I couldn’t believe the weekend had finally arrived. We had reservations at Winstar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma; reservations at Artesian Casino and Hotel in Sulphur, Oklahoma (both owned by the Chickasaw Nation) and the piece de resistance – wait for it – tickets to see Tom Jones in concert at Winstar. We have had our tickets for two months and I thought it was never going to be time, but finally it was. I don’t usually admit this to everyone, but Marie is eight years younger than me and she said Tom was before her time. She was not as excited as I was to see him, but to be truthful I think she enjoyed it almost as much as I did.
We checked in at Winstar on Friday. Our room was comped on Friday, but we had a discounted rate on Saturday. The hotel was pretty full and we had to share a room which was fine. The Winstar is advertised as the largest casino in the world with three hotels, one and one-half miles of casino, lots of restaurants and bars, spa, golf course, and an entertainment venue. It is the closest to Marie’s house at about an hour and a half away; straight up I-35 and it is at the first exit over the Texas border in Oklahoma.
The hotel is gorgeous, lots of glass chandeliers, 1500 beautiful rooms with unbelievably comfortable beds and luxury bathrooms with walk-in showers. The rooms are always clean and smell so good. Lots of room for two people so we were more than comfortable.
We went downstairs to get started on our “money-making” adventure. We both headed for the Hot Shot Another Chance machines. I tried three different machines and didn’t hit much. But the neat thing about these machines is that when you hit the three Hot Shot symbols and they don’t produce a pay, you get another chance on all symbols and it keeps on until you get a pay. Marie did good so she stayed on them awhile, but I went on to Buffalo Grand and hit the bonus several times, but I didn’t hold on to any of it.
Sometimes you just have to stop and make a change of plans and hope to improve the situation at hand. I decided to sit at the bar and play video poker and order a Margarita. I texted Marie and let her know where I was. Because of the size of the casino, each section is named after a metropolitan city with the restaurants in each reflecting the theme of the city. There is London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, New York, and Beijing. This is the largest casino in the world, they say, and the walk is the size of a football field. I was in London which is the closest to the casino entrance from the hotel. Marie came over and suggested dinner at El Fenix which I was fine with even though it was three quarters of a mile away. I would have walked a mile for Mexican food and a Margarita. We each had fajitas and it was all very good.
After dinner we went our separate ways. Marie wanted to go to New York because there were Colossal Reels Bierhaus machines there and I wanted to play some 3X4X5X progressive machines that I usually play hoping to hit the jackpot which was over $8,000. The max bet is only $1.00 and I played for awhile but didn’t stay because the card table was calling me. I made my way over to the Ultimate Texas Hold-em table. I hit several flushes and straights, but the big money was in a straight flush or royal flush. Even quads don’t pay that well unless you have big money on the table and I mostly play the minimum.
I made my way back to London. Winstar has great machines. I played the Hot Shot Frenzy machines and cashed out over $500. I found the After Burn machines which I love and more Hot Shot. I don’t know the name of the Hot Shots but they were pink and had two wheels for bonuses. They were fun and again I cashed out $500. It cost me my $500 win from After Burn to hit the next $500 so I decided to take the money and join Marie in the room, plus it was after 2 AM. I don’t know who was in the room next door, but it sounded like a remodel was happening. Things were hitting the walls and there was so much noise, that I had to bang on the walls. It didn’t help much. When we woke up, Marie hung her head out of the room to ask for more coffee from the cleaning crew. They were next door and they said the room had four men in there and the room was trashed.
The next day was filled with excitement, that is after sleeping in. We finally left the room around 3:00 and stopped at the Terrace Café for a quick “lupper”. We each had the patty melt with fries and it was as good as it gets. We really love the Terrace Café for breakfast and lunch, in fact they are open 24 hours a day. It was 4:00 by then and the Tom Jones concert started at 8:00 and doors opened at 6:30 so we decided to get some play in. Marie went back to Hot Shots Another Chance and I went back to Hot Shots Frenzy. To my surprise and pleasure I hit a hand pay jackpot of $1314.04. Anything over $1200 has to be reported to Uncle Sam, but it’s worth it. Plus it was my first hand pay jackpot at Winstar and I am hoping there are more to come. (Sorry about the crummy pic.)
A little after 6:30 we went in and found our seat. We had great seats, middle of the row, directly in front of the stage, about 8 rows behind VIP seating. It was perfect. We spent our time before the show watching people and tweeting and texting our families, all the while running down my battery on my phone. At exactly 8:00 Tom Jones came out on stage and began and I had a dead battery. He sang for 2 hours including encore and sang everything we wanted to hear except “She’s a Lady”. He started with some Elvis gospel songs because he said he and Elvis were good friends. Then he sang some of his hits like “Help Yourself”, Delilah”, “Green, Green, Grass of Home”, What’s New Pussycat?”, “It’s Not Unusual”, “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, “Thunderball”, “Sex Bomb”, “You Can Leave Your Hat On”, and then he sang Prince’s hit “Kiss”. Tom Jones still has it; he sounds good, he has the moves, and I think he looks more handsome with gray hair. It was all wonderful, all except for the part about my phone being dead and Marie’s memory on her phone being full and we couldn’t take pictures. One of these days we are going to get our act together and have our ducks lined up in a row and all that stuff, but so far not so much.
The next morning we had breakfast at Terrace Café. Then we got our car out of valet and spotted members of Tom’s Band. We did take a picture, but I’ll warn you, it’s not great. We looked online and saw where Tom Jones was playing the next night in San Francisco, so we assumed he was long gone.
Oh well, we were on our way to Artesian Casino and Hotel in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Another of our favorites and I know I say that a lot, but believe me there are some casinos that we can truthfully say were not our favorites. We have been to some really dumpy, smoky, no-paying casinos but the Artesian isn’t one of them. Well, smoky and cold, but other than that we like it. The hotel is one of the nicest, the casino is small and the air conditioning is way too cold, but other than that we have done okay there. Marie hit $500 one morning early and this last trip I hit pretty good on more than one machine.
The Artesian also has table games, but only Blackjack, Three-Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold-em and one table of each. It is not a big casino and is not usually too crowded and not all tables are open all day. The Artesian has some of the newer machines and a few of the older ones.
That night was the night of the Presidential Debate and we had plans to watch it. We figured that with the two controversial candidates, it would be better than Housewives. Marie went to the restaurant and picked up finger foods. We had adjoining rooms, complimentary, and I had brought a bottle of Jose Cuervo premixed Margaritas so we settled in for the debate. We had chips and queso, fried zucchini strips, and we shared a club sandwich. That was our dinner and we were fine with it.
The next day we skipped breakfast. Really, the past few days we ate more regularly than we usually do. We usually only have time for one meal a day on our adventures. By the time I got down to the casino, I was ready for a Bloody Mary or two. I had some popcorn and figured I could make it until dinner. We ate at the Springs restaurant at the Hotel and it was okay. I had chicken-fried steak which was tough, but they used a cutlet instead of round steak. It came with mashed potatoes that were pretty much tasteless and honey glazed carrots, but I think they forgot the honey. It’s unfortunate but I don’t think I have ever had a complete meal at Springs that was really good. I think the club sandwich the night before and zucchini strips were about the best I have ever had there. The town is small and there is not much to choose from as far as restaurants go, but someone should look into getting a real chef in town.
Marie went up stairs to call her husband, which I had already done, and I went back to the casino to play. I decided to play the max and see if I could do any good. I played Mirror Reels Winner’s Nights and Mirror Reels Fairy Blossom, both penny machines. I did really well on both. I then tried my luck on Triple Double Diamond and again did well, same on Gold Bar Sevens. Then it was on to Dancing in Rio and Bull Elephant. I cashed out $1,000 and went to the room. All in all it was a profitable four days.
The next day as we headed to Marie’s house, we had to make one more stop-Bedre Chocolate Factory. We had to stock up on their delicious candy.
As a side note, there are eighty plus casinos in Oklahoma. We have been to so few compared to the total number, but there are some things you need to know before you go. Drinks are not complimentary, and in many casinos, are way too expensive. In California, a Harrah’s operated Indian casino called Harrah’s Resort Southern California, in the Diamond Lounge where anywhere else the drinks would be free, you are charged for them. Not only are you charged for drinks, but you are charged $.50 per hand on any table game as in Oklahoma. Now I realize that not having casinos in Texas should make one more grateful for whatever we can get, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
In November, we are cruising out of New Orleans to Grand Cayman and Jamaica. And yes, in case you are wondering, I will try to stay out of jail. When we get back into New Orleans we will stay at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi for a few days where our husbands will drive in to meet us and we will all go to our sister Cheryl’s condo in Destin to celebrate Thanksgiving. We have our fingers crossed for warm sunny weather and Hurricane free sailing. So, until our next adventure, we hope you all have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving.