July 4th-Making the Rounds to Council Bluffs Casinos

July 4th was a real scorcher here in the Midwest with temperatures up over a 100 degrees, much too hot for this guy to be running around in the hot sun taking in parades and such.

Because of the heat, my girlfriend Jodi and I decided to do the next best patriotic All-American gesture we could think of – casino hopping.

On a scorching hot day there is nothing better than walking into a cool casino and seeing the glittering lights welcome you into the place. The sound of slot machines and the roaring of the crowd around the craps tables are always a welcome sight.

With just the slightest bit of planning, we decided to go to Harrah’s riverboat casino first. We were both hungry and Harrah’s was giving a free buffet to veterans on July 4th. I can’t resist a free meal. The folks at Harrah’s are pretty nice about that kind of stuff.

We got in about 2 p.m. and ate a pretty good meal. Kind of a lunch/dinner kind of thing.

We were then charged up and ready to find our fortune. We started with the $5 coupons that Harrah’s sends us. After two minutes we were digging into our own money. Five dollars doesn’t last long at a casino does it? So do the slot machines know it is a coupon and just devour it immediately?

At this point Jodi and I split up. She is all about the slot machines. The look in her eyes when she sees slot machines is like that of a nine-year old standing in front of a row of all-day suckers.

I prefer blackjack or poker and go to slots when neither of those work.

Blackjack was not very accommodating so I found Jodi again and played some slots. After a bit we decided to make our next move, this time to the Horseshoe Casino. This destination was decided because Jodi had a $5 coupon for them too.

The Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs is the only land-based casino in Council Bluffs so it is pretty large and spread out all on one floor.

There was no $5 blackjack seats open so I plinked around on some slots.

Slots are funny in that when you walk up to a machine, it doesn’t take too long to figure out if the person who had just played that machine is nearby. In addition to playing their own machine, they will be watching your every spin to see if it was a good move for them to leave that machine when they did.

I ran into that when I walked up to a White Orchid machine that had I seen an older gentleman leave. He went two machines down to try his luck there. On my first roll my 40-cent spin returned $20. Not bad for a first spin. I didn’t need to look over at the gentleman to feel his steely stare and hear his grumbling as he smacked the buttons on his own slot machine in disdain.

A few spins later an announcement came over the P.A. that a new $5 blackjack table had just opened. I cashed out and made my dash.

Blackjack was good to me at the Horseshoe. I ran $40 up to about $100 then back to $75 in about two hours. Making any money while playing for two hours is always a good time.

Conversation was good and loose around the table also. You can learn a lot at a blackjack table. The dealer told us that she would be dealing a little slow because she had lost a battle with her pressure washer before coming to work and had the band-aid to prove it. Even with that, she dealt so fast it made my dizzy. Thank goodness for pressure washers or I might have passed out with the speed of her dealing. After awhile it was time for me to regain my sea legs so I left the table.

After a few kicks and tugs at some more slot machines, I collected Jodi and we made our way out to head over to the Ameristar Casino.

By that time it was 8:30 already. Time sure flies in a casino. We noticed people gathered all around the parking lots in lawn chairs with coolers. Oh yea, the fireworks would be starting soon. It was still stifling out and I thought, these people are nuts, I’m headed to air conditioning.

The Ameristar has not been on Jodi’s favorites list since they removed her two favorite machines. I was really hoping that she would hit a big one and find a new favorite machine. After all, machines become our favorites when they pay out right? It doesn’t really matter what it’s theme is or how pretty it is. The bottom line is always “DOES IT PAY!?”.

For me, I like the reel slots because when they pay, they pay; not because I like the look of the little wheels going around. My favorite penny machine is the White Orchid for the same reason. I don’t particularly like Orchids enough to play a machine designed after them, its about the money.

No blackjack seats were open so I plinked around on some reel slots with no luck and managed to not get killed on penny slots. I never give up on the reels (stubborn German) so later I managed to get a hit for $90 on one to bring me at least close to even.

As the machine was counting up the 360 quarters, I felt a presence from behind again. Oh no, don’t tell me this lady just left my machine? Time to leave that area, take the money and run. As I cashed out and walked away, I turned around to see the lady hop right into the seat I just vacated. People are so funny.

Part of the entertainment of playing slots is watching the people. Some will take their player’s card in and out after a few spins in an attempt to trick the machine into thinking a new player has arrived. I see people cashing out their ticket and putting it right back in to do the same thing. I see some doing a wave of some sort over the screen for good luck. I’m not sure if any of this works but let me know if it does. I don’t mind a few tips.

About that time Jodi called from another level to announce that she was almost broke. Great. That is not going to help mend the fence between her and Ameristar taking out her favorite machines.

When she is down to her last $20 or so, she morphs into a wanderer, giving numerous machines a couple of tries to find one that will win her over. She doesn’t go down without a fight. I usually put my card away at this point, follow her, and get ready for the long ride home.

She managed to find a reel slot that gave her a boost so it was then that I knew we were going to be there a bit longer.

While I was waiting, I decided to wander the dollar slots, giving a few of them just two pushes to see what happens.

On my third machine, I hit a wild cherry for $160 on my first push. That set me for the night with nothing but good fences between me and Ameristar. Jodi came over as it was counting up the win. From the look of disbelief I didn’t know if she would hug me or slug me.

Soon after I managed to get her out of the casino. It was 1:00 a.m.

Eleven hours of casino hopping had taken its toll and we were both ready to go home.

We had never celebrated the anniversary of our country’s independence this way before, but given the heat it was not a bad idea. Maybe a new tradition has been started.

Hopefully by next year Jodi has found a new favorite machine at the Ameristar or our casino hop may miss a beat. Good luck Ameristar, I hope you do because I kind of like your place.


For more information about these casinos as well as all Iowa casinos and how to find them, see the Iowa Casinos Map.