by Nathan Stout
Winstar casino is located in Thackerville Oklahoma off I-35 just North of Gainesvilles, Texas. Chris and I have been on a few occasions and I have been with my wife several other times. Winstar is an Native American casino that we have even featured (in fa way) on our Public Access Show in Episode 1 of Season 2.
Winstar has been around for several years and did well enough to perform a MAJOR upgrade last year in more than doubling in size and adding a twelve story hotel. The old casino featured a 'three ring circus' theme but when it upgraded it took on a 'world' theme. The massive addition added sections named after different countries from around the world. It's impressive.
Winstar has a reputation for having tight slots and I generally agree. I have never come away from the place with more money that I took. I will hit some nice wins once in a while but nothing to write home about. Chris has his a bigger jackpot in the past but we haven't gone back to retry his luck since. Although I never come back with money I go to have a good time. I never go to get rich. It's an attitude everyone should have when walking into any casino.
My wife and I started going and staying the night at the hotel. It's a hundred bucks during the week and its a fairly nice place. We will go play for a while, then go eat at one of the restaurants, then go back to the room for a bit, lather, rinse, repeat.
We will spend some time in the pool (which is no deeper than four feet and requires a lifeguard at all times thanks to all the alcohol) then go to one of the many places to eat inside. We like the Chips and Ales (the fish place) and the Matador (the pizza place). They are in the process of rebuilding the buffet and adding a Panda Express in their renovation of the old 'three ring circus' part of the casino (which is now Egypt and New York).
Now back to my luck at Winstar. It sucks. Not just at Winstar but basically anywhere. I am one of the most unluckiest persons I know. It's not the kind of luck where bad things constantly happen to me (well, mostly) but it's the kind of luck that involves money. I have gone in there and played sixty dollars worth of ($5) Blackjack hands and won maybe twice the whole time. That's kind of standard. If I buy some scratch off tickets at the store I will win MAYBE $2 out of about $40 spent (honestly). Chris and my wife can back me up on this. Well this last Thursday we went as a sort of early Anniversary trip and these people are on the elevator heading down to the casino and they start talking to us. They have been there for three days already (I can't imagine staying at a casino that long) and they tell us how lucky they have been. Then the man tells us a secret about the slots that was actually proven. He said that the best time to get on the slots was between eight and eleven. This was after the work crowd has come in and dumped their money into the machines. This somewhat bares out what I have read in the past about wining at slots. What I read about years ago said that a machine will take in a certain amount of money but will pay out a certain amount (keeping a percentage as profit). Most casinos will claim their payout percent is somewhere in the high ninety percentile. This means that if someone puts one hundred in a slot, at some point it will pay out ninety something dollars. So, after the 'after work' crowd has dumped their hard earned pay, you show up and start playing and you should get more than you put in. We tried this and it worked pretty well. For the first time ever we actually came away with more money that we spent (about a hundred more). Now, that might be peanuts to most of you but that is significant to me; a royal loser. I will have to go back and test the theory more but it seems to be on the money (if you will). Now when you try this and you win money, remember who told you; the guys at According To Whim. One thing we did was spent more on each spin as well. You can bet as little as a penny and as much as three dollars (and even more per spin depending on the machine). We played a lot with a dollar fifty each spin. The theory is... the more you spend the more you make. I don't think it changes your luck or anything, you just get more money quicker (or loose it quicker). On a win where I would have made ten dollars with a thirty cent bet I was making a hundred with a dollar fifty bet.
Winstar's main game is the slot. There are literally thousands of slots in this place. Probably 80% of them are penny slots. There are also a small amount of video poker machines and some new video roulette machines that looked interesting. I am not sure how the whole slot industry works but we will find a fun game and the next time we go it's gone never to be seen again. This is a little annoying. I don't know if it was a low-earner or it was just on a lease thing but they change out slots constantly. The slots we like to play are Gold Fish, Reels O Dublin, Shopping Spree, S&H Greenstamps, and Spin Ups. There are some high dollar slots in a couple of sections of the casino is you feel like dropping a hundred dollars per spin.
Winstar also has a large selection of table games such as blackjack, Texas holdem, and other games I can't remember. They don't have my favorite though (Let it Ride). The only sucky thing is that they charge fifty cents per blackjack hand so be forewarned. Also be warned that if you are looking for some fun and not one of the serious types be careful which table you join. There are lot of hard core players out there that would sooner cut your throat if you make the wrong move on the blackjack table.
Winstar is so large the parking lot can be packed and you will still find empty slots to play at. Back before the expansion you would have to hunt for a place to sit (or even stand) because of the crowds.
Winstar also has concerts going on all the time as well as comedians. I usually see somewhere around $25 a ticket for these shows.
Can I suggest Winstar. Yes. As long as you aren't one of these die hard gamblers. They usually bitch about Winstar but for use commoners it suits us just fine. I would rather take the hour drive rather than the two hour drive to the Choctaw casino North or the three hour drive to Louisiana.
One final word and that word is Dr. Pepper. Winstar has 'beverage stations' throughout the casino where you can have all the free soda your kidneys can handle.