Forget the advertising claptrap about loose slots. At base, it's a money-changing business, and your odds of winning are virtually the same no matter where you go. Amenities and ambiance make the difference, and Ameristar boasts above-average -- think Branson or better -- live entertainment and restaurants even non-gamblers would patronize. The bathrooms are clean, service is prompt and dealers act friendly. In short, there's a world of difference between Ameristar and some other local casinos (whose names we won't mention), which treat customers and atmosphere as afterthoughts. With 130,000 square feet of floor space, there are plenty of games to choose from. Here's a stat for you: According to Missouri Gaming Commission records, although Ameristar has fewer poker tables than the President -- the only other casino on the Missouri side of the Mississippi that offers the game -- poker players wager nearly five times as much at Ameristar as at the President. Poker aside, Ameristar has three dozen more table games than any other local casino, and 600 more slot and video-poker machines than its closest competitor. You've got to go to Vegas to experience the royal flush of gambling parlors. But it's nice to know that right here at home we've got a full house.