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Thread: Gambling in Costa Rica

  1. #1
    Administrator Jonesie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Gambling in Costa Rica


    If I can dispense one useful suggestion, it would be don't ever gamble in Costa Rica.

    I've witnessed mathematical miracles and world records on a regular basis at Costa Rica casinos. I've seen a craps table that goes hours without anyone rolling a point, several times a week. I've seen the Del Rey shut down their roulette wheel after the ball landed in the number 4 six out of eight times. Then again a few months later when it landed in the number 16 four times in a row.

    I was with a friend who caught a Del Rey rummy dealer stashing two aces under the plastic shoe. His claim that it was an honest mistake would have been helped a little if the cards were a 3 of clubs and an 8 of hearts. But two aces?

    I was talking to a guy today as he was playing tute (carribean stud). He got into an argument with the dealer and the dealer TOLD HIM to watch the next couple of hands. My friend got a pair of tens, and the dealer got a pair of kings. Then, the next hand, both hands had the exact same cards. An argument ensued, and my friend was asked to leave.

    If you really want to gamble in Costa Rica, just understand that there isn't any commission or oversight body that insures fair play. All the casinos in Costa Rica are crooked. So assume the loss, and understand it's entertainment, and not a game of chance.

    Best to take your chances with the ladies.

  2. #2
    Lifetime Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    I would however, recommend the Mona Lisa poker games if you're into no limit hold-em. I'm an above average player (meaning that over time I come out slightly ahead of the rake), and I was able to maintain my normal level of play over there. There are two tables: the dollar table and the colones table. They may as well be the big boys table and the kids table. The dollar table has a minimum buy in of $100, but most people buy-in way more than that. I probably watched and played at this table for two hours, and you could lose your shirt pretty easily here. Pots were going as high as $2,000, so if you're into bigger stakes, this is your table. I would say that the level of play was high, but leaning more to the aggressive side. I think that if you start with a big stack and have the patience to wait for monster hands, there are enough guys who bluff and play aggressive to win fairly big. Despite the big stakes, they kept the blinds at 1/2 for the most part, so no one bleeds too much on the blinds.

    My favorite table was the backroom colones table. After you enter the casino, you swing a right, and there's a game with a minimum buy-in of $40, with 1/1 blinds. This game was frequented by Chinese Ticos who didn't speak English, but poker is universal. I would put the amount of aggressiveness at medium, and while a couple of the regulars were good players, a couple of them seemed to continuously bleed chips in the four hours I was there. The regulars would often show cards that you folded to which is good for the info to bust em up later.

    For logistics, I think the games start at 1-2 PM, and there's often a waiting list to get into the big boy game. Not only are the drinks comped, but there's also a food menu that knocks off about $10 from the regular hotel menu price for a lot of items. I can't speak for sure, but I definitely didn't notice any shady dealing. The fact that the regulars were a mix of ticos and expats was reassuring to me. All in all, it's a great way to spend your time between MP hours and the DR.

  3. #3
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    San SebastiŠn, San Josť, Costa Rica
    I am not much of a gambler, except for blackjack. I like the pure math of it. My current girlfriend likes nothing but slots.

    There are ripoffs in Costa Rica, but some of the casinos have been reliable for me. Playing slots once a week for a total of 30 years between the two of them, my girlfriend and her older sister have pretty much broken even for their lives so far. They play at Morazon, Colonial, and Palma Real.

    I play Blackjack and Rummy at Colonial and Palma Real. I don't know what it is about Blackjack in Costa Rica, but most casinos will tell you it's illegal. I don't know if it really is or not. Some casinos have no problem dealing it and the two that I use will open a table for me if I ask. Rummy is roughly the same house edge as Blackjack, but that depends greatly on the rules they are using. Colonial and Palma Real use a 4 or 6-deck plastic shoe instead of a pitch game or continuous shuffle. I've never felt ripped off, and it's difficult to do with a plastic shoe. The dealers always do the full "show and shuffle" so the cards are there. If they are trying to cheat anyone, they are doing a very poor job of it.

    I am guessing that the casinos that say Blackjack is illegal are making you play Rummy because the strategy table is more complex and it's harder to count cards when you're keeping up with the Rummy aspect of the game as well as the regular stuff.

    I have gambled a total stake of $25,200 in the past two years over probably at these two places. That stake has become $29,500. As I said, I'm a math nerd. My Rummy win percentage is a little worse than my Blackjack, but by less than 1.5%.

    I have played a very small amount of Rummy at Del Rey and at some of the resorts at the beaches. I have always felt that they didn't know what they were doing, possibly trying to cheat, using continuous shuffle machines -- and the crowds of partiers at Del Rey and the beach casinos are just too distracting for me to sit there and gamble.

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