My Fantasy Road Trip by Howard Hian

As a travel writer, I’m often questioned about my dream vacation. My answer is a “poker getaway.” I’d follow my personal yellow brick road in the direction of a casino or card room to play in Hold ‘Em and/or Omaha tournaments across the country. My odyssey would begin in my hometown, San Diego, at the four diamond Pala Casino Spa Resort. Heading north, I’d hit the Commerce and Bicycle card rooms in the LA area, on the way to Bay 101 in San Jose.  These three venues host major events that are frequented by poker’s elite players. I would skip Las Vegas’ 120 casinos and continue my journey to Reno, NV, my new favorite resort/poker destination (see More on Gaming below).  I’m familiar with the friendly, well run poker room at the four diamond Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, so I would enjoy returning to sit in on their daily tournament. They also host World Poker Tour events. 


My wanderings now turn east toward Montana to solve a mystery. I have to find out why almost half of the 400 licensed card rooms in the US are located there. By way of comparison, California has less than 100.

The daydream continues as I reach my place of birth, St. Louis, MO, featuring riverboat gaming.  I will stay longer to visit family, friends, eat Imo’s thin crust pizza and, of course, play poker.  What could be better?


Wrapping up my fantasy tour in New York City, I’d search out an illegal “underground” game, as portrayed in the movie Rounders, to test my skills.  It will be a short stay in The Big Apple, because I much prefer tournament settings (a fixed dollar buy-in limits potential losses).  


And, with that, my cross country fantasy road trip is complete.  Did I win? On this imaginary tour, I would bet the answer is yes. 

More on Gaming: 

Travel Reno, an up-to-date travel app, is now available in the iTunes store.  You will discover where to stay, what to do, festivals and events, the arts, outdoor adventure, sports, shopping, live entertainment, restaurants and bars and, of course, gaming. There is a bonus…an Omaha poker tutorial. It provides step-by-step instructions how to play, statistics, poker terminology, betting strategies, video links, and suggestions on how to become a winner at the fastest growing game of poker (and the second most played around the world). 


Card rooms differ from casino poker rooms because they offer only card games; a casino also has slots and other table games, e.g., roulette, craps, etc. 

Worldwide casino count:  Africa, almost 200; Asia, over 250; Caribbean, 150; Central and South America, over 500; Europe, over 2,500; North America including Canada, Mexico and the US; over 2,000; and Oceania, almost 600.

Dollar-wise, gambling translates to big business.  Estimates are for a $70 billion dollar year in 2015 in the USA.