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Horseshoe Casino - Hot or Hype?

1000 Broadway Cincinnati, OH 45202

A Cincy native originally, I lived and worked in Vegas for years. Since returning, I cringe at the scenes and sights at the Indiana casinos. I can’t get past the vast divide that separates Vegas casinos from those here. Here, gaming odds are lower, minimum bets are higher and you have to pay for everything. In Vegas, odds are higher, minimums are lower and drinks or tobacco are free. Buffet comps, cabs and rooms are often given freely. You feel the love there. Here, you feel the hustle.
Vegas has seen it all (and things we can’t imagine). The casinos are seasoned pros at polished posh hospitality and over the top excess. They never hesitate to take care of the little guys too. I already know Indiana casinos lack any notion of true hospitality, or quality in their food (God, the Hollywood buffet sucks sucks sucks). But Horseshoe is a Caesar’s Casino. A true Vegas heavyweight. Does their new Cincy Horseshoe best the Indiana hustlers? Or just follow their lead of offering minimum odds on maximum bets and low dollar hospitality at high prices? I had my doubts, but it is Caesar’s.
Parking can be an issue on the weekends. IGNORE the “available spaces” signs. I aggravatingly found they are not accurate. On Fri & Sat, you may be best parking on the street. The rest of the week just park in the garage for free. Follow the signs.
Once inside, you may be struck (as I was) by the “condensed” layout of the casino floor. Sure they have 2000 slots and 85 table games, but the big name casino seems like a baby compared many. Collectively the restaurants likely take up more space than the gaming floor.
So, first the food. Horseshoe offers five restaurants; Cafe Italia (Pizza & such), Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville (Gulf Coast “style” grub), Bobby’s Burger Palace (Bobby Flay’s burger chain), Jack Binion’s Steakhouse (pricey dry aged beef steaks) and The Spread (a world buffet).
I never got into Margaritaville. Not for lack of trying mind you. On two occasions I stood in a grueling line until the host waved his arm and said “It’s open seating, seat yourselves”. That would be great if there were open seats. None were found. Note to Margaritaville manager.... Stop letting customers in if you can’t seat & serve them! If this place is anything like Cheeseburger In Paradise, I wouldn’t bother with it. But, as of yet, I have no idea other than the host station is miserably trained and the managers seemingly oblivious to the obvious issue.
I also didn’t get into Binion’s as they stopped serving shortly after I got there on a Saturday night and were not open on my Sunday visit. The slick menu, table-side side dish preparation and swank decor are certainly inviting. The Saturday night jazz band was awesome. They were doing a cool cover of “Sexy” by the Black Eyed Peas. I see reservations in my future and will promptly dish the dope shortly.
The little brick oven pizzeria Cafe Italia looks like a Mall food court joint. Don’t be fooled. The dough is hand made and hand tossed. The ingredients are high quality and the screaming hot brick oven puffs & chars the crust perfectly. Most pizzas are $11. I can easily eat a whole one (4 small slices). Good looking sandwiches and salads are offered, complete with brew on tap. The long lines at the other food joints keep this Cafe busy with folks just too hungry to wait for a Bobby Burger or wander aimlessly in Margaritaville until a table opens up. I had a classic Margherita pizza and loved every bite. The staff was friendly as hell too.

The Games.
On weekends the table minimums go up from $5 to $15 - $25. I was there on a Saturday and a Sunday but even on Saturday I could play on a $15 craps table. I chose to play at the $25 one due to the overcrowding on the cheaper one. I turned $40 into $175 dollars in about an hour playing a measly $25 chip on the Don’t Pass line. It was great fun even with small bets.
The casino has a slew of theme slots and a video poker section. The fun is at the craps & poker table games. Horseshoe offers six different poker games.

Let It Ride is a poker variation where you make three bets, are dealt three cards and then get three chances to win. As each community card is revealed, players choose whether to pull their bets or “Let It Ride”. The Three Card Bonus bet pays off on hands of a pair or better.
Mississippi Stud. Players compete against a fixed pay table vs against a dealer. A pair of Jacks or better is a winning hand. Simply make an ante bet to get your first two cards. As the dealer reveals three community cards, players can make more bets up to three times their ante.

Four Card Poker. Players make the Ante wager to compete against the dealer or the Aces Up wager to play against the pay table. Each player gets five cards to make the best four-card hand. The dealer makes a four-card hand out of six cards. It’s a cool game my wife turned $50 in to $150 playing.

Three Card Poker is two games in one, plus a bonus feature that gives you up to four ways to win. Including a Six Card Bonus side bet. $1 Million top payout on the Six Card Bonus side bet for a Six Card Royal Flush of Diamonds. How I wish I won that.
WSOP Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker. A super cool game where each player goes heads-up against the dealer. Don’t forget to bet on the Bonus Jackpot, which pays off up to 30:1 based on your whole cards. It’s a great way to play Hold’em in a short time period without worrying about being bluffed out of a good hand. Also a superb way to practice for the big multi-player tournament games.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em. Heads-up poker play against the dealer. The game features big-money payouts on the optional bonus bet that pays off for a final five-card hand of trips or better (a 500:1 payout for a royal flush).

Fortune Pai Gow Poker.
Players form two hands from 7 cards. Both hands go against the banker’s. If you beat the banker on both hands you win. You can also bet the Fortune Bonus (up to 8,000:1). Or the Envy Bonus (pays up to $5,000 when another player hits a big hand). You also have the option to become the banker and have all other gamblers’ hands and the banker compete against his/her hand. Crazy.

Crazy Four. Here you place the Ante wager and a Super Bonus wager, in an amount equal to the Ante wager, and go up against the dealer. The Super Bonus wager can pay up to 200:1. You can also place an optional Queens Up wager to play against the pay table. Players, and the dealer, receive five cards to make a four-card hand. It’s a bit complicated but fun.

There is also Roulette and Black Jack of course. I found all the tables well staffed and friendly. The games were the best part of my Horseshoe experience. The food fell short but the fun more than made up for it. The variety of games is great. The wait on seats isn’t long, even on Saturday night. The bar in the center of the gaming floor is like a small club. You’d never know you’re in a casino. All in all the Horseshoe trumps the Indy boats. They have great staff & games and the food is much better. I think Caesar’s did a great job on the Horseshoe.

Bobby's Burger Palace

The Spread Buffet