On the bus to Black Hawk, Central City

Thursday, July 08, 2010


When it comes to wheelin’ and dealin’ in Colorado’s gaming towns, Arlie House knows his way around.

House, 50, hands me a stack of casino coupons to prove his point. “And these are only the ones I got last month,” he says, shaking the stack then producing another bundle of papers from his backpack. “These, I got this month.”

I struck up a conversation with him while waiting for the Coach America bus, which is really more like a luxury motor coach than an everyday bus, on the corner of 15th Street and Glenarm Place, just three blocks from The Denver Post building.

At 11:35 a.m. sharp, the coach pulled up and loaded us. A gal pal and I sat across from House, who entertained us with stories during the hour-long ride to Black Hawk then to Central City. That particular ride leaves 15th and Glenarm every two hours from 5:35 a.m. to 11:35 p.m.

Part way up Sixth Avenue headed toward Hwy. 119, the driver filled in us neophytes on where we would be dropped off, and where to pick up the bus for the return trip. He also handed us a schedule, which helped because the return times and pickup locations vary.

“We are going to the casinos,” the driver announced. “If you think you’re going shopping in Boulder, you’re on the wrong bus.”

Several casinos refund $15 to $18 of the $20 round-trip fare as long as you gamble and build up a certain amount of points.

“The Gilpin will give you a $20 refund if you have a coupon,” House chimed in so the other passengers would be in on “the deal.”

House, 50, has worked in casinos in Gulfport, Miss., Las Vegas and Black Hawk. He belongs to all the players’ clubs, hence the collection of coupons. He moved back to Colorado when his home in Gulfport was wiped out during Hurricane Katrina.

The bus, he says, is the only way to travel to Colorado’s casinos.

“It’s easier than driving up there with snow and bad weather,” he said, as the passenger vehicle encountered a sudden snowstorm. House says he takes the bus to Black Hawk and Central City two to three times a week. This particular trip would be for five nights because he had accumulated comps at three hotels.

Coach America, Casino Transportation and Denver Casino Shuttle are companies that pick up in several metro-area locations. Visit www.coloradogamingnews.com/transportation for information.

Video poker place. Bullwhackers in Black Hawk recently opened a dedicated video poker area that occupies the casino’s entire first floor.

The Big Deal Video Poker Room features 120 machines that offer a variety of games. Three are exclusive to Bullwhackers: Random Rewards, Quick Quads, and Pick-a-Pair Poker, plus DreamCard Poker.

“We want to treat video poker players like VIPs,” said Stephen Cubbage, Bullwhackers director of marketing. “We gave them a private setting because they tend to be private people – you have to concentrate on what you’re doing more than you do with slots.”

The area includes its own bar and a full-time bartender. The video poker machines take amounts from a penny to $5.

“We’ll have video poker-specific promotions with additional prizes,” Cubbage said.

~ Penny Parker is a columnist for The Denver Post. She’s always on the prowl for tidbits and tips from Colorado’s gaming communities. Call her at 303-619-5209 or e-mail

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