BrettSim
BrettSim
Joined: May 19, 2012
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May 19th, 2012 at 11:38:53 AM permalink
Greetings.

I recently moved to the Philadelphia and am looking for a new local casino. Ive only been to the new Valley forge casino.

I'm a very casual gambler and enjoy a few free drinks, video poker, sports bars, and $5-10 BJ and craps.

What would my best bet be? I'd also be interested to hear others thoughts on casinos in the area. I was hoping to go to Harrahs but I've heard the area isn't very safe.

Looks like I'll be deciding between Parx and Sands.

Thanks for your thoughts!!

Brett
pacomartin
pacomartin
Joined: Jan 14, 2010
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May 19th, 2012 at 1:23:02 PM permalink
Quote: BrettSim

Looks like I'll be deciding between Parx and Sands.
Thanks for your thoughts!!
Brett



Travel tips for the PA Sands has some ideas on rooms, local dining. The Sands Bethlehem is trying to be more of an all around resort than PARX with entertainment and shopping and a hotel. Admittedly PARX has a lot of stuff in the area (hotels, shopping, food).

The hotel in the Sands is expensive, and on average is only half full. I would stay at the Comfort Suites nearby.

For day trips it obviously depends on your location. If you are north of Valley Forge it may be easier to go to Bethlehem Sands.

Harrah's Chester is decaying badly since it opened. Sugarhouse is much newer, but is near downtown Philadelphia.
Doc
Doc
Joined: Feb 27, 2010
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May 19th, 2012 at 1:58:36 PM permalink
Quote: pacomartin

Harrah's Chester is decaying badly since it opened.


Does that refer to decay of the physical facility or its business volume? Both?

Should we expect the name change to lead to or be associated with any improvement/turnaround?
Tiltpoul
Tiltpoul
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May 19th, 2012 at 2:41:29 PM permalink
On my one day tour of PA casinos, I found Sugarhouse to be both the friendliest and nicest (albeit very small). The problem is on Monday morning the table mins were RIDICULOUS. Seriously, ridiculously high mins. However, given that it's a downtown casino, I was really impressed by the service. I wasn't even playing Tiles that trip, and the supervisor was nice enough to talk with me... I probably could have gotten a comp from him if I had asked.

So to answer the question, Sugarhouse, but if you're a table game player, be prepared for a big bankroll.
"One out of every four people are [morons]"- Kyle, South Park
pacomartin
pacomartin
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May 19th, 2012 at 5:05:30 PM permalink
Quote: Doc

Does that refer to decay of the physical facility or its business volume? Both?



I was thinking business volume. I have never been there. I am not particularly afraid of crime statistics, as you know I spent a lot of time in Tijuana. But Chester is one of the most violent tiny cities (3000 acres) in Pennsylvania. I see no reason to go to a place like that unless there is something amazing to make me want to be there.

Uniform Crime Stats for 2011
Casino Police Jurisdiction: Population: Criminal Homicide Robbery
Harrah's CHESTER CITY 34,080 21 214
PARX BENSALEM TWP 60,620 0 60
Sands PA BETHLEHEM CITY 75,221 2 97
Valley Forge UPPER MERION TWP 28,486 3 13


That Homicide rate is about triple that of Philadelphia. In fact it is higher than any city in America of over 250,000 in population.
Mission146
Mission146
Joined: May 15, 2012
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May 19th, 2012 at 6:17:07 PM permalink
Quote: Tiltpoul

On my one day tour of PA casinos, I found Sugarhouse to be both the friendliest and nicest (albeit very small). The problem is on Monday morning the table mins were RIDICULOUS. Seriously, ridiculously high mins. However, given that it's a downtown casino, I was really impressed by the service. I wasn't even playing Tiles that trip, and the supervisor was nice enough to talk with me... I probably could have gotten a comp from him if I had asked.

So to answer the question, Sugarhouse, but if you're a table game player, be prepared for a big bankroll.



Greetings, again, Tiltpoul.

I would appreciate your kind assistance.

My regular casino often has Table Mins. of $15, which I think is absolutely ridiculous and I will not play on those days. When they actually feel compelled to have a Let It Ride game, which they often don't when I am there, they still want $10/min per spot!!!

Is this what you mean by, "RIDICULOUS," or is RIDICULOUS higher than that? The reason that I ask is because I may be visiting Philadelphia for two-three days in July and I might go out after the kids and wife go to bet for a couple of hours.

What casino would you recommend with Table Mins. of $10.00/BJ and $5.00/spot on Let It Ride for a Table Minimum?

I usually bet up after a Split/Double win in Blackjack even though there is no advantage/disadvantage, and I usually let my 3:2 on a Natural ride except for the base bet. If I lose on one of my, "Bet-Ups," I'll return to Table Minimum. I'll also count at BJ and double-triple when I am way ahead, but I don't capitalize too much because I get bored with counting after an hour, especially if there's someone talkative at the table and I am still doing well, then I will shoot the bull with that person and forget all about counting.

I start off in Let It Ride with one unit/spot, but if I win on all three spots (always playing correct strategy) I'll double my spot bets regardless of how much I won. I'm not going to let the winnings from a straight all ride, obviously. If I lose on any spots after doubling, I return to single unit. If I win, then I'll play the same amount on each spot again until I lose, then return to single unit/spot.

If I win on a, "Bet-Up," in Blackjack, I don't continue to Bet-Up, I just leave it the same until I lose then back to minimum.

It seems to work well when I win two-three hands in a row. If I lose on the, "Bet-Up," I haven't really hurt myself in BJ, it's basically just like the previous win was a Push. If I lose on the, "Bet-Up," in Let It Ride, chances are I am still ahead because it is rare to lose a hand where you have Let It Ride all the way.
Vultures can't be choosers.
Tiltpoul
Tiltpoul
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May 19th, 2012 at 6:27:11 PM permalink
Quote: Mission146

My regular casino often has Table Mins. of $15, which I think is absolutely ridiculous and I will not play on those days. When they actually feel compelled to have a Let It Ride game, which they often don't when I am there, they still want $10/min per spot!!!

Is this what you mean by, "RIDICULOUS," or is RIDICULOUS higher than that? The reason that I ask is because I may be visiting Philadelphia for two-three days in July and I might go out after the kids and wife go to bet for a couple of hours.



Okay, on my one trip there, early on a Monday morning, BJ lowest minimum was $15 a hand. The table was full, and the only tables with spots open were $25 or higher. Same with PARX by the way, though the service at Parx was much MUCH worse. In fact, you're not going to find a $10 table at any Philadelphia area casino, I'm afraid. To get that, you'll have to head to Atlantic City.

That being said, they did have an Ultimate Hold Em game for $5, but the table min went up in the meantime. The paytable for trips is less than desirable though. Pai Gow Tiles was $60 minimums, which is the highest I've ever seen (that wasn't in a High Limit Room). Craps was $15, except for the one table I was at, which was $10. It was raised while I was there too.

Quote: Mission146

What casino would you recommend with Table Mins. of $10.00/BJ and $5.00/spot on Let It Ride for a Table Minimum?



Unfortunately, the Philadelphia metro area will not get you any of those mins on those games. Mt. Airy, which is probably an hour and a half or two hours North of you offered those in the middle of the night, but it's way far out of the way. In PA, the only places likely to have those mins most of the time are Presque Isle and The Meadows, and both of those have to compete with small market casinos that do offer those limits.
"One out of every four people are [morons]"- Kyle, South Park
Mission146
Mission146
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May 19th, 2012 at 7:53:30 PM permalink
Tiltpoul,

Thanks for the excellent information!

It's very difficult for me to blame the casinos for any of this if they can fill a table at $15 minimums and keep it full. I've never played Pai Gow Tiles in my life, but that seems like a high Table Min. for anything. High Rollers Blackjack at my regular casino has a Table Min. of $50, and that gets you as many drinks as you want, great investment by the casino, that one.

I created that OP in the gripes thread not intending to do anything to identify the casino, but now that you mentioned The Meadows, I am going to de facto give away the place about which I am griping. The Meadows is the casino to which I am probably going to move my regular action, you see. I know they had the best Slot payouts in the State in 2009, and I have it on good authority that the $1 flat tops give back something like 93% to this day. It's a little less, says my source who I am SURE would want to remain anonymous, but it rounds up to 93%.

You would not believe some of the action the small-market casinos want on the tables now, though. My regular casino will often have three BJ Dealers standing at tables with no players and will adamantly refuse to drop the minimum from $15 to $10. My opinion is that they should not be greedy at 2:00a.m. (my usual time) with absolutely nobody playing!

There was only one night recently (three months ago) where they felt compelled to knock it down. There was one guy at the $25min Table and one guy at the $15min Table, there was another table opened, with nobody sitting, and I didn't pay attention to the minimum. I mean, I did, but I forget what it was.

I go to the $15min table and say to the dealer, "If you make it $10, I'll take my seat."

He asked someone, presumably the pit boss, who was all grumble-grumble about the whole thing.

The dealer probably got reprimanded because he turned to the player and asked, "Any problem with $10 minimums?"

The guy obviously didn't have much of a problem with that as he had been betting $15 minimums.

The guy the dealer had asked about it is over on the handset being all hush-hush and probably PRETENDING to talk to someone upstairs, so the dealer turns to me and says, "Just between the three of us, this is why I can't get no action at two in the morning. I should go back to stocking at Wal-Mart."

The long story short is that they finally agreed. I had one of the best darn runs of cards I have seen in my entire life including Three Naturals in Five Hands!!! I played for about two hours and was ahead nearly $300 (I bought for $100) but I was starting to get tired...and tired means stupid, so it was time to leave.

I told the dealer, "I hope you don't get written up for this," put down a stack of 10 $5 chips, said, "For the dealer," and was on my way.
Vultures can't be choosers.
kewlj
kewlj
Joined: Apr 17, 2012
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May 19th, 2012 at 8:44:59 PM permalink
I am just finishing up a 13 day visit to eastern Pa in which I have bounced around the 4 Phila area casinos (Parx, Sugarhouse, Harrah's and Valley Forge) for a total of more than 20 visits between the 4. I also spent 3 days in Bethleham visiting Sands. (Hotel not open yet, so stayed at an unrelated hotel in area)

Here is my impression of the mentioned stores. As far as casino's go, I don't care for any of them. Maybe I am spoiled by living and being based out of Vegas, but these places all seem like they are 'warehousing' you to me. Blackjack wise there are some good games. The 4 Phila area places all have 6 and 8 deck games with the same state mandated rules. Most have 8 deck low limit games, $15 and occasional $10 minimums and 6 deck $25 and $50 minimums. The parx location that is actually the grandstand of the racetrack had $15, 6 deck games. If you are basic strategy player, all have the same rules, so it doesn't much matter. If you count, penetration varies from mediocre to very good at 2 locations. I am not going to specify.

Sugarhouse, the only casino actually in Phila city limits is small and crowded. Was too small for the area it serves from the day it opened. Harrah's chester is in a real bad area. Valley Forge is extremely small. Decent number of tables but really only a few hundred slot/VP machines. Plus there is a cost with getting in. You can purchase a yearly membership for $59, a 3 month membership for $20 or can get 24 hour access with a $10 receipt from one of the restaurants. Personally, I am a little down on this property as I was 86ed just today on my 6 th visit in 10 days after purchasing a 3 month membership. They also totally mislead about their players club signup bonus which is $10 free play after earning 1 point, larger free play amounts if you can show a high tier players card from another Pa casino. Problem is earning 1 point is not playing a dollar or 2 like most locations. After playing through roughly $600 on VP, I still had not earned my 1 point necessary to receive my bonus, so I inquired again and was told 1 point equals ROUGHLY 90 minutes of play at a slot or VP machine. Pretty misleading.

Of the 4 of these Philly locations I like Parx (both buildings) best. Valley Forge was also good conditions for blackjack, but had other issues already mentioned. Sands was interesting. Even more of a warehouse feel and for good reason...lol. Decent BJ games and they offered a doubledeck game that the other locations did not (varying pen) But sands was extremely crowded, both BJ tables and the casino in general with many bus loads of new yorkers. I was there on 3 weekdays. Can only imagine it is even worse on weekends.
Just say no to 6:5 Blackjack, Continuous shuffle machines and Blackjack the Forum. All are Negative expected value.
pacomartin
pacomartin
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May 20th, 2012 at 3:48:34 AM permalink
Quote: kewlj

As far as casino's go, I don't care for any of them. Maybe I am spoiled by living and being based out of Vegas, but these places all seem like they are 'warehousing' you to me.



As originally conceived, the PA casinos were simply a way to stop the money from going to New Jersey and Connecticut. They were to be nothing but slot clubs all housed in relatively low cost buildings by Vegas standards. There is little to no growth in slot revenue.

h in slot revenue in any PA casino from the day it opens. The 55% tax rate makes the state a full partner.

The casino owners took advantage of a budget shortfall to convince the state that the casinos could be something more. They exchanged the $25 million upfront fee for the right to open the table games at 14% tax rate to be reduced to 12% in the future.

Sugarhouse was the first casino to open in the new environment. They eschewed a lot of slot machines for a limited number of the highest grossing tables in the state. The casino was kept small, because they expected major competition only 2 miles away in a mega Foxwoods casino (briefly partnered with Steve Wynn). Since that concept appears dead, perhaps Sugarhouse can expand on it's current site.

The question is where to go from here? Revenue is already peaking statewise, as the original casinos like Harrah's Chester are starting to falter.

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