smoothgrh
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bobbartopcamaplMrCasinoGames
July 29th, 2022 at 1:50:43 PM permalink
For my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday weekend on July 16, the Mrs., her brothers, and I took our mom to this casino, which we hadn’t previously visited.

Its official name is the “Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain.” If you call them, the person who picks up says “Thank you for calling the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain. This is…” It’s in the middle of nowhere, so we called to ask if we could buy a day pass to the swimming pool (to park the kids) — we could not. So we booked a hotel room in downtown Sacramento and parked the teens there.

The casino is along the same highway (65) as the one that goes past Thunder Valley Casino. However, from Sacramento, the drive to the Hard Rock is more of a straight route northbound up Highway 99 and Highway 70. It’s 36 miles north of the State Capitol, but arguably an easier drive than the 27 miles to Thunder Valley. Perhaps the Hard Rock is trying to steal its thunder? The Hard Rock is actually near the town of Wheatland, and only 10 miles from the “big city” of Yuba City to the northwest, but “Hard Rock Yuba City” just doesn’t have the same cachet.

It opened October 30, 2019 and has a reported 140,000 square-foot gambling floor with 1,500 slot machines and 55 table games. The hotel has 168 guest rooms including 31 suites, a pool, spa, and five restaurants. It opened its 2,500-seat music and entertainment center, Hard Rock Live, on June 3.

My bro-in-law and I agreed that the Hard Rock’s decor and vibe was much better than Thunder Valley, which looks fancy, but lacks the style associated with the Hard Rock brand. I would say the Sacramento Hard Rock, though it has the usual memorabilia, is more minimalist than the Lake Tahoe Hard Rock.





On this Saturday night, I saw $10 CSM blackjack and $15 double deck. I didn’t see any signs posted about 6:5 BJ payouts, but I assumed they all were. The Mrs. and I signed up for players cards — I got $10 free play from the kiosk and she got $5. They also give you a tee-shirt, but today they had only 3XL sizes in either black or blue.



They had $10 craps, and for some reason, I was feeling lucky today. I hadn’t played craps in years. It’s California craps, so before each new shooter, the dealer hand-shuffles six cards and lays them out in front of numbers 1–6. I bought in for $100, put $10 on the pass line, and made a (fortunately quiet) fist pump on the come out when I saw a 6 and 1 rolled. But it wasn’t 7 — the roll depends on what numbers the cards assign them! I played the pass line with double odds, and one place bet — usually the 6 or 8, or 5 or 9. I tossed a dealer $6 on my first place bet, and after a pause to think about it, he informed me that it would be $12. That used to be my press wager, so I’m still getting used to gambling inflation!

Each shooter made an average of one place bet for me with an occasional point made before 7-out. Same on my roll. By the time the dice came around to me again, I was down a bit more than $50. I decided I would roll and then quit. Fortunately, I had the hot hand. I made about four points, hit a few of my place bets, and made some money for people on their horn bets and hard ways. Overall I finished ahead $67!



I triumphantly joined my bro-in-law at the Center Bar, where he was playing some video poker. He said the drinks were pretty strong — and told of a guy who sent his drink back because it was TOO strong for him as he’d be driving soon. My other bro-in-law later pointed out the curiosity that their tonic drinks came in plastic cups, while my old fashioned came in a fancy whiskey glass! The drink was good and indeed strong, and I nursed it through my dinner. The tab was about $36 for four drinks.



The bartops in the front were Aristocrat machines with 7-5 JoB. I went to the back to find an open seat and saw old IGT machines (also 7-5 JoB). A woman was playing video blackjack and I asked if the seat next to her was open — I mentioned I’d be there only a few minutes to use my $10 free play. She said “don’t go wild.” I had a good run on my eight hands (playing 5x$0.25) and cashed out with $7.50. Later, I realized that I did not see any other video poker machines except at the bar.



The Mrs. scouted out the buffet and said it didn’t appear to be worth it. We decided on the Hard Rock Cafe behind the Center Bar. They put us on the stage, where it seems like they’ve chosen to use that area as a dining space. The food was generally good. I enjoyed the nachos, which included pickled red onion slivers. I ordered the Surf and Turf Burger, which comes topped with their spicy shrimp and coleslaw. The meat came out medium rare as I ordered it with a great charred flavor, and the bun was toasted the way I like it. The breaded shrimp was the weakest link — I’m pretty sure it was originally frozen. The staff came over to sing Happy Birthday to our mom, along with a big dish of ice cream. She had won $100 earlier, and the Mrs. implored her to stop. But she negotiated another half-hour with my bro-in-law, who was driving her home, and she won another $90.

As we walked out, I noticed a sign for Asian Games, so I tried looking for that area, but didn’t find it in my 30 seconds of searching. Their website shows baccarat, but nothing looks particularly “Asian.” I walked through the high limit area and saw several tables for Blackjack Pitch, which I’d never heard of, but saw this brochure on their Indiana website. I don’t see how it’s different from blackjack in Reno, aside from some crappy rules.

There’s a gas station and convenience store outside, and players card holders get a 5 cents/gallon discount off their purchase, up to 20 cents/gallon off for high rollers. It was relatively cheap gas, and they even have a digital user interface — all touch screen, no push buttons. Something new to me! I spent $94.15 on gas.

Last edited by: smoothgrh on Jul 29, 2022
bobbartop
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smoothgrh
July 29th, 2022 at 8:19:43 PM permalink
Thank you for the write up. I've been meaning to go up there since it opened. Something stopped me and I don't remember why I didn't go. Maybe the covid. VPFree credits them with $10 9-5 JoB and $10 8-5 TB+. But I'm never satisfied until I scout a casino in person, up close. I thought surely they have something better at the $1 denom. I think your trip report just saved me a stop. Certainly not going to waste booking a night. I am perplexed. There is a loop of five casinos in the area, it will be six when Elk Grove opens any day now. I know Cache Creek has some decent VP. Colusa, Thunder Valley, not so sure. I want to visit the area, though, soon. Especially when Elk Grove opens. So you have a major city in the middle, Sacramento, which at one time had maybe 30 card rooms with lowball all over the map. And now it looks like the area is turning into a tribal casino hub. And the BEST theses fools at Hard Rock can muster is 7-5 JoB? That's an insult. What happened to the spirit of competition?

Thanks again for the trip report. I'm all ears if anyone has more to say about video poker in this area.

-best regards,
BB
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
ThatDonGuy
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ThisIsMyJam
July 30th, 2022 at 7:06:51 AM permalink
Quote: smoothgrh

On this Saturday night, I saw $10 CSM blackjack and $15 double deck. I didn’t see any signs posted about 6:5 BJ payouts, but I assumed they all were.
link to original post


What makes you think that? Isn't the "standard" in California tribal casinos 3-2? I know Cache Creek went to great pains to stress that all of its tables were 3-2 S17 - in fact, its online "gaming guide" still says this, although it's dated October, 2021.
smoothgrh
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July 30th, 2022 at 9:10:35 AM permalink
Quote: bobbartop

And the BEST theses fools at Hard Rock can muster is 7-5 JoB? That's an insult. What happened to the spirit of competition?

link to original post



You're welcome!

Normally I check the pay tables for the higher denominations, but I forgot to do that this time. Sorry about that.

Perhaps the casinos don't need to compete. People will go to whichever casino is closest, no matter the odds. It's kind of like people playing triple-zero roulette even if a double-zero wheel is available. Sad.
smoothgrh
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July 30th, 2022 at 9:18:47 AM permalink
Quote: ThatDonGuy

Quote: smoothgrh

On this Saturday night, I saw $10 CSM blackjack and $15 double deck. I didn’t see any signs posted about 6:5 BJ payouts, but I assumed they all were.
link to original post


What makes you think that? Isn't the "standard" in California tribal casinos 3-2? I know Cache Creek went to great pains to stress that all of its tables were 3-2 S17 - in fact, its online "gaming guide" still says this, although it's dated October, 2021.
link to original post



My theory has been that Cache Creek had to provide and advertise better odds because it's in the middle of nowhere — AND inconvenient to get to. Although Hard Rock is in the middle of nowhere, it's only 5-10 miles from the nearest towns with an easy-access highway.

If their blackjack was indeed 3:2, I'd be pleasantly surprised.

Like my post above, it seems like the casinos that are close to towns don't compete based on the odds (Graton near Santa Rosa anecdotally has the worst odds).
smoothgrh
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August 2nd, 2022 at 12:56:28 PM permalink
One other note: I noticed the ticket voucher machines didn't have coin trays, so I stood behind 3 or 4 people just to get my 50 cents (on principle). The cashier said the casino is "coinless."
Brickapotamus
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smoothgrh
August 2nd, 2022 at 2:38:26 PM permalink
Quote: smoothgrh

One other note: I noticed the ticket voucher machines didn't have coin trays, so I stood behind 3 or 4 people just to get my 50 cents (on principle). The cashier said the casino is "coinless."
link to original post



Its been sometime since I’ve been there so they may have removed it but they used to have one kiosk that would dispense coins and it was located between the cage and the credit office.
bobbartop
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August 17th, 2022 at 8:06:00 PM permalink
I just heard Sky River opened yesterday, it's in Elk Grove just south of Sacramento. I thought it was going to open in November but it's open now. Supposed to be really nice and really big. I gotta start packing. lol
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
calwatch
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August 18th, 2022 at 8:48:48 PM permalink
Quote: bobbartop

I just heard Sky River opened yesterday, it's in Elk Grove just south of Sacramento. I thought it was going to open in November but it's open now. Supposed to be really nice and really big. I gotta start packing. lol
link to original post



Interesting. https://www.skyriver.com/
It is managed by Boyd but uses its own rewards program. I was hoping it would use the Boyd program but oh well.
bobbartop
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August 18th, 2022 at 9:09:39 PM permalink
I did not know it was Boyd. That doesn't sound too encouraging to me. Maybe in the old days, but not lately. Thank you for that information.
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
ThisIsMyJam
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August 18th, 2022 at 9:19:03 PM permalink
Quote: ThatDonGuy

Quote: smoothgrh

On this Saturday night, I saw $10 CSM blackjack and $15 double deck. I didn’t see any signs posted about 6:5 BJ payouts, but I assumed they all were.
link to original post


What makes you think that? Isn't the "standard" in California tribal casinos 3-2? I know Cache Creek went to great pains to stress that all of its tables were 3-2 S17 - in fact, its online "gaming guide" still says this, although it's dated October, 2021.
link to original post



I was surprised at this comment as well as Jackson Rancheria and Harrah's Northern California are 3:2. I didn't check when I was there but did see a photo of a Blackjack table at the new Sky River in Elk Grove and it said 3:2. It may have been in the high limit room though.
ThisIsMyJam
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August 18th, 2022 at 9:22:24 PM permalink
Quote: bobbartop

I just heard Sky River opened yesterday, it's in Elk Grove just south of Sacramento. I thought it was going to open in November but it's open now. Supposed to be really nice and really big. I gotta start packing. lol
link to original post



It's big, pretty, and fairly awful right now with so many people packed in there. I'd wait until the hype dies down a bit before making a trip there if you aren't close.
calwatch
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August 18th, 2022 at 9:53:16 PM permalink
Quote: ThisIsMyJam

Quote: ThatDonGuy


What makes you think that? Isn't the "standard" in California tribal casinos 3-2? I know Cache Creek went to great pains to stress that all of its tables were 3-2 S17 - in fact, its online "gaming guide" still says this, although it's dated October, 2021.
link to original post



I was surprised at this comment as well as Jackson Rancheria and Harrah's Northern California are 3:2. I didn't check when I was there but did see a photo of a Blackjack table at the new Sky River in Elk Grove and it said 3:2. It may have been in the high limit room though.
link to original post



Yaamava has carnival tables in the foyer which are $10 6:5 tables but most blackjack $25+ is 3:2. Same at Harrah's SoCal and Soboba. Below $25 and all single deck (except Barona) is 6:5, above $25 is 3:2.
smoothgrh
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August 29th, 2022 at 1:41:59 PM permalink
The Mrs. went back with her mom and confirmed that Hard Rock Sacramento pays 3:2 on blackjack (at least on the $15 table where she was playing).

She got a mailer today with free room offers and called immediately, but they say no Sundays through Thursdays are available for the free room allotment!

And look, a "new" casino table game!

DRich
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August 29th, 2022 at 2:05:10 PM permalink
Quote: smoothgrh


She got a mailer today with free room offers and called immediately, but they say no Sundays through Thursdays are available for the free room allotment!



Many casinos have a small allotment of promo rooms.
At my age, a "Life In Prison" sentence is not much of a deterrent.
bobbartop
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smoothgrh
August 29th, 2022 at 9:46:03 PM permalink
Quote: calwatch

Quote: bobbartop

I just heard Sky River opened yesterday, it's in Elk Grove just south of Sacramento. I thought it was going to open in November but it's open now. Supposed to be really nice and really big. I gotta start packing. lol
link to original post



Interesting. https://www.skyriver.com/
It is managed by Boyd but uses its own rewards program. I was hoping it would use the Boyd program but oh well.
link to original post





About an hour ago someone commented on vpfree that their BEST vp game is 8-5 BPDX. That really sucks. I hope they change that and look forward. Of course, I don't know who made the comment. I never trust comments completely, unless I am the scout, or I personally know the scout is reliable. Very discouraging. They've got Colusa, Cache, Hard Rock, Thunder Valley, and now Sky River, all in a convenient "circle" around Sacramento. The VP pretty much sucks, with a few exceptions.
'Emergencies' have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.
ThisIsMyJam
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August 29th, 2022 at 10:56:52 PM permalink
Quote: calwatch

Quote: ThisIsMyJam

Quote: ThatDonGuy


What makes you think that? Isn't the "standard" in California tribal casinos 3-2? I know Cache Creek went to great pains to stress that all of its tables were 3-2 S17 - in fact, its online "gaming guide" still says this, although it's dated October, 2021.
link to original post



I was surprised at this comment as well as Jackson Rancheria and Harrah's Northern California are 3:2. I didn't check when I was there but did see a photo of a Blackjack table at the new Sky River in Elk Grove and it said 3:2. It may have been in the high limit room though.
link to original post



Yaamava has carnival tables in the foyer which are $10 6:5 tables but most blackjack $25+ is 3:2. Same at Harrah's SoCal and Soboba. Below $25 and all single deck (except Barona) is 6:5, above $25 is 3:2.
link to original post



It sounds like those of you in Southern California are missing out on the 3:2 of Northern California.
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