“Casinos of Michigan” book readers are winning big

January 1st, 2014

Now in its second year of distribution, “Casinos of Michigan” is helping to create better, smarter casino players.
“I did what you said about maintaining my kitty on slot machines, and I have had some pretty good days,” said David Meredith, who plays mostly at the FireKeepers Casino near Battle Creek.
The book is filled with practical advice on improving your visits to casinos. The goal is to have fun and leave satisfied, whether you lose less than usual, break even or hit a jackpot and click your heels on the way out.

We get in trouble when we lose track of spending, or when we think we can always win more money on a good day, or dig ourselves out of a money pit on a bad day. Keep your head. Set a time limit and a money limit. Take breaks to eat and to get fresh air. Try new machines, different tables or new card games.

If you consistently lose at a particular casino, go elsewhere. It is tough to bypass the casino closest to home, but necessary when you are mired in a losing streak.  Change the water on the minnies, my grandparents would say.

Fortunately, with two dozen casinos in Michigan and one next door in Toledo, most residents can experience a different casino with just a little more driving.  Go on a road trip with a friend or family member who needs to get out of the house.  The first time in a new casino, or on a new slot machine, can sometimes be a chance for a new beginning, especially if you have become bored with your usual casino experience.



“Casinos of Michigan” readers are winning

January 1st, 2014

Great gift for Mother’s Day

February 3rd, 2013

“Casinos of Michigan” is the source book for more and more smart casino players. A Jackson woman told me she followed my advice on stash management and is leaving casinos with money more often than in the past, and she has even fled a casino after a $400 win.

“In the past I would feed it back in the machines and then kick myself when I was dipping into my purse,” she said. We have all done that. Admit it.

“Casinos of Michigan” is a great gift for casino lovers in your family.  If your mother, wife or grandmother likes to travel to casinos, watch her face light up with the gift of my book on Mother’s Day.

For an autographed book, call author Steven J. Hepker toll free at (888) 770-2227. I will ship your book next day.

Steven J. Hepker



Beat the casinos with “Casinos of Michigan”

January 28th, 2013

Hundreds of readers are using my book to improve their casino play. Many say they finally have learned how to leave casinos with more cash than when they arrived.
The book is filled with practical advice that works. I am no flim-flam guy selling you some secret hocus-pocus . Google how to win at casinos and you will unleash a flood of self-serving crap that is a come-on for purchasing someone’s get-rich-quick scheme. I hate that shuck and jive.
So here, from “Casinos of Michigan,” is one of my tips that is simple and yet impossible for so many gamblers: Set limits for both wins and losses and stick to it. Don’t laugh. That is really what separates winners from losers.
Nearly every time I violate this rule I lose. Last week I was up $500 on just two slot machines after a half hour. I was giddy. Just imagine how much more money I could make if I stayed a few hours!
You guessed it. I gave the $500 back to Firekeepers, and then some, and felt worse than if I had never hit two big wins. I had ignored my own advice.
It is not difficult to get $100 or $200 ahead. That’s a good day’s pay. And yet, human nature begs us to stay and try for more. Casinos count on succumbing to that little voice, because it means they will get the money back.
Here is your assignment: Next time you lose your limit, or win your limit, use your comps for a meal or sandwich and just leave. See how that feels. I think it is much more fun heeding the voice of reason.

Carry a gun to the casino, leave it in the glove box

January 28th, 2013

Casinos in Michigan bar guests from carrying weapons, and that is fine with me. Most of us do not want a stranger at the poker table or on the next slot machine packing heat.
There is no shortage of security officers and undercover agents in casinos, and crime is actually rare in casinos. Realistically, the average casino player is well past the prime age for criminals and is just there for entertainment.
The shadiest characters are at the craps tables and blackjack tables. Many of them should never be allowed near a gun and are not fit for polite society. Fortunately, the worst of them play in the wee hours, and stumble out about daybreak.
You are safe from the riffraff inside casinos. Even the parking garages offer a pretty good buffer, but not enough for me to go to one of the city casinos without a handgun handy in the truck. Park in an open area or as close as possible to the entrance on the main floor.
Before you leave the safety of your handgun, do a sweep of the area for any characters skulking. You know the look. They seem to be scouting for easy prey. It won’t be me. Lock the gun in a secured area and lock the vehicle. If they break in the vehicle and steal your gun, that is out of your hands. It does not happen that often at casino properties.
The trouble with Detroit casinos is that motorists must pass through crime-ridden neighborhoods with desperate people who are deft at armed robbery, carjacking and terror. Keep your gun loaded and ready to fire.
If you do not have the stomach to protect yourself, stay away from metro casinos or go only in groups.

Behold the one-armed bandit

September 3rd, 2011

Modern slot machines are programmed to keep about 10 percent of all wagers over the life of the machine. So, why do you leave a casino broke and frustrated?

Because machines have hot and cold streaks. Because you do not have the discipline to leave when you get ahead. You feed cold machines thinking they are due and leave hot machines thinking they are spent.

It is all of that. Mostly, however, it is the nature of payouts. A computer chip tells the virtual reel when to hit big or small jackpots. Some slot players go a lifetime without hitting even $500 or $1,000 on a machine.
This is overly simple but consider just one machine. Twenty players each feed it $100, or $2,000. Nineteen of them play up and down but lose all they wagered. The lucky player hits a $1,900 jackpot.
You get the point. The machine is an investment tool for the casino, like a money market fund. They will hit their target return.
You, however, must never consider a wager an investment but an entertainment expense that sometimes pays back.

Get your “Casinos of Michigan” book

September 1st, 2011

“Casinos of Michigan” is for slot machine enthusiasts, casino fans of all ages and experience, travelers and even those who have never visited a casino. Hundreds of casino players are using my book as a guide to better casino play, and many report actually logging some big wins by being smarter with their stash.

The book profiles all of Michigan’s casinos and offers vital information that all casino players can use to improve their game, get better comps and to better understand slot machines and casino games.

“Casinos of Michigan” documents the history of tribal gaming, which started in Michigan, Florida and California three decades ago. The book will inspire you to travel across the greatest of Great Lakes states to visit more than two dozen casinos and enjoy the sights, tastes and experiences that make Michigan a special place.

I am Steven Hepker, a professional writer for 31 years, amd I wrote “Casinos of Michigan” after four years of research, interviews and travel from New Buffalo to Traverse City, Detroit to Copper Harbor, the Soo and the far reaches of the western Upper Peninsula, where tribal gaming began.

The book was researched, written and printed in Michigan and retails for $14.95, plus $3 for shipping and sales tax. The author is covering part of shipping and handling costs to keep the book affordable for more people. This is a book that can be tossed in your car, camper, backpack or laptop case and used often for day trips, vacations and casino tours. Even if you are not a casino fan, someone in your family is likely a casino regular. More than half of Michigan adults say they have been in a casino.

There are numerous ways to purchase “Casinos of Michigan.” The easiest, quickest and most secure route is to click the “Buy Now” button in the banner box of this page and pay by credit card or PayPal. Or, call toll-free (888) 770-2227 and state your credit card number, security code, expiration date and delivery address.

For those who prefer old-school, send cash or money order to Casinos of Michigan, P.O. Box 248, Hudson, MI 49247. Your order will be handled with pride and care by the author.

“Casinos of Michigan” also is sold through Barnes and Noble and at some unusual outlets: Professional Hearing Services in Jackson and Hillsdale; Pittsford Feed Mill; Dancing Crane Coffee Co. in Brimley, Wheatfield Party Store near Battle Creek; Geneva’s Trip Takers of Litchfield and wherever the author travels. Hey, I even sold seven books while getting a tooth repaired by Dr. Dow in Jonesville.

Some customers have even come to my home or hollered at me as I drove through town: “Hey, you have any books with you?” Of course, I use them as ballast in winter and as an excuse to bar hitchhikers!

Sometimes I carry “Casinos of Michigan” with me in casinos. “Where’d you get that?” strangers ask. After a quick explanation they buy the book, signed, and I go to the truck and get more books and pretend I am consulting the book as I play. Marketing is the real work in publishing a book.

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Four Winds North Casino opens

August 31st, 2011

HARTFORD, MI — Four Winds North Casino opened in Hartford Tuesday. It is the state’s 26th casino and is a smaller version of the Four Winds Casino just 40 miles away in New Buffalo.

Pokagon Band officials consider the new casino more of a “local” establishment, but it will draw gamblers from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.  It is between the Four Winds and FireKeepers casinos. Road trip!

Four Winds Casino is among my favorites, and it is expanding because it has done so well.
The Hartford casino is 52,000 square feet and employs 300 people.

When the black chips are down

August 30th, 2011

I have never plunked a black chip on the felt. Most of us would be sick to our stomachs to bet $100 a clip. And yet, I know two players who routinely bet black chips.
“A chip is a chip is a chip,” says Stan, who I met at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant.
Stan carries $2,000 and buys 5 black chips and 20 green chips, the mere $25 chips. If the table is hot, he sneaks in a black, then another, and backs off to green on a downswing.
“I play as if I am at the kitchen table and the chips have no value, so I am just playing the game,” Stan said.
Believe it or not, he claims he remains ahead after years of playing table games in retirement.
What he does is similar to my game plan on blackjack tables, except I manage $5 and $10 chips with a few greens in the mix on a very good run. It’s a thrill building a stack of green chips.
I call it making hay while the sun shines.

A Texas Hold’Em Poker Primer

August 15th, 2011

Poker Room First-Timers
By Colin Hepker

Want to take your on-line poker skills into the “live” setting of a casino? Have the pots and challenge of your home game become too small? Either way, playing poker in a casino poker room for the first time can be quite intimidating. Unlike other games at a casino, poker rooms don’t allow you to sit right down and start throwing money around.

If you are new to a casino poker room, here are a few procedural tips to help you confidently and quickly find a table and start playing:

 When you first enter the poker room, the very first thing is getting your name on the list of the game of your choice. Every poker room has a reception desk manned by management clad in business attire. Go to this reception desk, and tell them that you’d like to get on the list for $1/$2 No Limit or whichever game and stakes you’re comfortable playing.
 If the room is not busy, you might get on a table right away. If not, your name will go on a list that is usually displayed around the poker room by large screen televisions. This allows you to keep track of your place on the list.
 Once your name has been called, you will then need to check at the reception desk. Staff will direct you to your table number and to the cashier.
 Poker chips are not allowed to be purchased at the tables, so you must get your chips from the cashier. Most poker rooms have an in-house cashier. More and more poker rooms are actually turning to “chip runners” who will take your cash when you check in, and bring your chips to the table.
 Depending on the rules of the poker room, you may be able to jump right in on the next deal free of charge, or you might have to wait a hand or two depending on where the dealer button is in relation to your seat.
 Many casinos allow a rule called “buying the button,” which allows you to post both the big and small blinds in order to take the dealer button in the next deal. This situation is only if you are sitting down in the small blind; otherwise you could just wait a hand to get in for free.
 When you first start a casino poker table, you’ll notice what is called a commitment line on the table felt. This line is the basis of what is deemed a bet, call, or raise. Whenever your chips cross that line, you have committed them to the pot and cannot take them back.
 Another thing you’ll notice at the poker table is the dealer squirreling away chips from the pot. This is called the rake, and it is what the casino does to make money. Most rakes amount to $1 per $10 in the pot, with a max of $5 or $6.

Knowing a few things on how casino poker rooms operate can go a long way to making your experience very rewarding. I hope this advice will serve you well as you make your way into the “live” world of casino poker.

I will offer more insights to help your game in coming posts.