Rivers Casino, Des Plaines, IL
Last night, I paid my respects to the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, IL.
It is a brand new casino, having opened just a month ago in mid July, 2011. In their free self-parking garage, they have a neat innovation I’ve never seen before: red and green lights over each parking space, allowing you to see from far away where a spot is open. Just look for the green lights!
There are 6 baccarat tables on the main floor, and 2 in the high-limit room. All use traditional baccarat drawing rules; there are no “no-commissions” baccarat games.
The casino and baccarat tables open at 9 A.M. and close at 7 A.M. Between 7 to 9 A.M., the casino is closed for cleaning.
Of the tables on the main floor, there were two $25 minimum tables and four $10 minimum tables. In the high-limit room, the minimums at the time were $25 and $50, but a pit boss told me it can go as high as $200 minimum at other times. The maximum bet at all of tables was $100,000.
At the $25 and high-limit tables, the dealer lets the players at the table handle the cards. The player with the largest wager on Player gets to flip over the Player cards, and likewise, the player betting the most on Banker, the Banker cards. Thus, at these tables, brand new decks are used for every new shoe.
At the $10 tables, new cards start at 9 A.M., when the tables open, and the decks are reused continuously until 7 A.M. the next morning, unless something happens to the cards which would require them to be replaced.
All tables have the standard, vertical tote-boards. The dealers made no errors in updating the tote boards while I was watching. They appear very well trained to do this.
All cards are machine shuffled with ShuffleMaster.
Cards are burned face down.
I was there on Wednesday night between 8 P.M and almost 3 A.M. Just like at the Horseshoe in Indiana, 95% of those playing were Asians, and they were stacked deep around the tables. Even on a work-week night, it was jam packed. I can’t imagine what it’s like on the weekends!
Over-the-shoulder betting is allowed, so the dealers spend a lot of time handling the payouts and buy-ins. The pace of the games was slower than slow. Prior to this, I had thought Horseshoe’s pace was glacial, but Rivers is even slower, simply due the fact it has relatively few tables and so many players. Each hand can take many minutes, and each game, many hours.
The $10 tables are actually much slower than the $25 tables, even though the players handle the cards at the latter. The sheer volume of players at the $10 tables virtually freezes up the game’s progress. The $25 tables move relatively faster, and it is the high drama of players turning over the cards that can potentially slow things down.
When I played my game at the $25 table, I started out standing behind the seated players. About half way through, someone at my table busted and I was finally able to sit down for the first time at a baccarat table that night.
By the way, only seated players are allowed to handle the cards. A few times, I was the one to flip over the cards, and I would always do so in a rapid, no-nonsense fashion, both cards together.
Once I accidentally flipped the Players cards over such that the bottom card was still covered by the top card, which was a face card, and I didn’t bother with them further. The dealer laughed and said, “So, don’t want to know what it is?” She left the bottom card hidden for awhile to add to the suspense; it turned out to be a natural 9!
Most of the other players, though, do their own song-and-dance routine while bending the edges of the cards over agonizingly slowly to barely peek at what the values are, completely mangling the cards in the process. It was quite entertaining, even hilarious at times, especially when players would throw cards back at the dealer in disgust or elation, as the case may be. It made the time much more fun, and win or lose, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I suppose this is part of the social appeal of baccarat.
Dealers & Pit Bosses:
As nice as can be. They were all very friendly, helpful, and professional. I recognized one pit boss who had worked at the Horseshoe in Indiana.
Because it is a new casino, I could tell some of the dealers were still a little green. Having to handle the large volume of odd wager amounts seemed very taxing and I did not envy their job. Pit bosses were always hovering over them to make sure they paid out correctly.
Examples of shoes:
Some pictures I took of the casino last night: