Rhode Island Trip Report: Twin River Casino
by "Reload" Joe Freda
Joe Freda has been an avid gambler and writer for the past two decades, covering casino and sports wagering. His efforts include several years of articles at Sportsbook Review and Don Best Sports, while enjoying trips for blackjack and poker throughout North America and the Caribbean. Freda can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter (@ReloadSports).
After a few recent trips in the lap of luxury, I felt it was time to take a drop in class and return to the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The former Lincoln Park greyhound track has made some strides since its "dog days," adding table games to its array of slot machines. While Twin River is primarily a "local’s casino," the property has tried attracting bigger players with a multi-tiered comping system and has its share of VIP lounge treatment.
Background on Twin River (100 Twin River Rd., Lincoln, RI)
I first visited Lincoln in 2002, taking in a day of greyhound racing while betting the Belmont Stakes simulcast, as War Emblem went for the "Triple Crown." Later that evening, the venue showed the Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson fight on its monitors, while I wagered a few dollars on jai-alai, coming from Newport’s now-defunct fronton.
Over a decade later, I returned in 2013 after Twin River publicized it was adding table games. My heart was pumping with a five-figure bank check of ammunition but, would you believe, the cashier’s cage would not accept it. I was told "no check process or credit lines were in play yet;" however, a host offered me dinner at the property’s signature "Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse" the next time I returned with cash.
I ventured back again last year but without a big bankroll to work with. My summer of 2014 got off to a cruel start, washing out in Atlantic City’s marina for a hefty sum. It was back to the $25 tables for a while and Twin River was a fun place at that time to get the feel back.
Blackjack rules include surrender, splitting allowed up to three hands, and the dealer standing on soft 17’s at nearly all tables. Eight-deck shoes are present through most of the casino’s main floor, with a favorable 80 percent penetration. Tables with minimums of $50 and higher use six decks, but no difference in rules, other than "no mid-shoe entry permitted." The six-deck offerings have more dealer-dependent penetration, generally resulting in the lower 65-70 percent range.
Last year’s limited bankroll turned into a few winning trips, and even my lowly $50-75 average bet was enough for entry into the VIP lounge. Complimentary alcoholic drinks are available in the lounges, while servers on the casino floor charge for them. Security is also prevalent (in fact, guards recently confronted a rice cooker left in the parking lot that they thought was a bomb). Unfortunately, they were after more than kitchen appliances as my visits continued to Lincoln.
Drowning Deep in the Ocean State
My stakes went back up to black-chip action later on last year as old habits die hard. After I experienced a losing stretch, Twin River began mailing some higher-end comps. I received offers for a free Norwegian cruise, various show tickets, and complimentary rooms at the nearby Marriott Hotel.
After I made my way back to Lincoln this past August, the only change from prior visits was the addition of a pit of non-smoking table games located on the venue’s second floor. Conditions for blackjack remained the same, while craps tables still had 10x and 5x odds posted. A race book also stayed in play, with betting action from all over, aligning with the property’s early roots. Live poker is also expected to open by the end of the year.
The main floor was crowded on a Saturday afternoon, despite superb weather in the area and Rhode Island’s share of beaches not far away. I was unable to immediately grab a pair of adjacent seats for blackjack (preferring my usual "betting on two-spot routine"), so I started out playing Pai Gow Poker instead.
About twenty minutes later, I shifted to an open $25 blackjack table and flat-bet a green chip on each of my two spots. The ‘monkeys’ (i.e., blackjacks) hit the felt early and I saw no need to press while getting settled in. Halfway through the shoe, the game was called to a stop, and several security guards were positioned near the table...
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