Welcome to September, everyone.
There are just so many things to like about September. NFL football. Real games, not exhibitions with the scrubs. (Last year, my Steelers went from “suck” to “OK.” I’m hoping they crack “good” this year.) The weather cools down in September, which makes it nice for me when I go to all the slot manufacturers’ offices to see their new games, so I can write about them in our big G2E show issue.
I love that. In years past, I always did my annual tour of the slot-makers in July, which typically involved repeated 100-yard dashes between air-conditioned offices and super-heated cars. It was like a race with the grim reaper, the goal being to avoid melting into a heap of primordial goo before I could unlock the car door.
Heck, in Las Vegas this month, the mercury is likely to dip to a chilly two digits. Yep, the 90s. (At two in the morning.) (On a cold night.)
September also marks the official start of Trade Show Season. This month, I’m off to Bulgaria, for the Balkan Entertainment and Gaming Expo. I’m completely ready. I can now pinpoint Sofia, the location of the conference, on a map. It’s right there between Serbia and Turkey, next to the McDonald’s across from the Pep Boys.
I will be moderating a professional panel at the Balkan show. After that, I will be moderating a couple of panels at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, followed by the International Gaming Exhibition (formerly International Casino Exhibition-instead of ICE, it’s now “IGE,” which sounds like someone having an attack of heartburn) in London, where they are just beginning to consider an educational conference, where I may be called upon to do another panel.
Yes, I go to these panels-they are usually called “roundtable discussions,” although I have yet to see a round table at any of them-and, as we would say back in the hills of Tennessee, “commence to moderatin’.”
This means I ask questions, and the members of the panel try to decipher just what the heck I’m getting at:
“Mr. Smith, do you feel the ramifications will be acutely felt once the server-based paradigm replaces the analog world-view with an Ethernet-based, digital frame of reference in the industry at large?”
“Well, considering that revelation of modern technology, do you think the industry will see a day when the traditional reel-spinning genre, combined with the advent of the electronic age in table game operations, will evolve to new levels of efficiency?”
“Umm… We have a game with a chicken in it. It’s really cool.”
In any event, this September is extra special for the casino industry in general, because yet another Legato will be unleashed on unsuspecting gaming operators. My younger son, Jim, will turn 21 on the 24th of this month, and, as I did with my older son Joe a few years ago, I am obliged to take him to a casino to mark the arrival of his legal gambling age.
Jim will become the latest beneficiary of the gaming wisdom I have compiled over the past three decades since my own 21st birthday. I will teach him the expert methods I myself employ when playing a slot machine, gleaned from nearly a quarter century of writing and analyzing the games:
“Put the bill in here.”
“Now, push that button.”
“Now, say a curse word.”
But how about video poker?
“Hold those two cards.”
“Now, hit the ‘deal’ button again.”
“Now, say a curse word.”
But what if my son wants to play table games? I can help him on blackjack, maybe.
“OK, you’ve got a five and a three. Split them! No, double down! I mean, go fish!”
How about craps?
“That’s your pass line, and your no pass line. Lay odds behind the pass, and stay away from the prop bets, and watch the shooter, and back up your front bets, and the 10-times odds will front your back bets, and…”
Maybe we should stick to the slot machines. I can probably do the most damage that way.
Then, I’ll moderate a panel on teaching our children how to gamble in casinos.
We’ll use a round table.