Tic-Tac-Toe-Playing Chickens the New Rage in Casino

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Walking away from a casino with hefty winnings is rare indeed for most casino-goers, but some gamblers are more likely to be content with losing if they lost to a chicken.

For more than five decades, patrons came from all corners of the country to play tic-tac-toe with the prized chickens at the Chinatown Fair arcade in New York, where the chickens always went first and almost never lost.

But according to The New York Times, the arcade was forced to close its doors after a rent dispute, and when it reopened last month under new management, the popular chickens were gone.

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While loyal Chinatown Fair arcade customers were discouraged to hear the chickens are not a part of the revived ChinatownFair, those who really want to challenge a chicken to tic-tac-toe still can if they're willing to drive. Monticello Casino and Raceway in upstate New York has taken over the chicken game.

"We go a week sometimes and nobody beats a chicken," says Bunky Boger, an animal trainer from Lowell, Ark. who helps train the tic-tac-toe birds. Boger says that most people think they're smarter than a chicken and when they lose, they're left in disbelief.

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Although Mr. Boger is there to help the chickens, little training is actually involved. The chickens are not taught how to play tic-tac-toe, but respond to pulsing lights that show dictate their game moves. When the quarters are deposited, the chicken is directed by the lights to give the appearance of selecting a square for its move. After each game, the chicken is rewarded with feed. The chickens are then rotated when one gets full, bored or tired.

Mr. Boger says that building a new unit can cost up to $20,000 and comes with the computerized game and 15 chickens. He is working on a new enterprise involving his playful poultry: a chicken that deals blackjack.

"I havent gotten that far with it," Boger said.

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