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Cal-Indian Gaming: A Gambling Trip to Pala Casino!

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by spinette, Oct 18, 2015.

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  1. spinette

    spinette Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    It seems sometimes no matter how many models you write, you just can't be sure

    models.jpg

    As it is October, it was about time for my gambling trip and the question was Las Vegas or the local tribal casino. The maxim in the travel industry is "make people in a hurry pay," and because I had the fever, I wanted to set out in a few days. At one point I had planned a coupon run of the Boulder Hwy area, but logistics (5 hr drive to/from) and the compulsion to go go go made Pala attractive.

    And despite the stories of super-tight slots (there's no minimum payout percentage unlike in NV) and this somewhat amusing video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egKWadvsBWY) , I decided to drive out there having gone to sleep at 2.30 in the morning.

    costs.jpg

    8:30 A.M. Get up, go to bank, McD's for breakfast, and on the road. At about noon, I made it over the mountain road to the resort and found the "second best" parking spot right next to the casino!

    It was off to a machine called Hell's Bells. I played 1c at a time on one line and the machine lit up like a christmas tree when it paid a nickel and the bells and noise got enough attention to draw a couple people over to its neighbors. After warming up, I noticed their bottomless soda fountain and got some coca-cola before joining a group of about 6 on what looked like busy machines. The lady to my right had just hit a jackpot and was waiting for the digital display to count up. My machine seemed especially tight and gobbled up 50 units before I cashed out.

    One nice thing about Pala is that they have reel machines at 1c. During last year's trip to LV, I noticed that none of the classic "3 reelers" were below a quarter and that all of the penny machines looked like a birthday cake with too many sprinkles. One bad thing is the smell of smoke - ugh. Everywhere. Even in the non-smoking section that you have to effectively pay for because that section seems to have the tightest machines. AND it smells like smoke anyway!

    This is where things started to get crazy. I wanted to roll some double diamond (not DD deluxe or DTD), but the machine was busy and I didn't want to wait.

    "Make people in a hurry pay."

    So I went to another machine, pulled the handle several times, and lost $25 almost instantly. THEN I got really looney. There was a DD machine near the isle that had just been hit. The seat was still warm. I put in almost $500 thinking the machine held "like Nevada" and that nothing too catastrophic would happen. Start: $475. The machine ate like nobody's business and the little number on the right side was dropping QUICK. I started to lose it and was thinking about chasing my losses, but THEN I remembered what I did the nights before:

    costs.jpg

    G was my gambling budget. I figured that the machines over in Nevada would hold 10% and the Indian would hold a full quarter. The idea was to hope for an upswing and cut it off at a modest win. But WHAM...medium diamond was very hungry. So before I played it all away, I remembered "wait, I'm budgeted -$125 max," and I cashed out. The person at the cage thought I had won and said "why not go for $3000!?" I said I needed to cut my losses and he laughed and nodded, and gave me my money. I mumbled "lesson learned" to myself and walked out the door.

    Lesson learned!
     
  2. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Sorry you didn't win...but at least Pala is bound to GLI-11 standards (every state should follow this at the minimum, imo) and NV standards since the 2004 Amendment to the tribal gaming compact. Both standards mandate minimum 75% payback. However, I would think tribal casinos are "close" to Vegas in return, not a lot worse. You want to "shear" a sheep...not "slaughter" it!

    From the amended compact...

    (a) No Gaming Device may be offered for play unless:

    (ii) The software for the game authorized for play on the
    Gaming Device has been tested, approved and certified
    by an independent or state governmental gaming test
    laboratory (the "Gaming Test Laboratory") as operating
    in accordance with either the standards of Gaming
    Laboratories International, Inc. known as GLI- I I and
    GLI- 12, or the technical standards approved by the State
    of Nevada, or such other technical standards as the State
    Gaming Agency and the Tribal Gaming Agency shall
    agree upon, which agreement shall not be unreasonably
    withheld, and a copy of said certification is provided to
    the State Gaming Agency by electronic transmission or
    by mail unless the State Gaming Agency waives receipt
    of copies of certification;

    http://www.indianaffairs.gov/cs/groups/xoig/documents/text/idc1-026589.pdf

    And as for the sim you did...did you take data from Harrigan/Dixon? Another PAR sheet? Or just took educated guesses on symbol weights?
     
  3. spinette

    spinette Tourist

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    That's interesting. I didn't know tribal casinos were bound to a minimum return. Are you sure?

    To me this says the state and Pala can agree to "technical standards" on their games (such as RNGs that pass diehard tests), or can choose a menu option like GLI or Nevada's. There seems to be no mention of minimum returns. In any case, it was a good lesson in not getting carried away!

    Regarding the simulation: I took the Blazing Sevens PAR sheet from WoO and played through $500 at 25c x 3 using that pay table.
     
  4. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Yes, they could also agree to their own standards if California also approved them. But that also means someone would need to take the time to write them up. Many politicians would rather be lazy if someone already did a good job (GLI-11 and Nevada regulations). Can't say I blame them.

    And both GLI-11 (PDF) and Nevada regulations (PDF) state that the minimum payback on any device needs to be at least 75%. Nearly every other state requires even a higher return. My home state requires 80%. And I doubt any of the slots are actually set that low. Many new igt slots can't go below 85% even.

    But of course the long term is very long. Really easy to lose a ton in any given session.
     
  5. spinette

    spinette Tourist

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    If this particular machine was turned down to 85%, I was definitely playing the wrong game! The action isn't very interesting for most of the 100 tries on this three-coin, $1 machine.

    100-tries.jpg

    Fifteen minutes later and few healthy survivors.
     
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