Saturday, May 19, 2018

Turning stone

Old pal Charlie and wife Kathy treated me to a day at Turning Stone.  They had more comps than they could use, so I ate for free, and they even refused gas money.  I'll think of something nice to do for them.

I had a terrible session before the buffet and lost $142,  
The buffet was very good, but the beef was way too tough.  No more flank steak.  Good meatloat.  You can't make tough meatloaf.  Good veggies and fish.  All good for free.

My second session I did better.  Sometimes I had my opponents well confused.  I pissed off three people in the course of my play.
I had a grand time. Basically I lost $142 before the buffet and then went on a bit of tilt and got $32 back while pi$$$in off three players.
My most unforgiveable hand was 6-8 offsuit which I stayed with for no reason.  The river was an 8 and that was enough.  The rest were all chasing.
When the main better whined, I told him what my 88 year old buddy Dale  in Ocala says.  "6-8 always wins........sometimes........yeah ...........sometimes 6-8 off suit always wins."  I repeated it when my opponent whined, as bad beat losers do, to some other regular who he was talking too at his end of the table.  My attitude is if I can't win money at limit poker, at least I can pi$$ off a lot of old, gumpy  guys.
I was laughing because I last wrote Dale's joke as part of a Spanish lesson in Heredia, Costa Rica.
Oh,  I never showed my cards either, unless I had to, and I did not do that "you and me, check it down bit." 
I'm sure they know me now as poker bastard. 

I checked out the Joker Poker and it is a joke.  I won't be playing that.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Blackhawk Colorado


I spent a week here in November.  Son Frank joined me for a few days.  Son Cory and Katy visited a day from Denver.  Otherwise I was on my own.
I went up on an Uber and then to the airport with a paid ride to my landlady in Central City.

I lost a good bit of money, most of it on video poker.  I just could not seem to have a winning session.  It was disappointing because I liked playing there, especially in Bull Durham Casino where I could play a nickel machine that was not full pay, but close enough.

I paid too much for lodging.  I went to Ameristar and then up to Central City to a bed and breakfast there.  Both were great places.  The Ameristar had wonderful rooms and a grand rooftop pool with Jacuzzis inside and out. They gave me free early check in.  There were no resort fees.   

They also had some full pay machines, but had the worst comp rules I have ever heard.  Basically, one got nothing until they reached a high level of play and were unable to use accumulated points which would then go away before I ever went again.  
Contrast that with the Bull Durham where points could be used for cash immediately, a thousand got five dollars, and any left would bet there as long as the casino was there.  

There was nothing else to do but gamble in Blackhawk.  I even had difficult because I worried some eye meds might run out and there was no place without a car to get a script filled.  Even room snacks were hard to buy. 

But I did well.  There were a good number of free buffets for new signers, there was a good Veteran's free lunch at Ameristar and an every day discount for Veteran's   In the second part of my stay I had a fine healthy breakfast every morning, then went down and had a free hot dog at Bull Durham, free popcorn, even sometimes a free cup of soup.  
I used my points at Lady Luck to eat twice.  I was not impressed with their food.

Here are more details on the trip:


I substituted Blackhawk for Vegas for my yearly November trip this year. It was a grand decision for me, but it might not be right for everyone.

Especially disturbing is that recently in the news Blackhawk casinos were called out for prosecuting people who inadvertently played credits left on machines.

This is disturbing on a number of levels. I will say that in the list of casinos doing the prosecuting, I did not see Bull Durham.

Blackhawk is not about the shopping experience that Vegas has become. In fact, without a car it was hard for me to pick up my usual room food, and I was happy I had brought cheese and hard boiled eggs for times when I did not want to eat out. The second place I stayed, in Central City, Nickilee Mansion did not allow food in the room, so I carried a good bit of cheese back home with me.

I expected Blackhawk would be similar to Oatman, with little mining themed tourist places here and there along the path. It was not. For me, that was a relief.

However, the flip side was that it was difficult with no car to find room snacks. While I had a refrigerator at Ameristar, I did not have access to my favorite drink, seltzer. That would have been very refreshing in the middle of the night. I did find a small plastic lime with lime juice, so I added that to the water.

Blackhawk is not about dressing up and having a fancy time. Most people here wore the same sort of practical clothing: warm plaid shirts, layers, jeans or similar pants. I fit in with my nicely lined plaid shirt. Perhaps my warm "newsboy" style hat was different from most of the head gear, but it sure worked for me. And a scarf was needed.

Blackhawk is not about escaping winter. We needed to have coats and hats and a scarf to be comfortable walking. A rain coat was also a good thing to pack, although I did not use mine. Snow is possible. We had a light dusting one day.

I could see how the right timed huge snowstorm might delay an outgoing flight. In Vegas I could always count on getting in and out.

However, now that the direct Southwest flight from Albany to Vegas has been discontinued, there is more chance for a delay along the way, especially if Chicago is the mid airport where delay is a common pattern even when it is not winter.

Now Southwest flies Albany to Denver nonstop. That is cheaper for me and much more comfortable. The trip time is half what it would now take to go to Vegas, and an hour less than even the old direct flight.

My cost was $236 which I got by booking early. That is almost half the cost of going to Vegas.

I used to hate that last hour on the plane, even for the five and a half hour flight to Vegas. Now that the flight is more like 8 hours, I just can't see going to Vegas directly.

However, I could see a week in Blackhawk playing 2-10 spread limit poker and then an inexpensive flight to Vegas and some sort of transportation to Laughlin, where I would spend most of my time.

I suppose a few nights downtown playing at the Golden Nugget would set me up for a Greyhound ride to Laughlin from the downtown station.

Also, for some, Vegas is an escape from winter because it is warm there and warmer still in Laughlin.

For me, cooler is a benefit. I would not have liked it to be below zero F; but I enjoyed the crisp cool air of winter and the snow. I have more difficulty with hot and humid than I do with cold and dry.

Blackhawk is not about entertainment. There are no performing shows. I did find some stage music at the Monarch and perhaps that will increase because the Monarch is adding on and becoming bigger. However, it was only on weekends and did not seem very attractive to me.

Of course, Blackhawk is much smaller. I could walk from Ameristar to plenty of other casinos. In that way it reminded me of the way downtown Vegas was a couple decades ago.

However, there were no cheap rooms in this area and the weekend prices were really high.

The Lady Luck would be a good place for me to stay because I could get some free weekday nights for 6 hours of poker play. After 6 hours the player gets a certificate to use anytime in the next two weeks for weekday nights, but not for the night of play.

So if I paid for a Sunday night, I could get a free Monday for play on Sunday, free Tuesday for play on Monday, Free Wednesday for play on Tuesday. The limit is 3 free nights. At the cost of rooms, this would decrease the cost of the trip.

Then I could use my $2 an hour to help pay for another night.

It is rare to get free rooms based on Poker Play. I had them last year at the Colorado Belle in Laughlin.

I still don't know why because I once had a host at Edgewater and the poker play just did not count for anything with her although the nickle VP did. That was back when they had full pay.

The Old Laughlin River Palms had some great deals on free rooms. I could actually win them at the poker table. However, having spoiled my self with the Ameristar, I wonder if I'd be willing to stay down scale. Perhaps I'd do my first night in town there.

Points for play do me no good at the Ameristar. They can't be exchanged for small amounts, and they don't last over six months.

However, I met a fellow at the Nickilee Mansion where I stayed in Central City who gets free offers at Amerisatar all the time for his quarter play. However, he plays quarter progressives that are 6/5 for double bonus. That has to be a short pay machine even with a healthy progressive.

Perhaps my losses there, and Frank's losses using my card will generate some future offers.

It would be difficult to cover the weekends, but if Cory came and got me on the weekend, even to just deliver me to Arvada for cheaper rooms, I could skip one weekend and have a good, long trip none the less.

Or I might take a Rambling Express for $14 to a hotel in Arvada or Lakewood.

Even using a Lyft from Blackhawk to Arvada might be a reasonable way to beat the high weekend rates here. The Savanah suites was just $70 a night with a washing machine and kitchen


I walked outside to see the view from the roof, but I did not stay long. It was cold both times.

The pool was huge and comfortable. Each time we went it had a few kids playing games. I did not want to get splashed in my healing eye with Chorine water to I avoided them. Otherwise, the swimming was great. It is a shallow pool. There is not a life guard on duty, at least the times we went. I think it is open to hotel guests from 7am until 11pm. This is incredible, especially since we were in the off season.
The indoor hot tub was large and bubbling and foamy. It was very comfortable and made me feel better each time I went in it.


This trip I did 5 nights at this spot in Central City. That let me evaluate that area. It was a great place, but none of the casinos there caught my attention.

Here is my review:
This place is quite an adventure. It is a bed and breakfast in Central City just three blocks from casinos like Bonanza and Century, and from the shuttle stop that will take guests all around Central City and Blackhawk casinos for free.

The small Visitor Center just a block away had a woman who I think would tell stories about the past all day long, and a series of photographs showing Central City in the old days. They usually have art, but it was in transition when I visited.

There is also a little old fashioned thrift store a half block away where I spent $2.67 on a fine Saratoga Casino cap, a Central City mug, a BHA free water bottle, a magazine on Buffalo Bill, and a book of Aphorisms.

Nicki is a fine and friendly host, and the stay comes with a tour of the the house, an old historical place that was renovated by her and filled with antiques. It is quite a lovely place, like going back into the 19th Century.

Downstairs is a steam shower that is quite delightful. Quickly the shower are fills with steam so it is like a steam bath.

Each room had interesting old pieces. I was especially intrigued by the variety of old lamps, with interesting shades.

Nicki has two cats who were very laid back and easy. The house is pet friendly, so one day we had a couple small dogs. They had to stay downstairs.

Most of the rooms had televisions. Then there is a large screen television in the maid common room. Nicki asks that news and commercials not be played on the common television.

The wifi worked well. I listened to music from my phone.

She also wants shoes removed at the door, and that keeps the place meticulously clean.

As a host, Nicki was just grand: friendly, willing to help solve problems, full of stories, and good humored.

My major issue in Central City was that the air is even thinner than in Blackhawk and I just had one hell of time climbing the hill up to my room at midnight.

Blackhawk is about frugal gambling. A place like Bull Durham will have playable tables in nickles and still give some free food and drink.

Drink was available everywhere and the service was quite good. Dewar's is usually my choice. When I was checking out the VP in the place with the most fugal prices for food and many nickle games, a waitress offered to get me a drink while I was walking around.

The drink stations for soda and water were common. So that saved the dollar tip every time I helped myself to coffee or water or iced tea. They gave a free hot dog everyday and had chicken soup along with popcorn. Those made my lunch.

At the Wild Card casino (which we ended up not liking much because it was too loud and crowded)They set up a small wheel on the street and had folks who were passing spin for small benefits to get them in the casino. Frank won $2 cash. I won $6 free play, which I lost. It seemed like a scene out of a long time ago. Imagine encountering a wheel that was not electronic, but just clicked along the pins until it stopped on something like in the old carnival days. They have a fifty cent ATM, but my bank added $2.50 to any transaction.

Blackhawk is about customer service. Every worker in every place was friendly and went out of his or her way to do whatever might be needed. Places had signs to put in front of a well loved machine to give the player time to go have a meal. In the Monarch an attendant actually shut a machine down so the woman could go have her supper.

At Bull Duram a young fellow met me when I went in to get a sense of the VP and gave me a complete tour of the place, showing me where the nickle plays were, showing me that at the bar were Double Bonus machines (9/6 so not full pay) that required just three quarters for full play. When I checked the next day, the royal progressive was over $900. I can't do the sophisticated math, but it seems to me that with the decreased volatility, that progressive would to a large extent overcome the short pay table. At any rate, when Vegas Orleans took out their signature 10/7, they replaced them with 9/6 double bonus and people played them in spite of their being 9/6 DDB right nearby. Those needed 5 quarters for full paid royals, not 3. And they were not progressive.

JOB was for the most part 8/5 everywhere. It was the worst pay table. And I did not see progressives on those games. DDB was often 9/5 with progressives. Bonus poker was 7/5, sometimes with progressives. I hit Aces at the Bull Durham, but it had not progressed very much. The Royal was $273.

I did not do a full inventory of everywhere, especially once I decided I liked Bull Duram or Gilpin in that section of Main Street and Monarch or Lady Luck in the other.

Since coming home I have read about some of the casinos pressing charges on people playing points they find on machines or picking up as little as ten dollars off the floor. That depressed me. However, Bull Durham was not listed as a casino that did that.

Points at Bull Durham are not erased after six months. In fact, were I to die, my children could come with a death certificate and get my points. That would be unlikely, because once 1000 points are earned, they can be turned in for $5 cash.

Incredible for me was to find the 2-10 spread limit game at Lady Luck. What a perfect game for m! I am basically a limit player, but I like stakes high enough to overcome the rake. This was. It was also at times a flop game where few people raised preflop. So we saw the first five cards for $2.

Players were for the most part good, and there were regulars. As I played there day after day I got to know them and their play.

Once in a while there would be a loose, poor player who would be passed around. I found most folks very friendly and easy. The banter was good natured.

There were a few who were overly anxious, and one old guy who kept huming Christmas songs, but that was the worst of the table ambiance, except for one fellow who objected to something I said about his play to the woman next to me.

I could be content just in this one area of Blackhawk.

Bull Duram even had a wall of nickle slots that were the old coin machines and dropped actual nickles.

Also, most of the machines I played at were very familiar to me. Some let me set the pace of the dealing. I like the slowest dealing because I enjoy the expectation when a trips comes on the first card and I'm hoping for quads.

The music in the casinos, however, was not to my liking except late at night at the Bull Durham. They played some very interesting sets there.


Gilpin was nice. It was cleaner. It has Deuces, which while not being full pay, were similar in payback to other pay tables. Frank played a 7/5 Bonus, hit no big hits, and still walked away with $60 and enough points to get a voucher for the restaurant and $10 off the meal.

I lost there as I did in almost every VP session I played. I played Deuces with a strategy sheet for the harder hands. But nothing came of it.

We also found it very noisy in the morning when the fellow was changing the light bulbs using a lift that made the most annoying beeping.

Blackhawk is a place to go off on moutain hikes. However, this is not a good area for me to hike. The air is thin, and I easily get winded and react to the change in atmosphere in other ways.

So, not having a car to access the hikes was not an issue. I also had injured my foot in Denver, and while it was pretty much healed and kept comfortable in my hiking boots, I did not want to walk long distances on this



All reports on these casino hotel rooms set up my expectations for a great room, and I was not disappointed. At check in they upgraded me and I ended up with a refrigerator, although they told me that these are only setup in rooms for medical reasons.

There was also a one cup coffee maker, and a note to housekeeping got us some extra coffee on the second day. It was the kind that takes the black plastic trays, and I had carried some from other hotels that would fit in those trays, but as it was we had enough coffee from housekeeping.

I thought the coffee was good.

Frank went down to Starbucks for his five dollar special coffee.

The bathroom was exceptional. There was a separate section for the toliet with another door, and the tub and shower were also separate. Frank and I each had our own sinks. At night the lights were on a dimmer which gave just the right amount to find the bathroom but not enough to wake up anyone.

Supplied soaps were nice.

The beds were comfortable with plenty of pillows.

The television had quite a few channels and it was possible to see some movies without commercials. TCM was not in the mix, but there were some stations that played old westerns one night. The large screen tipped so it could be watched from the fine comfortable chair with ottoman.

The electric outlets were plentiful. I did not need the extention cords I carry for my sleep apnea.

A large oval table with a lamp accommodated my computer, and during sleepless times I could position it with the screen away from Frank so I did not wake him while writing.

A smaller oval table was next to the large comfortable chair.

Wifi was easy. No passwords. It worked well for the phone. I carry a computer that is very old, but small with a complete keyboard, and I don't hook it up to wifi to avoid viruses.

I just use it to develop my trip reports.

I suppose here in Blackhawk I might connect to the internet without worrying about getting bothered with a virus, but I hit one at Monte Carlo in Vegas one time, and so I limit my internet to the smartphone and find that is sufficient.

The construction used heavy materials. The doors were solid in this place. Stone was used in some places.

One time returning to my room I heard my neighbor playing music rather loud, but once out of the hallway and in my room, I could not hear it.

The only noise we had was some noise from the hall cleaning people on a walkie talkie one afternoon.

Everything is compact and out of the way. small sliding shelves held the coffee maker and it could be rolled back away when not in use. The closet was full of hangers. Larger drawer space was a bit limited, but I generally keep things in my suitcase anyway.

When I come again, I'll ask for a room higher up, but I had a good view and enjoyed it.

There was nothing to fault in this space.

I did set the air too high and was uncomfortable in the night. Also, I caught a little cold and got dehydrated. I let the water run out in my sleep apnea machine. Of course, in the middle of the night, I did not want to disturb Frank, but in the end I had too. Once I got liquid in me, and the heat lowered, I was much better.

With all my sleep issues, it is hard to share a room, even one as plush as this one.

The pool on the roof was everything I expected. It was very fine. I only went once in daylight. The views then were delightful. The inside jacuzzi was large and easy. The outside jacuzzi was fine too. It was cold to go to it, but coming back did not feel bad at all.

It snowed one day and I got some photos of it.

Here are some shots of Central City where I stayed at the Bed and Breakfast.  There were casinos there, but I was impressed with them.  From there I could take a free shuttle down into Blackhawk and back.  It was a fine ride and old trolly like car.
Gold created this town when it was discovered by a greenhorn not to far from the city.

 This was my bed and breakfast

 These shots below were from a visitor's center around the corner from my B and B.

The inside is like a museum of antiques

 Nicki at her antique stove.  It looks like new and it still works fine.

 Flush plumbing

I stay here again.  It was delightful in many ways.  I met people at breakfast each weekend morning, and Nicki ate and talked to me other times.  We hit it off well.  She is not a gambler, but she appreciates that her business is built on gamblers staying there.  

What was hardest was the oxygen weak air.  I did okay in Blackhawk, but in Central City it was a real chore to hike the hill to the Nicki Lee Mansion.  I had to rest every free feet.
Of course, the Lady Luck deal will draw me in the future.  

Around the corner from the B and B is also a thrift store with great old fashioned prices.  I bought a souvenir Central City mug, an old Western magazine, and one other thing for practically nothing.

I also appreciated that going off season there were no crowds to negotiate.  As I age, and now with this bad eye, I hate being in crowds.

Katie and Cory visit

Cory and Katie came down for an evening. They met me at Lady Luck in the poker room. We pooled out money and tried a bit of craps, but our luck did not hold out.
This craps table had a bet that paid if 5 numbers were hit before the 7. There was one section for low and another for high. Katie hit for the high and that gave her a fine $34 win.
The craps table had been $3 until we joined. It then turned $5. Still a good find. It was Katie's first time to play.
I took them to see the Nicki Lee house and they were impressed. Nicki was not there.
We then went out to Safe Way, The pharmacy was not open, but we bought batteries for my diabetes tester, lozenges, and chap stick. Katie took care of me by finding things and Cory put in the batteries. Now I can test again.
Then we went to the Monarch for another lobster buffet. It was good, but more expensive than the weekday. They took my second card as Cory's card and that saved us $2. They took $4 of comps that must have been run up when Frank and I played.
The lobster and crab legs were good as were other treats.
It was fine to have Cory bring me home again and not have that hill to negotiate.