Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I need a wild, crazy getaway.. to Kennewick, WA!

It's time for another Official WA State Gambling Bender.

The most recent one was late last year, so it's about right on schedule, which is about 3-4 times per year. I took but a few photos of my most recent one, the next one will have quite a few more.

For those unfamiliar with the routine, you take a quick WestJet flight to Vancouver, rent a car, and head down the road until you get to the border crossing. Before you know it, you're across the border and within 45 minutes of the first mandatory bender stop, the Club and Steakhouse in Everett, WA.

The following other stops are also mandatory:

Crazy Moose Casino in Mountlake Terrace, WA,
Coyote Bob's Roadhouse Casino in Kennewick, WA, and
Crazy Moose Casino in Pasco, WA;

the rest kind of gets made up as it goes along.

You might wonder why a degenerate gambler like myself wouldn't make the 'obvious' choice and simply go to Las Vegas. It's actually a reasonable question, until you consider the following:

#1> I like playing table games, not slot machines.

You know, if you tried to get people to sit in front of a machine, hit a button endlessly, pick up the odd nugget and listen to middle C dinging all day, you'd have to pay them. Tell them they have a one in a zillion chance of winning a car, and they'll pay you!

In Washington, non-tribal casinos can only have card games. Which naturally means that they will have to cater to that niche of gambler.

#2> I'm not nearly as big a fan of all the ridiculous Vegas casino gimmicks as much as I like the theme of Washington casinos, which are best described as "card rooms". The Crazy Moose Casinos are, for lack of a better term, like a lodge. Big screen TVs with non-stop sports, good food, pool tables, and a poker game in the back. Coyote Bob's is more like a sports bar, and is smaller and more intimate, complete with all the typical "bar trappings" along the wall. The Club is more spacious and has one of the nicest steakhouses I've ever been to in all my life.

But - oh horror! - none of them have circuses in the middle of them, miniature castles built over them, or a scale model of New York on top of them! There's no pirate battles - you may find scruffy guys with eyepatches, but pirates they most certainly are not - and if you want to see 'gay Paris', you need to ask around discreetly where she's hanging out these days.

#3> I play for stakes that are moderate by Vegas standards, but everywhere I've been in WA I've been treated very well in all but a couple specific cases. The customer service is far better all over Washington. The dealers are friendlier, classier, and on average more competent than most places I've been to in Vegas. And the cabbies in Tri-Cities don't try to long haul you at every step.

#4> The pace is much, much more relaxed. I actually enjoy the solitude of a car and the open road. Drive until you find a rest spot, pop up the laptop and do some work, write a few things, and kick back and think. It mixes in nice with the visceral thrill of half a day of non-stop gambling.

#5> The scenery is far, far better. Cruise around Tri-Cities, with the Columbia river running square through it. Or the wooded highways north of Seattle. Or the Cascades. Compare that to the wasteland that compromises most of Nevada, and even Las Vegas, with porn peddlers positioned in stations along every quarter of a city block.

Nevada does have a few advantages, however:

#1>You can't get comped for liquor in Washington. You also can't get 24 hour liquor in Washington. Both of which you can deal with when there's more to do than stagger around one small area in a hazy stupor.

#2> Vegas still does tend to be knee-deep in drunk, lascivious women. Although, the folks I've met in Washington have tended to be more interesting to talk to, which is at least some compensation. ;)

#3> Poker. The only real specific reason I'd pick Vegas over WA State. The games in Washington are incredibly small stakes by comparison. Although I think, for now, I'd rather pass on all the sharks trying to feast on each other in Vegas and head back to Calgary for some of that fast and loose oil money :)

So, it seems the target is four weeks from now, the last week of March. We'll see how things pan out.

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