Abby and I just returned from a Christmas excursion to Winstar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Abby’s best friend Sharon had some free rooms, so she invited us to tag along. She hadn’t been to Winstar for some years and it has grown by leaps recently, so she wanted to try it.
Winstar is noted as one of the largest casino floors in the world, and after visiting, I would believe it. We stayed at the hotel at one end of the casino, and on the first night of our visit, I walked the length of it, and it took me 30 minutes to the end and back. And as my fans know, I am a very fast walker.
The casino itself is populated mostly with machine gambling, versus live games of chance like poker, roulette, or blackjack. There were a huge number of slot machines, but also other games like video poker and keno. Abby and Sharon played video poker almost exclusively. Their game is “Double Double Bonus” poker, which they claim pays out better.
- The Gran Via Buffet was excellent, with a large selection of hot, well-cooked, tasty foods of many cuisines.
- The Matadors Pizza made me a nice veggie calzone, as well as a very nice slice of Alfredo Florentine pizza.
- The Terrace View Café seemed understaffed, and took too long to serve us.
- Since the Chickasaw Nation owns both Winstar and Bedré Chocolates, staff gave us chocolate samples every chance they got.
- Since the gaming was mostly machine gambling, the clientele tended to be the “nickel slot” crowd: older, smokers (or vapers), physically unfit, unhappy. Looking in their eyes as I walked, I got a sense of despair.
- Abby came out ahead by a fair sum, but Sharon and I did not. Web reviews say Winstar has “tight slots,” and while I don’t know exactly how gambling is regulated in Oklahoma, I would agree that I never found a machine that would, as Sharon likes to say, “play with me.”
- The one time Abby played a slot machine called “Lucky Ducky,” she got excited like a kid, clapping and cheering, “Come on, Ducky.” It was pretty cute, and it worked, because she hit something big and immediately cashed out.
- Center kiosks featured free soft drinks and coffee. I drank the coffee, which was pretty good. I though about buying a glass of wine or a beer, but like most bars and pubs, the cost per drink was quite high.
- A bit to my surprise, on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the place was jam packed, with literally thousands of gamblers.
- Sharon and Abby both felt disappointed by the rooms, which were nice, but didn’t compare with their favorite casino, Quapaw, Oklahoma’s Downstream.
- Though I don’t care for either, valet and bellhop services were available.
I spent more time walking and watching than gambling, and made a few photos while I was about, including a lovely image of my wife. Casinos say they don’t permit photography on the gambling floor, which I believe is to keep patrons and investigators from discovering how they cheat. Still, I saw several people making phone selfies.
Although it wasn’t an entirely positive experience, I’m glad I was able to spend the time with my wife. Sharon is a much more dedicated gamer, so Abby and I had plenty of alone time. It was nice.