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by Stu D. Hoss

Stu D. Hoss is a retired Air Force officer and aviator. He has visited and served in over 40 countries including flying combat missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa. Most of it under the guise of keeping the world safe for democracy, better blackjack, and for a few other personal reasons. He has been playing blackjack for 20 years, and cut his teeth on the tables of South Lake Tahoe during flight training in Northern CA. Mr. Hoss uses basic strategy and the HiLo count method to give himself a chance against the house edge. He currently resides in NV and is weighing his options for a second career.

Note: The observations of casino conditions were made in December 2012. The casino visited in North Las Vegas was:

Aliante Casino + Hotel, 7300 Aliante Parkway

I ran across an announcement recently in my local fish wrap that began "PUBLIC NOTICE OF REDEMPTION OF ALIANTE STATION CASINO, NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV, CASINO CHIPS, and TOKENS." The announcement went on to say that Aliante Station chips and tokens are discontinued, but may be redeemed 24 hours a day through March 19, 2013 at the cashier cage. Normally when you see a public notice like this, it means bad news. However, in this case maybe not. The jury is still out. What we do know is that Aliante Station is no more. Well it is, but it isnít. It has a new name and new ownership that went into effect Nov. 1. If you want to know more, read on.

For those of you who might not be familiar with the property, itís located about 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip on 40 acres in the master-planned community of Aliante, just off the 215 West Beltway in North Las Vegas. Itís primarily a Las Vegas casino for locals and its interior design is similar to that of Red Rock Casino Resort Spa located in Summerlin. It is currently owned and operated by a group of banks and private equity firms.

Before we get into the playing conditions and other good stuff, a history lesson is in order. The now former Aliante Station was built at a cost of $662 million as a joint venture between Station Casinos and the Greenspun Corporation. The two entities had previously collaborated to develop Green Valley Ranch in the Southeastern Las Vegas Valley. Greenspun contributed the 40-acre site, part of its Aliante planned community. When Aliante Station opened in Nov. 2008, the target market was expected to include the 6,500+ households in Aliante, other locals, travelers, and visitors to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After Station Casinos filed for bankruptcy in July 2009, Aliante was handed over in November 2011 to its creditors, a group of nine banks and three private equity firms, who were owed more than $378 million. The propertyís estimated liquidation value was $47-$53 million. ALST Casino Holdco LLC was created to own the resort, with its largest shareholders being Standard General LP (28%), Apollo Global Management (20%), and TPG Capital (20%).

Station Casinos continued to manage Aliante under an agreement with the new owners until Nov. 1, 2012.

Now that we have that brief history lesson out of the way, letís look at the "new" Aliante Casino + Hotel. For starters, thereís a new...

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