Friday, February 24, 2012
Palace Station: Home Of Winning Girlish Slot Machines And Blissfully High Ceilings (Revised!)
The Good: Good odds on slot machines, Fun video slot machines, Relaxed atmosphere
The Bad: Points take a while to accrue, Out of the way
The Basics: A wonderful casino to kick back for a few hours (with friends, if you have them), Palace Station was a lot of fun while in Las Vegas.
On my latest trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, I finally started gambling. And having now returned home to my relative sanity, poverty and routine, I know that there are only four places I went to that I would bother going back to, as far as the casinos go. If I want to eat or make some money, I go to Terrible's. If I want to play the (this is so sad to admit) banks of Star Wars video slot machines, I go to the Sahara. If I have managed to ditch my mother and want to enjoy . . . ummm, the "sights" of Las Vegas, there's the Rio. And if I just want to relax and play video slot machines for an afternoon on machines that are low-key, somewhat girlish, and reinforce my newfound willingness to support legalized gambling, I go to Palace Station.
Palace Station: came in with $5.00, left with $5.00 (four hours later).
Palace Station Casino is located very much out of the way of the mainstream. Nestled down at 2411 W. Sahara Ave., this is a good mile and a half from all of the major casinos on the Strip. For those not familiar with the little desert city known as Las Vegas, this is almost on one's way out of town. The building is a fairly simple casino with the hotel set back from the almost-Western themed facade of the casino. From the main entrance, one actually goes down a few steps to the gaming floor and this is somewhat strange for those who go to a lot of casinos.
There is pretty extensive parking at Palace Station (free, of course) and in my several hours at Palace Station (it was a Monday morning through early afternoon), the parking lot did not get filled anywhere near capacity. Similarly, the gaming floor never seemed at all crowded, either.
Palace Station Casino is not one of the largest casinos in Las Vegas, but it certainly feels spacious. The casino is spread over one level and everything is very well spread out, making it easy to get around. There are easily 1600 video slot machines and I stumbled into the nonsmoking poker room, but everything is very accessible and surprisingly comfortable for a place that is almost entirely advertised through word of mouth exclusively.
Moreover, Palace Station is one of the only casinos I have ever been in that has windows! Yes, one whole bank of slot machines is set near a set of doors with only minimally tinted glass and there is . . .natural light! Astonishing. As well, I am ridiculously sensitive to things like cigarette smoke. The only time I felt bothered by smoke in this casino was when I tried to get at the lone Alien video slot machine (what can I say? I'm crazy for slaughtering those acid-blooded fiends for cash!). The guy who occupied it most of the day was sucking back one stogie after another and the area was pretty wretched with a cloud of smoke even after he left.
That said, Palace Station had a surprisingly high ceiling and outside that one area, I did not notice any lingering cigarette smoke.
As for the "atmosphere" of Palace Station, the serving women were all fit, and appealing to a middle aged clientele that is present to gamble. As a result, women serving drinks on the casino floor wear outfits that are essentially bathing suits with a suit coat over the top, making for presenting a fair amount of leg, minimal breasts and varying degrees of backside based on whether the coat has tails or not (I saw both). Come to think of it, Palace Station had some of the most unobtrusive servers of any casino I went to. They were quiet and I suppose they came around asking about drinks, but in my four plus hours there, I can only recall one ever near me asking about drinks (I don't drink).
Otherwise, the "atmosphere" (not literal) of Palace Station would have to be that this was a friendly place where . . . well, people could go and hang out and gamble together. There was almost a family-friendly aspect to the casino and it was low-key, quiet and just fun to be there. The lighting was excellent and the whole attitude of the place was that this was a place to kick back; indeed, over the loudspeaker came the continual reminder that "It's all about YOU!" For killing time playing video slot machines for hours on end, it sure felt like it was about me!
Gaming Options/Player's Club
I have a very simple gambling philosophy: I sit down at a slot machine with $5.00. I work it up to $10 or down to zero. I know my limits: I can afford to lose $5.00. So, when I am above that, I'll usually work it up or whittle it down to the next even $5.00. Have a strategy, know your limits: Palace Station Casino worked quite well for me with mine over the course of hours I spent there. Basically, over five hours, I rotated my five dollars up and down with video slot machines.
Of course, I'm primarily a slot machine player and I have no shame in admitting, I tend to like the ones that are more video game-like, have more girly themes and/or fun bonus rounds. At Palace Station I discovered Crystal Enchantment, a video slot machine that makes a delightful tinkling (like glass breaking, not peeing!) sound as the crystals, unicorns and gnomes appear (hey, don't judge me!). I also found I could figure out this weird dolphin game with tiles that didn't follow any sensible order, but I was pretty good at. I killed time on Mermaid's Gold, Mystic Mermaids, the lucky Pufferfish game, and Alien. Yes, that's Alien as in based on the movie (reviewed here!) and I suppose that one's not terribly girly, but it is very much like a video game. My mother, who arrived before I did, insisted I sit down and play the slot machine based on eBay (reviewed here!) because it offered some sort of communal win. Palace Station, like many casinos in Vegas, had recently acquired this machine and seemed happy to have people playing it. But it cost $.50 a spin and that's a bit rich for my blood (though I will openly admit I'm fine with $.30 and $.25 on penny machines with the full amount of lines offered . . . if you don't get the jargon, I'll happily explain!). Palace Station has approximately 1600 slot machines and they are spread out in such a way that it might seem like there are either far more (for the floor volume they take up) or far less (being so spread out, it might seem like they didn't squeeze that many in).
I am a pretty practical gambler and I went to Palace Station to just see what it was like; I had several opportunities to quit while I was ahead (i.e. gambling with my $5.00 winnings from my original $5.00), but I decided to have fun and play it for a long time over several machines. Ultimately spending nothing for over four hours of entertainment works for me and I had fun (thank you mermaids!).
For those who might be into games of chance and card games over the delightful, calculated reinforcement of video slot machines, there were fifty-seven table games, including blackjack, roulette wheels, craps, Let It Ride (which always looks like fun, but you ought to have at least $100 on hand to play), Pai Gow and baccarat. This is definitely a place trading on slot/video poker play, but they devote a fair amount of space to the card/table games. There is also a sports bar segment in one corner, but that's not truly my thing. As well, there is a Bingo hall that seats over three hundred people (I never saw it near that full) with Bingo tournaments running every two hours from 9 A.M. to 11 P.M.
There is a player's club at Palace Station, called the Preferred My Card. Signing up is easy and the lines to get the card were always short. I was given $3.00 in free play (damn eBay machine!) just for signing up, as well as a magazine advertising all of the activities at the StationCasino brand casinos in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV. The workers at the desk were very friendly. Signing up gets the new player a chance for three to three hundred dollars in free play, though how that is assigned is apparently completely random. In the magazine, there were coupons, but I didn't notice the one for the free gift with 50 points before I left, so I've no idea what the freebie there might have been.
The player's club operates on points and points are derived from how much money one bets at the slot machines. Points are essentially equivalent to pennies - when it comes to spending, each dollar accrues a single point - and as a result, it takes a while to purchase anything at the with points.
* Room Size *
Over the summer - 2009 - on my annual trip to Las Vegas, I was offered a free night's stay at Palace Station, so my wife and I stayed there for our first two nights in Vegas. Check-in took an inordinately long time, despite us having reservations. The staff seemed unapologetic for the slow pace of check-in and they were remarkably unhelpful when it came to answering questions. As well, when we checked in, we were given the option of buying half-price breakfast buffets, but the offer expired the moment we stepped away from the check-in counter. We bought two breakfasts for $4.99/ea.
The room was very clean and we had a non-smoking room with a king sized bed. The room was decent size - 26 feet x 12 feet - and included only a television, desk, closet and bathroom. My wife was instantly disappointed in that the room did not include a bath tub, just a shower. We were able to get more shampoo and hand soap upon asking and those were nice. After thirty-five hours of driving, we both would have a bath as opposed to just a shower.
Everything in the room was clean, but the lighting was rather low, so it was hard to see, even to read. The television only had twenty-five channels, some of which were just in-house channels advertising casino benefits for Palace Station and the chain.
Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas is not the property to go to for entertainment outside the fun of gambling. In fact, out of all of the Station Casino properties (save, perhaps Boulder Station), this had the least entertainment options. Other Station Casino properties eagerly advertise groups like Daughtry and UB40 and Berlin coming. Palace Station offers two bars and a pub with Karaoke and undefined bands on Wednesday through Saturday nights.
* There is a pool out in the courtyard which was clean and kept open fairly late in the summer. The hot tub next to it was similarly clean and inviting.
Honestly, I went to Palace Station still full from a breakfast buffet at Terrible's Casino, so I did not eat at Palace Station. It did, however, seem to have a reasonably priced buffet (there's a two for one coupon in the booklet when one signs up!) as well as multiple sit down restaurants on premise. These included a steakhouse, a Mexican restaurant, a cafe AND a Starbuck's, a Chinese restaurant, an Italian restaurant and an oyster bar (all types of seafood). Food in Las Vegas is seldom tremendously expensive at casinos, but I still recommend signing up for the My Card to get the discounts if you insist on eating here.
* This year, my wife and I stayed at Palace Station and we did partake of the breakfast. Upon check-in, we were able to buy half price breakfast buffet coupons. The breakfast buffet was amazing, with over a hundred food options, including an omelet station, fresh made crepes, and every imaginable permutation of eggs and breakfast meat. As well, they had a decent juice selection and both my wife and I left completely stuffed for the day.
I swear, I got lost in Palace Station and I cannot honestly remember seeing even a gift shop. Then again, I avoided anything that seemed to be leading toward the hotel . . . so . . .
If there is shopping at Palace Station, it is kept subtle.
Palace Station actually makes me wish I had friends in Las Vegas for the simple reason that it seems like a decent place to hang out for a few hours eating, talking and very slowly gambling with friends (so long as one doesn't play that eBay machine!). It's a leisurely casino geared toward a more mature crowd who wants to be able to sit around and not be bothered by . . . well, the sights and sounds one usually finds in Las Vegas. And, because it's out of the way of most of the big, popular places, many of the machines are always open and people tend to leave you alone!
For other casino reviews, please check out my takes on:
Soaring Eagle Casino
Finger Lakes Casino
Batavia Downs Casino
For other travel reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2012, 2009, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.