St. Louis trip report - Day #1 (long)
  • Summary:
    President is a dump, unaccessible to nonsmokers. All games H17. 5$+ on weekends.
    Casino Queen: Nice place, nice staff, 5$+ on weekends, supposedly 2$+ on weekdays. Terrible players and terrible penetration.

    Long and winding rant:

    I arrived around 2pm in Saint Louis for a conference I will be attending downtown. As soon as you step off the plane you are confronted by casino signs (Harrah's and Ameristar near the airport, Casino Queen and President in downtown). On the freeway leading into town, all the billboards seem to be a mixture of "jesus loves you" signs and casino signs, pretty surreal.

    Since the city seems to be completely deserted, I had nothing left to do but examine the downtown sampling.

    The most accessible casino from downtown is the President which is located in the landing area (a nice area with pubs and restaurants, lost among parking lots for the stadium). Unfortunately, it does not seem to be worth much. It is somewhat run-down, the staff is rude, and although the view of the river is nice, ther air is unbreathable. I have been to smokey casinos before, but the lack of ventilation makes this worse than some places in downtown vegas. Before running away I noticed that the games have 5$+ limits on weekends, and are H17. I have heard reports in the past that penetration was good, but did not have the time to check. I did notice a few "specialty" games, including Blackjack with a side-bet of three-card poker(!).

    With what remained of my lungs I did the "long walk" throughout the concrete maze to the East Bridge and then walked accross it to the Casino Queen, which is located in the infamous East Saint Louis area. Not a recommended walk in daytime. There is a shuttle, but it is very erratic.
    Anyway, the casino queen is much nicer and upscale. Not strip standard, but looks better than many atlantic city places. In addition, there are glass windows with a great view of the arch on the other side of the rivers.

    The Casino Queen has lots of table games. All BJs were 5$+ and climbed to 10$+ in the evening, but during the week there are supposedly 2$ tables. Also interesting is the fact that they actually rate players at the 5$ table. Not sure what comps you get for that (pretzels?), but at least it makes the small-time gambler feel nicer.

    Naturally, the crowd at the BJ tables is not exactly upscale. A lot more women playing at the tables than I've seen in AC or Vegas, but many of these seem to be retirees. Most people at the table do not seem to have heard of basic strategy, and I stood out by being the only person at the table to double down on 11. Not that people do not double down: one person at the table doubled down on a 14 against a dealer's 8 (!!!). Also popular is the "double-down on pair of aces" move.

    With this crowd it is amazing that CQ is not the most profitable casino in the country. Still, they seem to make sure that counters can't get any money from them. Penetration is the lowest I've ever seen, less than 60% (more like 55%). I stayed through a few dealer shifts and that penetration seems to be the rule. As a result, in full tables of about 7 people, there is a shuffle every few rounds. An entire protocol takes place before the dealer can actually shuffle, which can drive you crazy while playing.
    The one advantage of the CQ, however, however, is that some dealers seem to be very lax about leaving stuff on the table for a long time, such as busted hands and blackjacks..

    I will try to find a way to get to the other casinos if they have shuttles and report.
    Why don't we open a section on this board for condition reports? Will probably be just as accurate as the Wong list.

    Conclusion: Viva las vegas.
  • Like I said you need to head West on 70 about 25-30 miles towards St. Charles.

    Harrah's and Ameristar are 5 miles apart. Both are more set up like Las Vegas. You'd enjoy them much more. Trust me.

    As far as Shuttles. You probably can get a Shuttle to the airport for 1.50.
    Then cab it to Ameristar or Harrahs - $10. Or if you know a time, email me this week, I'd pick you up at the airport (10 min away from my home -I'd like to pick your brain :lol: ) [email][/email]

    Good Luck
  • Ameristar is just off can see it from the interstate and I found
    it to be better than average. Further west, the isles in the little town
    of Boonville is not too bad, small but not too crowded. Add abortion kills
    to the billboards and you have seen it all. I'm starting to think the Midwest
    may be more religious than the Evangelicals in the south.
  • Phlegm- Where is Harrah's relative to I70? Can you see it from I70
    or do I need a map? I plan on another swing thru most Midwest states
    this summer and may be in your area heading west. Thanks..Ray
  • For those who didn't read the whole thing, I think I've seen one of history's worst moves yesterday: Double 14 against a dealer 8... If anyone got a better one, let me know :)
  • Any idea about the limits throughout the week in Harrah and CQ ?
  • Harrah's just added a hotel addition and with the "thinning" of the trees brush, etc you can't miss it from highway 70.

    Although the address or city I believe is Maryland Heights, it feels like its in Earth City which is basically on Hwy 70 right before St. Charles, MO or where Ameristar is.

    If you are Eastbound on 70 or coming from Kansas City and heading towards St. Louis, its right after the bridge over the Missouri river on the Right. If you are Westbound on 70 going from St. Louis towards Kansas City its on your left hand side.

    It has a round ball, looks like some damn temple or something :lol:
  • I'm not sure at the CQ because I've not been there for awhile.

    I do know that Harrah's will have 2-3 $5 dollar tables 6 deck. 2-4 $10 tables. Possibly more. They just added a whole new section. What is confusing about Harrah's is they used to have two Casinos at the same location. You literally had to check in one. Then go out. Check in the other. Now, I believe its all joined together with the entrance into the poker room believe it or not. The problem with Harrahs is they do have some tables with the continious shuffle.....Yipes! And believe it or not those tables are full??

    Ameristar has probably 6 $5 tables 6 deck upstairs. 2-3 $5 downstairs. Will have 3-4 $10, 2 $15 6 deck. one $25 table dd on the floor. 4-5 $25 tables in the back, one dd. They also have the 21 plus 3 (or poker hand) in $5, 10 amounts (you can play blackjack only if you want.).

    I haven't seen the dd with a 14. But I did see a dd with the player having a 6 versus a dealer 6. I'm not talking an ace/5. I'm talking the player had a 2 and 4. Needless to say, his next card was a 3. The next was a ten. The dealer had a 6/5 then using the 10 it was 21. The next card? a five. The next a ten (yeah, a bust) Of course I tried to explain to the guy what he did, but that was useless. That one was pretty good :roll:
  • I played at a table on the MS coast, I think it was at the Imperial Palace. A ploppy had decided after watching a couple of us double soft hands according to either BS or the count depending, that doubling soft hands was good. Every time he had a soft hand, he doubled down. Didn't matter what the dealer had. I tried to explain that you primarily do it against 3-6 dealer up cards, but to no avail. Guy doubled everything to the point that when he'd get a snapper, dealer would ask "are you going to double that?" :)
  • So tonight I went to the President again because I was on the landing.
    Much nicer at night. Lots of free spaces at the table, but minimum doesn't go below 5. H17. somehow didn't manage to see the penetration (wasn't feeling too well but it's below 70%) game is six decks, not eight. Playing two hands requires double table amount.

    Dealers were extremely friendly, apparently, Monday night, as a weak night doesn't attract big crowds, so the dealers were 50+ (60+ to be honest) and super nice. One of them actually was very slow moving the cards, I felt a little bad for him. Didn't try to spread because with only three tables, the pit boss was on us all of the time.

    One of the players looked white-trashy, but kept talking about his tournament strategies so I dunno what to figure out.
    Another guy was pretty young and I figured he was a counter (He started out with 100 and did different spreads, but something about his behavior makes me think he might not be: he started with a 50$ bet in one case (remember, he started out with 100) which seems stupid. On the other hand, in another case after a few splits on betting red he didn't double his 11. Another thing that seemed weird was that he often doubled for less.
    Is there any reason for someone to double-for-less unless he's playing tournament or is out of cash ?

    I also played a little video BJ. Old Bally's multi-game machines, a few weird rules, but generally S17 and BJ pays 1:1 (is it just me, or only in vegas do video BJs give blackjack rules)? The weird part, however, is that on some of the 25cents machines you double down for one extra credit. For example, if you played 3 credits and you double down, you're actually playing 4. and have a total of 7 out... Can anyone figure out what this rule variation means in terms of HA, assuming that you can double for 1.5 the original bet ?

    Took the shuttle back home, again, late 50s driver, very nice.

    Overall, I lost about 10$ trying to figure out the bug in the video BJ and seeing how prevalent it is, and won 20$ (after being up 60$) in the table in addition to lots of tips cause I felt sorry for the dealer :)
  • So...

    Since today was my free day I spent most of the time playing.
    I started out for two hours at the 5$ table and then at the 2$ table at casino Queen. Seems like the penetration is 55. In fact, they seem to take pride in shuffling every four minutes. I think people really enjoy cutting the cards or something. The dealers are very careful to always place the shuffle card at the same point, and were not letting us go an extra hand despite nice tipping ;)

    Between 5:30 and 6:30 (I returned to town at 5:30) there was a lull and I could play heads-on 2$ against the dealer. But soon they raised the limit as more people showed up, though I was allowed to play 2$ till 10pm when I left.

    CQ is nothing to write home about. Nice dealers, but the peentration is a killer. Every time I actually got to a high count, it lasted one shoe, and somehow, everyone else were getting their doubles, blackjacks and 20s while I kept getting 16s on a high bet out. I managed to lose about 50 at the 2$ table with a spread of 1:5. Again, people play pretty crazy. I've also had my chance to see an actual martingale player, who played up to nearly the table limit (500$) and then somehow managed to save his 16 and the dealer busted her 9. Part of me wanted him to lose, isn't that evil? They had to call half the staff and a whole ne wset of chips when he cashed. If this was Vegas, he'd have working girls chasing him.
    One correction though: CQ is actually 6 decks, not 8, S17, but 55% penetration. Personally, I'd rather take 8deck H17 for a deeper penetration and less people-per-table.

    Earlier in the day, Phlegm was nice enough to take me to see Harrah and Ameristar. Harrah has very limited BJ in the daytime for now, and some tables are 6:5 s or CSMs. They have another area that didn't have active games at around lunchtime.

    Ameristar, on the other hand, is great. A very spacious casino, two floors with an open ceiling in one of them, very nice sports bar, etc. A bunch of five dollar tables with very friendly dealers. Penetration was about 75%, maybe even more. H17 and 500$ two-hour limit seems to be the case in MO.

    So in conclusion, if you want to play 2$ games, casino queen is great. Otherwise, if you're in the MO area, Ameristar seems your best bet. It also seems the most vegas-like around. Harrah might have potential but it looks like they're renovating entire parts of the new casino so it's not clear how good they are.

    Overall, I broke even today, although in playing 9 hours a lot of tips went in the drop-box, otherwise I'd be ahead.
  • Yesterday was fun.

    Funny but two things stuck out to me:

    1. Since you were sitting at first base I knew you were playing the count and when you left, I knew there was a good reason, so I went minimal. I was just fortunate there was a 6-7 hand run that I was betting like a mad man. I think it was about the time you got two blackjacks in a row.

    2. You forgot to mention in St. Louis, drinks are not free. Bottles of water are free but you can't give the waitress chips to pay for drinks. When you discovered that, I told the waitress to come over to me as I didn't want her to hassle my son. What was wild was, she did think you were my son. Am I that old now? :lol:

    Glad you had fun and if I don't see you Thursday, best of luck and go get em!
  • Yes, it was definitely fun... Thanks again... I also got to see Saint Charles so I have another notch on the tourism checklist... I thought about dropping at the loop or in forest park on the way back, but the people on the train were a little creepy so I decided to go on down to the CQ.

    I got my blackjacks in a row when I already dropped my bet to 5$... Later at the CQ I didn't get a blackjack at all during the high counts, and then got a lot of them playing 2$... So I had a losing session of 55$ at the CQ. That's life... Especially on a full table. I never got a blackjack with more than a unit and a half out, nor a successful dbl with more than two units. when I had five units out (10$ which most people were betting by there), everyone else got blackjacks (including, often, the dealer).

    Part of what hurt my scores was that I pushed a lot at the CQ when I had a lot out, and after a push I never change my bet because that's two suspicious.... In a full table, the count is too different. Also, I often pushed the last hand before the shuffle... I am coming to realize the importance of penetration.

    The times when I left, skipped hands, bathroom breaked, or messed with counting my chips and accidently missed hands, the count was -2 or below. Since I was sitting in first base I often busted first and put my bet in right away, so I figured you'd have time to figure your next bet before it was your turn to play your hand, so you could put the right amount immediately following the bust.

    The thing with the drinks is weird. Why do they have that rule? Becaues of the buy-in restriction? If a waitress in st. louis can make 500$ in tips in two hours, I think she has better career prospects than serving drinks. Thanks for pulling for me with the drinks, I didn't want to start going for my money belt in the middle of the hand, pulling a hundred, getting someone to break it, etc. I told her to give you a white chip for the payment, did she give it ?

    The "son" part was funny, but I was more careful afterwards because I think the pit-boss heard that and was suspicious... But it was the end of the session and the count sucked, so no biggie... I called you by your first name earlier, I mentioned I was from another country and indeed had a different accent, we had different last names (what is yours, actually?), and I look too jewish for a direct relation :)
    As for the age, after seeing a teen-mom on the train who could not have been more than 14 when she had her kid (he was not about 5) it is technically possible... I am slightly more than twice your son's age, so if you stated early ;)

    Let me know if you end up going anywhere on Thursday...

  • I played another 90$ worth on a 5$ table at the casino queen... Overall lost 35. I started out by losing (not including pushes) the first seven hands. Good thing I didn't martingale.

    Time to leave that place, for some reason I can't really seem to win there. Too bad the other casino is H17 + all-smoking.
  • So I'm down 135$ for the St. Louis trip.

    Then, as i was boarding the plane, I got a call that I won a 100$ MP3 player in some raffle where people shoved their business cards at one of the exhibition desks. Go figure... Lose 135$ in the .5 HA game but win something for shoving a business card. Maybe I should play the slots instead ;)

    Also, turns out that the hotel concierge had about 15$ in coupons for the different casinos around. They were just hidden well. So if you're in a hotel in St. Louis, ask about these ;)

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