Black Hawk Trip Report

My wife and I spent three days in Black Hawk, Colorado in September. We live in Las Vegas and took a working vacation there for this site. We flew into Denver and drove from the airport to Black Hawk. The drive is about an hour with no traffic.

It started with a free hotel room

The Eldorado merger with Caesars Entertainment gave me access to offers at Isle Casino and Lady Luck in Black Hawk. My Caesars Rewards card gave us free rooms for three nights. It took calling Isle Casino as the offer was not in my Caesars Rewards account. These casinos still use the My Fan Club card. It will merge with Caesars Rewards in the future.

First impression of Black Hawk

The drive up the mountains to Black Hawk from Denver is scenic. The road runs through a canyon with a stream and outdoor activities. The first building you will see on the way into town is the new Monarch Casino hotel tower. The other major casinos get into view when you pass it.

The parking decks for the major casinos in Black Hawk are well-disguised. Each has the appearance of being an old building that looks like a hotel. Some casinos built the hotel on top of the parking decks.

We checked into our room at Isle Casino. It was a basic room. It was clean and comfortable. We were on the fifth floor, right above the parking deck.

I was expecting Black Hawk to be smaller. It is a moderate gaming market. There are several modern resorts with a small section that resembles an old downtown area. I think it is a great town for casino players to visit. It has about everything, including good value at video poker and table games. 

We quickly discovered the restaurant options in Black Hawk are limited. We ate at the Dash Grill at Isle Casino. It is a snack bar.

After lunch, we headed up to Central City. We checked out the north end of Black Hawk after that. This consists of the smaller casinos in old storefronts. We parked in a public deck on the edge of Black Hawk and walked the area.

Checking out Black Hawk casinos

All casinos take the patron’s temperature upon entry. If the casino company owns multiple properties in town, a wrist band is given, and it works at all casinos under the same ownership. Some ask for contact information for tracing purposes. This can be bypassed if you have a players card.

I learned that it is easy to get a free drink in these casinos. You do not even need to play. You will be offered one when you arrive. Another is offered later if you play.

We started at Sasquatch Casino. It is a small casino with all slots and video poker. It has an arcade that was closed. It is an odd casino, to say the least. I suppose calling it Sasquatch is a clue. 

Z Casino was the next stop. It was a larger property. It has three floors of slots and video poker. The bottom level also has live and electronic table games. The live table games were closed.

Saratoga Casino is next door to Z Casino. It is home to the only sportsbook in this part of Black Hawk. It is operated by Betfred. It had a small table game pit that was open.

Gilpin Casino next to Saratoga. It is mostly slots, with a section of video poker in the back. There are no table games.

We did not find anything we wanted to play at any of these casinos because we were looking for something unique. I imagine most players will feel differently. There was little difference between the above casinos. All are modest in size and selection. Z Casino offers the most gaming options with its table games and sportsbook.

We headed back to our hotel and Isle Casino. We went back to Dash Café for dinner. A friend joined us.

After dinner, my wife called it a night. My friend and I walked around Isle Casino. We found some full pay Jacks or Better machines but not two near each other. We ended up going to Ameristar, where we found 9/6 Jacks or Better. However, after a while, my friend noticed the game short paid a royal flush. It paid 500:1 instead of 800:1. After a loss, we called it a night.

The next day we checked out the larger casinos in Black Hawk. We started at Isle Casino. Its table games were mostly open. I found a wide variety of tables there. Lady Luck’s tables were not open. It seemed like that is a weekend thing as I found the tables active on Friday. The best video poker at both casinos is $1 through $10 denominations of 9/6 Jacks or Better. Lady Luck offers $1 and $5 9/6 Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker Deluxe.

We moved over to the Golden Mardi Gras Casino group. The two large casinos in that company are Mardi Gras and Golden Gates. Both had table games open. The DraftKings sportsbook at Mardi Gras had just held its grand opening. Mardi Gras and Golden Gates are connected by an indoor bridge.

Golden Gulch, a slot parlor, is owned by the same company. However, patrons must enter it from the street. It is next to Golden Gates. 

We then hit The Lodge. We had lunch in its café. It was good and lower in price than we found at Isle Casino. The pit at The Lodge was open. It was the only place I found blackjack games that stand on all 17’s in Black Hawk. It was also home to the only Pai Gow Poker game at any of the three Colorado casino towns.

Ameristar is across the street from The Lodge. It is the largest of casinos. The table games were open. The best video poker game I found there is 8/5 Bonus Poker. It is available in the $1 denomination. There was a small sportsbook area on the second floor. Kiosks are available in the bar area downstairs.

The large poker room was upstairs along with some electronic table games and video poker. A  Barstool sportsbook is under construction in the center of the second floor. 

The last casino on our tour was Monarch Casino. It is under a massive renovation.

Like many Black Hawk casinos, it has two stories. The table games are all downstairs. The rest of the downstairs is all slots. The upstairs is a mixture of video poker and slots. The best games there are $1 and $5 9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe and Jacks or Better. These games are also on multi-hand ones. 

Conclusion

Black Hawk casinos are more modern and larger than I imagined. There is a wide variety of slot titles, as well as many video poker variants. The best video poker game is 9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe, which is available at multiple casinos in town. The best blackjack is at The Lodge as it stands on all 17’s. 

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