After a 2,500-mile trip by car across the United States, I am back in my home territory and it feels good.
I recently visited three casinos on the East Coast -- Mardi Gras in Charleston, WV, The Meadows in Washington, PA. and the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA. i can give my readers thumbs up on two of them and an iffy thumbs down on the third.
In the past I have played poker and dice at all three casinos. My past experiences have been good as far as service, food and gambling. Here are my upgraded findings on these three casinos:
THE MEADOWS -- A-PLUS.
RIVERS CASINO -- A-PLUS.
MARDI GRAS -- C-MINUS.
Let's start with The Meadows. I found the gambling atmosphere at this large casino 30 miles from my family home to be very pleasant. The food is outstanding, the new owners offer good perks to the regular customers, especially the slot players, and the service is pleasant.
The Meadows is where my younger brother, Legs, goes to play the slot machines. The casino offers generous perks to lure him through the doors. These perks include up to $50 in free play at various times during the month. There is a harness race track featuring daily races that can be observed on the grounds or from the air-conditioned casino through the large plate glass windows.
The poker room offers daily tournaments and usually has up to half a dozen poker tables featuring limit and no-limit games. I played in a poker tournament with a $50 buy-in and finished seventh out of 80 players.
The Rivers Casino is located next to the stadium where the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates play their games. It has 30 tables in the poker room that offers any games the players wish to spread. The food is outstanding and the service is friendly. I salute the management for doing an outstanding job for their customers.
Then there is the Mardi Gras, which was a disappointment.
I booked room at the hotel only to find that the two restaurants in the casino don't serve breakfast seven days a week. A young employee confessed a bit shame-facedly 'We only serve breakfast several days a week. Today we are not serving.'
With my stomach grumbling, I went to the poker room to find only one game in progress -- no limit Texas Hold'em. The casino had few players and the employees seemed disinterested in their jobs.
i asked about the food serving policy and an employee who asked not to be identified admitted there are problems with food service. He added, 'I have been working here two years and it's bad. That's all I have to say.'
My recommendations to the members of this website are to avoid the Mardi Gras until they upgrade their service. The casino seems to be having managerial problems and this does not add up to a pleasant atmosphere for players. It's only another two and a half hours to drive to Pittsburgh and your experiences at the tables will be much improved.
i have been trying to talk my brother into learning to play poker. No luck there. He is impressed with The Meadows' new ownership and the sophisticated way the management is offering substantially bigger perks to slots players. In fact, Legs has had a dozen winning sessions at the slot machines thanks to these perks, which is not to be sneezed at.
Today I am heading to Pittsburgh for a poker tournament. I'll let you know the results in a future column. Let the games begin.