The Rivers Casino
- The Rivers Casino
- 777 Casino Drive
- Pittsburgh, PA 15212
- Contact Info: 412-231-7777
The Rivers Casino Review
The Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was originally going to be called the Majestic Star Casino until the original developer ran into financial issues and had to sell off a majority of his stake. The casino opened for business on August 9, 2009, as a slot machines only casino, as per the Pennsylvania law at that time. In 2010, the Pennsylvania law allowed for table games and on July 8, 2010, The Rivers Casino became a full fledge casino with blackjack, roulette, a dedicated poker room and more.
The casino is located on Pittsburgh's North Shore, just down the street from Heinz Field (home of the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers), and next to where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers form the beginning of the Ohio River. Rivers offers free parking in their multi-story garage (except on Steelers and Pitt football game days...see the Rivers website at www.theriverscasino.com for details), and also offer a valet service that is free for patrons with a player's card. There is a valet fee for patrons who do not have a card, however, there is no charge to receive a player's card. You'll want a players card too as that's the key to earning comps.
There isn't a hotel attached to the casino, but there are several nearby and there is a shuttle available which is operated by a third party. One or two hotels are within walking distance, but it gets pretty cold in Pittsburgh in the winter time and I don't know if you're going to want to walk it after dark no matter the season. Check out the Rivers website at www.theriverscasino.com for special hotel offers and more information.
The Rivers Casino Games
The main casino floor houses 3,000 slot machines of various denominations...penny slots right up to $1 slots...each with a little TV screen built in so you can watch television while playing although I don't think you can change the channel and there's no sound. Usually it's tuned to sports. There are smoking and non-smoking sections, although the casino is basically one big room. I'm not up on my slot games, but it seems like they have current games. One odd thing is it seems there is no rhyme or reason to the layout. You'll find penny slots next to nickel slots next to 50 cent slots. Makes it a little harder to find your favorite machine in the denomination you want. And it's easy to wander into a smoking section.
Like most modern casinos, there are no coins to deal with. You feed your bills into the machine and collect your winnings on a slip of paper that can be used in another machine or cashed out at the cashier or through one of the automated dispensing machines placed throughout the casino. These machines double as big bill breakers. There is a small high limit area and a quick trip through the room showed $5 slots (they may have higher ones that I didn't spot).
A neat idea is the complimentary beverage stations on the casino floor. There are a couple of these along the wall where you can help yourself to free soft drinks and coffee. Much better than waiting for the cocktail waitress to come along, then waiting for her to return with your Pepsi. Also, tea and hot chocolate are available via a request to one of the cocktail waitresses that roam around.
The Rivers Casino Games Review
Table GamesTable games are mainly in the middle of the casino floor. You'll find a good selection including
- 3-Card Poker
- Pai Gow Poker and more.
A recent trip through the table game area one weekday evening showed $10, $15, and $25 tables...no $5 tables. But a coworker did play some hands of $5 blackjack during a lunchtime visit that day, so perhaps during weekday mornings/early afternoons you may find some. Good luck finding them at night or on weekends though. In the small high limit area, I saw one $50 and three $100 blackjack tables.
Now, let's talk poker, where I spend most of my time. One of the advantages of starting a brand new poker room is that you get to design it the right way from the beginning and I think the staff at the Rivers Casino poker room did a great job. Currently, the room holds 24 tables, but looks like it could hold more. There is plenty of room in-between tables which really cuts down on getting bumped in the back of the chair by everybody who walks by. There are multiple flat screen TVs on each wall, with plenty of room leftover. I can only guess this empty space will be filled with something as, frankly, the walls look a little bare. It's a non-smoking room, but smoking is allowed just outside the room on the casino floor so sometimes the tables closest to the open-walled entrance do get a whiff of smoke.
The tables themselves are a little smaller than normal. If you get a couple of big people at one table, space is a little tight. A wide cushioned pad extending into the felt, while nice for the elbows, makes the tables look even smaller. There are cup holders in the table and plenty of little wheeled tables sprinkled around the room for extra drinks, cell phones, food, etc. The chairs are nice and comfortable. There is a Rivers Casino logo on the green felt and there is no bet line (more on that in a bit). Each table has an auto shuffler.
Rivers Casino utilizes the Bravo system which keeps track of open seats electronically. When a new player sits down at a table, the dealer swipes his players card and tells the system which seat he is in. If the person doesn't have a player’s card, the dealer puts him in as 'guest'. When a player leaves, the dealer clears the seat, allowing the floor personnel to see what table has open seats. They also utilize an electronic waiting list, with screens at the front of the room scrolling through what games are available or if there is an interest list in starting a new game that is currently not running. Once you're on the wait list, you can see where you are in the list. Currently, there are no pagers available so you must be near the poker room, preferably inside the room so you can hear when your name is called or you risk losing your place.
Food is available to order in the poker room as there are usually one or two waitresses from the West End Cafe walking around with menus. The menu is full of sandwiches and finger-type foods. Also, cocktail waitresses circle the room, although drink service is often slow. Soft drinks and water are free, but no free alcohol. Make sure you get a players card as poker players earn $1 in comps for each hour of play, good for food (but not for alcohol).
The poker room does have a Bad Beat Jackpot. A dollar from every pot over $10 goes towards the jackpot which is hit when a player with at least Aces full of Jacks is beat by quads or better. Both players must use both hole cards in games such as Hold 'Em. The loser of the hand wins 50% of the jackpot, the winner of the hand gets 25%, and the remaining 25% is split among the rest of the table. There are more detailed rules posted in the room and on the website, but that's generally it.
I've only played the 1/3 NL games, the lowest no limit game, so I can't vouch for how the other games are. But with the 1/3 games, it's your standard live game. You have people that know what they're doing and people who don't have a clue. Figure out who's who and you'll do fine. You'll almost always find plenty of 1/3 and a couple 2/5 NL Hold 'em games going, and usually one or two 4/8 Limit Hold 'em games which is the lowest Limit games Rivers offers. Rivers recently started offering tournaments, with a $65 Noon tournament Monday through Friday, and a $100 tournament at 7pm Monday through Thursday. The weekend tournament schedule is up in the air due to the poker room not wanting to break up cash game tables in order to hold a tournament as the poker room gets quite busy on the weekends, although it does seem like they try to do some on non-home game Steeler weekends.
The Rivers Casino poker room is always willing to at least see if there's an interest for just about any game. If they're not currently running a game you want to play, you can ask the floor personnel to start an interest list. If the list gets full enough, they'll open a table for it. Of course, sometimes they can't do this due to crowds, etc. But they always try to accommodate the player. Often, there's a PLO game going, along with a higher NL Hold 'em game or two. If you don't see your game up there, just ask!
Rivers does have a slightly quirky rule that I'll call the 'one drop' rule. Because there is no bet line, your cards act as your bet line. You can do whatever you want behind your cards...cut chips, etc. But once you bring them forward, you CANNOT cut them out. The dealer will take the first stack (the first 'drop') and that's your bet. For example, you want to bet $45...you get your chips ready, move forward and make three stacks of $15. That's not allowed and the dealer will say the bet is just the first $15 you put down. There are exceptions, like if you verbalize your bets or if you're calling a bet. It's a tricky rule if you're used to not verbalizing and cutting your chips as you bet. Just something to keep in mind.
Rivers Casino has four restaurants: the all-you-can eat Grand View Buffet with five stations and great desserts, Ciao for a quick casual bite, West End Cafe for unique sandwiches, pizzas and more, and a high-end steakhouse called Andrew's Steak & Seafood. Check out the casino's web site at www.theriverscasino.com to download menus. The casino also has four bars: smack dab in the middle of the casino is the Spiral Bar, the Drum Bar overlooking the river, the multi-tiered lounge called Levels that overlooks the casino floor, and the high-tech sports bar Wheelhouse. The casino also has a 1,000 seat outdoor amphitheater and a gift shop in case you want to pick up some cool Rivers Casino gear like sweatshirts, etc.
It took a little while for the casino to catch on, but now when I go it seems to be pretty crowded most of the time. They did a great job building it. Next time you're in the area, make sure you stop at the Rivers Casino and try your luck!