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I spent the weekend at Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. Harrah’s Cherokee is in Cherokee, NC. It is near the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is just east of Murphy, NC.
The casinos are about one hour apart by car. This is through the scenic Nantahala National Forest. While the two casinos are sister properties, there are numerous differences between them.
One clear difference between Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is the hotel. Harrah’s Cherokee offers three hotel towers. All are taller and larger than the single seven-story hotel building at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. The rooms at Cherokee Valley River are all newer. However, the Creek tower at the original Cherokee property is still modern compared to the Soco and Mountain towers.
The scenery viewable from the hotel towers is also much different between the two properties. The Cherokee resort has development around it. Most rooms do not have picturesque views. However, the two pedestrian bridges cross a beautiful mountain creek. With that said, the scenery around Harrah’s Cherokee is still better than most casinos offer. Some premium rooms have spectacular views.
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River has no development of any kind within view except for parking lots associated with the hotel and casino. The scenery around Murphy, NC doesn’t compete with Cherokee. However, the view from the hotel is better from most rooms.
Harrah’s Cherokee easily wins the dining category. Guests will find Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Brio, two cafes and a food court that consists of Johnny Rockets, Dunkin Donuts, Earl of Sandwich and pizza by the slice.
The only dining at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is in a small food court. This offers Nathan’s Famous, Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips, Papa John’s Pizza, Panda Express and Earl of Sandwich. There are no restaurants at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River that offer sit-down service. I recommend eating at Rib Country a few miles west of the casino in Murphy.
My wife and I dined at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Brio. Ruth’s Chris comped one of our steaks because it was of extremely low quality. It was so tough it couldn’t be cut with a steak knife. The steak they didn’t take off the check was only marginally better. Brio also didn’t compare to ones in other locations.
Harrah’s Cherokee wins the amenities comparison. It isn’t even close. Cherokee has a poker room on its second floor. It has a spa and convention center. There’s also a bowling alley and concert venue at Harrah’s Cherokee.
The Harrah’s Cherokee Valley property offers no amenities. The only thing to do there is gamble, unless you consider a fast food court to be an amenity.
Both properties offer a Diamond Lounge. The rules at each are identical. They are open from 3pm to 10pm on weeknights and until midnight on weekends. A small buffet is offered at both that includes a salad bar, deserts and one hot dish.
Diamond customers may only eat one time per night. The casinos keep track of this by issuing dining tickets.
Seven Stars players have a private seating area and entrance at Harrah’s Cherokee. Neither has dedicated bathrooms, though each have one right outside the entrance.
The most obvious difference between the two casinos is the size. Harrah’s Cherokee is substantially larger. It includes more table games than its sister property in Murphy. This does not mean just the number of available tables. Harrah’s Cherokee offers Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Pai Gow Poker, Big Wheel and double deck blackjack that is not available at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.
The high limit blackjack rules are better in Murphy. Players will find $50 shoe games in Murphy that stand on all 17s. This game requires $100 at Cherokee.
Should You Pick Harrah’s Cherokee or Cherokee Valley River?
There are reasons to visit both properties. If your only goal is to gamble, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River will achieve that. There are enough machines to find action and during the week it is often quite dead. Even the most popular machines should be available.
If your goal is to have a resort experience, Harrah’s Cherokee is the only option. This is especially true if you have children along for the trip. There is nothing for non-gamblers to do at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.
I celebrated a recent birthday with my wife. We took advantage of a generous Total Rewards offer. That is the loyalty club for Caesars Entertainment.
I made the Diamond tier last year based on play in another market. This helped me receive several lucrative comps when 2018 started that could be claimed in Las Vegas.
Using My Diamond Tier Comp Rewards
One of those rewards was the annual $100 Diamond Celebration dinner. Another was a birthday offer. This included $300 in free play and $300 in dining comps. We also receive a free room at any property in Las Vegas. The offer excluded suites.
Choosing to Stay at Planet Hollywood
After comparing rooms and availability at the Total Rewards website, we chose the Ultra-Hip room at Planet Hollywood. We had a Strip view, which included the Bellagio Fountains. The room has an outside air vent. We could hear the music during the Bellagio Fountain show when this was opened. We could hear the street noise between shows, including performers. This made for the feeling of being close to the Strip, when we were actually a couple of dozen stories up the tower.
Great Steak at Caesars Palace
We chose to spend the $300 dining comp at Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars Palace. It was the second time I have dined there. The previous time was for a WSOP.com focus group.
“It was just as great as I remembered!”
We started out with crab cakes as an appetizer. My wife and I got mixed drinks. We then got a ribeye for 2. It was prepared similar to a chateaubriand, which the restaurant was out of this night. The difference was not just the cut of meat. The roasted ribeye arrived precut for family-style dining. The side came the same way.
The ribeye was just as excellent as everything else. It was cooked just right and had great flavor. We ordered a cheesecake slice for dessert. It was not the best part of the meal, but it was still a good way to end it.
Other Dining Options: Great Italian Food at Rao’s
We decided to use the $100 Diamond birthday comp at Rao’s the next night. It is an Italian restaurant, also at Caesars Palace. Rao’s is best-known for its meatballs. We had an order of that with two orders of pasta. Everything about it was perfect.
I wanted to go back the next day for those meatballs. The pasta and meat were fresh, and it was clear in the taste. The prices are not significantly higher than a locals Italian restaurant. The quality is well worth it.
Limited Gambling at the Casino
We did not gamble too much while we were there. The only game we played was Big Split Poker. There are two machines located by our tower’s elevator. This game deals eight cards. The player makes a five-card hand and a three-card hand. The five-card hand has a set pay amount, while the three-card hand is a multiplier.
I was surprised to see this game at Planet Hollywood. I had previously only seen it at locals casinos. Red Rock has eight of these machines. It can sometimes be found on a Multi-Strike machine.
Monthly Shows with Our Diamond Rewards Card
As a Diamond member, we get access to a free show each month. We could not decide on one during our stay. The list includes something at each property. There is no requirement for a stay to take advantage of this monthly offer.
Even though there are a number of casinos in Las Vegas, you will find most of the table games are the same. What varies are the betting limits and odds.
There are a total of 22 different table games spread in Las Vegas. Some games are only available at one casino. Others, like blackjack, are spread at all casinos that have table games. Below is a list of all Las Vegas table games. The link provided in each section shows which Las Vegas casinos offer the game.
Chase the Flush – Chase the Flush combines the rules of High Card Flush and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. It is available at Luxor and Silverton.
Craps – Craps is a Vegas casino favorite. Minimum bets start at $1 on Boulder Highway and run up to $50 at Wynn and Encore for the tables with favorable odds. The Cromwell offers 100 times odds, the highest in Las Vegas. Our data includes the odds at each casino in Las Vegas.
Crazy4Poker – Nine Las Vegas casinos spread Crazy4Poker. The minimum bet is $5 or $10. Crazy4Poker lost more tables than any other game last year.
DJ Wild – DJ Wild is a game spread at Harrah’s. It includes four wild deuces and a joker. The minimum bet is $5. Harrah’s spreads two tables of the game.
Deuces Wild Hold’em – Deuces Wild Hold’em is more like a stud game. It can only be found at The D in downtown Las Vegas. It has a $5 minimum bet.
Double Ball Roulette – Double Ball Roulette is offered at Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas. There are two balls on every spin and has a $2 minimum bet.
High Card Flush – High Card Flush uses flush hands to decide the winner. It is the hottest new game in Las Vegas casinos. The minimum bet is $5 or $10.
Let it Ride – Let it Ride is a classic game; plays like five card stud. The minimum bet is either $5 or $10. NY-NY offers a video version with a $1.25 bet.
Mississippi Stud – Players raise in hopes of making at least a pair of 6’s in Mississippi Stud. Has a $5 minimum bet, high-end casinos require $10 to play.
Pai Gow Poker – Pai Gow Poker is a favorite among Las Vegas gamblers. Pai Gow can have a $5 minimum bet and can go up as high as $25 or $50.
Pai Gow Tiles – Pai Gow Tiles uses tiles instead of cards. The minimum bet is $10 at Palace Station and $100 at Wynn. Other casinos have a $25 min bet.
Roulette – Roulette at Las Vegas casinos offers: heads up and multi-player video versions, single zero games, double zero, and triple zero. Triple zero is only spread at Venetian and Palazzo. Minimum bets range from $1 at El Cortez up to $100 for some European Roulette games at MGM properties.
River Hold’em – River Hold’em is similar to Ultimate Texas Hold’em. Club Fortune in Henderson offers it. The minimum bet is $5.
Texas Hold’em Bonus – Texas Hold’em Bonus has a $5 minimum bet at Caesars and Boyd casinos. It has a $10 minimum at MGM Resorts casinos.
Three Card Poker – Three Card Poker is the most popular poker table game in Las Vegas. Players will find the game with a $2 minimum at Jokers Wild and $3 minimum at Railroad Pass. Most Vegas casinos have a $5 minimum, with some luxury resorts requiring $10.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em – Ultimate Texas Hold’em was the most popular table game to come out of the poker boom. The lowest Ultimate Texas Hold’em minimum bet in Las Vegas is at Jerry’s Nugget at $2. Most Las Vegas casinos have a $5 minimum, with some luxury resorts going up to $15.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em is the most popular of the games that came out due to the poker boom. Most mid-sized and large Las Vegas casinos spread it. Many have multiple tables. Limits start at $2 at Jerry’s Nugget, located just north of downtown Las Vegas. Most casinos spread it with a $5 minimum bet. Some higher end ones require $10.
How to Play Ultimate Texas Hold’em
Ultimate Texas Hold’em is played like the one in Las Vegas poker rooms. Players start by making an Ante and Blind bet. The two bets must be equal. There are also two side bets at most Ultimate Texas Hold’em tables. One is a progressive, while the other is a simple bonus hand.
The progressive will pay on either flopping a royal flush or making one out of the seven cards. The flopped royal flush jackpot will often pay more than $100,000, while the royal flush on seven cards typically hits before the jackpot gets higher than $15,000.
The side bets are optional. Only the Ante and Blind bets are mandatory.
#1 – Once bets are established, players and the dealer each receive two cards face down. Five cards are placed down in the center of the table. These are community cards used by all players and the dealer.
#2 – Players look at their cards and decide whether to raise or check. A player that would like to raise at this point must bet three or four times the Ante. Players also have the option to check.
#3 – Three of the community cards are displayed. This is known as the flop. There is another chance to bet before the last two cards are shown, known as the turn or river.
A player that does not raise before the flop may do so for double the Ante after the flop or an amount equal to the Ante after the turn and river are exposed.
A player that raises before or after the flop has no other action to make for the rest of the hand. The cards should be tucked under the bets.
#4 – Once all the cards are exposed, the dealer’s hand is shown. Its strength is determined and compared to the other player’s hands. The dealer must have at least a pair to qualify. If the board pairs, this qualifies as a dealer opener.
If the dealer does not qualify, the Ante pushes. The Raise bets will play. If the player beats the dealer, the Ante (if the dealer qualifies) and raises are paid. If the dealer beats the player, the Ante and Raise bets lose. If the dealer and player have the same hand, the player pushes.
The Blind bet pushes unless the player makes a straight or higher. It then pays based on the chart.
Ultimate Texas Hold’em
Four of a Kind
If you are not in Las Vegas and want to try your luck playing Ultimate Texas Hold’em there are several online casinos where you can play againt real dealers. Find these live online casinos in our UTH game page.
Play Ultimate Texas Hold’em at Las Vegas Casinos in 2018
Nearly all Las Vegas casinos of any significance spread three Card Poker. The minimum bets range from $2 at Joker’s Wild to $15 at Aria. Players will need double the Ante bet to play, meaning that the true minimum bet is double the posted amount. This does not include the Pair Plus side bet, which may be bet by itself without an accompanying Ante wager.
The game’s appeal is its simplicity. While it has a small element of skill, it is easy to learn. The house edge is reasonable to most players. It is typically a friendly crowd at the tables.
How to Play Three Card Poker
Three Card Poker is one of the simplest table games in Las Vegas to learn. There is only one rule related to skill to understand.
#1: Place Your Bets – There are two bets on most Three Card Poker tables. One is the Ante. The other is Pair Plus. Players may bet on one of these or both. Unlike most poker table games, there is no obligation to bet the Ante.
#2: Raise or Fold – Players and the dealer are dealt three cards face down. Players look at their three cards and decide whether to raise. If the player has queen-six-four or higher, the player should raise. The Raise bet is equal to the amount of the Ante. If the player does not raise, he folds. The dealer then looks at the house hand and compares it to each player.
If the dealer beats the player, the Raise loses.
The Ante loses if the player has less than a straight, keeping in mind that a straight ranks higher than a flush in Three Card Poker.
Antes push if the dealer does not make at least queen-high.
Flush or Higher Payouts
If the player makes a flush or higher, the Ante is paid based on the following chart, regardless of whether the player wins or loses:
Straight Flush: 5-1
Three of a Kind: 4-1
Pair Plus Payouts
The Pair Plus is paid whether the player wins or loses. It pays based on the following:
Straight Flush: 40-1
Three of a Kind: 30-1
Flush: Either 4-1 or 3-1
Any Pair: 1-1
If you are not in Las Vegas, you can still play Three Card Poker against a live dealer and get a Vegas experience.
Playing Three Card Poker at Las Vegas Casinos in 2018
Texas Hold’em Bonus was one of several Texas Hold’em games that emerged during the poker boom. It never caught on at the same level as Ultimate Texas Hold’em, which has more than four times the installs in Las Vegas.
There are currently 11 Las Vegas casinos that spread Texas Hold’em Bonus. Caesars Entertainment operates most of these games. That group tends to offer a wider variety of proprietary table games. All Las Vegas casinos that have Texas Hold’em Bonus keep a $5 or $10 minimum bet.
How to Play Texas Hold’em Bonus
Texas Hold’em Bonus is based on a similar concept as Ultimate Texas Hold’em. Players make an Ante bet to start the game. There is also an optional bonus bet.
#1: Receive Cards – Players and the dealer each receive two cards. Five cards are placed in the center of the table. These are community cards used by all players and the dealer.
#2: Raise or Fold – The player must decide whether to play for a raise that is double the Ante or fold. Three community cards are shown. Players must check or make a bet an equal amount to the Ante. Another community card is turned up. Players may either check or bet the amount of the Ante. The remaining community card is shown before the dealer shows the house hand. The players’ hands are then displayed.
#3: Compare Hands – The dealer compares those hands to the house one. The best five-card hand is determined based on the seven cards available to the player and dealer between the two hole cards and five community ones. The dealer does not have to qualify. There is action every hand.
If the dealer beats the player, the house wins the Ante and all raises.
If the player beats the dealer, all raises are paid even money.
The Ante pushes on a winning hand unless the player had a straight or higher. In that case, the Ante is paid even money.
Basic Strategy to Win
The Texas Hold’em Bonus strategy is simple. Play any hand except unsuited 2/3, 2/4, 2/5, 2/6 and 2/7. If you make a pair or better on the flop, or a flush or straight draw, raise after the flop. Raise the turn on made hands, big flush draws and high open-ended straights. Hands that do not improve should be checked.
River Hold’em is a simplified version of Ultimate Texas Hold’em. It is only found in Las Vegas at Club Fortune in Henderson. The bet limits are $5 to $50.
How to Play River Hold’em
Players start by making an Ante bet. This is mandatory. There are two optional side bets. One is a trips bet on the player’s hand. The other is a trips bet on the dealer’s hand.
#1: Receive Cards – Players and the dealer receive two cards. The player must bet one times the Ante or fold. The dealer then exposes three cards, known as the flop. The player must fold or bet one times the Ante.
#2: Community Cards – After that, two more cards are exposed, known as the turn and river. The player must fold or bet one or two times the Ante. The player’s Ante bet loses at any point if there is a fold.
#3: Compare Hands – The player’s hand is then compared to the dealer’s one. The dealer always qualifies.
If the dealer’s hand wins, all Ante and raises are taken by the house.
If the player wins, the player is paid 1-1 on the raises.
The Ante pushes on winning hands, except for a full house and higher, which pays 1-1.
The player and dealer trips bets remain in action, even if the player folds.
Roulette is one of the most popular table games in Las Vegas. It is spread by any casino with more than a handful of tables.
There are four types of roulette spread by Las Vegas casinos. They are European Roulette, single zero, double zero and triple zero. Double zero is the most common Las Vegas roulette version.
Difference Between European Roulette and Single Zero Roulette
European Roulette and single zero appear to be the same but there is one major difference. European Roulette has a rule known as “la partage.” This returns half of an even money bet if the ball lands on zero. This cuts the house edge on red/black, odd/even and hi/lo to 1.35%. All other bets on both tables have a 2.7% house edge.
Encore, Wynn and upscale MGM properties are the only ones that offer European Roulette in Las Vegas. The minimum bet at MGM Grand is either $25 or $50. The others all require at least $100 to play.
Triple Zero Roulette
Triple Zero Roulette was introduced by Venetian in 2016. A third zero was added to the wheel from the normal double zero games. The third zero has the Sands logo on it, which is the parent company of Venetian and Palazzo. The house edge for this game is 7.69%. A double zero game has a house edge of 5.26%, except for the five-spot of 0, 00, 1, 2 and 3, which has a 7.89% house edge.
Venetian later added a second table of triple zero roulette. Another installation occurred at Palazzo.
The minimum bet for the double and triple zero roulette games at Venetian and Palazzo is often identical. A player can generally bet $10 at either game. If there is a difference in minimum bets between double and triple zero roulette at Venetian and Palazzo, it’s usually only $5.
If you are not in Las Vegas, but are interested in playing Roulette there is no need to worry. Visit our live dealer roulette games page where you can find the best online casinos to play with real dealers spinning the wheel.
Pai Gow Poker is a popular table game in Las Vegas. It is spread at 60 casinos. Many have multiple tables.
One draw of Pai Gow Poker is its slow pace and number of pushes. This helps players stay in the game longer and rack up free drinks. The low minimum bet is also another draw. Some casinos spread it for as little as $5 at locals’ joints. The highest Pai Gow Poker minimum bet in Las Vegas is at Wynn, where $50 is required.
Las Vegas Pai Gow Minimum Bets
$5 Pai Gow Poker
Arizona Charlie’s Decatur and Boulder
Fiesta Rancho and Henderson
Santa Fe Station
$10 Pai Gow Poker
Green Valley Ranch
Main Street Station
New York New York
SLS Las Vegas
$15 Pai Gow Poker
$25 Pai Gow Poker
$50 Pai Gow Poker
How to Play Pai Gow Poker
#1: Place Your Bet – Players start by making a wager on the hand. There are usually at least two other side bets. Some Las Vegas casinos offer three. These may include a progressive jackpot, high hand, crown hand and Pai Gow Insurance, which pays if a player makes a hand that does not have any pairs or better.
#2: Seven Cards are Dealt – Once the players make bets, the dealer gives each player seven cards. The order is determined by a machine or dice shaken by the dealer or player. These cards are given in consecutive order and not dealt in a normal poker manner. Seven cards in a row come out of the shuffle machine at the table. The dealer also receives seven cards.
#3: High and Low Hands – Players must set the seven cards into two separate hands. These two hands are low and high. The high hand, consisting of five cards, must beat the low hand, which is only two cards.
#4: Compare Hands with Dealer – Once the player’s hands are set, the dealer shows its cards. The dealer sets the hand based on the house way. This varies from one casino to another in terms of how aggressive it wants to play. Pai Gow Poker is unlike any other game as the operator can determine how the house sets its hand as long as it publishes the method for all players to see.
The dealer’s hand is then compared to each player’s hand.
If both player hands beat both dealer hands, the player wins.
If both dealer’s hands beat both of the player’s hands, the house wins.
If the dealer ties one of the player’s hands and wins the other, the house wins.
If the player wins one hand and ties the other, the hand is a push.
A tie between a dealer’s hand and the player’s hand is known as a copy in Pai Gow Poker.
Pau Gow Commission
Some casinos require the player to pay 5% of any win as commission. In general, these houses will permit players to bank the game. Otherwise, a commission-less game is spread where the house has a push hand. These push hands may be a queen-high dealer pai gow, or if the house is forced to play a nine in the low hand.
Mississippi Stud is a poker game that has installs at 18 Las Vegas casinos. All tables have a $5 or $10 minimum bet. Most of these games are found at Caesars Entertainment properties.
How to Play Mississippi Stud?
#1: Place Ante Bet – Players start the game by making an Ante bet. It’s important to have at least four times the Ante to be able to play the hand to completion. Players that do not will be unable to finish the hand and will be forced to fold.
#2: Two Cards Dealt – Players start with two cards dealt. Three cards are placed face down in the center. These are community cards used by all players at the table. The dealer does not have any cards as the payouts are based solely on the rank of the hand made by the players.
#3: Bet or Fold – The player looks at the first two cards and determines whether to make a bet or fold. The first community card is exposed. Players must either make a bet or fold. After this, the second community card is exposed. Players must again either make a bet or fold. The last community card is then shown.
All of these wagers are equal to the Ante or three times it. In general, three times bets are reserved for those that have already one or have the potential to make a royal or straight flush.
Mississippi Stud Payout Table
The hand is graded based on the following pay table. All stacks are paid equal.
Four of a Kind
Three of a Kind
Pair of Jacks or Better
Pair of 6’s or 10’s
Mississippi Stud Strategy
Players should raise three times on the first betting round with any pair. This goes to just one time if a player holds a card jack or higher or two cards six or higher. Any other hand should be folded.
After the first community card is exposed, players should raise three times with a pair of 6’s or better or three straight flush cards that connect, have one gap and a card jack or higher or have two gaps and two cards jack or higher. A onetime raise should be made on any three suited cards, a pair of 2’s through 5’s and any open ended straight draw. A one-gap straight draw with at least two cards six and higher should also be made. Any other hand should be folded.
Players should raise three times on the Fifth Street bet if holding a pair of 6’s or higher, four suited cards and four to an open ended straight at least eight-high. Raise one time on any straight draw, pair of 2’s through 5’s, four cards six and higher or two jacks and higher as well as any busted straight hand with at least three cards six and higher.