(This is Part One of a guest post. Not by Zerbet though.)
The stars aligned on Friday when The Dear And Patient Wife advised that she was
To coin a phrase, show tunes went off in my head. As might well be expected, the recent Vegaspalooza trip left me with a jones for live poker, so the opportunity for "a trip to the boat" as they say here in Missouri - there is no land-based gaming here - couldn't have come at a better time.
I had it in mind to try to find a tournament with a reasonable buy-in and structure to play, but after checking a couple of places I found that there aren't any tourneys around here after about 2 PM or so on Fridays - I guess the don't want to take their tables and dealers away from the high cash game play, or something...
Anyway, a while back a St. Louis-area blogger (to whom I'd link if I could just remember who it was...) mentioned that his favorite room to play in St. Louis was in the President Casino. As I recall he was particularly complimentary of the dealers and he liked that the room was separated from those damn slots.
The President floats on the Mississippi very near the Arch in downtown StL, which is near where I work... and yet I'd never been there. I didn't know it even HAD a poker room for a long time, and since the river front is pretty seedy looking overall, even when I found out about the room I'd supposed it, too, was probably small and "less than attractive."
I decided to check it out - if it turned out to be a dump, I could always head out to Harrah's (which is much newer and very nice) or the AmeriStar, (another place I haven't visited yet.)
Given that this is Missouri, I knew that the first thing I'd have to do when I got there was to get a player's card. I hopped into a line of 20 or so people waiting to get one, and almost immediately found myself explaining to a nice lady in line who was visiting from out of town WHY we are REQUIRED to get a card to enter the casino.
While these cards DO serve the "usual" purpose (awarding comps like free valet parking for various levels of play) in Missouri they are MANDATORY because it is against the law to lose more than $500 over two hours of gambling!
Obviously the casinos have to track your loses relative to the clock, and the cards are used to a) validate your age, etc., when you get one, and then b) track your chip purchases & slot play to make sure you don't break the law.
I was pretty shocked to discover that The President actually charges you $2 to issue the card, too. No one else charges, at least that I know of. I don't know how they've managed to get that past the Gaming Commission, but ya gotta give 'em props for finding a way to shift the cost burden to the consumer... the bastids.
So, little black card in hand and about a half hour after getting there, I finally actually enter the casino. While the entry area outside is quite stylish and well lit, once you get to the actual boat (christened The Admiral - yes, it's a real boat and not just a modern-day raft like most of the rest use) the appearances take a serious turn for the worse. Frankly, the place is pretty much a dive.
I wandered around for about five minutes trying to find a way to go down to a different deck (I knew the poker room was on Deck A) but there were NO signs of any kind that I could see after walking the boat from stem to stern.
I finally had to ask someone and they pointed toward a doorway near the central bar and food court (does four tables and a half-door counter on the side of the bar qualify as a "food court"?)
There was a small stand-up sign with the claim that is the title of this post just inside the doorway at the top of the stairs, so it initially seemed that the directions I got were good... then I went down to the bottom of the stairs and around the corner as guided by the velvet ropes and saw... a large empty hallway with rows of out-of-service slot machines lined up back-to-front-to-back in storage.
I was obviously in the wrong place. I reversed my path and began to climb back up the same stairs (anticipating the weird looks from the patrons at the slots around the doors at the top) when I heard a faint sound that my senses, so finely-tuned from a full week in Vegas, instantly recognized as the sound of chips being riffled, far away.
End Part One