Rivers Casino (Schenectady, NY) Sat, April 1st

ZacShawZacShaw Red Chipper Posts: 165 ✭✭✭
Hey folks, so I've got to redeem myself from my almost 3BI loss at the new Rivers Casino not to far from my hometown.

Heading back Sat, April 1st (no foolin') and would love to shake hands with some fellow Red Chippers on my ascent back to profit (and have something to do during that hour-long wait for a table).

I'll be there around 4pm-10pm, hope to see you guys there -- promise we'll take photos for the Strategy in Action blog!

Also... if you've been, what are your impressions? Other than it being ridiculously small (obscenely long wait list) and getting one of the most noob dealers ever, I was overall impressed with the staff... and who doesn't like clean chips? (Probably already dirty as hell by the time I'm writing this.) Plus, it was the first poker room I can remember that had a window with a view to the outside!

The games were on the tougher side IMO -- several players were bragging they knew pros who came from many miles away to pick off the first wave of fish, which kind of pegs them as the same. Nonetheless I'm ready to rumble.

Comments

  • Eon137Eon137 Red Chipper Posts: 165 ✭✭
    Hey, @ZacShaw ! Nice to see you made it up to Rivers. I live about 30 minutes away, and have played there a few times. The first month it was crazy wait times. Now it's not too bad if you time it right; last night I got there just after 5pm and was seated at 1/2 right away.

    I'd love to meet you and say hi next time you are in town (and maybe get some RedChip swag? Hint). The tables are mix of skill levels; some 2/5 or 5/10 aggro players occasionally haunt the 1/2 tables, but there are a lot of recreational and novice players in the mix too, especially at the slower times when there's no wait for the higher stakes games. Sunday afternoon / evenings are a really good time, since the wait is usually pretty short if you get there around 3:30/4:00, and the regs haven't woke up yet after their Saturday session. There is almost always a 5/10 NLHE table going that plays pretty deep, with at least one "name" pro who lives here and plays almost daily. They sometimes get PLO going as well, if that's your thing.

    Drop me a PM whenever you are going to be here, and we can meet up.

    Cheers!
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    I wrote a little about my experience at Rivers in Schenectady by email to @ZacShaw , but since he has invited us to continue in this thread I hope he doesn't mind if I repeat some of my email and add a few other things here.

    I was in Schenectady 11-12 March 2017. The trip was part of my 9 day poker vacation, which I have written about elsewhere.

    First: A Question:
    What do you think it means (socially, politically, culturally) that old rusted industrial towns like Bethlehem, Penn. and Schenectady, N.Y. get casinos? This is not just a rhetorical question. It is very personal to me so if anyone can come up with an answer I would greatly appreciate the food for thought.

    I'm especially interested if @persuadeo , @colldav , @SplitSuit , and @Matt Berkey have any thoughts on this.

    My Hometown
    (Skip the personal reflections if you like and go to The Poker section.)

    Second, I have to write about Schenectady itself because ...

    It was also a sentimental journey.

    I mostly went to Schenectady to show my girl the land of my ancestors. Schenectady is as much the place of my roots as Italy.

    This was where I was born and all of my family was born and raised; mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and dozens of cousins. The night club with the casino in the basement, which was owned by my grandfather Jerry and his brother Tony, and all the land around it, which was a family compound with five houses, is now a couple fast food joints and a pharmacy. The bustling industrial town with its machine shops, steel mills, railroad car factories, and the General Electric, which together employed tens of thousands of people, is now mostly rusted out. The houses that were built and owned by Italian, Irish, Polish, and German immigrants, who all seemed to have at least 5 children (excepting the Germans), are now all owned by absentee landlords, the several houses once owned by my extended family included. When I was young there seemed to be a Catholic or Lutheran Church on every block and now most of them are closed or converted for other uses.

    On the bright side there are still a few very good Italian salumeria, bakeries, pastry shops, and restaurants. Some of the best family owned Italian restaurants I've ever been too are in Schenectady and it is nice to know that one of those restaurants I remember going to around age 13 is still there on Congress Street. Check out Ferrari's if you get a chance.

    My family left Schenectady for Florida when I was 5 but I came back every summer to stay with relatives. Why did I love rotting, rusting, grey, old Schenectady with its buildings burning in the darkness and the lonely sirens floating in the distance all night? Why did I hate sunny, shiny new Florida to the point that I got out as soon as I could at age 17? (Rhetorical questions: don't answer them) I was not meant for sunshine and happiness. What can I say? Schenectady is film noir; Florida is Disney's la la land. I prefer noir.

    I apologize for this personal-historical reflection... I know you guys and gals want a poker review.

    The Poker

    The casino is too small. Both in the afternoon and early evening I waited for 90 minutes to get a seat. But go there at 3:30 in the morning after 6 hours of sleep and you get a table right away and take everybody's money. Try it sometime.

    The wait for the $2-$5 game was twice as long as the wait for the $1-$2 game. I know because I put my name on both lists.

    The poker room is well run but they should have realized that their tables would be overloaded. The nearest Casino is 100 miles away. Thus all of the poker players in this region of New York State, which includes the Tri-Cities, and the Saratoga-Lake George resort nexus, are funneled into one small poker room. What were they thinking that they didn't build a bigger poker room? My guess is that because of the service area of this Casino, the weekend wait for a seat at a table is always going to be approximately 90 minutes.

    I don't play black jack but my gal does. (Give her $400; let her go lose it; deduct it from my poker bankroll. She has a lot of fun. You may wonder how I made a profit on this trip? Very lucky.) But even the wait for a seat at Black Jack was 20 minutes.

    I happened to have a few good dealers, some experienced from other casinos. A few of my dealers were new and nervous, but they did fine. At other tables I saw some extremely nervous dealers too. The floor men were competent but I also heard some mutually exclusive rulings. The poker room, the tables, and chairs were very nice. The service was slow.

    My games, at least, were very soft and passive. I collected money from simple aggression and some reads. It was easy to fold out what I guessed was middle pair on the river with only a missed draw in my hand. I rarely showed down. My $1-$2 tables did not play any different than my $2-$5 tables. The same limp-fest all around. The same general annoyance when I would raise big over the limpers. My 3:30 a.m. tables were the usual kind of table that I find at that hour of morning. I arrive after 5 to 6 hours sleep and find a couple sleepy big stackers and a bunch of all-nighter guys trying a little too desperately to make up their losses.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 4,062 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    I think, most soberly, that you can investigate the concrete reasons in government planning documents. It becomes important to get specific to each town or area. For example, the success of the Tunica casino as economic endeavor can be contrasted to the rejected organ that Atlantic City borders on. I have read a detailed economic argument for why casinos get placed, all of which are premised on assumptions about the improvements new, large scale economic activity brings. I say this because it's easy to skip to the part where one investigates if it works or not - but that isn't really your question. What it means, ultimately, and what connects a rural dead zone with an industrial town far past decline is that we care about these places greatly, enough to take drastic measures that are not necessarily rational, might be, but can be veiled in rationality, just as we do when we try to extend the life of a dying loved one.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    persuadeo wrote: »
    I think, most soberly, that you can investigate the concrete reasons in government planning documents. It becomes important to get specific to each town or area. For example, the success of the Tunica casino as economic endeavor can be contrasted to the rejected organ that Atlantic City borders on. I have read a detailed economic argument for why casinos get placed, all of which are premised on assumptions about the improvements new, large scale economic activity brings. I say this because it's easy to skip to the part where one investigates if it works or not - but that isn't really your question. What it means, ultimately, and what connects a rural dead zone with an industrial town far past decline is that we care about these places greatly, enough to take drastic measures that are not necessarily rational, might be, but can be veiled in rationality, just as we do when we try to extend the life of a dying loved one.


    Good answer. I've been thinking about this for awhile but still haven't made my way to writing about it. I've even read some about the decision making process and what you say sounds right.

    My own conclusions will have to go deeper before I can think clearly about my own hometown, and Bethlehem.
  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 786 ✭✭✭
    @Imperator , I'm not sure I want to know why my thoughts on your question would interest you, but I'll do my best to answer.

    Australia is a long way from the USA, socially, politically and culturally as well as geographically.

    As a general rule the major population centres (the State capitals and a few others) have casinos, but not other towns. I expect this is mainly driven by licensing but also the population distribution.

    What we do have however is "Pokies" in thousands of clubs all across the country. These are particularly prevalent (and I believe profitable) in less wealthy areas. I think for the same reason poorer people are more likely to buy lottery tickets, they are also more likely to play poker machines.

    So my gut reaction to your question was that the reason old rusted industrial towns were getting casinos was to profit from the need for hope from the struggling inhabitants.

    For the Australian experience, I think it is terrible. Clubs that were focal points for people to come together socially became where people went to engage in antisocial activities. People who could least afford it were targeted. I believe adults should have the freedom to choose their own vices provided they don't impact others, but I don't think this is in society's interests.

    I don't think poker and pokies are even remotely similar, however even at the Australian casinos I think the pokies rather than the table games are where the money is made.

    To think that the government has banned online poker while they take in billions in tax from pokies makes my blood boil.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    colldav wrote: »
    @Imperator , I'm not sure I want to know why my thoughts on your question would interest you, but I'll do my best to answer.

    Australia is a long way from the USA, socially, politically and culturally as well as geographically.

    The main reason I wanted to hear from you is that you are thoughtful.

    The secondary reason is because I wanted to hear what things were like in another country and if there were any comparisons. We have no real "experiments" in human societies so we often hav e learn by comparison across society.

    Seeing a casino in Schenectady made me wonder if there might be casinos in folded up industrial towns around the world. Perhaps our British friends can tell us about Manchester or Liverpool.

    Of course what we also have to account for here is the "ghettoization" of casinos. Largely, for reasons of misplaced Puritanism we limit casinos to marginalized areas. This, I suspect is part of the peculiar culture of these former colonies.

    But to get back to something I alluded to in response to @persuadeo , what I want to figure out for myself, is how casinos actually fit into the larger economy. Some people need a strategy; I need a theory. So unless I can integrate my question into the world capitalist economy and the function of gambling in the social structure from the first city-states to the present, I will never be satisfied with all of my answers. Even then I won't be satisfied because my answers can only be wrong.

    Don't try to understand why I need to understand. The way my mind works: I have to think about everything in order to see anything as something.

  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 786 ✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    The main reason I wanted to hear from you is that you are thoughtful.

    Thank you. I was worried for a minute that I was being called upon to represent the views of capitalism and corporate greed.

    I think The demand for gambling is more related to psychology, Behavioural Economics and utility curves. This aspect goes well beyond my shallow understanding. Once you understand where the demand comes from however, isn't the role of casinos in society merely to meet a business opportunity ? Simple supply and demand ? I guess exactly what is being supplied and demanded is the question.
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 4,062 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Everything is supply and demand- it's the details that are being poked at here. A new casino resort - a good phrase to help separate it from a smaller, more indigenous one - is a large scale venture and requires great planning. All the factors have to add up quickly or over some time horizon, unlike the local gambling hall which will respond to the market's more natural supply and demand.

    So it then become interesting to see why a casino resort gets opened and what its success or failure is, in part because of these questions the planners must answer in advance of the market telling them the answer. This central planning approach is always a big gamble, rests on theories as much as experience, and it would be useful or at least interesting to study why the Sands Bethlehem worked out, in anticipation of the casinos in NY and MA. I found the answers to why Atlantic City struggled to be extremely interesting and point to the problem of trying to force one thing upon another - even when they seem like a reasonable fit.
  • kenaceskenaces Red Chipper Posts: 1,397 ✭✭✭✭
    I used to live close to where River's is now located and played tons of poker in the albany/schenectady club scene. I am heading that way this summer and really looking forward to seeing how that cast of characters transitions into casino environment, now that the 4 poker clubs are closed. Based on bravo and what a few friends told me the action has already slowed a bit after just being open 2 months.

    Schenectady was one of many locations that applied to get casino after the Bill was passed allowing it. I think there will be 4 new casinos open in upstate NY by the end of the year, and none close to NYC because that was the deal the struck between the down state dems and the upstate rebs.
  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    colldav wrote: »
    Thank you. I was worried for a minute that I was being called upon to represent the views of capitalism and corporate greed.

    I don't think there is any lack of poker players to provide the point of view of "greed is good" and capitalism triumphant.

    As a side note, I wish that people would actually read Adam Smith, both Wealth of Nations along with his moral philosophy. They would be surprise.
    persuadeo wrote: »
    This central planning approach is always a big gamble, rests on theories as much as experience, and it would be useful or at least interesting to study why the Sands Bethlehem worked out, in anticipation of the casinos in NY and MA. I found the answers to why Atlantic City struggled to be extremely interesting and point to the problem of trying to force one thing upon another - even when they seem like a reasonable fit.

    I love this. I think you get the perspective exactly correct.

    The aspects of what some call "State Capitalism" as opposed to market forces are factored into your thought processes in a way that is beyond the usual ideological thinking I encounter everywhere.

    Thanks for the hints.

    I'm currently writing a kind of philosophy-sociology of poker and can use all of the good ideas I can cannibalize.

    I intend to post it in pieces at the "Solve for Why" website as I go. These things factor in.

  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper, Table Captain Posts: 4,062 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Well, great. If your material "written elsewhere" is publicly available, I'm sure more than just me would like to read it.
  • Dean MDean M Red Chipper Posts: 183 ✭✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »
    First: A Question:
    What do you think it means (socially, politically, culturally) that old rusted industrial towns like Bethlehem, Penn. and Schenectady, N.Y. get casinos? This is not just a rhetorical question. It is very personal to me so if anyone can come up with an answer I would greatly appreciate the food for thought.

    I'm not one of the 'deep thinkers' that you asked to hear from :) but I live in south-central PA so have some thoughts on PA casino locations... I think it has little to do with rusted steel mills except that some of those places still have large population centers.
    Bethlehem is long past the 'bottoming out' phase of the steel industry decline in the US and has been on the road to recovery for many years.

    It's the seventh largest city in PA and proximity to NYC is perfect for drawing gamblers out of that city for the weekend. There are 3 casinos in or near Philly (largest city), two in Pittsburgh (second largest city and probably the most amazing story of how to bounce back after your main industry is devastated. They took a city that was literally filthy from black coal dust and coke oven dirt, cleaned it top to bottom and attracted high tech industries.)

    Allentown would be next in size but is very close to Bethlehem and again, I think proximity to NYC had something to do with that locations appeal. Erie is next and it also has a casino followed by Scranton with Mohegan Sun

    Reading, PA would be the sixth largest but is also in the middle of Amish / conservative Mennonite communities that would have a negative outlook on gambling in general.
    Imperator wrote: »
    The houses that were built and owned by Italian, Irish, Polish, and German immigrants, who all seemed to have at least 5 children (excepting the Germans),

    Just a curiosity... did the German families have less children and why? I'm of German / Swiss descent and if I go back 4 or 5 generations mine were mostly farming background and had very large families.

  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    edited March 2017
    Dean M wrote: »
    Imperator wrote: »
    The houses that were built and owned by Italian, Irish, Polish, and German immigrants, who all seemed to have at least 5 children (excepting the Germans),

    Just a curiosity... did the German families have less children and why? I'm of German / Swiss descent and if I go back 4 or 5 generations mine were mostly farming background and had very large families.

    This is an interesting sociological question. The short answer is the well known concept of the "demographic transition."

    The demographic transition occurs in a few steps: first a change takes place that improves nutrition and social health, along with migration from rural to urban areas; second, a change takes place with increase in wages and a rise making possible a middle class living standard among skilled workers and shopkeepers.

    It is well known that the kind of birth rates in rural areas where subsistence farming is dominant rewards a high birth rate for many reasons. One of those reasons is a high death rate of children. Another reason is that parents in rural areas need more children as a sort of old age benefit.

    Before the transition having many children is looked at as an investment in both the land and in the future.

    After the demographic transition the situation is reversed. Parents that have 1 or 2 children look at their jobs as way to invest in the future of their children. This is what middle class families do.

    Also in the middle of the demographic transition investment in female children in the form of education always goes up producing a virtuous circle furthering the demographic transition. The more education for women the later the age of pregnancy.

    The result is often called the "demographic dividend."

    The German families in Schenectady mostly came from middle class areas in Germany who had already experienced the demographic transition. The demographic transition and urbanization often went hand and hand with the historical rise of Protestantism. I don't agree with Max Weber that this was causal. I think that urbanization was the main motor force. In other words for German families in Schenectady the demographic transition was already underway in their own country. when they came to the U.S.

    Southern Italians and Poles who came to the U.S. often were making a two step transition in once step. Those areas were economically exploited by economically advanced European powers in a similar way that Central America has been exploited by the U.S.

    Southern Italians and Poles were coming from rural and semi-rural areas where subsistence and peasant farming was dominant and they were moving to industrial areas in the United States. This meant that they went through the demographic transition in one generation with a lot of combined and uneven development. My great-grandparents generation all had 7 to 9 children. My grandparents generation all had 2 or 3 children. This was a very sharp transition.

    Going back 4 or 5 generations it doesn't surprise me that rural families in Germany would only be at the beginning of the demographic transition as you describe.

    I also want to make a point that the Germans who came to Schenectady were often more educated and were recruited as managers in the burgeoning industries of Schenectady. In other words there was both a class and a religious divide between the Italians/Poles and the Germans. This tended to fuel animosity and unionization. Strangely, or not so strangely, most of the leaders of the electrical and machinist unions in Schenectady were also from Germany or Sweden, trained in Northern European Social Democracy.

    This has nothing to do with Poker!
  • Eon137Eon137 Red Chipper Posts: 165 ✭✭
    edited March 2017
    This thread has completely derailed from the original topic.
  • SicSemperSicSemper Red Chipper Posts: 105 ✭✭
    Imperator wrote: »

    First: A Question:
    What do you think it means (socially, politically, culturally) that old rusted industrial towns like Bethlehem, Penn. and Schenectady, N.Y. get casinos? This is not just a rhetorical question. It is very personal to me so if anyone can come up with an answer I would greatly appreciate the food for thought.

    This was really fascinating to read. I live in Vegas now, but I grew up in Saratoga. I've been trying to get move back for a few years now, and a poker room in Schenectady is icing on the cake.

    But to look at what it means, in this particular case, it's hard to answer the question in any way other than "Saratoga fucked up."

    When NYS was looking at potential sites for its five gaming licenses, Saratoga was an obvious shortlist frontrunner. With the Saratoga Casino just across from Saratoga Race Course already operating, adding table games (to supplement the already-existing electronic blackjack, craps and roulette) was obvious. To the point the Saratoga Casino owners were developing plans for a massive hotel on-site.

    When public hearings were held, thanks to shifting Saratoga demographics that include a lot of new money transplants, the NIMBYism that was already a strong presence in the city flared up in a big way. Which is laughable to anyone who knows the history of Saratoga--or hasn't been in a coma every summer.

    There were other site proposals in the Capital District. Knowing how Albany politics goes, I assume graft was a significant player in some way. Once the Spa City rejected its destiny, all that was left was to pick a formal industrial town, which describes almost the entirety of Upstate in that area.

  • ImperatorImperator Red Chipper Posts: 898 ✭✭✭
    Yes, I knew about the Saratoga politics of exclusivity.

    It is also amusing or ironic for other reasons.

    Saratoga was an "open city' back in the days of prohibition. What I mean is that it was declared shared territory by Luciano and Lansky. Lansky had a casino in the basement of a nightclub near Saratoga. I know this because some of my family ran the nightclub above.

    Gambling has always been a Saratoga pass time. But the real question for Saratogans is who passes the time? The upscale vs downscale tug of the Saratoga- Lake George resort nexus has always been a problem. There was always an attempt by the rich to limit the invasion of a chorus of Damon Runyan characters. I don't think the super-rich ever returned to Saratoga after the postwar middle class invaded the region.

    The second irony is that some of the people leading the fight against the casino were ex-Schenectady residents decamped to their retirement ground in Florida with summer homes in Saratoga. I know this because my father has a summer home in Saratoga. He thought a casino in Saratoga was a good idea. But many of his friends didn't. They fought very hard to keep the casino out.

    The politics of exclusivity is very strange. The Schenectady cousins of my father's generation forget that their fathers were the Damon Runyan characters that the previous era of exclusivity protectors were trying to exclude.
  • SicSemperSicSemper Red Chipper Posts: 105 ✭✭
    @imperator Oh, that's absolutely what I was getting at in regard to Saratoga history. There have been so many transplants that old guard Saratogians are getting outnumbered (of all of them I know, which are plenty, they all favored the casino).

    The super-rich may not be building North Broadway homes anymore, but the obnoxiously rich are still snapping up million dollar condos overlooking Congress park. There's an embarrassing amount of new money in town. As my grandmother still says: "Where were these people in the '50s when Broadway was dead?"

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