Laughlin poker just isn’t the same

August 14, 2007 12:07 AM


As a resident of Arizona, I got my start playing video poker, not in Las Vegas, but in Laughlin. But about the only thing that ever went well besides my activity on the river, however, was the ride from Phoenix to Laughlin and back.

For a while I ignored Laughlin; I guess all that losing left a sour taste in my mouth, and I hardly noticed it as I buzzed right by it on my way up north. But once you get a taste for recreation on the Colorado River it never leaves you, and around 2002 I decided not to boycott it any longer.

Today, Laughlin is changing. The video poker pay tables just aren’t what they used to be across the board, the Ramada Express is now Tropicana Express, Harrah’s is rapidly showing its age, The Flamingo (which used to be a Hilton) was sold and changed its name to The Aquarius, and most recently I experienced confusion as I entered both the Edgewater and the Colorado Belle because of new ownership.

After talking to folks at the Tropicana, I’m not too sure what administrative changes, if any, are in store for them. One piece of advice I offered was to update their old Ramada slot club and stop penalizing higher limit players. Their comp system is based on points only now, and those who play pennies and nickels accumulate points at a much higher rate than $5 & $10 players.

Harrah’s truly disappoints me these days. In my opinion, they’ve downgraded their video poker pay tables. The casino is cramped and uncomfortable and rooms need remodeling.

As for the Edgewater and Colorado Belle, well, my love affair with them is over — at least for the time being. Both are worn well beyond on their time, I just can’t understand why improvements haven’t been made as the aging process proceeds. To top it off, the Edgewater always had five level video poker machines all across its massive River Bar. For reasons unknown, they’ve now lowered it to three.

The casinos are both smoky and cramped, and my recent visit to both revealed a new owner (whose name I’ve never heard of before) has taken over, thus contributing to the extreme confusion at both slot clubs.

On a good note, we now have the Aquarius. They’re doing all the right things, including entertainment and dining facilities. They’ve installed a bunch of five-level $1 through $25 non-glare sit downs in the high limit area, and they’ve seen me a lot earlier this year before I reached my win goal. It is, in short, one of the most attractive, comfortable locations in the state for any video poker player to play.

I’ve always had a special place inside for Laughlin. It’s the draw of the incredible Colorado River and all that it offers. I’ll be back.