Last week, MacPoker.com traveled to the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana. The casino bills itself as housing the largest poker room in the Chicago area at 34 tables, and it definitely is one of the largest we’ve seen outside of Las Vegas.
We ventured there on a Wednesday night expecting the action to be relatively light. Not so, however. The room was bustling with activity, so much so that nearly every single game had a wait list at 6:30pm. We put our name down for a game and the poker room staff said they would send us a text message when our seat was ready. All we had to do is provide them with our cell phone number and provider and the rest would be taken care of. That’s quite unique.
We were the third name on the list and to our surprise, were called in about 15 minutes. When you first arrive to the Horseshoe, note that it doesn’t have a grand entrance like what you’d find at the Bellagio, for example. Instead, hopping off the parking garage elevators puts you literally in the front of the casino. Moreover, the parking garage is quite dreary, confusing to navigate, and lacks bright lighting, so exercise caution when driving around so you don’t hit a would-be gambler.
The casino itself is massive. The poker room is located at the rear of the barge, which was tricked out with chandeliers and affordable table games like $5 craps, penny slots, and $5 blackjack. We resisted the urge to throw down some of our bankroll on the former and instead headed straight for the poker room. By the way, alcohol is not free in Indiana, so expect to pay a few dollars if you get thirsty. Non-alcoholic drinks are on the house.
The tables and chips seemed to be worn and we found a healthy coating of black soot on our fingers when we were finished. Gross. Don’t forget that this casino plays host to a World Series of Poker Circuit Event every year in its brand new “Venue.” While we expected the floor staff to be quite professional because of the Circuit stop, we instead found some of the dealers to be too informal and unpolished for our blood.
One dealer was quite irate at his superiors for not “pushing” him. He called the men in suits over several times and still wasn’t pushed by the time we left, which was about 30 minutes after his initial complaint. While we certainly didn’t mind his desire to be pushed, we thought the way he went about requesting one was a tad crude. Another dealer kept shouting to one of her friends seated at a nearby table, which was also distracting.
We lost about $70 by the time the night was over, but had an interesting experience anyway. At the table behind us, several loud outbursts occurred. One was because of a seat change and the other was due to what a player perceived to be incorrect change. A larger crowd gathered around the table to investigate each commotion, but floor staff eventually calmed down the players involved. Many of the bystanders requested a table change, and who can blame them.
Also, despite being a gigantic gaming establishment, Horseshoe Hammond lacks a hotel, which was amazing to us. Also, there aren’t many accommodations around the area, so your best bet is probably Downtown Chicago, although you’d need a car to drive the 20-minute stretch of road.
We came away with a very mixed review about the casino, which we felt needed a more professionally run poker room with more player-friendly dealers. We’re used to the rooms in Las Vegas and Tunica, which were noticeably different. Nevertheless, the Horseshoe Hammond is the closest Indiana casino to Downtown Chicago and offers games like Hold’em and Omaha, so don’t be afraid to stop by.