Thursday, December 20, 2007

Morongo Casino: Thumbs Up

I should've known I wouldn't exactly relax on this overnight stay at Morongo. We got here around 3:30. The drive was a little less than 2 hours and we sailed through, only hitting brief traffic somewhere along the 215. I don't know much about this area called Cabazon, except that it seems to be more of a 'passing through' kinda place. There are three major outlet centers in the vicinity of the casino, but the whole area is flat with most buildings in view of the freeway being relatively small. That is why the casino is so identifiable- it is a 27 story building in the middle of flatness. It's pretty phallic if I must say so.

As casinos go, however, it's very nice. I guess the bowling alley was the old casino. The new one, attached to the hotel has pretty, modern decor and is pretty spacious. These places make their money on slots, so it wasn't surprising, though a little disappointing, that there were probably less than 30 machines where video poker could be played, and none of them were progressive machines. Still, we checked in, got our rooms, and I met my boss in the lobby. After scouting the blackjack tables, I decided the $10 minimum was a little outta my budget, so I found a poker machine, played on the same $20 for over an hour, then lost it. Then another $20. Then I moved to a simple Jacks or Better machine and put $20 in and walked away when I hit $40. For over 2 hours of gambling, $20 down wasn't too shabby. My rule of thumb is only play what you can lose.

I intended to hit the spa, but it closed earlier than I thought, so I took a long shower in my room, then met my coworkers at Cielo, the fine dining restaurant on the 27th floor. There was some mixup with our reservation, but we sat at the bar and three Chopin and tonics later and I didn't mind so much. We had a prix fixe menu, but it wasn't the one they'd ordered, so we were also given the option to order from the menu. Service was slow from the start, but once the food started coming it didn't matter. They had a great ahi appetizer, as well as really tasty calamari, and we ordered several for the table. The first course was a four cheese cream of asparagus soup that was as delicious as it sounds. The salad was meah, but when my ribeye came, I was in hog heaven. We also ordered some lobster mac n cheese that gave at least half the table a food orgasm. That was a good thing because the dessert was pretty lackluster. All in all, I was still impressed with the food. Stupidly I opted for my high heel boots and the floor was heavily waxed. I can't believe I didn't eat shit. But once the meal was done, I returned to my room to get back into a tshirt and jeans and my well worn docs.

My group was playing blackjack, and everyone was given some starter chips. I wasn't playing at that point, instead I was like a cheerleader for everyone and helping coach the lesser experienced blackjack players. As their chips dwindled, I jumped in on the table, getting my own starter stack and had a pretty good run. Up and down, but with a decent stack. We went through several dealer shift changes and finally one dealer was just on a streak, so I walked away while I was ahead, pocketing $110 in chips. With my winnings, I went back to the poker and was losing right off the bat, but then got four kings, so I cashed out my $40. My dad always says to take your winnings out, then reinsert a new $20. He thinks it resets the machine or something like that.

I did that and tooled around a little, but when it started dwindling I ordered a beer, and by the time it arrived, the $20 was gone. I hopped machines, reinsert a $20, went down quick then resurrected. Back at $20, I decided to walk away. So the poker was a wash, and I still had my $110. Minus that first $20, I'm walking away with $90. No complaints here.

I don't really know what reasons people have that would bring them to Cabazon, or where they would be going to or coming from that would put them on the freeway to pass by, but if you ever do pass through, it's a nice place to play and stay. It's also relatively close to Indio, so it might be worth considering if you're doing Coachella. It's 1:30, and we leave pretty early in the morning, so work is probably gonna be quite hectic on Thursday and Friday, especially since we close early on Friday and then will be off for the week, but that's a small price to pay to fully enjoy the time off. I swear I'll get around to posting all my shows from the last week soon, but until then, you'll probably bump into me out on the town.

Oh, one last thing. When I did best at blackjack, the dealer was named John. A really cool guy from Australia, he was helpful and chatty. Turns out he's a midday dj on the local alternative station, and used to intern for Steve West back in the day. No wonder he was good luck. He goes by "The Dingo". He didn't eat my baby.


Tania said...

i stayed there a couple of years back when I went to Coachella, but I didn't really enjoy the casino. I just saw it as a place to sleep.

I thought they had a poker room? Yes? No? Or do you usually just stick to the machines? I'm a poker junkie! haha

Rosemary Bystrak said...

I should've mentioned, the hotel/casino have been remodeled in the last 6 months, so forget what you knew about the place before. Apparently before it was a spot that underage kids would go, get rooms, party in the nightclub, and generally run amok. Their goal now is to get real players. They have plans to add more hotel rooms, too.