Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brief Impressions: Some Illinois and Indiana Poker Rooms

With the loss of my favorite online poker sites and with a few weeks of vacation this summer, I decided to play some cash games at several of the legal poker rooms in Illinois and Indiana. Some brief impressions:


Par-A-Dice Casino
East Peoria

This is actually the closest poker room to me, although it is about 90 minutes away. It is a small room that, outside of tournaments, had two to five tables going on my visits there -- mostly $1/2NL and an Omaha 8 table. The room is heavily populated by locals, including some solid players. There is a lot of limping in the $1/2 NL games, so you have to be careful about not getting snookered by a sharpie playing a junk hand and hitting the perfect flop. The dealers and staff are friendly and the atmosphere is cordial. It is a comfortable place to play, but you have to play sharp poker to turn a decent profit.

Hollywood Casino

Hollywood Casino is the current incarnation of the old Empress Casino. I had always thought that the Empress, the first riverboat casino I ever visited, was small and trashy. As Hollywood, the casino looks and feels much better. The poker room is small with only a handful of tables -- maybe five? I played some NL there and was surprised by several things. For example, there was a main table, and players were filtered into it by from the feeder table. I entered at the feeder table and was doing quite well. After a time, I was moved to the main table, where I stayed about even until taking a cruel river beat.

Although the play was friendly and the dealers okay, this room just did not seem to be up to the kind of standard worthy of  a long drive to play.


Yowsa -- now this is a poker room! Harrah's made this one of their WSOP poker rooms, and it is big! Lots of tables, lots of action. I played $1/3 NL here several weeks ago and made a huge score due to some loose play and great cards. The dealers and management seemed to be okay, but I was shocked at the rude behavior exhibited by some players toward dealers and other players. The dealers just seemed to not be bothered by it. As I have found both in Las Vegas and in the midwest, Harrah's knows how to run a good poker room. This is one heck of a room for an action junkie. A return is in the near future for me.


Horseshoe Southern Indiana

This is another excellent poker room in the fine Harrah's tradition. A big plus for me is that it is on a non-smoking floor. There is a snack bar at the back of the room (not in operation during my visit) and even rest rooms there. How convenient. It is a big room with lots of tables, but most were not in use on my trip.

The action varied on my trip and I had a few losing and even sessions. However, I had a great run on my final night and won back everything I had lost the previous two days. I felt comfortable playing here although the room was freezing. Two comped night at the hotel and a comped buffet made for a happy camper. This room will absolutely be a destination for me if I want to get away for a couple of days.

Horseshoe Hammond

I have played cash games at this Harrah's property two times and have played WSOP circuit events two or three times. It is a big, busy poker room that spreads many limit, NL, and Omaha games. The wait list can get quite long, so you have to be prepared to wait.

In my mind this is clearly the best poker room in my brief report. The wait list was well run, the dealers are good, and the play seems to be pretty fishy. I have turned nice profits on both my cash game visits here and have felt right at home. It would be tempting to play here often if it was not so far away.

I will be tempted to take another road trip this weekend. If I go to a Harrah's room I can be assured that I will be playing in a quality room.


Blogger bastinptc said...

Makes me kinda wish I still lived in Illinois. Then I remember the weather.

2:14 AM  
Blogger The Poker Meister said...

Horseshoe Hammond is near Chicago, correct? Are there any others near Chicago that you would recommend? I'm likely going to up that way in the next 2-3 weeks & would like to get in a live session.

10:17 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@PM: Horseshoe Hammond is excellent. There is another boat nearby in Gary, IN -- Majestic Star -- which has a smaller poker room. A brand new casino just opened outside Chicago in Des Plaines, but has no poker room

There are a few other casinos in the area that have rooms, but I have never played them.
I have not heard great things about them.

The Harrah's in Joliet, however, is also a great room -- can't go wrong there.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Shelly said...

Nice write-up! I'll miss living 15 minutes from 2 poker rooms (I'm near Hollywood Joliet and Harrahs Joliet). Hollywood Joliet suffers from the same sort of locals problem. At any given time when I've played there, 6-7 of my table-mates are local regulars. A good number of them know what they're doing, and it's hard to win much without getting lucky. Weekends are best at Hollywood, where you can find a higher percentage of non-regulars playing.

Hard to believe I'll probably leave IL without ever seeing Harrahs Joliet! Haven't made it out there yet.

You should check out Majestic Star in Gary IN. Nothing fancy, but a big room, and for some reason, I just really love the people there the best of anyplace else I've played - player clientele and dealers/mgmt.

11:47 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@Shelly -- I think I played at Majestic Star once -- maybe as part of the Heartland Poker Tour? It was a few years ago and I do not remember much about it.

12:16 PM  

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