Posted by teddys
May 11, 2011

Day 2 - Joliet, Ill. to Council Bluffs, Ia.

Day 1 -- May 11, 2011
Miles traveled: Too lazy to count -- maybe 750 or so.
Casinos visited: Harrah's Joliet; Jumer's Rock Island, Ill.; Rhythm City Casino, Davenport, Ia.; Isle of Capri Bettendorf, Ia.; Riverside Golf and Casino, Ia.; Meskwaki Bingo Casino and Hotel, Tama, Ia.; Horseshoe Council Bluffs, Ia.

Horseshoe Casino, Council Bluffs, Ia.

Greetings from the Country Inn and Suites overlooking the lovely Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs, the gateway to the West. I hope the West is nicer than the gateway, since the gateway is pretty crappy, inundated with chain restaurants, and cookie-cutter motels. We can expect the West to be a little more pristine.

This morning I woke up after two hours sleep in Joliet and couldn't get back to sleep, so I decided to get going. I wandered down to the casino with my bag, knowing it would be closed, but it was still interesting to see a closed casino. Not something you see very often. I had to flag down the only valet who was working on the other side of the hotel, but he got my car the fastest I have ever seen somebody run. I tipped him $2, and was off.

First stop was Jumer's Rock Island. I was really excited about Jumer's, because it looks really nice from the freeway, but something inside was a little ... off. They had recently been bought by the Delaware North companies, who operate the Boston Garden, Soldiers Field, and other venues. It was nice enough, I guess, but it just didn't have any vibe. It was also 10 A.M. I played 10/7 Double Bonus Poker, and lost $50. I have to stop playing that game, 'cause I always forget when to go for the three card flush over the two high cards, and I keep screwing up. I then switched to blackjack, where they had semi-decent rules like surrender and resplit aces. I played two hands of $6 and lost another $45. Some guy kept talking about me taking the dealer's "bust card." Why do I bother playing blackjack? (A question I would ask again before this trip was over).

I crossed the Mississippi river (It had crested the previous week) into Davenport and headed over to Rhythm City. Because of the flooding, some backhoes were dredging sludge out of the entrance. It smelled horrid. No wonder they didn't have any customers. A snack bar had been completely subsumed into the river. I played Pai Gow Poker with a $5+$1 bet with a very enthusiastic dealer, and lost $14.25.

Further up the river was Isle of Capri Bettendorf. I usually do not care for Isle properties, as I find they are usually content to be the bottom-feeder in whichever market they are in, and this one was no exception. There was a hotel, but the property had absolutely no charm, and you can tell they cut a lot of corners (no shuffling machines for the dealers, for example). Once again, I played blackjack (why?) with a surly dealer and surlier players. Of course, I had to double A-8 against a 6, and took the dealer's "bust card" again. A sour woman got into some nasty chatter with me, and pretty soon the table had cleared out. I left down $15 or so. Lord why do I go in these places.

From Bettendorf I drove through scenic Iowa City to Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. Riverside is supposedly the birthplace of Capt. James T. Kirk, and was mentioned in the fourth Star Trek movie (Title: "The One With the Whales.") I heard there is a memorial tablet of some kind, but I wasn't about to go see it based on a throwaway line in a non-canonical movie. Sorry if I disappointed any Trekkies out there. The casino was nice, though. It reminded me of the Rampart, or Belterra. You could tell they were going for the monied golf crowd. (Lots of Maximas and Lincolns in the parking lot), and there was very little riff-raff, mostly friendly non-threatening old people. There is a very neat fountain show that goes on in the middle of the casino that started up while I was playing and startled me quite a bit, but I enjoyed the diversion. I played Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em with the fastest dealer known to mankind. She hand-dealt, but was faster than any Shufflemaster machine by far. Unfortunately, she overpaid me. No, I didn't point it out, but left one hand later and tipped her $5. I finished up $155 not including the toke.

The drive up to Tama was extremely scenic. I took a detour, and was glad I did, because I got to see more of the countryside that I would from I-80. Iowa is really gorgeous country. My final destination was Meskwaki Bingo Casino, one of the few Indian casinos in Iowa. It was in the middle of nowhere, but they did a nice job with it. It seemed like a friendly place. They did not have Spanish 21 anymore, so I played the most informal craps game ever. There was one base dealer, and one box-slash-stickman standing where the box usually sits. Two guys were already playing, and I think it was their first time. Then, an ederly gentleman in a wheelchair comes up and wants to shoot from the middle where the stick usually stands. His daughter made all his bets for him, and he took FOREVER. Then he starts complaining that this isn't how they usually play craps. I made the quip, "this isn't Vegas, this is Iowa," which got a laugh from the punters. This was the slowest craps game in the universe. I finished down $8.

Finally, I made it to Council Bluffs. Unfortunately, the Diamond Lounge at Horseshoe had stopped serving food, so I got a soup from JB's Cafe. Then I played craps ($5 min. with 100x odds!) for a bit, finishing up $3. No, I didn't take full odds. My bankroll can't quite handle that.

Tomorrow is a rest day to be spent in Council Bluffs, so no travel, but I will try to writeup gambling/other happenings.

Jumers: -$92.50
Rhythm City: -$14.25
Isle Bettendorf: -$10
Riverside: +$155
Meskwaki: -8
Horseshoe CB: +3
Net day: +$32.25
Net total: -$293.75


FleaStiff May 12, 2011

Agree on that Isle of Capri ... I refuse to even enter one of those places.

100x: If it was a five dollar table, 100x would have been more than most people seem to buy in for in Vegas. Those 100x signs are largely advertising but it seems there are people who happily plunk down a flat bet of 3 or 5 dollars and then go max odds!

It sounds like you hit most of the casinos at off hours or under unusual circumstances but I hope you are enjoying your trip.

TIMSPEED May 12, 2011

Are you traveling I80 to end up in Reno?

rdw4potus May 12, 2011

Are you actually resting in Council Bluffs? Not maybe driving a little north up the river to see the casinos on the way to Sioux City?

Also, not sure if you're visiting all three, but I'd be interested in a Harrah's/Horseshoe/Ameristar comparison.

Hope your trip is going well, and, you know, that your luck is reversing a little today.

rdw4potus May 12, 2011

Just noticed this now. You stayed at the country inn and suites instead of at Harrah's? Does the Horseshoe have an agreement with the hotel?

Posted by teddys
May 10, 2011

Day 1 -- Home (Huh?) to Joliet, Illinois

Day 1 -- May 10, 2011
Miles traveled: (we'll just say some hundreds)
Casinos visited: Four Winds, New Buffalo, Mich.; Majestic Star, Gary, Ind.; Horseshoe Hammond, Ind.; Harrah's Joliet, Ill.

Greetings from scenic Joliet, Illinois and Harrah's Joliet. Today has been a long day. I packed up all my stuff, put it into storage, bought a meal for a friend who helped me move, and headed out on the road. First stop was Four Winds, where I had a $10 free bet to use. Put it on player. Lost. Went to play my favorite table game, WPT 3X All-in Hold 'Em, and the shuffle machine broke after two hands. They closed down the game, so I left. By the way, both hands lost, so I was down $40. Not an auspicious start to the roadtrip.

Next, I went to Majestic Star in Gary, where I had $15 cash to collect. I picked up the dough, and looked for a good video poker machine, but they were all taken, so I played $5 blackjack instead. I made $23, plus a dealer tip of $2. The dealer was good, and friendly. The table had that weird "21+3" bonus bet, and people were betting it heavily. I also saw a player consistently double on the 8; I've never seen that. Better than doubling on the 12, I guess. Left MJ winners. I thought about playing for an Italian Beef comp (best comp in Chicagoland), but instead decided to go on to...

Horseshoe Hammond, where I had a free buffet coupon. Unfortunately, the buffet was closed, so I had a very good meal in the Diamond Lounge instead. Their Diamond Lounge is one of the best around. I had Bourbon Jerk Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, and Mac and Cheese, and Salad with Pecan Pie and a Diet Coke. Kind of reminds me of a school cafeteria, except a step above. Afterwards, I went downstairs for some gambling. I had a $25 free bet, which I played on player in baccarat. Lost. Then I went over to Spanish 21 and sat down at a $10 table, planning to play for two hours. I proceeded to have the worst session in memory. It was like getting hit with a Mack truck. One of those times where you curse ever coming into a casino or having heard the word gambling in your life. By the time I recovered, I was stuck $325, never having bet more than $10 a hand. Ouchie. To show you how bizarre it was, two times I got a 6 card 15 against a 4 or 5, which Spanish 21 says to hit. Both times I busted. By this time, it was after midnight, so I had another qualifying $25 free bet which I played on player in baccarat. Guess what? Lost. 0 for 3 on the day. It can only get better, right?

I headed to Harrah's Joliet where I had a comp room reserved. I passed the State Prison on the way. (Joliet Jake, anyone?) I like Harrah's properties. They are the McDonald's of casinos. You always know you are going to get a least a clean, well run establishment, even if the product is oftentimes crap. I am now using the free internet in the business center. I have a long days drive ahead of me (want to make it to Council Bluffs), but I have some activities I want to do tomorrow, including the Route 66 Visitors Center and the Ronald Reagan Birthplace. Plus, there is all of Iowa to get across. Whoosh...

4 Winds: -$40
Majestic: +38
Hammond: -$325
Net: -$327


Croupier May 11, 2011

Guess that teaches you to go against the Always bet banker advice :P

Serioulsy though, hope the rest of your trip goes better than the first leg.

odiousgambit May 11, 2011

>that teaches you

I had the same thought, but I guess we should back off ! my sympathies on the Hammond crush job

Knuckleball3 May 11, 2011

Just an early hit Teddy, you will bounce back! Good luck and safe travels I look forward to the continuing updates.

gambler May 11, 2011

I love the comment that Harrahs is the McDonalds of casinos! That's great! Hope you have better luck on your trip, or else it is going to be a very expensive one!

FleaStiff May 11, 2011

Good luck.

Forget the Ronald Regan stuff.

Try Banker next time.

Mosca May 11, 2011

My brother in law works at Harrah's Joliet; he's in the back offices, not on the floor.

Posted by teddys
May 09, 2011

Liveblogging Roadtrip across America

Well, it's come to this. If all goes according to plan, I will be leaving home tomorrow for a job in Phoenix, Arizona. My stuff is being put into storage, and I will be living life on the road -- with the exception that I will have to return after summer's over to finish school.

I plan to liveblog my trip across America if anybody is interested (I'm driving). This being me, I plan to stop at casinos along the way. I have the following places in mind: Joliet, Illinois; various places in Iowa; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Laramie, Wyoming (non-casino night); West Wendover, Nevada; Reno, Nevada; Lake Tahoe, Nevada; Las Vegas, Nevada; Laughlin, Nevada.

If all goes according to plan, I won't be paying a dime for a hotel room or a casino meal, thanks to Harrah's Diamond Club.

Wish me luck! (Both the gambling kind and the life kind :))


Nareed May 09, 2011

Good luck! (both kinds)

DJTeddyBear May 10, 2011

Good luck (both kinds) and have fun! It sounds like a great adventure.

rdw4potus May 10, 2011

Good luck! Sounds like a fun trip. How many days do you plan on having it take?

gambler May 10, 2011

Where are you starting from? If you don't mind posting your gambling ups and downs, it would be interesting to see a running account of your action. Have fun and be safe!

Posted by teddys
May 05, 2011

Slumpbuster royal

Was playing the other day after a long hiatus, at my local -- Deuces Wild, $0.25. Threw away a crappy hand, as is often the case on DW, and got a complete royal on the redeal! Talk about a quintuple-gutshot! Nice -- definitely needed it, and plan to hold onto it for a while.


rdw4potus May 05, 2011

Awesome! Congrats:)

gambler May 05, 2011

That's fantastic! Especially on a redeal! Good job!

Ayecarumba May 05, 2011

Congrats! Perhaps it's a rebate on the Super Times Spin Poker near miss?

Posted by teddys
Mar 16, 2011

AC trip report

I stayed in Atlantic City 3/7-10. The following is my review:

I drove up to Atlantic City with my friend over spring break on the basis of some new offers I had from recently making Diamond-in-a-Day at Harrah's. We had three midweek nights reserved at Caesars, and I wanted to check out some of the other offers I could get for showing my Diamond card at other casinos.

The first stop was Sands Bethlehem. Bethlehem is a nice, picturesque town. I especially like driving there as the freeway runs over the top of the valley and you can see all the lights twinkling below. Supposedly they have an amazing Christmas display in the winter. The casino seemed okay, very new, modern design with a lot of table games but high limits. I showed them my Diamond card and got jacksquat -- they wanted Seven Stars. We picked up a few things at Rite Aid and drove on to AC.

Upon reaching Caesars, we parked in the self-park walked across to check in. Caesars has a very nice reception area that is made to look like you are outside, with Roman statutes and fountains. There was no line at check-in. We were given a room in the Centurion tower, which is one of the newer towers. I had stayed there before. The rooms are some of the nicest anywhere. I especially like the TV's built into the mirror in the bathroom. I was nice to watch the Weather Channel in the morning while brushing my teeth. There were no bathtubs in the rooms; only showers. Coffee makers were available, with ceramic mugs. Wireless internet was not complimentary, even for Diamond members like it is at HSI.

The next day I did some gambling at Caesars, playing $0.25 9/6 Jacks Video Poker at the machines by the Toga Bar. The progressive was very high -- around $1, 175, and the machines were packed. Unfortunately, I did not hit it, but a very nice grandmotherly woman two seats away from me did. I was glad she hit it :) I kept playing when the machine reset to $1,000 and earned 300 points, which earned me some game pieces for Caesars' "Conquer the Empire" promotion where you get scratch-off tickets for earning a certain number of points per day. I did this every day -- earning the 300 points and getting the tickets -- but unfortunately did not make any "matches" to earn prizes. I wanted to give my pieces away when I left but could not find anyone willing to take them.

Lunch was at the Caesars Diamond Lounge. The food was mediocre: Pizza, some kind of pasta, salad bar, and some bland desserts and supplies for making lunchmeat sandwiches. The Diamond Lounges in AC are all very large, and have waiter service with a complimentary full bar. Caesars' also overlooks the boardwalk.

Later, we walked up to Taj Mahal where I got upgraded to Chairman's Club, which got me a free room night good for 30 days, and a free one time pass for two to the Chairman's Club (usually costs $10 comp dollars). Before we went to the Chairman's Club, we checked out the Diamond Lounge at the Showboat (fine; same as the others but with a different menu), and I played a little $5 Craps. Showboat has friendly crews and I always like the lighting in there. It seems very festive. Unfortunately, the Asian pit wasn't operating as I usually like to play $15 tiles there.

The Chairman's Club at Taj was marginally better than the Diamond Lounges. A major plus was a self-serve soda and coffee machine. There seemed to be a greater selection of things in the buffet, but nothing stood out as particularly good. Waiter service was lackadaisical. I would say the Chairman's Club is not worth a $10 entry fee -- go to the Diamond Lounges instead.

The next day I again woke up early, earned my 300 slot points, and went to Trump Plaza to play some Spanish 21. I play more Spanish 21 than blackjack in Atlantic City because the rules are better. You see some absolutely horrid playing, however. No wonder the house holds 25% on the game, and can afford to offer the good rules. About 15 minutes after my buy-in, a younger gentleman sits down with a handful of chips and announces, "I just got kicked out of Bally's." He then proceeds to engage in the most rude, abusive, and incompetent gambling session I have ever witnessed. He bets quarters on two hands and the Match the Dealer. He doubles on hard 13, but not 11. He screams at the anchor player, the middle player, and the dealer everytime they do something he "doesn't like." He pulls out hundred after hundred. He orders a double Hennessey straight up, and a coffee. (It was 10:30 A.M.) Eventually he leaves, busted. I was quite a sight to see.

Having had probably enough gambling excitement for the day, my friend and I head over to Bally's for lunch in the Diamond Lounge. This is by far the best Diamond Lounge on the boardwalk. The food was only slightly better, but the layout is far more preferable. The entire lounge is open by windows to the boardwalk, and almost every table has a view of the ocean. The decor is also more pleasing. This lounge is hard to find, on the sixth floor way in the back, but I would recommend seeking it out. The waiter service was extremely poor, however.

After lunch, I hoofed it down to the low-rent district in search of some low-limit action. The AC Hilton was almost dead, but the craps table was open. I bought in and experienced a horrible run of cold dice. However, the crew was friendly and seemed to genuinely care if you won or lost. I kept playing, and a tall gentleman at the other end of the table went on an absolutely monster roll. I wasn't betting enough, and only netted $200 (plus I had the horrible losses to recover from), but it was a fun roll, and I tipped the dealers more than I usually do. I recommend playing at the Hilton if craps is your game. They could certainly use your action there.

For Dinner, we planned to go to the Borgata, but we got there late and everything was closed. I signed up for the Black Card, and was given a free room night (good for 3 months), and $20 comp dollars on my account, plus $100 bonus slot dollars. The only restaurant open was a sandwich shop, so I purchased a $9.50 reuben which I shared with my friend. It was a good sandwich. I then looked for the Pai Gow tiles, and played blackjack for a bit while waiting for the smokers to leave. (I couldn't get on the $5 BJ table). I regret to say that I sucked down a few free drinks at the BJ table, and didn't play Pai Gow as optimally as I should have. My worst mistake was seeing a mixed eight pair, and setting the tiles with the pair instead of noticing I had a 9/7! What should have been a win became a push. I left Pai Gow on a winning streak, though, with some of the Chinese people betting on my hand. That is the first time I have been the lucky white person instead of the unlucky white person!

The next day, we returned to the Borgata to get into the Amphora Lounge when they opened right at 2 P.M. The line was already very long, and it took about 20 minutes to get in. My friend struck up a conversation with the woman standing behind us, and mentioned that it was his birthday (it was). By the time we got to the front of the line, the host told me that my $10 remaining comp dollars wouldn't be enough for myself and a guest, so our linemate comped the extra on her card. An inspiring act of niceness. The Borgata lounge is 100x times better than any other lounge in AC. It is a buffet-style, but every item on the buffet was excellent. It was like they took a full-size buffet but got rid of all the crappy parts. There was unlimited peeled shrimp, two carving stations, about four or five hot entrees, full salad bar, and a sizable dessert bar. They also offered unlimited specialty cocktails, and cappuccinos. The waiter services was extremely attentive. I would say the Amphora Lounge is DEFINITELY worth the $10 entry fee per person. I would wager to say it beats most buffets in Las Vegas.

The drive back home was eventful, as my friend's car broke down and it took three AAA tows to get back home. All in all I about broke even, ate a ton of free food, and got a few offers for nights for a future trip. If only the weather had cooperated, it would have been really excellent.


Wavy70 Mar 17, 2011

See with the guy at the S21 table (A-hole) how often do you see yourself silently cheering the dealer. Kinda makes you want to slow to table min and hit on 19's if your are in position to him.

rdw4potus Mar 17, 2011

Very nice trip report. Perfectly timed for me as well, as I'm staying in AC in 2 weeks:-)