Rivers Casino, a ruler of 450,000 square-foot gaming and entertainment destination is situated along the Ohio River on the North Shore of downtown Pittsburgh. Holdings Acquisitions Co., LP is the owner of the casino. The opening of the casino took place on August 9, 2009.
At the time of its opening, slots were the only form of gambling permitted at Rivers Casino, according to Pennsylvania law. But with the legality of the table games in Pennsylvania casinos in the year 2010, Rivers Casino introduced its first table games in the month of July of that year.
Rivers Casino is licensed and regulated by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB), just like all other legal land-based casinos in Pennsylvania.
Location and parking
The location of Rivers Casino is within easy walking distance of both PNC Park (home of the Pittsburgh Pirates) and Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers). The close by location makes it very convenient for fans who wish to attend the game and visit the casino on the very same ride.
This adds to heavy traffic jam and premium pricing for parking at the casino each time either the Pirates or Steelers are playing at home. If this is not the case, then in general, self-parking at Rivers Casino is free of cost for all the guests, and valet parking is free for guests with higher level player cards. An amount of $3 is charged for other casino cardholders and $6 in the case of the general public.
Adequate food, beverage and entertainment facilities are offered by the casino for guests who want to do more than merely gamble in the casino. The choice of dining establishments can be made by the visitors from the below five establishments:
Andrew’s steak & seafood
Winning the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence says it all. This fine dining establishment remains open for dinner from Wednesday-Saturday. Its specialization lies in fresh seafood, prime steaks, decadent desserts and, innovative appetizers and salads.
Grand view buffet
The buffets at Rivers Casino is one of the reasonably priced. It remains open daily for lunch and dinner, except for Sundays, when brunch is served instead of lunch. The hours of operation and prices are as follows:
Monday to Saturday: 11:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Lunch @ $14.99*
Sunday to Thursday: 3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Dinner @ $19.99*
Friday and Saturday: 3:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Dinner @ $19.99*
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Brunch @ $14.99*
*$6.99 optional extra for l lb. Serving of crab legs
Wheelhouse bar & grill
If you’re a type of person who likes gathering with your friends to watch your favorite Pittsburgh team in action, this is a good place to be. The list of the menu is varied. It includes appetizers, soups, salads, signature sandwiches, burgers, and hearty entries.
The hours of operation are:
Sunday to Thursday: 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m.
Happy Hour runs from Monday to Thursday between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. On the Happy Hour, Wheelhouse offers draft beer and cocktails for an amount of $3. Also, select bar bits are offered at half the price.
Ciao remains open from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily. Those who simply want a quick meal or snack to grab and go generally prefer it. Also, it offers homemade gelato.
West end café
It remains open daily from 11:00 a.m. until the wee hours of the morning. This casual eatery serves soups, salads, sandwiches and pizza.
A fairly low key entertainment is seen at Rivers Casino. Every Thursday night from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight, live entertainment from local bands is offered by the Levels. Levels is a multi-tier lounge in the centre of the casino. The Drum Bar has floor to ceiling windows with a view of the Ohio River. Also, there is an availability of live DJs on Friday and Saturday nights from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Happy Hour runs at both the places from Monday to Thursday at 5 p.m.-7 p.m. The happy hour features $3 drinks alike the Wheelhouse Bar & Grill.
No hotel can be seen on the premises. The casino offers discounted rates at its partner hotels in the Pittsburgh area for the convenience of guests who need a place to stay overnight. The hotel charges are $20 collected along with the free slot play. The three nearby hotels are as follows:
About .8 miles from the casino
Rooms starting at about $149 per night
Discounted rates for AAA members, government employees, seniors, and Hyatt Gold Card members
Convenient to area attractions
In case, shuttle service is not made available by the hotel, you need to provide your own transportation (car or taxi) to and from the casino.
Bed & Breakfast about .6 miles from the casino
Rooms starting at about $160/night
Amenities: It includes Free Wi-Fi and Free Parking, breakfast
RESIDENCE INN NORTH SHORE
All Suite hotels about .8 miles from the casino
Rooms starting at $199 per night. Don’t forget to ask for the Stay and Play package
At a walking distance of several Pittsburgh attractions and fine restaurants
Amenities: Hot breakfast buffet, Free high-speed internet access and Complimentary transportation to and from the casino.
Who can play in the casino?
The minimum age to gamble at Rivers Casino is 21 years. This is the same as at all other licensed Pennsylvania land-based casinos. There is a strict enforcement of the age requirement.
Security and fairness
The PGCB licenses and regulates all Pennsylvania land-based casinos, including Rivers Casino. They are required to abide the agency’s strict regulations as regards security and fairness. The credibility of the casino can be judged from the fact that it has received multiple awards for excellence. It won the Best Overall Gaming Resort in Pennsylvania by Casino Player and Best Overall Casino in Pennsylvania by Strictly Slots. In 2015, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review readers voted the Rivers Casino as the Best Casino for the fourth consecutive year.
Rivers Casino remains open 24/7. In Pennsylvania, this standalone casino is one of the larger casinos. Anyone who enjoys gambling will be happily engaged at this place. You have the option of choosing among 2,900+ slot machines, 100+ table games, and a 30-table poker room, even without a racetrack.
You can easily find the games of your liking for slots. This could be your own personal tastes for the latest high-tech creations or for simpler traditional games. There is an adequate amount of slot machines in order to suit the preferences of almost any player. There is not an issue as regards whether you’re a high stakes player, low stakes player or in between. The reason being, with denominations ranging from one cent to $100, your preferred bet size should be covered too.
A frequent player will definitely witness recognizable favorites. Currently, the largest jackpots are featured by the slots, designated as “Red Hot”.
Some of the most popular slot games at Rivers Casino are:
Cash Spin Quick Hits
The Walking Dead awestruck
Wheel of Fortune
High rollers can head for the high limit slots area offering machines in denominations from $1 to $100 featuring some of the casino’s top games like:
Wheel of Fortune
Quick Hits Platinum
Double Top Dollar
The issues at the Rivers Casino are alike all of the casinos in Pennsylvania. The first issue being the complaint received from many players concerning the smell of smoke even in non-smoking sections. Secondly, the slots are so tight that a playing stake of an amount of $100 disappears in almost no time.
Why the slots Payouts aren’t higher
The issue in the form of the complaints received by many players about the slots being too tight is growing in number. Also, since they are coming from many different players at all of the twelve Pennsylvania casinos, it surely attaches validity to them. Given that, many of these same people have most likely played slots at casinos in other states, so they have drawn a basis for comparison. Moreover, it is their experience, which shouts that the Pennsylvania slots offer the lowest return rate. This is arguable for the reason that only 88 to 90 percent is the average return to the player (RTP) for slot machines in Pennsylvania casinos.
In reality, you can expect the payout to be worse because as per the regulations of the PGCB, only 85 percent is the minimum payout for Pennsylvania casino slot machines is. The tax rate of 55 percent on slots is one problem that casino operators in Pennsylvania undergo. As a result, many slot players have switched to table games so that they have a better chance to win.
An increased popularity of penny machines is the other ground for dull payouts of slot machines in Pennsylvania. Just because the payout percentages are inferior for these machines in comparison to the higher denomination machines, do not indicate fewer players. They still have a lot of play.
Just like the offering of many varieties of slots by the rivers casino, it also offers much variety of video poker. The Spiral Bar, located in the centre of the casino floor provide the video poker fans with a chance to play this game and simultaneous enjoyment of their favorite beverage. It remains open daily from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
A good selection of table games as well as slots makes the wide-ranging casino complete. Here is the list of a variety of table games from which you can choose:
Big Six wheel
Crazy 4 Poker
Four card poker
Let It Ride
Mini and midi baccarat, including Dragon Bonus side bet
Three card poker
From the above list, you can find that the list is inclusive of both popular casino table games and few speciality games. Please keep in mind to familiarize yourself with the basics of the game you intend to play so that your chances of winning are highest.
In addition, don’t forget the games, which offer the best odds for the player. Taking an example, when you play the roulette, your best bet is European roulette, (provided it is available) with just a single zero on the wheel and a 2.70 percent house edge. Keep away from the American roulette, irrespective of it provided with both a single and double zero plus a house edge of 5.26 percent.
Limits and extra bets
Rivers Casino offers its players of table games a variety of betting choices alike the slots and video poker games. The $5 blackjack, roulette and, craps tables are made available to the small bettors. Also, since they will be available 24/7, including weekends, it will definitely prove a point of contentment among the bettors. This sort of assurance can be made by very few Pennsylvania casino. Overall, if we see, nobody is ignored including the players who wish to play for high stakes. You can find the availability of blackjack, roulette, and craps in high limit games.
Generally, an option is offered by most of the games in order to make a side bet with your regular bet. No doubt, these extra bets are fun. Also, the possibility of a big payout makes them very attractive. But the area of concern is that the house edge is higher than the simple game played in a regular way. Consequently, make the side bets very carefully to make it your best bet.
Learn before you play
Rivers Casino helps the newcomers in learning casino gambling or a particular game offered by the casino. Pit 7 next to Levels offers guidance and training on a designated table game from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. every day. The players who are new to the game or would like to work on their basics, this is surely the opportunity for them. A match play coupon of two $5 is given to the participants who apply their recently gained knowledge to the test.
Whether it is mini baccarat tables or midi at Rivers Casino, both of them offer an elective Dragon Bonus side bet. This is provided simultaneously when the regular bet is placed. On the other hand, non-natural winners who top by four points pay even cash. However, not to forget, larger the margin of win, the larger shall be the payout.
Casino table poker
The four casino table poker games on which enormous jackpot is offered are mentioned below:
Crazy 4 Poker
Four card poker
Let It Ride
Keeping aside 10 percent of the jackpot for the payment for a five-card Straight Flush, the remaining total of the jackpot is utilised for payment for a five-card Royal Flush. In addition, there are also flat payouts for the purpose of a variety of other hands.
Blackjack is one of the most well-liked games among all the table games at the Rivers Casino. The reason outlined is the offering of the lowest house edge by it. Your chance of winning the game is purely dependent on both skill and fate. As a result, you should have the knowledge of the right basic strategy, along with its application.
Different rules can be applied to play the game of Blackjack. Some of which will make the game more favorable to the player and some more favorable to the house. But, if you’re a player in Pennsylvania, you need not be concerned about the inferior blackjack game. The rules for blackjack, set by the PGCB are similar for every casino. These rules are graded among the best in the country. The rules are:
Blackjack pays 3:2
Dealer stands on soft 17
Doubling down after splits
Doubling down permitted on any of the two cards
Splits up to three hands with the exception of aces
The usage of the right basic strategy amounts to the house edge of only about .40 percent for this game. The individual casinos also contain the privilege to add one or more optional proposition bets with a higher house edge. The Rivers Casino offers the optional side bet featuring a progressive jackpot, called by the name, Blazing 7s.
A bet on Balzing 7s is at all times for $5, no matter what the original bet amount was. It is essential that at least one of the first three cards dealt with you must be a seven, for the purpose of winning the bet. The more the number of sevens in your hand indicates more the chances of a win. If you have two sevens, it shall pay more than one and in the case of three sevens, it shall pay more than two. When the three sevens are colored or suited, the highest payouts take place. You win 10 percent of the jackpot, the moment you have the three sevens of identical color, but different suits. But you win the entire jackpot if you have in hand the three sevens which are suited (three identical cards).
In case you receive a third card and go above 21, you surely break and drop your regular bet. But what is interesting to note is that the outcome of your Blazing 7s bet remains unchanged. As a result, never stand on your total of two cards, in case either or both of your first two cards is a seven. This strategy should be followed even if the play is contrary to basic strategy. Always hit or double. The following are the Blazing 7 payouts:
Three suited sevens earn 100 percent of jackpot
Three colored sevens earn 10 percent of jackpot
Any three sevens pay 200 for 1
Two sevens pay 25 for 1
One seven pays 2 for 1
The cash games offered by the Rivers Casino poker room are:
Limit and no-limit hold ‘em
Other games, like H.O.R.S.E. and seven card stud, are offered based on demand. Additionally, what makes poker room more exciting is:
Regular and other scheduled tournaments
A bad beat jackpot
Splash pot promotions
When the bad beat jackpot is under $50,000, a hand of four tens otherwise better must lose to a higher hand. But, just as the bad beat jackpot reaches $50,000 or more, there is a reduction in the minimum qualifying to the next lowest ranking hand.
The minimum qualifying hand is quad fours for the jackpots exceeding $100,000 or higher amount. Both of the players’ hands are required to use their two hole cards. Also, the minimum amount of $10 must be kept aside in the pot with not less than four players dealing into the hand.
iPhone, iPad, or Android users can download the Bravo mobile app for poker and update themselves on cash games, special promotions, tournaments, together with the bad beat jackpot.
You can order food and cocktails at the tables. In case, you’re a player of a cash game, you can earn $1 per hour in comps.
The player rewards program at Rivers Casino is named as Rush Rewards. A newcomer to the casino should visit the Rush Rewards Player’s Club to obtain his/her card. There is no joining fee and hence, no obligation. Here the funda is the more you play, the more you receive back in the form of rewards.
The rewards are in the form of player points which can be redeemed for comps, special promotions like giveaways for a new member, drawings open to all members of Rush Rewards and special offers for invited guests.
Prior to the start of the game, insert the card into the slot machine on your own or let the dealer do it for you. Your earned rewards can be used towards food, free play, drawing entries, and more. Log into your online account to keep a track of accumulated points and recent offers. Don’t forget to have your Rush Rewards number and PIN ready by your side for logging.
How the three-tiered rewards program works
The three layer of membership of the Rush Rewards Player’s Club are:
Rush (0 to 499 points)
Preferred (500 to 1,499 points)
Signature (Above 1,500 points)
The evaluation of the tier status takes place after every six months. The accumulated points, if left unused will expire after a duration of six months.
The amenities available to all the players are:
Access to drawings and other special promotions
Free check cashing
Discounted rates on Norwegian Cruise Line cruises and at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas
A special birthday offer
All preferred and signature members receive the rewards as given below:
Tier Club access
Priority gift pick up
Entry multipliers for certain drawings
Priority line at Rush Rewards
Complimentary annual Norwegian Line cruise
Complimentary room at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with free play
Invitations to exclusive sweepstakes and events
The signature players, in addition to the above also receive exclusive rewards in the form of:
25 percent discount at buffet and gift shop
Free valet parking (excluding game days and special events)
Access to the 446 VIP Lounge with no ATM transaction fee at these 446 Lounges
Priority seating at buffet and Andrew’s Steak & Seafood
Special offer with United Airlines
Priority lines at Gift Giveaway Center, Player’s Club, buffet, and casino cashier
As far as Rivers Casino is concerned, we can now make out why it always remains on the top and keep on winning awards. Obviously, few additions like a hotel on the premises would definitely play a pivotal role in making this casino even better, but until then there are options in the form of the offering by the surrounding area for people who wish to extend their stay, which cannot be neglected.
First and foremost, Rivers Casino is a place to gamble rather than visit for entertainment and other activities. Hence, those who are in search for thrilling nightlife or entertainment will definitely find no place.
Despite the fact that high stakes gambling is offered by the casino, with the availability of a pricey, high-end restaurant, still, the casino is called as the low-key casino. There is an availability of the $5 roulette, blackjack and craps tables 24/7. Also, one can find reasonable food here. Furthermore, $3 drinks are offered by every bar during Happy Hour.
The reviews on Trip Advisor and other sites include their say on casino’s alleged tight policy in regard to both comps and slot payouts. In addition, they don’t forget to mention the smell of smoke in the casino and the high cost of parking at the time when the Pirates or Steelers are playing at home, as a part of their review.
Undoubtedly, players enjoy the low stakes tables, high-quality food at a reasonably priced restaurant and friendly ambience at the casino. Overall, this place offers players value for money with lots of entertaining promotions, exciting games and great companionship at the bars while watching the games.