California casinos are not what they seem. If you are new to California and have previously only experienced Atlantic City or Las Vegas style casinos, you will be surprised to learn about all of the new rules and formats at the majority of casinos here. Harrah’s Resort Southern California is in the minority when it comes to CA casinos, since it is almost the same as all major Las Vegas destinations. Other than a few small game differences, your general experience will be just about the same.
The resort itself is located in a somewhat desolate area that you will arrive at by driving up 12 miles of windy roads. Surprisingly, there are several other casinos in the nearby area, including Pala Casino, Pauma Casino, Valley View Casino, and Pechanga Casino. Each of these properties are located several miles from one another, but they are all within a roughly 20 minute drive. The area is able to sustain such a large casino industry because of its proximity to San Diego. Needless to say, Rincon is among the most popular in this area.
The casino at Harrah’s SoCal is very modern and refined. When compared to just about any other Caesars Entertainment property, this one stands out in a very positive way. Unfortunately, over the years the majority of CET properties have steadily declined in just about every way possible. Harrah’s Southern California, however, is both newer and was also recently remodeled. When you walk in, you will feel like it is a brand new resort, and for all intents and purposes, it just about is.
The games available at Harrah’s Rincon are not limited, and include everything you would find at any major casino. With that said, there are some caveats worth mentioning. Even on Indian land as is the case with this casino, California laws prohibit the use of balls and dice in their games. For this reason, craps and roulette have significant tweaks. The craps tables allow dice to be thrown, but the result is then used to correlate with playing cards that are placed on the numbers to determine winners and losers. For a craps player, this is likely to become quite boring and annoying. You will not usually hear loud ruckus coming from Harrah’s Southern California craps tables like you would expect from other casinos.
Roulette works with a similar workaround to that of craps in order to circumvent the very odd California laws in place. Instead of a ball being rolled and landing on a number, the roulette wheel is spun and slaps playing cards one by one. You place your bet according to which one you think will be the final “slapped” card rather than where a ball will land. The roulette games is effectively the same thing as what you would find in other casinos, but if you are used to traditional roulette, it could certainly come off as very odd, because, well, it is.
There is an ample supply of slot machines at this casino and they make up the majority of the floor. The repeat clientele seems to primarily frequent these machines, and they cover around 80% of the floor as a whole. Even with this large number of games to choose from, on busy weekends, you may find it tough to get on a game. There is a video poker section that is located in the north east section of the casino (if you are entering from the front). The video poker games here do not pay particularly well, with 98% payback generally being the best that is available in the non-high limit sections.
A poker room is also in operation at Harrah’s Southern California, but it is rare that more than a few games are running, and when they do, they will be low limits. For the most part, the games running are going to be $1/$2 NLHE and $2/$4 LHE. If you are looking to play higher stakes games in the nearby area, Pechanga will be your best option.
For the size of the resort, there is a lot to choose from when it comes to bars and dining at Harrah’s SoCal. Everything from low end, late night food like Pink’s Hot Dogs to Fiore Steakhouse and Seafood are available. There is also a buffet that is frequently full, and is located in the dead middle of the casino action to the west side. In addition to these options, there is also a noodle bar named Fortunes and a street taco style restaurant that is named ‘Ritas Cantina. No matter the hour of the day or the type of food you are after, you will be able to find it at Harrah’s Resort Southern California.
In terms of bars, you will find two different primary destinations. The first bar is located just to the right of the beginning of the main casino floor. This is primarily a video poker bar with a few tables for seating. The video poker tables actually pay fairly since the drinks cannot be comped at this casino due to California laws. This goes for the Diamond Lounge also. Drinks are charged while the food is free. This is unlike Diamond Lounges in the majority of states where unlimited alcohol is included for free.
The other bar is located in the north area of the casino floor and is sports bar oriented. It too is loaded with the same video poker machines. Food can also be ordered at this bar. The bars are about equal in terms of general feel and experience, with no real differences between the two.
There are 1,065 total rooms at Harrah’s SoCal Resort. These rooms are split into two different towers, north and south, similar to the layout of another Caesars property, Planet Hollywood. In general the rooms are very nice, especially when compared to what you would find at your typical Caesars property. Renovations over the past few years have upgraded the rooms to be higher quality than you would even find in most Las Vegas casinos.
There are a number of upgraded rooms available, though they can be tough to secure since they are not in high supply. If you are a big player and/or reserve your room well in advance, you will have a better chance at landing a suite. These offer balcony’s and other amenities that standard rooms do not have.
Room rates, especially during the week and off season, are very reasonable. If you are visiting during the summer months, however, expect to pay a significant amount for a weekend visit. Since the San Diego weather is perfect for vacationing, the resort is typically jam packed throughout the summer weekends. There is a fitness center located in the lobby area of the hotel, right next to the entrance to the pool. A room key is required for entrance to the gym, and a number of different machines and equipment are available.
The pool and swim up bar at this resort is one of its best selling features, especially during the warmer months of the year. Since Valley Center is located up in the mountains and desert, you will get all of the sun and heat that you can handle. This makes for perfect pool weather, and Harrah’s built a long, windy, lazy river style pool to accommodate. Kids and adults alike will fill the pool areas to the point where it can sometimes be hard to find an open seat.
The pool also offers a swim up bar right across from the lazy river section. During the summer, this is the most popular bar to visit, and they offer a number of unique drinks that you will not find at the bars inside the casino itself. If you are visiting and it is hot outside, we highly recommend checking out the pool, as its usage is included with your stay. If you would like, you can pay an extra charge for a cabana. Food and drinks can also be ordered from servers who are working around the pool area.