The Cross Country Poker Road Trip – Part 2

By Connor Whiteley
December 09, 2021

Recently in Part 1 of this miniseries, I mapped out a southern route for the  from Boston to Los Angeles that stops at as many card rooms as possible, while also offering some non-poker-related features. Here in Part 2, I will share a northern route as an alternative way across the country.

The Northern Route

The “northern” route is really the mid-west route, as the northern states west of Chicago aren’t the most poker friendly. If you want to travel through the Canadian border states, I suggest packing a chipset and bringing some friends with you.

We start this trip out with a bang, visiting the legendary Atlantic City. No East Coast poker trip is complete without hitting the boardwalk of AC. While it is clear we are past the glory days, poker is alive and well down in New Jersey. The Tropicana, Harrah’s Atlantic City, and the Borgata all have poker rooms, the Borgata with an impressive 52 table room. There is plenty of action in AC, and if you need a break from the bad beats, hit the famous boardwalk. You will find plenty of non-poker entertainment there.


Next on the list is Hollywood Casino Columbus in Columbus, OH. With 28 tables ready for action, this room is sure to be a great stop on the trip. The room also hosts some regular tournaments, although check before you go as they may not run every day of the week. Columbus as a city has plenty of attractions, you can visit the LEGOLAND Discovery Center, the Zoo / Aquarium, or head to the North Market and get some amazing food. You’ll be sure to make many memories, both on and off the felt.

After winning heaps in Columbus, you have two choices depending on the desired length of your trip. You can take a short day and hit Hollywood Casino St. Louis (6.5 hours), or you can catch up on your favorite podcast and make it to Harrah’s Kansas City (10 hours). If you decide to take the shorter trip, you’ll most likely be extending your trip by a day. St. Louis will have14 poker tables waiting for you and plenty of non-poker attractions. After a solid poker session, visit the famous Gateway Arch or have a relaxing stroll through the Missouri Botanical Garden. If you fancy yourself a long-haul grinder, make your way to Harrah’s Kansas City and stop by the WWI memorial and museum to learn about the US’s involvement in the great war.

If you find yourself waking up in St. Louis, there is quite the drive until our next stop. Black Hawk, CO has four cardrooms to choose from, Isle Casino, Harrah’s Golden Gates Casino, Monarch Casino, and Ameristar Casino. All casinos are offering heavy poker action and you’ll be sure to enjoy your stay in this Denver suburb. Sadly, Black Hawk is a 13-hour drive from St. Louis, so you may not make it in one day. You can find yourself a nice hotel to crash somewhere just over the Colorado / Kansas border after 10 hours of driving. This leaves a 3 hour trip to Black Hawk and will give you a nice morning or midday poker session before continuing your drive. If you are coming from Harrah’s Kansas City, you have a solid 9.5 hours of driving, but that’s 30 minutes shorter than your previous day. If you take this route you can enjoy a night of poker in Black Hawk, or stop just before and see everything Denver has to offer. If you are a paranormal enthusiast, you’ll love the Twilight Ghost Tour which takes you through Capital Hill, Denver’s notorious haunted neighborhood.

Monarch Black Hawk

After trekking to Black Hawk, the final two destinations are Las Vegas and Los Angeles, which we covered in the southern route. However, depending on the path you chose you may not hit Vegas right after. Black Hawk to Las Vegas is just over 11 hours of driving. That may be too much for one day and still expect to play some poker. If you do wake up in Black Hawk, you can muster up one more grueling drive and make it there in a day, but it’ll probably be best to get right to bed and spend the next day playing poker all over town. If you took the other option and stayed just over the Colorado / Kansas border, here is where you will add a day. After playing your midday session at Black Hawk, make your way to Grand Junction, CO. Crashing here for the night will give you a nice 7.5-hour drive into Vegas the next day. In Grand Junction, you can go paddle boarding on the Colorado River, or explore the red rock canyons at the Colorado National Monument. This is a great part of the country, and the scenery is spectacular.


Since we do have some alternatives, I am going to break down an overview of all the possible paths.

The Southern Route 1 – 8 days, 7 poker stops, 1 non-poker stop

Day 1 – 7 hour drive – Maryland Live / MGM National Harbor
Day 2 – 8 hour drive – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino
Day 3 – 8 hour drive – Beau Rivage
Day 4 – 9 hour drive – Austin, TX
Day 5 – 8 hour drive – Guadalupe Mountains, TX (no poker)
Day 6 – 8 hour drive – Talking Stick Resort
Day 7 – 5 hour drive – Las Vegas, NV
Day 8 – 4 hour drive – Los Angeles, CA

The Southern Route 2 – 8 days, 7 poker stops, 1 non-poker stop

Day 1 – 7 hour drive – Maryland Live / MGM National Harbor
Day 2 – 8 hour drive – Harrah’s Cherokee Casino
Day 3 – 7.5 hour drive – Pensacola Greyhound Track
Day 4 – 8 hour drive – Houston, TX
Day 5 – 9 hour drive – Fort Davis, TX (no poker)
Day 6 – 9.5 hour drive – Talking Stick Resort
Day 7 – 5 hour drive – Las Vegas, NV
Day 8 – 4 hour drive – Los Angeles, CA

The Northern Route 1 – 7 days, 6 poker stops, 1 non-poker stop

Day 1 – 5.5 hour drive – Atlantic City, NJ
Day 2 – 8.5 hour drive – Hollywood Casino Columbus
Day 3 – 6.5 hour drive – Hollywood Casino St. Louis
Day 4 – 10 hour drive – Burlington, CO (no poker)
Day 5 – 8 hour drive total – Black Hawk, CO, then Green River, UT (midday poker stop)
Day 6 – 6 hour drive – Las Vegas
Day 7 – 4 hour drive – Los Angeles, CA

The Northern Route 2 – 6 days, 6 poker stops, lots of driving

Day 1 – 5.5 hour drive – Atlantic City, NJ
Day 2 – 8.5 hour drive – Hollywood Casino Columbus
Day 3 – 10 hour drive – Harrah’s Kansas City
Day 4 – 9.5 hour drive – Black Hawk, CO
Day 5 – 11 hour drive – Las Vegas, NV
Day 6 – 4 hour drive – Los Angeles, CA

Whichever path you choose, a cross-country poker trip is a beautiful thing. You will get to enjoy many great cities, play poker with all walks of life, see the countryside, and make memories you will cherish forever. Who knows. If you play your cards right, you may even make money doing it!



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Connor Whiteley poker author
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Connor Whiteley

Connor Whiteley is a financial services professional and freelance writer who spends as much time as possible on the felt. Previously, Connor was a dealer in various underground Los Angeles poker games, but left the city and those games to raise his daughter with his loving wife Jennifer. Connor is constantly staying up to date […]

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