The return of the Shuffle Master Classic
By Alex Hammond
After a highly successful debut in 2015, the Shuffle Master Classic is coming back to casinos across the US this summer. Product Specialist Louis D’Andrilli explains how the promotion benefits both supplier and operator
Is the format of the Shuffle Master Classic the same as last year’s tournament? How can casino operators and subsequently gamers enter the promotion?
Each casino needs to sign up to participate in the free promotion – the deadline for doing so is 30 April. The promotion is then structured for customers to try to qualify for the final in those casinos in June, July, and August. Once a player qualifies by being dealt a specific poker hand on one of the designated tables at a participating casino, we’ll fly them to Las Vegas to participate in our Three Card Poker tournament with all the other qualifiers during the week of G2E at the end of September. The winner of this tournament will win $100,000, with the other six players at the final table splitting $150,000. The prize pool is the same as last year’s tournament, but we are giving $250 more per qualifier to travel to Las Vegas.
What support will Scientific Games give to the casinos that sign up for the promotion?
After a casino signs up with us, we’ll send them rack cards and table tents to market the promotion, and we’ll also send them table signs to display so that guests know that they’re playing at a Shuffle Master Classic qualifying table. The casinos get a free promotion from us, with literally no cost to them. We pay for their marketing materials, and we fly any qualifiers to Las Vegas.
How does hosting the tournament benefit the casinos? And what does Scientific Games get for footing the bill of the promotion?
The promotion is a tool that drives play to all of the casino’s Shuffle Master table games that are qualifying tables for the event, which will be reflected in table revenue. We hope the knock-on effect is that casinos will continue to keep our table games over our competitors’, and try our new products. This year we’ve added our two hottest new games – DJ Wild and Flushes Gone Wild – to the promotion as qualifying tables. Feedback from last year’s event was overwhelmingly positive. The casino operators were happy that someone had finally come up with a legitimate table game promotion that actually succeeded in driving traffic to the tables. It does what it promises, in that it costs them nothing to increase play on their games.
Are there comparisons to be drawn between the Shuffle Master Classic and a more traditional blackjack tournament? Does Scientific Games have any similar future promotions on the horizon for other games?
Three Card Poker isn’t as popular as blackjack, but it is the most popular specialty table game of all time. If you play table games, you know Three Card Poker. I wouldn’t call it a spin on a blackjack tournament, but it is similar. This is a more prestigious event with a very large prize pool, taking place during the biggest gaming conference in the world. We don’t have any future promotions planned, but the Shuffle Master Classic is still growing and evolving in style and scope year on year.
How does hosting a tournament like the Shuffle Master Classic strengthen relationships between Scientific Games and its clients?
On top of our strong library of games, this is a promotion that no other table games provider can offer. We’re taking on the costs of marketing the promotion, sending casinos materials, paying for their guests to come to Las Vegas, and putting up a $250,000 prize pool. This will continue to widen the gap between Shuffle Master and its competitors, which will strengthen our relationship with clients and will be an incentive for other casino operators to convert to using Shuffle Master tables on their casino floors going forward.
Do you think casino tournaments are a good way of enticing millennials to casinos? Is this a growing trend we will see going forward?
I do think gamblers are looking for added incentives when playing table games. This could be a large payoff from a progressive, or it could be a trip to Las Vegas to compete in a $250,000 tournament. Millennials are definitely important as the gaming industry grows and recently we’ve seen a fascination with daily fantasy sports and the birth of skill-based slot machines, both of which have that competitive aspect to them that’s also present in a casino tournament. We want to makesure our table games are appealing to millennials as well, so that is definitely an issue we consider.
This article appears in the March/April issue of Gambling Insider