Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My First Ever Casino Experience

          Would you believe that in the 33 years I've lived in the U.S., I've never been to a casino until last week (January 2nd, 2014), when my Uncle and Aunt invited me to go to Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California? I've had numerous invitations before of course, but I've always declined because they usually interfered with my work schedule. This last invitation, I finally ran out of excuses not to go since there is no job schedule to be interfered with. Oh, didn't you know that I've been unemployed since October 2013?
          We agreed to meet at my Uncle Oscar and Auntie Ditas' house at 10 a.m. with Uncle Ed and were soon on the road to Pechanga. However, we were invited to stop by for lunch at another Aunt's (Beth) and cousin's (Melot) home in Winchester only a few miles away from Pechanga, so that's where we headed for first. This was another first for me because again, despite invitations in the past, I've never visited their home before. My goodness, their house was spacious and beautiful! Lunch consisted of tinolang manok and inihaw na isda. Thank you Auntie Beth, that was delicious and filling.
          After lunch, we were back on the road to Pechanga. We arrived at the destination in about 15 minutes, parked in the casino parking structure making note of the floor and parking spot (3rd/3J), and upon reaching the entrance, took some obligatory pictures just to prove that I finally made it to a casino. It was disappointing that there was no sign in that area indicating that it was Pechanga Resort and Casino though. I tried to geolocate myself on Facebook but the guest wi-fi needed a password and I didn't have a data plan on my phone.
Uncle Oscar, Auntie Ditas, & I
          Upon entering the building we agreed to meet in that area at a designated time in case we became separated. Oh, I almost forgot, Uncle Ed handed me $20 to gamble with, LOL! Being unemployed has certain advantages, doesn't it? Then we proceed through a long hallway full of slot machines and card tables towards the non-smoking area. Uncle Oscar proceeded to show me how the slot machines worked: insert loyalty card if you had one, insert money, then start pressing the button and hope you win. He further explained how you can increase and/or decrease your bets if you wanted to. Then he left me to play on his dime and I tried to analyze how one won or lost which up to now I'm still unclear. All I know is that I didn't win on that orientation machine. I returned Uncle's loyalty card and thanked him and we were shortly joined by Auntie Beth who drove from Winchester. She and Uncle Ed proceeded to play some slots while I explored the interior perimeter of the building. Surprisingly, the larger smoking sections didn't smell too much of smoke. Maybe the building had a very good air scrubbing system. I also went upstairs and looked inside the Bingo room and the non-smoking Poker room where I looked for my cousin-in-law, Mike who we knew was in the building with cousin Mary Ann and their friends.

 I went back downstairs and saw Ed and Beth again. Ed had won about $20 in slots but subsequently lost all of it. Darn! I walked around some more then went outside where a woman asked me if she could use my phone to call a friend who was supposed to pick her up. I was very wary but reluctantly lent her my phone. Her friend told her he would be picking her up shortly. She asked me if I was Vietnamese and I said I could be whatever or whomever she wanted me to be, baby. Just kidding, I told her I was not. With that, I separated ways with the young lady.
View From
2nd Floor

2nd Floor Selfie
Next, I explored the outer perimeter of the casino and hotel. Well, nothing to see there really, except parking lots, hahaha! In about 25 minutes, I was back where I started from and the Vietnamese lady was still waiting. She texted and called her friend again and somehow they just missed each other, or so he said. I told the lady I was surprised that she didn't have a cell phone. She said she did but her battery ran out and showed me her phone. She also told me that she was from Orange County and was in the area to sell her daughter's car and decided to visit the casino for a couple of hours. I wished her luck and hoped that her ride would arrive soon, then went back inside the casino.
I met up with Ed and Beth again and were joined by Uncle Oscar and Auntie Ditas. In a few minutes, cousin Mary Ann saw us and said she won $225 when she hit a Royal Flush in the poker machine. She handed over $100 for us to have dinner on her. Beth went to a change machine instead and divided the money among ourselves for more gambling funds. Mary Ann took me around to look for a Poker machine to show me how it works and upon finally finding a free one, my second casino orientation began. She showed me how to bet and what winning hands would look like. After a few examples, she had me make a go of it. At least this game involved more thinking than a slot machine and I spent more time there. However, still no beginner's luck and pretty soon it was 4:30 p.m. which we decided beforehand was the time to head home. But first, Uncle Ed and Oscar had a hankering for coffee and hotdog so it was off to the snack area. I was still full from Auntie Beth's cooking at lunch so I declined the snacks. Then it was a pre-drive bathroom break for some, while the others played some last second slots in the lobby area. Too bad, no late winnings there. Mary Ann went to look for Mike and friends while we headed back to the parking structure. Soon we were on the freeway and headed back to Cerritos. The drive took about 1 hour and 15 minutes just like Google Maps said. Before we parted, Auntie Ditas treated us from her approximately $80 winnings, banh mi sandwiches and a taste of durian smoothie. Then Ed and I went to our respective cars and headed home.
Impressions: well, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Pechanga exploring, observing, being oriented to, and playing the machines a little bit. I can now say that gambling is not my cup of tea maybe because I have become a very risk averse person in this time of my life. Other than Uncle Oscar's money in the slot machine and Mary Ann's in the poker machine, I didn't use the $40 I was given. So you might say, I won $40 dollars from my relatives :-).  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but nothing lost either.
Gratitude: I want to say my utmost thanks to Uncle Oscar and Auntie Ditas for inviting me which enabled me to have my first ever visit and experience in a casino, to Uncle Ed and cousin Mary Ann for the funds, and to Auntie Beth for the Filipino food lunch.

After having such fun spending most of the day at Pechanga with my beloved relatives, the next day alone at home was a bit sad, but I got over it. Well, next time, Auntie Beth said it may be Las Vegas (another place I've never been to).
Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!


Marci Deegan said...

Seems like you had a great time with your family and relatives! I've also never been to a casino, so you are not alone. I have never really been interested to go inside one but I know I should at some point. My husband's brother manages one in Vegas so I should take him up on his invite some time.

Noel DLP said...

Hi Marci, thanks for your comment. We went to Las Vegas a few months after that, then last year I went to 2 more casinos here in California. I'm not a gambler so it was just looking around and exploring those places.

Mark Joshua Santos said...

Nice choice of place you got there. A great place to have fun and relax. Also, a great hangout with your friends. You should also try visiting some of the casino in Philippines. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy staying there. Anyway, Thanks for sharing!

Noel DLP said...

Hi Mark, I had the opportunity to visit Solaire last year and just like Pechanga, I just looked around since I don't gamble :D