of facilities that offer clients an unforgettable experience, all mixed with the adrenaline of winning.

The casino is now described as the most prestigious place dedicated to gambling in Nassau, which is the capital city of Bahamas. On the casino’s official website, a part of the description awakens the curiosity: the nightlife experience there is described as a kaleidoscope of culture and entertainment”. As the biggest casino in the Caribbean, Baha Mar Casino stands up to its reputation: it covers over 30.000 square meters and offers slot machines, table games, and the gambling experience is amplified by the magnificent view towards the ocean and windows from the floor to the ceiling. The gambling experience at Baha Mar Casino can be best described in the following way: 1.140 slot machines with games like Stepper, Video Reels, Wheel of Fortune, Electronic Table Games and Poker; 119 table games with 4 varieties of Blackjack, Single and Double Zero Roulette, electronic table games, but also  poker; a High Limit gaming salon with 22 table games, but also 4 private gaming salons – with games like Blackjack, Midi Baccarat and Single Zero Roulette. On top of that, at the gaming tables players can also have acces to 8 types of proprietary games, such as: Blackjack Switch, Free Bet Blackjack, Casino War, Pai Gow Poker, 3 Card Poker, Let it Ride Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker.

The casino was opened in April 2017 and is now opened daily from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m., a timetable during which players can not only enjoy an unique gaming experience, but also rejoice the advantages of a luxurious resort. Before describing these facilities, the first and foremost bonus of this resort are its 1.800 rooms – spacious, made for long relaxing sessions, offering views towards the ocean and surrounding islands. Also, even though gaming nights can be exhausting – due to the desire to have fun and to boost the adrenaline, during the day guests can relax at a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, a golf American player considered to be one of the best in the world. For those who love to play tennis, the resort also includes a tennis field – called Racquet Club. For those who would rather relax in a passive manner, one of the six pools awaits them, which are surrounded by smooth sand and where they can enjoy all the spoils they can think of – cocktails, tents under which they can stay under shadow, delicious meals and not only. Those who visit this resort will be treated like stars or even like royalty – in the parking lot there is a personal valet waiting for the guests, who also have access to a fitness center, fitness, can choose between Asian, Chinese, British or Bahamas cuisine.

The resort if right in the middle of a very attractive area, thus visitors cannot afford to miss seeing places like the Pirates Museum in Nassau, Pompey Museum, the private Blue Lagoon Beach – in case they were lucky at the gaming table to afford such a spoil – but they can neither miss adventures like a Kayaking session, a visit at the Tropical Gardens, the Clifton Heritage Park or dicing among the marine species that can be seen in the Atlantic waters.

Investments in the resort reached $3.5 billion – an investment project which proved to be an ambitious one for what was projected to be the main attraction in the Bahamas islands. This resort is about to become even more popular than the famous Atlantic Casino Resort, the most popular one in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, at least until this year. The resort was built with financing from the Chinese government, which at the moment has many other ongoing investment projects in the Bahamas, including a redevelopment plan of downtown Nassau. This help came following the initiative on the part of the Bahamas authorities – who claimed that the resort would contribute by more than 10% to the GDP and bring 7.000 new jobs on the island. Basically, the resort is now owned by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises – based in Hong Kong, and the mortgage is held by the Chinese state through the national bank Export-Import Bank and by China State Construction Engineering.

Initially the project was started by a consortium formed by Sarkis Izmirlian, in partnership with Caesars Entertainment, former CEO of Las Vegas Sands and other investors – but they did not manage to finish the ambitious construction. The project was initially launched under the banner “Las Vegas on the Beach”, but because of repeated delays, other resorts soon took over the market. The main competitors of Baha Mar are Atlantic Casino, but also other attractions on the US east coast and across Florida. Due to this reason, Chow Tai Fook could attempt a marketing trick and tempt Chinese players on this side of the Caribbean. Until then, the potential of this resort can only go up, and the Chinese investments in this area are for sure on our radar – next to other projects “to be followed”.

Vegas reloaded in Canada: Grand Villa Casino

-Oana Mihalache

Even if the most recent debates involving Canada have revolved around the signing of the economic agreement known as CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with the European Union, which came to once again show the importance of interconectivity at both a regional and a global level, we must say that the gambling industry is sensitive enough to the economic fluctuations in the region. In the case of Canada, this industry appears to be strongly influenced by the US market, thus opening a new casino at its border is an indicator of the increased competitivity between the two countries, with advantages for both. Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby is more than just a casino, with a high potential to attract clients from the USA, but also to revamp Canadian gambling – through luxury, games variety and other attractions that we will further describe below.

In order to better understand the importance entailed by the grand opening of this casino, located in the British Columbia canadian province, close to Vancouver, it is neccesary to first mention the magnitude of the gambling industry in Canada. Total incomes from this industry reach $15 billion, and the number of employeed who work in this industry is 40.591, to which the new casino added more than 200.

Inaugurated in September 2016, the casino was built by Gateway Casinos, one of the biggest gambling operators in Canada – with 12 casinos in their portfolio. According to its CEO, the construction of this new casino meant an investment of $32 million. Located in the eastern part of Rogers Place, the new casino has 600 slot machines, 42 table games and 7 restaurants. This is how a short description would sound like, but this new canadian gambling attraction offers much more than that.

A holistic approach: a casino as a micro-universe dedicated to gambling

To all this we add the 1.100 game machines, the 6 poker tables and the room that is dedicated to poker. Players can also enjoy the perks of having access to two bars, and those who want to spend many days at this casino can check in at the hotel, in one of its 200 rooms. For players who usually like to raise the stakes in the game they play, while benefiting from a private space, the casino features the Cypress Room for their own enjoyment. Moreover, the conference center makes this casino an ideal destination for business meetings or private events.

Among the games that players can enjoy at Grand Villa Casino we note Blackjack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Craps, Let it Ride, Mini-Baccarat, Pai Gow Poker, Poker, Roulette and Sic Bo. The casino is open non-stop and for a boost of authenticity, clients are also able to enjoy live entertainment, which means that the general atmosphere is a relaxed and friendly one. If you want to recharge your batteries or relax your muscles after a tensed gaming session, the fitness center is the ideal place.

One thing is for certain, namely the fact that this casino will not lack clients – located next to Rogers Place and Winter Garden, a space dedicated to events, the new „Mecca” of gambling in Canada will surely attract a considerable share of the 1.5 million visitors of the two mentioned attractions. Basically, Grand Villa Casino replaced the old Baccarat Casino, which was closed for good after the former’s opening, and a great share of its employees were hired at the new casino. One of the novelties brought by Grand Villa is the way in which it tackles the dependence issue, promoting an initiative called GameSense, that allows employees to be instructed on how to offer specialized advice to those with issues in this regard. On top of that, a part of the incomes brought to the government of the province in which it is located will be directed towards a new treatment center for those who are gambling addicts.

According to the operator, the new casino will attract a more stylish clientele and bring a boost of elegance to this area of Canada. Keeping into account the predictions that seem to reveal a grow of the canadian gambling industry in the context of raising incomes at a national level, we can quote him and assert with certainty that indeed, Grand Villa Casino is not just about gambling, but also more about entertainment and it is set to establish a smaller duplicate of Las Vegas in Canada.

Hustler Casino, the winnings sanctuary in LA

-Oana Mihalache

When the owner of a casino is so famous that he can successfully endorse a business by simply being famous, it becomes more than obvious that his business will prove to be an utmost success.

This is the case of Larry Flint, who owns Hustler Casino since 2000, a name taken after the ononymous magazine he runs. Well, the number of breakthroughts marked by this casinos are not few: it brings profits that surpass $20 million a year, it hosts the biggest seven card-stud game in the world and it was voted as the most luxurious casino in Los Angeles  also known as „The City of Angels”- for six years. In the lines below you will be able to discover the fantastic story behind this internationally known casino and of the man who has the merits of making the name „Hustler” a piece of history – Larry Flint.

 You don’t have to be in Vegas to enter the world of gambling”

Opened in June 2000, Hustler Casino is now open 24/7 and the list of games available in it includes Blackjack, Limit and No Limit Texas Hold’em, No Collection EZ Baccarat, Three Card Poker, Pai Gow Poker, among many others. Located just 15 minutes away from Downtown Los Angeles, the casino offers unforgettable moments spent among the best dealrs in LA, together with top class entertainment. This casino has the ideal recipe to summarize the saying „you don’t have to be in Vegas to enter the world of gambling”. This is due, among other factors, to the fact that it displays the highest poker progressive jackpot in California, a room that resemble the ones in the most luxurious casinos in Vegas, together with services and restaurants that equal the experience one meets in the most sophisticated hotels. On top of that, the casino has marble elements, excellent lightning and spectacular chandeliers.

Million dollars winnings & happy players: checked!

The casino owned by Larry Flint is operated through El Dorade Enterprises Inc and Hustler Magazine and it has become a pricefull gem in the business collection under his management. When it was bought, in 1998, the amount paid for it now makes the deal seem like a real bargain – $8 million. This amount now represents the revenue of the casino for less than half a year. A true example of ROI (Return of investment) by the book. In 2007 the casino was extended with a n addition that became the Crystal Room – used as a card games room, conference room and poker tours. The casinos now consists of 50 poker tables, 30 live games tables, two restaurants and a Gift Shop.

Another thing that ensures this casino a well-deserved place among the top casinos in the world is the fact that since 2007 is the host of the biggest seven card stud game, with a buy in of $200.000 and stakes of $2.000 – $4.000, one of the greatest in the world of casinos. The game takes place, most of the times, in the main poker room and among the guests that participated by now we can mention the american poker player Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey, but also Ted Forrest, a famous poker player in Las Vegas.

What do you mean who’s Larry Flint?

The story of Hustler Casino is only a chapter – albeit among the most importan ones – from the uneasy life of Larry Flint. In order to maintain a proper overview, we will go on by saying that the incomes of the casino merely rise to 10% of the total incomes of Flint for a year, of $150 million. In the publishing world he is best known as the owner of the „Larry Flint Publications” publishing house, which prints over 20 magazine, including the male magazin Hustler. His first business was a striptease club in Ohio, and afterwards many other business attempts followed, that made him known as the „King of pornography”. Even if along time Larry Flint was also involved in many public scandals, Larry Flint is still a role model for many. In fact, his life was screened in the movie The People vs. Larry Flint in 1996, directed by Milos Forman.

Even if this casino seems to be just one of the many business gems belonging to Larry Flint, it is a well-known fact that he runs no business like usual. Just like he did with Hustler Magazine, he runs businesses that become landmarks in their field of activity. Well, Hustler Casino came to be associated with luxury, sumptuousness and, above all, a winnings paradise.

(Română) Valley Forge Casino Resort a fost inaugurat

Sorry, this entry is only available in Romanian.

Pyramid Poker

Pyramid poker is an abbreviated game of Pai Gow poker that uses less than the traditional seven cards. This poker variation also uses communal cards to help players build their hands, but instead of seven, three cards are dealt face down. It uses a standard 52 card deck without jokers. The hand rankings are just like in poker except that aces are always high.

Poker in shape of a pyramid

The cards are dealt in the shape of a pyramid, thus naming the game. At least two players are needed and a standard deck of fifty-two cards. The ideal number of players for Pyramid Poker is eight to nine players. The first step is to choose a random dealer. The dealer deals the player and himself 3 cards, which is arranged into a 2 card hand and a 1 card hand which should be smaller than the 2-card hand. After all players have received their hole cards, they may look at them.

As in Pai Gow Poker, the one-card hand must have a lower value than the two-card hand. There are no straights or flushes in the 2-card hand, and a higher ranked hand wins in both the hands. Each player antes, and the dealer deals clockwise four cards face down to each player. He then deals six cards, face down, in the shape of a pyramid (one on the top row, two in the middle row, three on the bottom row). Deal will continue to rotate in a clockwise direction after each hand is played. Each player at the table will be able to use one card from each row.

Rules and options

The game begins with a round of betting starting to the dealer’s left. Each player can check (if no bets have been placed) or bet, call, raise, or fold in turn. The dealer then turns over the middle row and the middle card in the bottom row of the pyramid. A second round of betting takes place, after which the dealer turns over the top card. A third round of betting occurs. The dealer turns over the last two cards, and a final round of betting takes place. In this last round, the players must flip the bottom row of community cards over. Each player will be able to use one and only one of these three cards in their final poker hand. The final wagering round is begun by the player sitting four seats to the left of the dealer.

The last step is to reveal cards and declare hands. Each player who has not folded now reveals his hole cards and declares his hand based on using these hole cards along with one card from each row of the pyramid. The same community cards can be used by multiple players. Once a hand is declared, it cannot be changed, and if a declaration is incorrect that player cannot win the pot. The player with the best poker hand wins the entire pot.

Bet and win

You can use the four cards in your hand and any three cards that form an outside row of the pyramid to form your best five-card poker hand. Another variation of Pyramid Poker lets you use the four cards in your hand plus one card from each of three rows to form the best five-card poker hand. The player with the highest hand wins and takes the pot.

Once the player sets his two hands, the player’s one-card hand is compared to the dealer’s one-card hand, and then the player’s two-card hand is measured against the dealer’s two-card hand. In order to win, the both hands of the player has to be higher than the dealer’s hands. If only one hand is higher and the other loses, then the bet is a tie or push. The players loses his bet if the dealer wins both ways. If hands are of equal face value -say for instance you both have a Queen in your one-card hands – it’s called a copy, which automatically goes to the dealer, giving the casino a built-in house edge of approximately 3.5%.

Pai Gow, that ancient Chinese spirit which makes the poker game more entertaining

This traditional Asian game is played with tiles that look like dominos. To make it easier to understand, an American version was introduced using standard playing cards and the ranking of hands were fashioned after poker hands.

The game of Pai Gow Poker combines the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow and Poker. Pai Gow literally means, “Make nine”. In ancient China, the word p’ai stood for both the cards and the dominoes. The same word represented both the objects, as there is no significant difference between cards and dominoes in China. Chinese people started playing it thousands of years ago with domino tile sets. In modern times, Pai Gow Poker has become a great attraction among the gamblers in cities like California and Nevada. While people used to play the Chinese Pai Gow with domino tiles, its American version uses normal cards. Pai Gow Poker has a very similar playing style with many other card games. People who learn the game often end up being avid players.

Pai Gow Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck and one joker. The joker can be used as an ace or a wild card to complete a straight, a flush or straight flush only. The game is played on a blackjack-size table with up to six players and a banker. The players are playing against the banker. In most cases, the casino acts as the banker although players can chose to bank the game if they wish to. This would require having enough money to cover all of the other player’s bets. The casino collects a five- percent commission on all winning bets.

To start the game, the players make their bets according to the table minimum. The dealer shuffles the cards and deals out seven stacks containing seven cards. This is done no matter how many players there are. The Banker shakes a cup containing three dice to determine who gets the first hand.

The player looks at their seven cards and sets them into a two-card hand and a five-card hand. There is a place marked on the table to place your hands. The two-card hand is placed in front and the five-card hand is placed behind it. If both of your hands beat the Banker’s two hands you win. If one of your hands beats the Bankers and one loses it is a push and there are no winners. If either of your hands has the exact same value as the Banker’s hand it is a tie, which is called a copy and the Banker wins. If the Banker’s two hands beats both of your hands you lose.

When you are setting your hands, your five-card hand must be a higher value than your two-card hand. If you make a mistake and the two-card hand is higher it is a “foul” and you lose automatically. When the casino acts as the Banker, the dealers must set their hands according to certain rules, which is called the “House Way.” If you are unsure of how to set your and you can ask the dealer to set it the “House Way.” This will keep you from making a mistake.

Yes, Pai Gow is another variant of poker, but with a certain twist to it. You can say that the game goes pretty much along the lines of blackjack where players wage their games against the banker and not amongst themselves.