cyrus
cyrus
Joined: Jan 23, 2015
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June 1st, 2015 at 10:12:01 AM permalink
The Golden Nugget Lake Charles, Louisiana opened very recently, December 2014, so this will serve partly as an overview / review, as well as trip report.

The Lake Charles casino area has a unique supply/demand situation. It’s pretty close to Houston (the fourth biggest metro area in the country) but Texas does not have casino gambling, so we have to go “just across the border” to scratch that itch. Prior to GN, there were four casinos within a ~3 hour drive of Houston:
Delta Downs = closest geographically, has a horse track and slots but no tables
Isle of Capri = permanent riverboat casino, low(er) limits, facilities getting kinda old / run-down
L’Auberge du Lac = higher end, pretty nice, typically high table limits (BJ exclusively $25+ whenever I’ve been there)
The above are in Lake Charles and a 2.0-2.5 hour drive, pending traffic.
Coushatta = Native American, a solid 30-60 minutes additional drive, very big facility, medium table limits, probably my favorite for the gaming experience, but the extra drive is annoying for sure.

Golden Nugget LC was built directly adjacent to L’Auberge. There is in fact a walkway connecting the two. Both of them are along the shores of a river/waterway. There are exciting possibilities for a high quality summer resort casino experience. We visited back in December shortly after the opening, and many facilities were still under construction. They’ve been sending my wife offers for free rooms ever since, and we decided to take advantage over Memorial Day weekend to see what it’s like in its full glory.

We took Friday off work, arrived Friday afternoon around 1:00 pm. We had a spa appointment at 2:00. Thankfully the room was available already, so we got checked in, and took a brief stroll around the property.

The main floor is laid out in concentric rectangles. Along the perimeter are all the restaurants and bars (and there’s a LOT of restaurants – more on that later), then a hallway inside that, and the casino floor in the center. The casino floor is also laid out with a focus on the center. In the middle-front is the Rush Lounge and Party Pit. The lounge portion has a handful of (you guessed it) lounge chair areas, as well as a stage where live music occurs in the evenings. The “party pit” is not exactly Vegas-style; the dealers are dressed the same as everyone else, the game rules appeared to be identical, and table limits were equal or sometimes lower. It had two BJ tables and the rest carnival games. Actually quite a good place to settle in for some $15 BJ and listen to the live music. All the rest of the table game pits are immediately surrounding this lounge/pit area, and within earshot of the live band which is pretty neat. The high limit room, poker room, cage, etc are more to the back of the casino floor.

BJ
Mostly $25, but a handful of $15 were available into the evening. After ~10 pm on Fri & Sat it was all $25.
Shoe games (I think 8 deck?? I’m not great at visual estimating and didn’t ask) with auto-shuffle between shoes. I think the pen was about 75%, but again I have no experience really estimating pen% and it doesn’t matter for my game. BJ 3:2, hit soft 17, double any two cards, double after split, re-splitting allowed. I think I saw someone resplit aces, and think I saw up to 4 hands. (these rules based on my observations; I didn’t specifically ask.)

Craps
There were five tables total. In the afternoon, one of them was at $10, but by the evening the lowest was $15. I didn’t see a posted limit on Odds. I saw a guy playing table minimum with perhaps $200 odds so I think the odds limit was pretty high. All tables had the all/tall/small side bet. One of the tables was laid out as “Craps No More” aka “crapless craps” and it always had people at it, which I personally find offensive. On my previous trip, by late-night the only table still open was the Craps No More, which essentially meant there was no craps at all. Boo.

Mini-Baccarat was plentiful, probably 6-8 tables on the main floor. My quick survey in the afternoon showed one table at $25 and the rest either $50 or $100. Most other standard carny games were also available.


After the quick survey, we headed to the Spa for our massage. The Spa is a very nice facility – typical exercise room, locker rooms, etc. Adjacent to the locker rooms was a co-ed outdoor hot tub which was nice to get to relax with my wife while awaiting our appointment. The outdoor hot tub was very well architected, open air but with walls structured so that you could not even see the tower or be aware that you were near a giant facility. The massage itself was very good. The one complaint on the massage was the pricing structure. Turned out the cost of a couples’ massage was actually more than double the cost of two individual massages, i.e. a premium for using the couples room which I’ve never seen before. Also they implemented “weekend pricing” rates on a Friday at 2:00 pm. Neither of these price changes was told to my wife when she made the booking.

Regardless, we didn’t let it get us down. We changed into our swimsuits and headed to the pool. It’s quite a nice pool area. Lounge chairs everywhere (although on Saturday the chairs ran out), and there were day beds & cabanas for rent. One complaint is a severe lack of shade. The day beds did not have canopies, and we saw maybe 8 umbrellas scattered across all of the lounge chairs. We asked staff for an umbrella and he said “that’s all we have.” I guess this place believes in skin cancer. Anyway, the main pool is roughly divided into kids/adults section, with a swim up bar in the adults section. A brief stroll away is a separate kids area with a lazy river and a waterslide. Honestly if I was a kid, I might be bored, I’ve seen better kid-oriented resort pools in my life, but the overall setup was great for us.

Next we grabbed a quick shower, and then got a cocktail before dinner. The “Blue Martini” cocktail lounge is pretty awesome, they have 30+ specialty cocktails, and all of them that we tried were delicious. They have a patio that overlooks the river/waterway, which is quite nice around sunset. We actually grabbed TWO cocktails which was a very good choice.

Before discussing our dinner choice this evening, here’s an overview of the restaurant options. All restaurants (and bars) belong to Landry’s Select Club – not sure how nationwide they are, but in Houston it feels like half the restaurants in town are owned by Landry’s.
Cadillac Bar – Mexican
Claim Jumper – generic diner/American
Vic & Anthonys – upscale steak house
Grotto – Italian
Landry’s Seafood
Lille’s Asian fusion
Buffet
Saltgrass Steak House

We debated briefly whether it was overkill to have two steak houses? But keep in mind this place is catering to Texans. We concluded that it was 100% appropriate to have two steak houses, and in fact they offer different dining experiences. Vic & Anthony’s is more of a fancy table cloth, salad, wine, and filet mignon kind of a place, whereas Saltgrass is more beer, bread, and ribeye.

Anyway, for tonight we opted for the buffet, and there was one reason why:
CRAB.
Both King crab and Snow crab were available. I’ve never had them side by side before. I’ve concluded that I prefer King crab. The shell is more spiny, but you get way more meat for your effort.
The buffet had all the other usual offerings – you’ve all been to casino buffets before – it was certainly tasty but nothing really compared to the crab.

It was getting on 8:00 and finally time to gamble.
We found $15 BJ in the ‘party pit’ (see above) with only one spot open. I sat down first. It may have been a blessing to have only one spot, as I lost probably 10 of the first 12 hands, but then slowly stabilized. Live music was good. There was one spot at the table being held by a marker for probably 45+ minutes which seemed quite excessive. Also, one lady at the end was playing two spots at $300 each plus $100 “21+3” on each. Between these we got mildly irritated as my wife wanted to play. Eventually the missing person finally showed up, she was friends with the 2x$300 lady, and the friend was playing table min, which I guess explains why they were at the table at all and why staff kept the marker for 45+minutes at a busy table. Also eventually they both left, and my wife got to sit down.
Random encounter with pit boss: I sometimes enjoy a cigarette while gambling, I started off with black-colored cloves, but then grabbed one of my wife’s which are white. Pit Boss almost immediately walks up and asks why I switched my cigarettes. We both found it intriguing they would notice the color of my cigs, but I guess they are paid to be observant.
The best part of playing BJ was the live band playing. They were primarily rock and pop covers and they were quite good. Honestly if not for them, we might have left earlier.

After a while we moved over to craps. Also $15. I’ve been slowly introducing my wife to craps (really to gambling overall) so it was fun to get to play with her for a while. Nothing much to report – table was medium or slightly cold, I think we about broke even but the people weren’t very energetic so we left. We sat down at PGP for a while. Again, mostly breaking even but the energy level was just not there.

We decided to check out the “nightclub” which is the same as the Blue Martini lounge from earlier. They had two lines set up, VIP and Regular. Neither of them had anyone actually waiting in line. We walked up to the Regular line, and were told it was $10 / person cover charge. We weren’t sure if we cared that much (it was already kinda late) so we hung back for a bit. The bouncer/manager saw us and said “hey I saw you guys here earlier, I ran your Landry’s card, come on in” and just let us in. I’m not sure if he actually remembered us, or if he just made a management decision to let us in, but anyway there we are. There was a band playing here already, we caught the final 3-4 songs of their set, they seemed pretty good. The place was medium crowded, not packed but not empty. Also the “dance floor” was filled with cocktail tables which made it inconvenient for dancing. After a few songs by the DJ, we were both tired and had another day ahead of us, so we went to bed.


Saturday we slept in very late, rolled out of bed maybe noon. The blackout curtains in the room did their job perfectly – possibly the best blackout curtains I’ve ever seen. The room was still mostly pitch black by mid-morning. Which I’m sure contributed to the late sleep.
After dragging ourselves out of bed, we headed down to the beach for a drink & bite.
The beach setup is quite nice. You wouldn’t want to swim in the water (it’s kind of a shipping channel) but the beach itself was very good. Many private boats had pulled up directly to the beach. They had two volleyball nets up, cornhole, and footballs/Frisbees available to borrow. Also many lounge chairs, and a firepit for the evening. We got some margaritas, some chips and a quesadilla, and then played some cornhole.

Back to the pool. It was 2:00 Saturday afternoon of Memorial day weekend, and it was packed. They had a DJ spinning some tracks which kept the mood going. What else can I say, swimming in the pool and then lounging reading a book for a while, with an ice cold beer. Pretty amazing.

Shower, get dressed, more cocktails at Blue Martini. Then dinner at Saltgrass while watching the Rockets game. The Rockets game was not really worth watching (they lost by ~30 at home… yikes…) but dinner was amazingly delicious. We go to Saltgrass pretty often at home, and it’s always quite good, but this was definitely a step above. Excellent medium-priced wine, Sirloin, and BBQ Shrimp Embrochette… yum!

We were on a later schedule this day and it was near 10:00 by this point, we had gotten a lot of sun, etc, so my wife went back to the room for a quick nap. I went for the PGP, the table was a bit more energetic, and in good listening range of the live band (same band from the party pit the previous night). After a couple hours I was up maybe $50 and a lot of rum and diet coke, and ready for more craps. (I prefer to hit craps when I’m already a little sauced, no decision making required and it adds to the energy level). The table was reasonably hot. I was playing passline (1x odds) and continual Come bets, and occasionally throw odds on the Comes during a long roll. Guy on my right was playing similar but every come bet received several green chips odds. After a couple hours he had two full rails of greens. Around 4 am my wife came back from her quick nap, she looked around the tables to find any BJ at less than $25 (or really anything at less than $25) but no such luck. She hung out for a while and went back to bed. The table slowly started to cool off, I should have left at that point but hung around for bit and bled off some of my winnings. Eventually walked away and was still net positive for the trip.

Quick nap from about 7:30 am to 11 am, then woke up and drove back to Houston.


Overall impressions:

The good:
Restaurants and food
Live music in close proximity to all table games, and “party pit” with decent limits/rules
Beach and Pool facilities overall very good
Blackout curtains in the room
Walking distance to L’Auberge if you want some variety

The not so good:
Pricing structure at Spa
No umbrellas/shade at pool
Dance club charging cover (or not) and dance floor filled with tables

Conclusion: I would go back again if the room was comped, for a special occasion. I don’t know if I would return paying full rates on a weekend. They have a very attractive facility and are on the right side of the supply/demand curve, and clearly they know it. We were willing to pay the prices on this trip. But if you add on $200-$600 for room, I’m not sure if it’s worth the price. Still it was a super fun weekend trip and I’m very glad we did it.
DRich
DRich
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June 1st, 2015 at 10:45:56 AM permalink
Great trip report, thanks for writing it.
Living longer does not always infer +EV
beachbumbabs
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beachbumbabs
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June 1st, 2015 at 12:16:20 PM permalink
Great report, thanks!

2 things, neither very important:

Snow crab over King crab every time for me. Sweeter, less chewy. Worth the work to dig it out. Body meat sweeter and less fishy (if they serve it, and if it's really fresh), where I've never tasted King crab body meat that didn't have that fishy overtaste.

What the heck is cornhole? In Iowa, that's the local term (as a verb) for buggery, so we didn't have any game named for it. I guess Texas is different. lol....
If the House lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game.
TwoFeathersATL
TwoFeathersATL
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June 1st, 2015 at 12:23:59 PM permalink
Quote: cyrus

The Golden Nugget Lake Charles, Louisiana opened very recently, December 2014, so this will serve partly as an overview / review, as well as trip report.

The Lake Charles casino area has a unique supply/demand situation. It’s pretty close to Houston (the fourth biggest metro area in the country) but Texas does not have casino gambling, so we have to go “just across the border” to scratch that itch. Prior to GN, there were four casinos within a ~3 hour drive of Houston:
Delta Downs = closest geographically, has a horse track and slots but no tables
Isle of Capri = permanent riverboat casino, low(er) limits, facilities getting kinda old / run-down
L’Auberge du Lac = higher end, pretty nice, typically high table limits (BJ exclusively $25+ whenever I’ve been there)
The above are in Lake Charles and a 2.0-2.5 hour drive, pending traffic.
Coushatta = Native American, a solid 30-60 minutes additional drive, very big facility, medium table limits, probably my favorite for the gaming experience, but the extra drive is annoying for sure.

Golden Nugget LC was built directly adjacent to L’Auberge. There is in fact a walkway connecting the two. Both of them are along the shores of a river/waterway. There are exciting possibilities for a high quality summer resort casino experience. We visited back in December shortly after the opening, and many facilities were still under construction. They’ve been sending my wife offers for free rooms ever since.


Overall impressions:

The good:
Restaurants and food
Live music in close proximity to all table games, and “party pit” with decent limits/rules
Beach and Pool facilities overall very good
Blackout curtains in the room
Walking distance to L’Auberge if you want some variety

The not so good:
Pricing structure at Spa
No umbrellas/shade at pool
Dance club charging cover (or not) and dance floor filled with tables

Conclusion: I would go back again if the room was comped, for a special occasion. I don’t know if I would return paying full rates on a weekend. They have a very attractive facility and are on the right side of the supply/demand curve, and clearly they know it. We were willing to pay the prices on this trip. But if you add on $200-$600 for room, I’m not sure if it’s worth the price. Still it was a super fun weekend trip and I’m very glad we did it.


What a nice trip report, almost something for everyone! Well done! I will have to put the area on my list (wasn't before). That's a lot of typing, and thinking since it all made sense. Hope you go somewhere else soonish and report on that. Thx from me......2F
Youuuuuu MIGHT be a 'rascal' if.......(nevermind ;-)...2F
TwoFeathersATL
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June 1st, 2015 at 12:29:39 PM permalink
Quote: beachbumbabs

Great report, thanks!

2 things, neither very important:

Snow crab over King crab every time for me. Sweeter, less chewy. Worth the work to dig it out. Body meat sweeter and less fishy (if they serve it, and if it's really fresh), where I've never tasted King crab body meat that didn't have that fishy overtaste.

What the heck is cornhole? In Iowa, that's the local term (as a verb) for buggery, so we didn't have any game named for it. I guess Texas is different. lol....


Dear lady, King over Snow anytime anywhere. That's why it costs twice as much wholesale. It's worth it ( I like snow too BTW ). Cornhole is just a beanbag toss game at a slightly inclined landing pad with a hole in it, I feel sure you've seen it, maybe just never heard that name for it.
Youuuuuu MIGHT be a 'rascal' if.......(nevermind ;-)...2F
cyrus
cyrus
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June 1st, 2015 at 3:34:04 PM permalink
Quote: beachbumbabs

Great report, thanks!

2 things, neither very important:

Snow crab over King crab every time for me. Sweeter, less chewy. Worth the work to dig it out. Body meat sweeter and less fishy (if they serve it, and if it's really fresh), where I've never tasted King crab body meat that didn't have that fishy overtaste.

What the heck is cornhole? In Iowa, that's the local term (as a verb) for buggery, so we didn't have any game named for it. I guess Texas is different. lol....



On the contrary, I think it's very important that you don't know what cornhole is. :D 2F's description is correct. It is rising in popularity among patio / backyard / tailgate games. Also Giant Jenga. I've been seeing both of those all over the place.

Actually I grew up in WI, and definitely had your definition of it. So maybe it's a regional thing.
Joeman
Joeman
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June 2nd, 2015 at 8:37:38 AM permalink
Great report, cyrus!

I believe the game ostensibly gets its name from the fact that it consists of bags filled with corn that are tossed through a hole in a box/inclined board. I think the name's proliferation is due, in part, to its double entendre. I have also heard the term used as Babs has described, and I have lived in FL all my life. But now that I think about it, it was a friend from Iowa who introduced me to the term. And while I had never heard the term before, the context in which he used it left no doubt in my mind as to its meaning!

Also, I haven't eaten king crab enough to have an opinion on which is better. I guess I will have to take the crab version of the "Pepsi Challenge" to determine which I prefer.
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JimRockford
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June 2nd, 2015 at 10:38:07 AM permalink
Quote: cyrus

Actually I grew up in WI, and definitely had your definition of it. So maybe it's a regional thing.

I grew up in North Texas and it had the same meaning as BBB described. I may visit the property, but no way am I signing up for cornhole.
"Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things." - Isaac Newton
TwoFeathersATL
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June 2nd, 2015 at 11:25:24 AM permalink
Quote: Joeman

Great report, cyrus!

I believe the game ostensibly gets its name from the fact that it consists of bags filled with corn that are tossed through a hole in a box/inclined board. I think the name's proliferation is due, in part, to its double entendre. I have also heard the term used as Babs has described, and I have lived in FL all my life. But now that I think about it, it was a friend from Iowa who introduced me to the term. And while I had never heard the term before, the context in which he used it left no doubt in my mind as to its meaning!

Also, I haven't eaten king crab enough to have an opinion on which is better. I guess I will have to take the crab version of the "Pepsi Challenge" to determine which I prefer.


Your friend from Iowa introduced you to 'cornhole'? Sorry, I could not resist..... Got to love those Iowa folks.....
In a correction to my previous post, King is at least 3 x's the price of snow wholesale, sometime's 4x's or more. 2F
Youuuuuu MIGHT be a 'rascal' if.......(nevermind ;-)...2F
cyrus
cyrus
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June 2nd, 2015 at 6:40:20 PM permalink
I was always a little fuzzy on the difference between crabs also.

While I did prefer the king, I did not enjoy it 2x (or 4x!!!) as much. So that might sway me to get snow more often. Plus there is a certain satisfaction in cracking the snow crab leg "just right" and getting a fully intact long skinny piece of meat.

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