Well, I haven't posted in six months, and now I find myself living outside of Cleveland and commuting into the city to play poker a few days a week at the Horseshoe Casino. Here is my review of the place after several cash sessions and tournament entries.
Overall, the place looks nice, has good amenities and staff, and has well-run games and tournaments. It might be disappointing for those looking for anything other than low-limit games, as there is usually nothing bigger than 2-5 NL during the week.
Getting to the casino can be difficult. The best way to get to the casino is by Rapid Transit, the local light rail line. There is a stop (Tower City) that is literally inside the same building as the casino, and all three Rapid lines converge there. You will just have to walk up some steps and through a shopping center to get to the casino, and then the poker room is up two more escalator flights.
There is also a Bus Program, where you pay $10 for a bus to bring you to the casino and you get $15 in free slot play. Someone I played with last week used it and said it was a great deal, but I'm not really sure where you get the busses.
If you drive, you should probably use the valet. I haven't actually tried the valet myself, but it has to be better than the parking situation. There is no parking on the actual site - you need to park somewhere across the street. My first time driving there, I paid $10 to try to park in a lot that turned out to be full. Fortunately, it's a nice part of town to walk through during the day.
The poker room staff is friendly and helpful. Dealers are good. Masseuses ($1/min) and cocktail waitresses (free soft drinks) are available. No poker props, waiters, or chip runners. (In fact, when I asked, the floorperson had never heard of props. Same deal as in the Hollywood Casino in West Virginia. So much for getting myself a job!)
The restrooms are nearby, and at 2:30 PM they even set up a hot dog stand with cheap snacks and beer just outside the poker room.
During the week, the room has several $1-2 NL and 3-6 limit Texas Holdem games, as well as 2-5 NL and other games. Sometimes PLO games are run.
The cash games have a high rake of $6 plus $1 jackpot drop, but the rake is capped at 10%. For example, a $45 pot would have $4 taken for the casino plus $1 for the jackpot.
The promotional jackpot drop is used for various purposes. Most notably, the Bad Beat Jackpot is at a robust $175,000. If you and an opponent each use both hole cards to make quads or straight flush (using a pocket pair for quads), then the losing hand gets 40%, the winner gets 20%, and the table shares the last 40%. That's $70K for the big winner. (At the Bike, I only got about $21K when I hit their bad-beat jackpot. On the other hand, my hand at the Bike would not have qualified for the Jackpot at the Horseshoe.)
The really interesting thing that the Jackpot drop is used for is supplementing tournament prize pools. The $210 tournaments add about $2000 to the pool, which makes up for about half of the entry fee and dealer fee. The monthly $520 tournaments adds $7500, which means the players probably are truly playing a positive sum game. Of course, this all comes at the expense of the cash game players who are contributing to the promotional fund. It's not exactly fair, but I'll be entering as many tournaments as I can!
If you sign up Total Rewards card, cash game players get $1/hr towards food (or so I'm told). Pretty good deal.
There are no chip runners at the casino, which is something I miss from my Los Angeles playing days. You need to get your own chips, which can be a big pain if there is a line at the cashier (common when tournaments are starting). Also, no waiters bringing free gourmet meals like at the Bike in LA. Still, you can go get yourself a decent $2 hot dog and $5 beer and bring them back to the table if you like. Down one escalator flight is a small food court with good quality pizza, burgers, and other items.
There is usually a very small interest list for the bigger NLHE and PLO games. I wonder if the casino would benefit from having a few props to help these bigger games. Props could also help add more variety if players want to play different games. Who can I pitch this idea to? Maybe I'll tweet this post to their Twitter feed: @HorseshoeCLE and see what comes of it. By the way, you can follow me @kwils21, but I mostly tweet about politics these days.