Friday, November 2, 2012

The Boats

Donna and I enjoy gaming. So, while in East Texas, we made a short trip over to "The Boats" in Shreveport/Bossier City. Because of recent play, we had a few free nights at the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City. We jumped at the chance to get out of the trailer for a few days.

There are 5 Las Vegas style casinos in S/BC, all located along the Red River near downtown Shreveport. We've visited them all at one time or another over the past 10 or 12 years. There have been lots of changes in that time.

Shreveport is home to 2 casinos, Sam's Town and the Eldorado. Sam's Town occupies the facilities formerly owned by Harrah's while the Eldorado occupies the facilities formerly operated by Hollywood.

Across the river in Bossier City, what once was the Isle of Capri is now Diamond Jacks and what once was Casino Magic is now Boomtown. Only the Horseshoe has not changed its name. However, it has changed ownership. Formerly owned and managed by Jack Binion, it is now part of the Caesar's Entertainment Network and their Total Rewards program.

All of the casinos in S/BC are riverboats, but they vary in size and appearance. We have always thought that the Eldorado and the Horseshoe had the best physical facilities. Their casinos seem larger, and they certainly have higher ceilings, which helps reduce the smokey environment that the smaller casinos sometimes seem to have. In all the casinos, the hotel is located on dry land while only the actual casinos are on the riverboat. At the Horseshoe, there is a lengthy walk from the hotel section to the casino, requiring guests to pass the million dollar wall.

For convenience, we enjoy staying at the Eldorado. This location allows us to get out of the casino and visit Sam's Town if we like as the two casinos are next door to one another. We can also visit the businesses beneath the Texas Street bridge, such as Nicky's Mexican Restaurant and the Blind Tiger. The three casinos across the river are rather isolated from other businesses, so you must either eat on site or hop in your car to visit area restaurants. Dining in the S/BC casinos for the most part is expensive and comps don't flow as readily as they do in Nevada. I wish the casinos would put in some inexpensive delis. Most casinos in Nevada have places where you can pick up cheap hot dogs and nachos for just a few bucks, and since comps are rather liberal there, you can usually comp your meals with decent play in a short time.

We enjoy getting out and sampling local restaurants. Some of our favorites in the area are Indigo Indian restaurant (8660 Fern Ave Ste 110 in Shreveport; the buffet has limited options, but is tasty) and Yeero-Yeero (Greek restaurant at 4511 Youree Drive in Shreveport). There used to be a Greek restaurant on Line Drive, but we've not eaten there in years, so I don't know if it is still there. The restaurant scene changes constantly, so visit the Shreveport - Bossier City Convention and Tourism website before your visit to see which restaurants are available.

These days, we tend to play at the Horseshoe more because it is part of the Caesar's Entertainment Network. This allows us to build comps that we can use all over the country. Our game of choice is video poker, and the S/BC area does not have a strong VP inventory. The Horseshoe does have some lower denomination games in the 99% plus category (Bonus Poker Deluxe at 99.64%, Jacks or Better at 99.54%, and Bonus Deuces Wild at 99.45%), as does Diamond Jack's (9/6 Jacks or Better). Opportunities at the 1$ or above level are a bit more prevalent, but they are often on triple or five play machines, requiring a significant bet per hand. For a complete inventory, check the Gulf Coast section of the VP Free website. Louisiana law sets a ceiling at 100%, so no games in the state can exceed that return. We do miss Nevada for gaming.

For more information on the S/BC casinos, visit the American Casino Guide.  This site provides data regarding number of hotel rooms, size of casino floor, and related information as well as reviews. Take the reviews with a grain of salt. People tend to vent more when they are unhappy and tend to remain quiet when they are happy. Also, comments are not always factually accurate. In the review of Sam's Town, for example, one reviewer was actually describing the Sam's Town in Vegas, not in S/BC.

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