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Case Number 01137

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Play To Win

BFS Video // 2000 // 123 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // May 24th, 2001

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All Rise...

The Charge

How to win (well, not lose so much) at the casino.

Opening Statement

For the newcomer, a casino can be a dazzling but confusing place. The games seem simple, but the myriad ways of betting and sheer number of games to play can be daunting. BFS Entertainment is a distributor that fills a niche in the market for instructional and infotainment programs on DVD, and Play to Win is a disc in this mold. Learn how to better handle blackjack, craps, and slot machines when you take your hard earned money into the casino, and you might just have some of it in your pocket when you leave.

The Evidence

The program is surprisingly thorough at explaining the games and how best to play them, with about 40 minutes devoted to each game. Even better is the fact that the program teaches conservative play; they want you to be able to play for a long time and hopefully leave with more money than you came with. Virtually every situation you can come up with in blackjack is covered—whether to hit, stand, split, or double down. Each of these possible plays is thought out in terms of the odds; every possible chance you have to increase your odds is taken. Other casino-specific information, such as insurance, is covered as well, though we are cautioned to find out the local casino rules before playing.

I didn't realize how much there was to playing craps before watching this program. The game itself is simple enough, but there are so many ways to bet that it can be confusing, and sometimes intentionally so. The program teaches what bets are good and which ones to leave entirely alone.

I had no idea there was any strategy at all to playing slot machines, but apparently there are things you can do to bring the odds as close to your favor as possible. Local laws and even different casinos have differing rates of returns from the machines for example; some give far more money back over time than others.

Best of all is the chapters on money management, which are repeated almost verbatim for each game. Only play with money you can afford to lose. Split up your money into parts for each gaming session, and only let yourself lose what you allotted for that session. Just as importantly, decide ahead of time how much money you can win before you walk away; the program makes no bones about the fact that the long term odds are always with the house, and the longer you stay at the table the more likely you are to lose the winnings you've gained.

The DVD presentation isn't anything to write home about, but fulfills its purpose. The full frame picture is clear and looks much like a television program. The sound is an uninspiring two-channel front loaded mix, but this is all talk, and at least you can understand everything that is said. Extra content consists of DVD-ROM computer versions of the casino games covered.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

The only real complaint about the program is that it is done much like an infomercial. The narrator is lively enough, but the other people like the dealers stand like statues. It's a bit surreal, and a bit cheesy at times. Still, there is some good information here, and it's worth sitting through.

Closing Statement

If you are contemplating a trip to a casino anytime soon, and you aren't an accomplished gambler, then this DVD could likely save you it's cost at the gaming tables during your first session. It could save you far more than that. I found it entertaining just to find out more about casino gambling, which has been a vice I've never tried.

The Verdict

The program is acquitted for providing an informative service, though it could have been done with more panache. BFS is likewise acquitted for continuing to fill a niche with interesting and informative educational programs on DVD.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 75
Audio: 75
Extras: 75
Acting: 50
Story: 75
Judgment: 73

Perp Profile

Studio: BFS Video
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• None

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