Rollin’ on the River!

May 13, 2003 12:22 AM

How often do we get to do it all over again? And what are the chances of "it" being even better than the first time, second time, or even third time around? Well, for me this year’s River Run weekend in Laughlin was the best one yet. Although I hadn’t been to this yearly event since 1999, I decided to not only soak up all the nostalgia of the setting, I threw in a session variation of for-profit video poker play just for added excitement. And fun it was!

While my video poker Play Strategies require no outside distractions, this time I adjusted it more to fit my "romps through town" that have all been successful around Las Vegas in the past few years ”” because I knew my mind would wander.

Early Friday afternoon I jumped on my bike and rumbled up to the Colorado River gambling mecca that’s completely transformed for five days every year. While blackjack, slots, and keno are the normal cause for exhilaration as one drives in from Kingman, on this weekend it’s always the massive amount of Harleys and other bikes that seemingly and in mind-boggling totality, cover the landscape on the Nevada side of the river. But it would not be complete without a session of video poker, and that became my very first goal.

My first stop was at the Riverside ”” a casino I’ve been to many times before. Only this time I went into the newly opened addition across the street. I really hadn’t decided yet exactly how I’d play, but I knew I wanted to take a few chances and hope for the best. So I sat at a dollar DDB game, and on my fourth hand I watched as A3AAA was drawn from a razgu. I hadn’t had enough time to clear the roaring engine sounds from my head yet, and I was up nearly two grand! After such a hit, I normally would have seriously thought about turning right around and going home. But not today. There was much more to my visit than that, so I walked on over to the Flamingo Hilton ”” where it was one huge mass of big bikes from the street to the front entrance. It was a sight to see, that’s for sure.

Inside the Hilton I went to the high-roller room, put $500 into the $25 BP machine, and cashed out as soon as I was 5 credits ($125) ahead. I lost $500 on a $5 DDB game, tried again and scored four 5’s, and then went over to the River Bar at the Edgewater. Up and down on the dollar machine, I finally hit a Straight Flush and cashed out with a $175 profit.

Over at the Colorado Belle, I wanted to go up to the Mississippi Lounge to see if the dollar 10/7 DB machines were still there (I subsequently found out they are) but there was such a crowd walking around the upper deck that I decided to go down to Shooter’s Bar for some $1 DDB. Again I had some good luck ”” hitting four Aces once more for a profit of about $700. I decided to go back to the Riverside to take my ride over to the Ramada Express, where I was staying.

I’ve got mixed feelings about the Ramada. In my early ’90’s losing years, I spent a lot of time playing video poker in this unique casino. Since I altered my approach to the game in early 1997, however, I’ve had much better luck. One thing I like about the place is that all single-line Bonus Poker games pay triple for four 7’s ”” all the way up through the $10 machine. They also have plenty of 10/7 DB poker, including that which is missing in Las Vegas these days — in $2 and $5 denominations.

Here I chose to use my slot club card (actually I would have at the other casinos if I’d have remembered to bring them along), because the comps are easy to earn. Don’t expect to make a fortune in cash back though. It’s the most miniscule percentage of pay back I’ve ever seen. Still, from the old train-house scene to the patriotic theme to the very good selection of video poker games, it remains a favorite place for gamblers to visit from all over the country.

After sleeping not one wink all night long while having a few "sips" with some old riding buddies, I found the energy to hit Grand Junction Premium Player’s lounge. I started off by falling asleep at the bar top $5 BP machine. But I was glad to wake up, as three sets of quads appeared in my next four hands. I immediately went to the $2 10/7 DB game, and watched $1,200 drift away almost methodically. Now I was getting mad. So I went to the $5 10/7 machine, and in less than 10 minutes I won back $1,000 of my loss without the help of a quad. I got up for a walk around the casino, went outside for a breath of fresh bike exhaust that permeated the overwhelmed little town, then went back inside apparently ignoring hunger, thirst and sleeplessness, for a go at the dollar Triple-Play games.

This machine defined my trip. I was ahead at first by $325, but I was not to be denied. The gal next to me was playing Triple Double Bonus poker and was dealt four low cards with a kicker for $6,000 — and let me know about it as she jumped out of her seat with a shriek. I couldn’t blame her either. Here she was, playing a fun game that no guru would touch, and she was blessed with good fortune. What did she say? That she wanted to use it towards a new bike, of course. I kind of doubt that would be the case, however, as I spotted her at the $5 machines for long spells the remainder of the weekend.

How did I do? Not so good I’m afraid — but oh boy”¦did I have a ton of points! (Don’t laugh). When I finally got up to leave my uncomfortable chair, I only had $600 more than I drove into town with. I ended my so-called session then and there. I stumbled into the Steakhouse for a well-earned comp meal at the best restaurant on the river, and then went to my room for 13 hours of sleep. As I listened though, I could hear the harmonious song of hundreds of Hog engines that enhanced the air non-stop throughout the weekend.

What goes around comes around, and I was looking at a 225-mile ride home in stifling Sunday afternoon traffic. So I waited for nightfall, and was home by midnight. All in all a great weekend: A memorable ride, lots (too much really) of video poker, excellent food, premium drinks, and a long overdue re-acquaintance with old friends. And I had a little over $600 profit after all was said and done. Now who’s the expert?