Travel Guide to California

2015 Travel Guide to California

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2 0 1 5 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A 73 403-room hotel tower and a pool deck that features a lazy river and weekend parties with live deejays. Closer to Los Angeles, the name of the game is card rooms. Two facilities are worth visiting for their grandeur alone: The Commerce Casino (Commerce) and the Bicycle Club (Bell Gardens). Both venues have expansive poker rooms and host some of the most popular tourna- ments in the area. The Desert Package deals abound for stay-and-play vacations at casino resorts in and around the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs. At Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, for instance, $179 per night gets guests a room plus a $25 food credit and a 50- minute massage. Similar deals are available at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa (Rancho Mirage). Most area casinos have their own golf courses, but locals rave about Eagle Falls, the course at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio. The 18-hole course was designed by architect Clive Clark. Lake Tahoe Okay, okay, so the casinos that ring Lake Tahoe are on the Nevada side of the state line. Still, they're close enough to most other destinations in California that they deserve a mention here. Excluding those in Reno, the most accessible venues are located in South Lake Tahoe. Here, the Montbleu (formerly a Cae- sars property) is by far the swankiest, with ultra-modern lounges and a steakhouse that makes Ruth's Chris seem like McDonald's. The new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe, with 500 hotel rooms and a 25,000-square-foot casino, opened in January in the old Horizon Casino Resort space located down the street. Of course the best thing about casinos around Lake Tahoe is that because they're in Nevada, they play by Nevada rules (see sidebar). Since sports books and dice games are illegal in the state of California, this means Tahoe is the place to place those kinds of bets. Big spenders, consider yourselves warned. And good luck. ยป KNOW THE RULES Just because California has casinos doesn't mean games there play the same way they'd play in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Perhaps the biggest dif- ferences: craps and roulette. State gaming laws expressly prohibit the outcome of a game to be deter- mined by dice or a ball. While the games incorporate traditional ele- ments of dice and a ball, the games themselves hinge on overturning dif- ferent types of cards. For novices (or those just looking for a good time), these differences are minimal. For hard-core craps and roulette players, however, they make the games so foreign that adjusting becomes tough. Ask the croupier to review the rules before buying-in. If a game seems confusing, don't bother; there are dozens of other options throughout the casino. HARVEYS LAKE TAHOE, below.

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