|Casino Sikkim at Hotel Royal Plaza Gangtok|
Stairs you see in the above picture take you to the casino lobby where entry fee is to be paid. Inside, there are a few slot machines (mostly ignored) followed by table games. Roulette, Blackjack, Mini Flush, Baccarat, and and Kitty (see below) are the five games played here. I think there are 4 Roulette and 2 Baccarat tables, and 4 others of Blackjack, Mini Flush, and Kitty. Buffet counters are in one corner while another corner has a small stage for musical performances.
Minimum bet on Roulette is Rs. 50 (on a number) and Rs. 200 (outside bet). All other games need a minimum bet of Rs. 200 and maximum bet of Rs. 10,000. Side bets like Insurance in Blackjack and High/Low in Mini Flush can be Rs. 100. No surrender is allowed in Blackjack. Dealers don't accept cash at the tables. The player needs to exchange money for chips at the Cashier's counter, though the player himself doesn't need to leave the table for this. The casino employs plenty of charming girls designated as Guest Relations Executives (GREs) who stand around the tables to take care of the players' needs like exchanging cash for chips or finding the waiter to get you a drink, etc. The casino is open from 6.00 p.m. to 4 a.m.
How to play Casino Kitty (Tri-Flush or Russian Flush)
I had never seen or heard about Kitty before. Obviously I need to see many more casinos. A maximum of four players and the dealer play Kitty each getting nine cards. The players and dealer then make three sets of three cards each and place the sets on the table according to the rank 1, 2 and 3. The players' rank 1 cards are compared with the dealer's rank 1 cards and similarly rank 2 and 3 are compared with the dealer's rank 2 and 3 cards. 2 or more sets need to be won by the player or the dealer. If the player or the dealer makes a mistake in placing cards in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, the mistake cannot be corrected when the cards are opened. Thus, its a game of skill as much as luck. A commission of 5% is to be paid by the players on top of the bet amount. The casino uses Rs. 10 slot coins for commission. One coin is needed for a bet of Rs. 200. The initial bet is the only bet placed. No additional bet is needed to see dealer's cards like in Mini Flush. There is no qualifying rule. So the dealer plays every hand. Due to the element of skill involved, Kitty is the most popular game here followed by Mini Flush, Roulette, and Baccarat. Blackjack table is often empty in both the Gangtok casinos.
Overall, Casino Sikkim makes for a pleasant experience in spite of having less flashy entertainment as compared to Casino Mahjong. Getting to the casino is easier, quicker, and cheaper. A one way trip to Casino Mahjong in a reserved cab would cost Rs. 300 as compared to Rs. 100 for Casino Sikkim. That said, a tourist coming to Gangtok will invariably visit both the casinos. I did the same and liked both of them, Casino Sikkim a little more than the other.
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