Eastern Indiana Casino Trip- 10/03-04As I live in Ohio, I have options for going North, South, or East within about 3 hours to get to a casino. Personally, I don't mind driving 3.5 hours down to Louisville to play and stay at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. I post numerous times about this casino being one of the best out there period, and definitely the best in the Harrah's/Caesars family. However, on 10/02, I spent a day at Hollywood playing 1-3 NL Holdem. A $300 buy-in netted over a 2000+ win, mainly on three hands. I decided to book a night for Monday and Tuesday and extend my trip.
On 10/03, I checked into my hotel at Hollywood Casino. I got a "players" rate on 10/03 and a "poker" rate on 10/04 ($59/$79 respectively). If there were no casino here, obviously they would not command those rates on weeknights but alas, there isn't really anything around there other than the casino, so they kind of have you over a barrel. There are no "resort" fees, and they have a lot of coffee and a coffeemaker in the room. They also have urns down in the lobby. Free wi-fi as well, although I think that's for anybody who wants to sit in the lobby area.
The hotel is a leftover from the Argosy days and it clearly shows. It still follows the Mediterranean theme, although the Do Not Disturb signs are clever (One says "Action Hero resting" and another says "A night for the tabloids"). The room has a gaudy comforter and my room was RIGHT next to a train track, with trains coming by during the day. The bed is comfortable, although not Harrah's comfy, and there's an electric thermostat. The shower is a bit better than a hotel, and the amenities are from Bath and Body Works and are some of the most fragrant I've ever had in a hotel. That could be a bad thing, but I liked the scent.
After checking in, I needed to go down to Rising Star Casino in Rising Sun, Indiana. It's about 15 minutes away from Lawrenceburg, but feels like a lifetime away. This casino just got renamed to Rising Star, which according to the website and promotions was to "honor the town." My guess is that Hilton wanted "nothing to do with it."
The casino changes are strictly in the chips (Yeah, you'll have to get a new one, as the old Grand Victoria are not valid after this year) and the layouts and player's club name. Otherwise, this is the same old Grand Vic you're used to: decent games, bad location, ghost town otherwise. I played some craps, ($5, 25x odds) and got one point out of four rollers. So I switched to the dark side, and guess what, the guy made the point. Down about 200, I decided to try some DD BJ.
DD BJ is my Achilles heel. I love the game, I know the right strategy, and I always get KILLED, I MEAN MURDERED on it. Monday night started the same way. It's a pitch game, double on 9-10-11, double after split. Not sure about RSA or surrender, but those rules are on the shoe games. So yeah, I started down, but ended up coming up a little bit. I decided to cut my losses and switched to the Shufflemaster Mississippi Stud video table game. I've never seen this offered before, and I kind of like it, especially at a $2 minimum. The main "carnival poker" pit was closed already (only 11pm) although they did have one high limit table for $100 min open (S17). Nobody was playing it... surprise surprise. They do also have a Spanish 21 game where they S17, so that's another good option here.
I forgot to look and see if VP tables have changed, but nothing much had, so I guess those stay somewhere between decent to lousy. I think there WERE 9/6 machines in JoB but I'm not sure anymore.
It's too bad this place is where it's at. I can't imagine that it will survive once Ohio opens casinos. Right now, it seems to only serve people within a 10 mile radius who want to feel good about their play. I've played some at the casino, but they obviously don't value me, so I never really followed up with much.
Back to Hollywood Casino, where I should have gone to bed before going to the poker room. I played a couple of loose hours that was a bad idea, and lost about $100. I decided to go to bed, before heading back. Wednesday went much better. They have a promotion going on where 25 hours of play gets you a $100 tournament voucher. I already had most of my hours in, so I just needed a few more to get it. Luckily, I found a tight table and won the biggest pot of the afternoon with a set of 9s on the turn. I ended up about 400 and decided to play the Omaha tournament, which had a low turnout. I finished about halfway, got bored, and went all-in on top set against a flush. I didn't improve, so got on a 3-6 limit game just to finish my time. I won about 40 on that game and headed to bed.
Hollywood's Poker Room is very nice, with very loose play. However, they rape the pot (taking a rake and even a Bad Beat dollar even if there is no flop). I voice my displeasure with that EVERY time, most dealers don't argue or say anything, a few stupid ones defend it, and a couple are adamant against it. They comp $1 for an hour, but this goes against any table game play you may have, so be careful. Overall, I prefer Horseshoe's Poker Room, although I rarely lose at Hollywood Casino.
I might try to do a review of Hollywood and each one individually if there's interest...
Harrah's Great Race Run- 09/25You probably needed a break after that past couple of posts, this one shouldn't be too long...
1:00am(CST)- I arrive at Harrah's Metropolis, which is on the border of Kentucky and Illinois. First of all, this property is WAY out of the way. I had been there one time before, when traveling down to Tunica, I decided to do the 40 mile excursion to the property. Metropolis is known as the home of Superman and a big Superman statue, and if I can figure out how, I'll post the picture I took of him this time. It's big, but not the biggest in town, that belongs to Big Joe outside his grocery store.... but I digress...
When I was there probably 4 years ago, Harrah's Metropolis seemed like a decent place to play. There were a few table games and the boat, like most Illinois casinos felt crowded, but not overly so. I'm guessing two things managed to change that; one, the smoking ban in Illinois (which is nice) and the competition from Arkansas, Tunica and Evansville, IN. This trip, well...
I usually think of Harrah's properties as being pretty nice. They're not always the best looking and the games can be anywhere from just ok to downright awful (here's looking at you, Vegas). This casino is probably the worst casino I've been in still in existence (President in St Louis and CasinOmaha in Onawa, IA are both closed now). The layout is bizarre, as you get ID'd then go down a steep ramp, only to come upon some escalators. You're kind of in the casino, as there are slot machines all over, but the casino still is a bit to go. I checked in at the player's club, which luckily was still open. The table games, which used to be on two decks are condensed into a jumbled mess as you walk in the "casino." I didn't count exactly the number of games, but I'm sure it's less than 20. The slots are spaced out unevenly and it was just a cluster f---.
I went up to the second floor, and found their Video Poker (?) section... question, because the paytables were WRETCHED. 6/5 JoB. I swallowed my pride, and played the game for my required one Reward Credit. I then went down to craps, where two rollers rolled two points, so I got some money and left.
The thing I was SHOCKED by, at 1am on a SATURDAY, the place was empty. Seriously, games were already being shut down, and staffing was atrocious. Metropolis is only about 4000 people; they rely on nearby Paducah, KY to supplement the revenue, but dang, this place was SLOOOOW. I drove out, disgusted by what I saw.
8:00(EST)- I got to Horseshoe Southern Indiana (where I'm currently typing the blog posts while I try to get some sleep, wired on caffeine). I did take a nap about halfway here, but it was 4 hours to get here. The bridge you normally take is out, so you have to go the long way around, and Horseshoe is way out anyways, so that was a blast.
If you've read my posts before, you know I'm a HUGE HSI fan. They have nearly every game I like (although they got rid of the only slot machine I like to play, S&H Green Stamps). 9/6 JoB ALL over the casino, a FANTASTIC poker room with the best dealers all around, decent, though not great BJ rules, Pai Gow Tiles, and they write comps without it coming out of your balance. The service is mostly excellent, and you can get a free hotel room most nights of the week. My two complaints here are no Ultimate Hold Em, and the hotel is a half a mile away from the casino. The rooms are simple, but I don't need extravagant when I'm here. Paula Deen is here too right now, so that's kind of cool. I ate at her buffet earlier, and while it is a standard buffet, there's something about it that is special.
I did play some VP here, and lost about 50, but made it up on electronic BJ (they S17 on the dealer machines). I did play up on the tables and ended down about 30. I plan on going back soon, so hopefully, we'll hit a win. I'll either leave later tonight after a nap, or early tomorrow morning. It's another 4 hours. After this, I will have logged 1200 miles (why I rented the car), and spent about 20 hours on the road... but it was a blast and made the weekend go by very quickly. And on 10/31, I should have another 600 in comps in my account (300 cash). Given the losses and cost of gas, it would be a break even weekend.
Metropolis: Agree with you on the casino. GREAT Diamond Lounge meals.
The Diamond Lounge was closed by the time I got there... it did look relatively nice, and definitely too nice for the property.
Just came across your blog entry almost a week late.
One of the things I really liked about the Harrah's Metropolis was their display of antique slot machines (manufactured 1900 to 1940), located in the hallway from the hotel to the casino. I think you miss this if you go directly to the casino from outside. I took a number of photos, including this one of a Watling Draw Poker slot machine from 1900.
Harrah's Great Race Run- 09/24As I mentioned in my last post, my work schedule has prevented me from really getting to a casino. Lately, I've been staying at home and just relaxing when I get off work, and on my days off, I was fighting a cold for a while, so I would sleep most of those days. However, I managed to get this weekend off, so I decided to rent a car to do a >48 hour tour of the three remaining Caesars properties. I should point out for the purpose of this article I have been to all three CET properties, but had to log in and earn at least one Base Reward Credit to get counted for the promotion. So... starting on Saturday, 09/24
9:00am(EST)- I rent a car from Enterprise. They had a great deal of $20 a day, unlimited mileage, for Saturday and Sunday, and they put me in a relatively nice car at that price. I always like Enterprise, and will continue to use them for any rental needs!
10:00am- I am on the road, heading toward St Louis. Driving through Indianapolis I probably swore more than I ever have before. I don't have any statistics, but after that trip through, I would guess they must have the highest percentage of road rage. Seriously, the construction, the drivers, I was so frustrated after going through there... anyways, I stopped once for food and once for gas, which cost me $3.49 a gallon. I thought that was a bit high, and when I got to Missouri, I saw I WAY overpaid... $2.92 there!
4:00pm (now CST)- I make a quick stop at Lumiere Place, in downtown St Louis. This property is owned by Pinnacle and it's done pretty nice. I've been here a few times (I used to date someone who lived near there, and we would go over and play Video Poker and eat at the buffet). I had to stop to pick up my $1 chip I collect that somehow got lost when I took inventory a few months ago. A few interesting notes: 1) They only had EZ Baccarat, no actual Bacc anymore (this would be a trend I saw in St Louis). 2) They DID have EZ Pai Gow, so go Dan! 3) They also had a new game called No Flop Pineapple Hold Em, the rules I can explain in a thread. I decided to play EZ Bacc. I asked for 5 white, presumably to play the Dragon bonus. I found out you had to play $5 on the side bet, so I just pocketed one $1 and played a few hands. What do you know? The second hand the Dragon hit... I ended up $8 (after a toke and win) and cashed out.
Btw, getting out of Lumiere is a pain in the a--. I ended up in East St Louis, but couldn't figure out how to get to the Casino Queen (it was still daylight; at nighttime, I would NEVER EVER EVER be in THAT area). I finally figured out how to get to I-70 West...
5:00pm- Ameristar Casino. This is in St Charles, and is a really nice property. It's about the only Ameristar that I actually like, although it feels like slot parlor. As I was making notes walking through, I was going to say if you like a crowded, neonopolis of slot carousels, you'll feel at home here. They have SIGNIFICANTLY cut back on table games, only offering about 54 on the floor (down from a peak of over 100). The pits are REALLY nicely laid out though. 6 tables each, one supervisor per pit. And the games are well balanced too, some carnival, some BJ. Craps with a BJ table. They also have a new high limit room towards the back that can compete with the newer ones in the area.
Rabbit Hunter is the new game at Ameristar, but otherwise they offer the standard fare. They do still have the good bank of VP machines, but they've been moved to near the bar in the back. They were packed while I was there, so people do know about them. Ameristar really pushes their slots though, as they color code them as New, Hot, or 2x, 3x and 4x points. I haven't stayed up on St Louis casinos, but my guess is that Ameristar was only marginally affected by River City's opening... I'd be curious to know what their market share is these days. It is kind of the beautiful, but red-headed stepchild of the Ameristar franchise, as Kansas City is the successful one and Council Bluffs is the baby. I imagine East Chicago is the new adopted, smart Asian baby, leaving Vicksburg, the Colorado property and St Charles to linger on the vine. Too bad, because it is a pretty nice property. I did not play here, just walked around.
5:30pm- Finally, I get to Harrah's St Louis (technically, Maryland Heights). This property has not aged well, as most of the things are exactly where they were 2 years ago. They do have an interesting campaign that's obviously a test market in the old Island casino. One half, VERY CLEARLY divided, says "Smoke-Free", while the other half says "Smoke-Freely." I think that's both clever and smart, although since the casino is divided into two ANYWAYS, I'm not sure why they wouldn't have made one side entirely smoke free. Anyways, the old full-pay VP machines up front had been relegated to the back, and they got rid of my JoB 9/6 machine. I settled to play 8/5 Bonus, but hit quads early on, so I was playing on "their money." I earned my needed points, and cashed out about +20. I walked over to the other side, where few changes had been made, except the addition of a strange Asian themed pit that had nearly NO Asians playing in it. It was very bright, and mostly had Baccarat and EZ Baccarat (I think they do allow players to touch cards, but they don't pass the shoe... sorry Heather). I found the check-in kiosk, then played some electronic BJ just for good measure. I left that machine +10.
7:00pm- On my way to River City, the new kid on the block, and I had never been to this one. Walking in, I felt like I was in a Vegas casino. The casino is unusually nice, like Bellagio nice. It has the rich reds you would find in Wynn, and chandeliers over every table. They are the only casino in town to offer 100x odds on craps, but the dice had another plan for me, as it was point-7 for three rollers. I switched over to BJ with typical St Louis rules (H17, RSA, DAS, Double Any two cards), and got my a-- handed to me there too. I didn't bring all that much money on this trip, and I still had two more Harrah's properties to hit, so I ended down about 200, and decided to leave.
If you get a chance to go to St Louis, I do recommend seeing this casino. It's really out of place for the market and it's kind of small. There was no hotel from what I could tell, and probably not one for miles around it. Maybe there's a shuttle between there and Lumiere, I don't know, but if you have a car, check it out.
More to come... I left there around 10:00pm CST.
The Black Hawk Ameristar is seriously amazing. Blew my conception of them out of the water.
I have never been there, so I couldn't say myself. I think Ameristar does actually care about that property. I shouldn't say they don't care about St Charles, but to me, it seems like all the good stuff goes to KC or Council Bluffs first.
Harrah's Great Race Run- PreviewI guess if I'm going to start a blog of gambling trips, this would be the place to do it...
For those of you who don't know, I live in central Ohio, where there currently is no casino options. There are card rooms, but that's a separate entry. I have to travel to gamble, but there are multiple options within a two hour radius from where I live. However, being a Total Reward Diamond card holder, I do try to play at the Caesars Entertainment (CET) properties. Unfortunately, the two closest are Caesars Windsor and I don't have a passport to go to Canada, and Horseshoe Southern Indiana, roughly 4 hours away.
If you are not aware of the current promotion, I encourage you to check out the thread about it under Harrah's properties. Basically, you have to travel to 6 separate casino destinations. What they define as a destination is available on their website (I'll try to update with links as I learn how to format this soon). As I have lived multiple places across the Midwest, it is very easy for me to make some of these trips as a way to see some other people that I know. I had already planned a trip to Omaha, Nebraska (across from Council Bluffs, IA) and Las Vegas for the period, so it became my goal to hit 6 destinations before the promotion ended on 10/03/2011.
I went to Las Vegas in July, staying at Caesars Augustus Tower. Needless to say, the hotel was very nice and I had a spectacular room with a magnificent view! Unfortunately, the Gods didn't shine luck down on me, and the trip was not financially prosperous. I still had a fantastic time, as one can have while in Vegas.
Two weeks later, I headed out to Omaha, where I immediately headed over to Horseshoe casino. I also played a little bit at Harrah's as I had a room there one night (I stay with my family when I go to Omaha). Horseshoe (and Harrah's for that matter) has kind of lousy BJ rules (H17, No RSA, DAS, Double any two cards). Horseshoe does offer a great Spanish game, which H17 but allows redoubling an unlimited number of times. It's usually a $10 limit, which is high for the area, so it doesn't get all that much action. Harrah's constantly is reinventing itself in the market, as it's the smallest dog by far. The dealers there are much more personable than Horseshoe or Ameristar, but the game selection is very limited.
I also managed to get down to Kansas City to see friends from when I lived there. The Missouri River decided to be a jerk and flood I-29, the connecting interstate for 4 months, so I had to take a "scenic" route, which made the otherwise >3 hour journey a 4+ trek. I had a free room for one night at Harrah's, although between seeing my friends and my gambling I didn't actually sleep on that particular trip.... whoops!
Harrah's NKC actually has to "try harder" (like the Avis ad), since it's in the unusual position of being third in the market, behind monster Ameristar and the resort Argosy. Personally, I like Harrah's much better than Ameristar, but most slot players (rightfully so) would say Ameristar treats players better. I did get some EZ Pai Gow action in at Ameristar on this trip, and played my favorite, hard to find game Mini Pai Gow at Harrah's. After the evening, I was down a bit and drove back to Omaha to enjoy the rest of the trip with my family.
Neither of those trips provided me with a windfall. I had been running kind of bad. However, when I got back to Ohio, I ran into more bad luck at work, as both people we hired quit, leaving me with about 60 hours of work a week. This had limited my ability to get around to do the rest of the casino run... until this weekend.
The next post will be my whirlwind trek chasing the last three Harrah's casinos, as well as a few others that I visited. I hope you enjoy this, and please feel free to leave any comments. As I said, I will try to do some editing and add some links and stuff.
Rising Star sent me some pretty attractive offers -- 2x$75 in freeplay per month, with a free night anytime. I may take them up on it. They still have 9/6 JOB.
I'm really glad to hear that... they have to do SOMETHING to revitalize that place. I'm not surprised that there's no cosmetic changes, but my feeling is they should have just closed if they can't compete with Hollywood and Belterra (and they can't.)
They serve a need and that need is the runoff from Hollywood LBG. Once the Cinci casino is built I fear they are toast. They are still viable making 7 or 8 million a month. Their buffet is way better than Paula Deen's, btw. Try it sometime.
Thanks for the report. The Rising Star is my favorite riverboat. I think it has a chance to hang on despite its location/limitations. The Ohio casinos will be smoke-free, which is actually good news for the Indiana boats (not from a health standpoint, but in terms of gaming revenue). I agree the buffet is really good and comps are generous.
I'll write more in an update report on Rising Star, but I decided to try to the buffet again, since my one experience there previously was AWFUL.
I will say, the Saturday night spread, while not GREAT, was good. They get HUGE points for having smoked salmon, and the caramel apple cheesecake was exquisite. However, it's nowhere NEAR Paula Deen. Sorry...