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Wizard Recommends

Last Updated: July 7, 2014

Jackpot, Nevada

Introduction

Jackpot, Nevada, is a small border town in northeastern Nevada, just south of the Idaho state line. On June 29, 2014, I was driving back home to Las Vegas from Seattle and landed in Jackpot. I spent the night at Cactus Pete's. This page is about my one-day visit.

 

Nevada has a lot of border towns that cater to gamblers from neighboring states. The main ones that come to mind are Laughlin, Mesquite and West Wendover. They all have the usual things you would find in a small town, plus casinos. There is also Primm, but that doesn't deserve to be called a town, since I don't think anybody actually lives there. However, when it comes to peculiar Nevada border towns, Jackpot is the nuts.

Speaking of the "nuts," I'm surprised it isn't a street name in Jackpot. Not only is the name of the town a gambling term, but so are most of the streets. To be specific, in Jackpot you'll find:

  • Ace Road
  • Double Down Circle
  • Double Down Loop
  • Keno Drive
  • Lady Luck Drive
  • Pinochle Street
  • Progressive Drive
  • Poker Street
  • Slot Drive

 

What will you find in Jackpot?

  • Five casinos
  • Three churches
  • A golf course
  • An airport
  • One school
  • One library
  • One post office

 

What won't you find?

  • A bank
  • A hospital
  • A dentist
  • A grocery store (unless you count the gas station convenience store)
  • A cemetery

  • The 2010 census puts Jackpot's population at 1,195. That strikes me as high, making me wonder if that includes ranch homes in the general area. There are several small apartment complexes in Jackpot, a smattering of trailer homes, and even a few single family, permanent dwellings. Based on just one conversation, the casino staff seem roughly evenly divided between living in Jackpot and Twin Falls, Idaho, 50 miles away.

    Jackpot is also a geographical oddity when it comes to its time zone. Before this trip, I thought all of Nevada was in the Pacific time zone. However, Jackpot and West Wendover observe Mountain Time. Jackpot using Mountain Time makes sense, since the vast majority of Jackpot customers are from Idaho, as evidenced by the license plates in the casino parking lots, and southern Idaho is on Mountain Time.

    Somehow I get a lot of perfectionists reading my sites and I'm sure if I didn't address this now then somebody would write to me saying that Jackpot is technically in the Pacific Time Zone. That would seem to be the position of the Federal Department of Transportation. However, as evidence that Nevada considers Jackpot to be on Mountain Time I submit the following:

    1. The Jackpot post office observes Mountain Time. If you don't believe me, call them and ask. Their phone number is (775) 755-2252.
    2. The highway sign saying "Entering Pacific Time Zone" is just south of Jackpot. There is plenty of room on the highway to place the sign right by the "Welcome to Nevada" sign.
    3. The official Nevada highway map shows the time zone boundary going around Jackpot. You can zoom in on Jackpot to see for yourself.
    4. The Federal Aviation Administration indicates the Jackpot airport is on Mountain Time.
    5. The clock in my hotel room was on Mountain Time.
    6. Everybody I bothered about it in Jackpot unequivocally said they are on Mountain Time.


    For more on the Jackpot time zone debate, please see my companion site Diversity Tomorrow.

    Both the clientele and the gaming machines are pretty old in Jackpot. Cactus Pete's gets some young bucks mixed in with the elderly, but otherwise I think all the old folks of southern Idaho get bused into Jackpot and plop down in front of a slot machine all day.

    I shouldn't tease them too much. In less than a year I will join the ranks of the "senior citizens," as defined by how old you have to be (50) to get silver-haired benefits here in Vegas.

    After that lengthy preamble, I think I'm ready to get to my visit. Since this is a gambling site, I will focus on the casinos of Jackpot. Here are my comments about each, in alphabetical order.

    Barton's Club 93

     

    The Club 93 is the second largest casino in town. Besides a casino, it has a small, three-story hotel and a single restaurant that does double duty as a buffet and cafe. Following are my comments on what you'll find in the casino.

    Table game counts:

    • Blackjack: 8
    • Craps: 1
    • Three Card Poker: 1
    • Roulette: 1
    • Let it Ride: 1

    According to the Gaming Control Board's Nonrestricted Count Report for the first quarter of 2014, Club 93 had 464 total slots.

    Here are my comments on some of the game rules.

    Blackjack

    • Single deck
    • Blackjack pays 3-2
    • Dealer hits soft 17
    • Double on any first two cards.
    • No surrender, double after split, nor re-splitting aces.
    • Dealer evidently went on feel to reshuffle.
    • Limits: $5 to $200.

    According to my blackjack house edge calculator, the basic strategy house edge is 0.30%.

    Craps

    2x odds for line bets of $3 to $100 and 1x for $101 to $200. I've never seen such a split-rule before for the odds multiple in craps.

     

    Men's bathroom at Barton's.

    Roulette

    Double zero

    Video Keno

    A randomly chosen 25-cent machine had a 350- 250 - 70 - 30 - 1 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 1 pay table, which returns 92.62%.

    Video Poker

    The following table shows the pay tables and returns for a randomly chosen Game Maker video machine.

    25¢ Video Poker — Barton's Club 93

    Game Pay Table Return
    Bonus Poker 6-5 96.87%
    Deuces Wild 20-12-10 97.58%
    Double Bonus 9-6-4 96.38%
    Double Double Bonus 9-5 97.87%
    Jacks or Better 8-5 97.30%
    Average 97.20%

    Player Reward Program

    The incentive program is called the Slotspitality Club. They gave me $5 in free play when I joined.

    Cactus Pete's

     

    Cactus Pete's is easily the biggest casino in Jackpot. At nine stories, the hotel towers over everything else in town. Nobody else is over three stories. The entire property was well maintained, modern and clean when I was there. The clientele were about split between the elderly and young men, most sporting cowboy hats and facial hair.

    Besides the casino, the property has three restaurants, including a buffet, coffee shop and steakhouse. There was a nice pool area, including outdoor gaming tables. The showroom plays live music on weekends. I must admit I was surprised that I have heard of a couple of bands playing there this summer season, namely Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and, amazingly, Peter Frampton.

    Here are my table game counts:

    • Blackjack: 13 (including two at the pool)
    • Craps: 2
    • Three Card Poker: 2
    • Roulette: 1
    • Ultimate Texas Hold 'Em: 1
    • Let it Ride: 1

    According to the Gaming Control Board's Nonrestricted Count Report for the first quarter of 2014, Cactus Pete's had 670 total slots.

    They also had a nice race/sports book (William Hill franchise), a poker room with six tables, and a keno lounge.

    Here are my comments on some of the game rules.

    Blackjack

    When I was there most of the open blackjack tables had the following rules:

    • Single deck
    • Blackjack pays 3-2
    • Dealer hits soft 17
    • Double on 9 to 11 only.
    • No surrender, double after split, nor re-splitting aces.
    • Dealer evidently went on feel to reshuffle.
    • Limits: $10 to $500.

    According to my blackjack house edge calculator (https://wizardofodds.com/games/blackjack/calculator/), the basic strategy house edge is 0.45%.

    There was also a six-deck game with the same rules, except double on any first two cards and re-splitting aces was allowed. Limits were $5 to $500. That would have a house edge of 0.71%.

    Craps

    3-4-5x odds. Stingy field (2 to 1 on both 2 and 12).

    Roulette

    Double zero

    Video Keno

    A randomly chosen 25-cent machine had a 10,000 - 1,652 - 98 - 12- 2 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 pay table, which returns 92.31%.

    Video Poker

    The following table shows the pay tables and returns for a randomly chosen Game Maker video machine.

    25¢ Video Poker — Cactus Pete's

    Game Pay Table Return
    Ace$ 9-6-4-2 94.21%
    Aces & Faces 6-5 96.96%
    Bonus Poker 6-5 96.87%
    Bonus Poker Deluxe 8-5 97.40%
    Deuces Wild 20-12-10 97.58%
    Deuces Wild Bonus 10-4-3-3 97.36%
    Double Aces & Faces 9-6-4 96.54%
    Double Bonus 9-6 97.81%
    Double Double Bonus 9-5 97.87%
    Jacks or Better 8-5 97.30%
    Joker Poker (kings) 40-20-5 95.46%
    Triple Bonus Poker Plus 6-5 96.62%
    Average 96.83%

    Player Reward Program

    Cactus Pete's, as well as the Horeshu across the street, participate in the Pinnacle Entertainment "my choice" reward program. As of this writing, about 16 casinos participate in this program in Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, Nevada, Iowa, and Indiana.

    When I was there they gave me $10 in free play for signing up.

    Other Comments

    I'd also like to give due praise for the self-serve soda/coffee bars in the casino.

    Cactus Pete's is where I stayed in Jackpot, and I was very happy with my choice. My room, in the highrise, was large, comfortable, and modern. I have back issues and often have to sleep on hotel room floors because the mattress are too old and soft. Not so with Cactus Pete's. The mattress was nice and firm, allowing me a good night's sleep. The room came equipped with a big flat-screen TV and a stocked coffee maker.

    I would also like to put in a great word for the staff. A friendlier casino in Nevada, I've never experienced, and I've experienced almost all of them. From the hotel registration, to table game dealers, to waitresses, to the gift shop saleswoman, everybody I met was genuinely friendly. The kind of friendliness you seem to find only in small towns. It was a very refreshing change to the, at best, fake friendliness often encountered in Vegas casinos.

    I'm often one to gripe about casinos when something goes wrong, so let me be fair and tell a positive casino story. As I was walking about town taking pictures for this page, I passed a woman walking the other direction who asked me, "Did you find the dogs?" I replied, "What dogs?" She then explained how two chihuahuas escaped from somebody's RV parked at Cactus Pete's and evidently a bunch of volunteers were searching the entire town for them. Then the Cactus Pete's security vehicle pulled up next to the lady and gave her a lengthy progress report on the dog hunt. So, kudos to Cactus Pete's for not just looking around their own property but driving all over town looking for the dogs. Try to get that kind of customer service in Vegas.

    In closing, very high marks from me for Cactus Pete's. If I'm ever in Jackpot again, I would be proud to return.

    Four Jacks


    This is a very small hotel/casino/restaurant.

    According to the Gaming Control Board, the casino has 65 total slots. Zero tables. The restaurant looked like a simple cafe with a player piano playing Ragtime music. The hotel was two-stories and looked not unlike a big yellow house.

    Here are the pay tables for a randomly-selected video poker machine.

    25¢ Video Poker — Four Jacks

    Game Pay Table Return
    Bonus Poker Deluxe 6-5 95.36%
    Deuces Wild 20-10-8 95.96%
    Double Bonus Poker Plus 6-5 94.37%
    Double Bonus 8-5 94.19%
    Double Double Bonus 6-5 94.66%
    Jacks or Better 6-5 95.00%
    Triple Double Bonus 7-5 94.92%
    Average 94.92%

    Horseshu

     

    There isn't too much to say about the Horseshu. First of all, I don't care for the spelling. I guess Binion's in Vegas has a trademark on the correct spelling of the word horseshoe. Otherwise, it seems like a nice, quiet, older property. I originaly wrote it has no hotel, but a reader wrote in to correct me that it does indeed have one. The only other amenity to the property was a Mexican restaurant.

    I'll keep the casino section brief. There were two closed blackjack tables the Sunday evening I was there. According to the Current Blackjack Newsletter they follow the following rules:

    • Six decks
    • Blackjack pays 3-2
    • Dealer hits soft 17
    • Double on any first two cards.
    • No surrender, double after split, nor re-splitting aces.
    • Limits: $3 to $500.

    According to my blackjack house edge calculator, the basic strategy house edge is 0.78%.

    According to the Gaming Control Board, there are 111 slots. They are all reeled slots, no video poker or video keno.

    The player reward program is the same Ameristar/Pinnacle program that Cactus Pete's is on.

    Pony Express

     

    As I understand it, the name of the casino is the Pony Express and the name of the hotel is the West Star Resort. The casino is very small, with only 42 slots. Zero tables. The hotel was big by comparison. However, calling it a resort seems like an abuse of the word to me.

    Here is my table for my 25-cent video poker survey.

    25¢ Video Poker — Pony Express

    Game Pay Table Return
    Bonus Poker 35-6-5 97.36%
    Deuces Wild 25-15-9-4 98.91%
    Double Bonus Deuces Wild 9-4-3 98.61%
    Double Bonus 9-6-5 97.81%
    Super Double Bonus 7-5 97.77%
    Average 98.09%

    For 25-cent video keno, they followed the same pay table as Cactus Pete's for a return of 92.31%.