What I am Doing: Part 5.

 
My Review on the Cincinnati Horseshoe Casino

I had the opportunity of being invited to the pre-screening of the new place downtown. I guess I should preface everything by saying I had my worst "session" playing poker that I have ever had in terms of $s lost, it totally crushed my Q1 in the previous post. Still turned a profit for the month, but unless I play very well this month at this place and in Vegas (shout out to BCB, 17 days!!!), that goal is pretty much out of reach.

In this blog, I will post some tips I have for people planning on going there in the short-term. There are a lot of things some of you casual gamblers/closet-degenerates should probably know before you go down there. I'll review the few things I had the opportunity to do and see, as well as some advice. I was not in attendance for the Columbus soft opening or the grand opening, but I was there for the opening weekend. I assume the clientele will be the same. You people can take my ideas for what they are worth.

Driving to and Leaving

For the first couple of weeks, especially if you plan on going on a Friday or Saturday night between 5-9, take Reading road if you are using 71, get off at Central Parkway if you are using 75. Don't try to get cute and use work-arounds like Eggleston or Gilbert. Each one of these roads will take you right where you need to go if you plan on parking in the garage.

Hotels

The Horseshoe has partnered with numerous hotels in the area. I have not really done the research on this as I don't really plan on using this perk unless I get really messed up at a downtown bar one night (might happen once year). For more information visit the casino's website.

Parking

Parking at this place is not free during the day. From what I understand it costs $1/hr from 6AM-6PM M-F. Any time outside of that it is free, including the weekend. I would not recommend parking on any side street nearby for numerous reasons.

1) The surrounding neighborhood is going to have a heavy police presence for quite some time, but you might as well not give the criminals an opportunity to take advantage of you. Maybe I am a pessimist here, but I think we are still going to see numerous robberies, breakins, thefts, etc. I also think we are going to see people getting followed home and being robbed as well. Just be careful.
2) There was a snow emergency issued during the soft open. Lots of cars got towed. Do you think the casino made an announcement? No way. There was hardly any precipitation, yet the city screwed over lots of people. At least until winter is over, heed this warning.
3) Traffic.

You can get your parking validated (free) by playing slots or regular table games for 30 minutes or playing poker for an hour. You also get free parking if you are a Diamond or 7 Star Total Rewards (TR) member, I'll get to that later.

Valet is not cheap. If you do not have a TR card, $20. If you have the regular card, $18. Platinum level, $15. Free for Diamond and 7 Star.

I have yet to do the research if you can get your valet validated for length of play, hours playing, etc.

I would recommend staying away from the garage for the first couple of weeks unless you are doing valet. I'm not certain, but I think the garage holds 3000 cars. The casino holds 3-4x that amount of people. Figure that one out.

There are shuttles running from the Banks. This is a good spot to park if the garage is full or you plan on going to Red's game or the Bank's bars. I would probably just park here for the first few weeks if you plan on going on a Friday or Saturday simply because the garage is going to be packed. I have no information on the shuttle. You can park your car in the Bank's garage for $4. Or you can valet at a few different locations (Ruth Chris, Moerlein, and I think one or two other location) for $12 if you are lazy and want to by right by the shuttle pick up.

If you are thrifty (Why are you going to a casino to begin with?) and are looking for other ways to get to the Horseshoe, there are numerous lots within a 5 minute walk that you can park at for $5 or less. Again, probably not a good idea to be doing this at night or if you are by yourself. There is a shuttle that T.A.N.K runs from NKY throughout Cincy that you can ride for $1. This is a good idea if you plan on going to Newport or Mainstrasse bars before and/or after your visit.

One other creative parking idea if you plan on going to eat at a downtown restaurant (Montgomery Inn and maybe other local places) that I have heard people use to go to Red's/Bengals games is to grease one of the valet boys at these places to drop you off AND pick you up when you are finished eating. This is obviously a hassle as you need to get a cell number, wait for him/her, etc. Again, just another idea.

Arriving and Player's Cards

Expect long lines when this place first opens. These places are sticklers for busting underage degens and do a good job finding them. I can only hope their ID verification process is similar to their Chicago property and NOT their Louisville property. The latter take 10x as longer. Make sure you have your ID. If your significant other or someone else in your party likes to carry big purses, I'd tell them to downsize to a handbag or just leave the purse in the trunk of their car. Bookbags, big purses, satchels, etc hold up lines. I personally use a backpack whenever I go to these places, but I also have a need for it due to necessities I need when playing poker.

The place does have somewhat of a dress code. This is to keep the trash out. Pants have to be worn at the waste.

As always, no explosive devices allowed. Unless you have a rapport with the security staff, which I have tested numerous times when they ask to check my bag, jokes about, "No RPG's this time.", "I left my piece in the car.", "Are IEDs allowed in here?" are not well received.

If you wish to get a Total Rewards card, expect long lines. If it's worth it to you to start earning comps, you will need this card. When I went to the soft open, this line was 100+ people deep. This was the same case in Columbus for the first month. The staff is not the best with the computers from my experience. If you have had a card in the past and just need a copy, do not wait in this line. I would suggest going straight to the poker room and asking for a copy. Even if you do not plan on playing poker, tell them to put you on one of the lists. They will promptly go get a copy made for you. I'm not sure if Pit Bosses can do the same thing in The Pit (blackjack, craps, roulette, etc.).

The way the comp system works is like this. There are different levels of cards. Gold, Platinum, Diamond, 7 Star, and one other. I seriously doubt anyone reading this will get higher than a Diamond level. If you are a 7 Star or wish to get that high, you probably have a problem and should contact G.A., or you have so much money you should be elsewhere much cooler than Cincinnati doing your business with these types of places.

If you play poker, you get $1/hr in comps that you can use on food, hotels, etc. There are numerous restaurants in the area (Nada, Mohogany's, Montgomery Inn, etc) that will accept these comps. One good thing about these comps is you can use them to buy things on the Total Rewards store online: Apple products, expensive clothes, shoes, the list goes on. You also get 17 tier credits an hour. Tier credits accumulate to allow you to move from Gold to Platinum to Diamond. To figure out what types of comps/tier credits you get for slots and pit games, I'd visit http://www.totalrewards.com for more info.

Different tiers get you better deals as you move up especially when it comes to booking hotels in other cities. The really cool perk of the Diamond level is you get access to the Diamond Lounge. This mystical room is just a swanky lounge in most of Harrah's property that serves free food once or twice a day as well as discounted/free drinks in state's that allow it (not Ohio unfortunately). You also get free tickets for two or three shows a month. For Cincinnati, I'm not sure but I think that means sporting events, concerts, shows at the Aranoff. You also get free rooms at hotels.

I'm going for the Diamond level. You have to get 15k tier credits to reach this level in one year. That's roughly 70 hours a month of poker at 17 tier credits/hour. I have heard the higher level stakes might be getting 34 credits/hour like some of their sister properties, but that is tbd. Hopefully the latter because the level I play at (not a high roller or "balla" by any means), I would be getting 34/hr at other properties.

Either way, you have to get 15k credits in a year. This is much easier to do if you play Pit Games or Slots. I don't play any of that crap, so I can't comment on how that works.

Smoking

This place is non-smoking. I quit smoking almost 2 months ago, so I do feel for you people. I was hoping to report that this place catered to smokers as much as Columbus, it did not. That is really one thing which this place failed at in epic proportions. In Columbus, I counted 3 or 4 LARGE outdoor smoking patios which accommodated even the largest crowds easily. This place, I only saw one and it was packed like sardines. I'm sure there has to be another but I did not venture around enough to see.

Dining in the Casino

I was really looking forward to the food offered at this place leading up to my visit. Although I only ate at one place, it met all of my expectations. In the 'shoe is a buffet, an Italian cafe serving fresh pizza that looked really good, a Bobby Flay burger joint which looks delicious, a Binion's Steakhouse which I have heard mixed reviews on from friends who have dined at other properties ("The one in Chicago sucked bad."), a Margaritaville bar/restaurant which BCB told me had good food when we were in Vegas, a Starbucks, and a buffet. There is a bar in the middle of the casino which looked pretty cool. If there was something else, I missed it.

The lines for everything were really long. I was fortunate enough to have a pass to skip the line at the buffet.

The buffet was really good. It costs ~$20 if you have a card, which is totally reasonable. The buffet is divided in to Asian, Homeland (southern comfort food), Italian (the Italian cafe is connected and just makes the food for this station), Hispanic, and surprisingly keeping in touch with our city's roots...German cuisine.

I ate some of my favorite foods: chicken lo mein, pot stickers, bratwurst and sauerkraut, pot roast and garlic mashed potatoes. For dessert, AYCE Greater's Ice Cream, what looked like 30+ different fancy dessert dishes, and cookies.

I had two cups of Black Raspberry Chip ice cream and two German Chocolate cakes.

And then I had a heart attack.

High Limit Area

I didn't stop in here, but I heard it's a sight to see. Very similar to the Chicago property, except all consolidated in to one area instead of three. I would recommend stopping in and watching. The room has an Asian theme similar to the Chicago property, and I'm sure it will be packed with the same clientele.

Table Games

There is one main strip of blackjack and other "Devil's games" as I call them and one other off-shoot. I have no knowledge of table minimum or maxes.

The only recommendation I can say is to stay as far away from the craps tables as possible. Again, this is purely as to not ruin your night out. These were plagued by TONS of gang bangers in Columbus, and I can only imagine it's going to be worse here than there. There were fights which took place. I know people have fun playing that game, but I think that fun will quickly turn south due to shady people.

Police Presence

There are massive amount of off-duty officers inside of the place undercover. If you get your jollies off by getting all liquored up and acting like an idiot, don't do it here. You will find yourself in the drunk tank.

Poker Room Review

Overall, beautiful. The tables are top notch quality. The chips are pretty cheap IMO. One good thing about these chips is you can make pretty cool/high structures with them because they stack well and the felt on the tables is tight. The chairs felt really comfy at first, and then after two hours my back really started hurting.

The waitstaff throughout the casino left something to be desired when it comes to looks, but their service is top notch. In the poker room, two women walk around with iPads taking orders. YOU CANNOT PURCHASE ALCOHOL IN THE CASINO WITH CHIPS. You can tip with them, however.

The dealers, although noobs, did a great job. There were some weird spots where they maybe didn't know a rule or whatever, but compared to their Columbus counterparts, they were light years ahead in terms of training and preparation. Have some patience if you plan on playing here. We all were noobs at our jobs at one point and time, and needling the dealer or talking smack to them really accomplishes nothing.

Even if you don't play poker, you can walk around the room. I would suggest going to the back and just watching some of the high limit games being played and the amount of money on the tables. I assume for the first two or three months there will be some sick games being played in terms of $$$.

The room (not sure about the rest) has an "anti-cussing" rules. One warning. Second offensive word directed at someone else, and you will have a good night playing elsewhere until tomorrow.

That was a lot. If I can think of anything else, I'll post it up. I hope you all enjoy this new facility.
 
Vegas and other things

As I said in the GB, I have exceeded my goal of winning 4-5k for Q1 of 2013. There I no way this would have happened if it were not for the lovely Horseshoe built down town. As I said in the above, I got killed at the end of last month and the begging of this month. I went from having a +2400 year in to a -500 year in basically two days. Swingy. Then the Horseshoe finally got "good" for lack of a better word. Im not sure what has exactly happened since that soft open spewfest, but I have won 12 out of my last 13 sessions there. My smallest win has been for $350 and my only loss was for $400. Net winnings from the shoe have been right around $4500 in the 3.5 weeks that place has been open. Maybe im just on a really big heater? I anticipated the poker room being good for the first six months, so hopefully it continues. I am going to give some thought to my Q2 goal because my friends who play seem to think my Q1 goal was too low. Perhaps Ill bump it up to 6-8k for Q2? Im not sure, I don't really want to put too much pressure on myself because then Ill probably start playing horribly.

I have decided that if my job offers voluntary time off like they have the past two Summers, I am probably going to take the whole month of June off work (maybe part of July too) and travel and play poker. Obviously assuming things continue to go well back here at home. I'd probably visit Tunica, Florida, and Vegas for the WSOP. LCD and I are supposed to go to FL in May but he keeps stalling for some reason (get it together LCD!).

Vegas was a pretty frustrating trip. Not as frustrating as last year's, but very disappointing. For the first two days, I couldn't win. I played against some of the best competition I have ever played against and simply could not beat them. The small amount of money lost was well worth the education. I made mental notes of a lot of what I saw, and jotted down some hands I saw some people play and would like to incorporate that which I saw in to my game.

Day 1 and 2 were the worst parts of the trip. Not only did I get eliminated from a tournament I final tabled last year holding Aces all in pre flop, but there were numerous times I folded the best hand where I was in a spot where I couldn't just call, I had to either fold or just ship it all in. For some reason I lost any remote bit of manhood these first two days, and folded every time, then got shown a bluff every time. Foreigner poker players really get their rocks off coming to the Mecca of Poker and showing Americans bluffs. Not sure why, but they love it.

Headed in to day 3 and 4 I pretty much just said I was going to go with my reads every time instead of going against my gut instincts. It ended upworking very well. Those damn foreigners and all their bluffing eventually caught up with the ones playing at my tables. I didn't care if I had a marginal hand when all the cards were out, if something smelled fishy, I just called. Every time. Call $420 to win $900 with Q9 on AQ85 in a 4 way pot on the turn? Why not. Ship it.

I ended up winning marginally on day 3 and a pretty good amount on days 4-6.

I will eventually comment on BCB and he drinking escapades. BcB really killed it drunk-facebooking while in vegas ;).

Chinese Poker

What a game this is. I would love to explain to you how fun this game is, but I think you should just youtube "How to play open face Chinese poker"

Enjoy.
 
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