The Best of Cripple Creek -Part 1


While Hollywood may have its annual Academy Awards competition, Cripple Creek boasts of its infamous “Best Of” championship, sponsored by The Mountain Jackpot newspaper over the last two decades. And once again, readers have declared their favorite places to gamble, play slots, cards and table games, dine, seek entertainment, hang out, converse and even gossip (yes, a rare concept in Cripple Creek).
In addition, voters weren’t shy about announcing their top picks for public servants, casino employees, card dealers, bartenders, local personalities and much more. In a heavily competitive “Best of Cripple Creek” contest, The Mountain Jackpot (TMJ) readers have dealt a few surprises and upsets, as well as obvious choices for the town’s high and low points. Due to space restraints, we are presenting the results of this detailed survey over the next several weeks with the main emphasis for our March 3 issue on casino and business-related competitions. More Best Of winners will be announced in forthcoming issues in our publication and on our website.
So without any further delays, here are the city’s newly acclaimed winners. Also, we want to make a special thanks to Kim Francis of TMJ for toiling over hundreds of ballots in the final tabulations. We also would like to thank everyone who participated, as the volume of responses was much higher than previous years.
Casino, Gaming &
Business Competition
Most Money Won & Where
1. Johnny Nolon’s
2. Bronco Billy’s
3. Century Casino
Honorable Mention: Double Eagle
In one of our newest competitions for where gamblers win the biggest loot, Johnny Nolon’s and Bronco Billy’s led the way, capturing the gold and silver with reports circulating of $38,000 identical winnings in both places. Another TMJ Best Of gambler boasted of a $31,000 strike at Century. Double Eagle players also fared well in this competition. Not surprisingly, many readers noted that they also have lost a hefty share of money in these same gaming-friendly establishments. So the only way you can determine the accuracy of these reports is to play at these winning establishments yourself, since after all, you can’t win if you don’t play!
Friendliest Employees
1. Bronco Billy’s
2. Colorado Grande
3. Wildwood
Honorable Mention: Century Casino
In the battle for the ultra-friendly, it only makes sense that the gaming establishment with the most impressive longevity record among Creek casinos grabbed the gold. Billy’s started in Oct. 1991 as a small gaming hall and a few bar stools, with the intentions of becoming a true Colorado casino and establishing friendly customer service. After seven major expansions and a new surge into the former Gold Rush, this same theme remains. Billy’s has been a frequent winner of the most-friendly competitions, largely because of their employees. The fact that Marc Murphy, the only original head CC casino manager remaining since the birth of gaming, is still in charge also doesn’t hurt. Our latest competition was no exception as Billy’s won this title in a landslide verdict. However, many of our readers favored the Colorado Grande, Wildwood and Century.
Best Food
1. Bronco Billy’s
2. Wildwood
3. Colorado Grande
Honorable Mention: Amanda May’s
With a diverse combination of food choices, ranging from the basic and homey Home Café, to the Mexican fiesta paradise with Baja Billy’s and then the fine dining kingdom of The Steakhouse, how can you go wrong? Bronco Billy’s cleared the decks as the premiere food choice in the Creek.
Many readers preferred the diverse choices at the Wildwood. And of course, Maggie’s namesake restaurant at the Colorado Grande was also rated as a great place for morning and noon-time food-goers. Who can compete with a friendly ghost? This classic restaurant is located in the downstairs of the Colorado Grande.
However, Best Of voters also lauded the food offerings at the now-closed Amanda May’s Café. Just a little hint to the operators of the Aspen Mine Center, please find a replacement soon! Some other top picks included the Down Under of the Midnight Rose and The Pint and Platter at McGill’s, the latter choice a definite favorite among TMJ staffers.
Best Food Deals
1. Bronco Billy’s
2. Century Casino
3. Brass Ass
Honorable Mention: Johnny Nolon’s
No competition whatsoever. The Billy’s 49 cent breakfast special has become an institution that practically dates back to when slots started ringing down Bennett Avenue in 1991, and it’s amazing that this food special is still the talk of the town.
Many TMJ Best Of participants, though, favor the frequent discounts and offerings at Century’s Mid-City Grill and Brass Ass’ Miner’s Pick.
Loosest Slots
1. Johnny Nolon’s
2. Bronco Billy’s
3. Midnight Rose
Honorable Mention: Century Casino
In another repeat victory in the duel of the Super Loose, Johnny Nolon’s emerged as the clear victor. That’s not surprising, as Nolon’s has frequently touted itself as the place “where the slots are looser,” a slogan backed up by some impressive statistics. Well, TMJ readers and Best Of participants apparently agree with these claims that are part of the establishment’s colorful history. After all, old Johnny Nolon always liked a loose betting game, when he ran his saloon in the late 1890s. Bronco Billy’s snagged the silver in this coveted competition, while the Midnight Rose grabbed the bronze.
Best Table Games
1. Triple Crown
2. Bronco Billy’s
3. Wildwood
When Amendment 50 was implemented in the summer of 2009, the stakes definitely changed for Colorado gambling with the arrival of new games such as Roulette and Craps and higher limits. Although locally Cripple Creek hasn’t fared as well as gaming rival Black Hawk, the town definitely abounds with much more excitement for table game and card buffs. In one of our tightest competitions, Best Of participants favored the mega table area offered at Brass Ass, part of the Triple Crown Casinos. This is just what folks imagined with these new added games. Meanwhile, in a neck-and-neck showdown for the runner-up spot, Billy’s slightly edged the Wildwood.
Best Lodging
1. Century Casino
2. Gold King
3. Double Eagle
Honorable Mention: St. Nicholas, Colorado Grande, Midnight Rose
In a big changing of the guard from last year’s competition, TMJ Best Of contestants favored the luxurious suites and lodging amenities of Century Casino. For quite some time, these deluxe, trophy-rooms were known as the best secret in town. But now, the secret is out, as Century won this title in convincing fashion.
The Gold King, Cripple Creek’s first lodging establishment to make a serious wager on limited stakes gambling (back then it was the Holiday Inn), grabbed the silver. Owned by the Wildwood, the Gold King offers great modern amenities at great prices. It also features a mega-sized indoor pool, which serves as a great enticement. And the Double Eagle, known for its plentiful rooms, snagged the bronze. Many TMJ readers definitely have a good knack for history, as the St. Nicholas, which sports an extremely colorful past in the district’s pre and post-gaming period, received many tallies. All in all, local lodging amenities were cited as one of the big improvements in town in recent years. This category featured the most contestants among casino/business competitions.
Best Entertainment
1. Butte Theater
2. The Lounge (Bronco Billy’s)

PART II next week