When I’ve got a yen to spend a few bucks at the slots—but don’t cherish driving up Highway 15 to Vegas—I stop by Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage.  Of all the gaming houses in the Palm Springs Valley, I think Agua (as my friend Marie and I affectionately call it) feels most like The Strip.

Last Monday, I joined my gal pal there for a little gambling fun.  Being a much higher roller than I, Marie enjoys the benefits of the Red card—the highest level one can earn in the casino’s Paradise Rewards Club.  So while she went off to try her luck at the Blackjack tables in the high-limit Primrose Room, I made my humble way to the penny slots.  I can only aspire to one day join Marie in her crimson status, but first have to make it to the Gold, Platinum, and Black levels.  I’m working on it slowly but surely…

The Paradise Rewards Club is indeed a smart idea.  I love how you can redeem your points for cash, merchandise, or free play.  Free is always fun!  The more you bet, the better the comps—overnights in the resort’s plush rooms or suites, meals at either Waters Café or The Steakhouse, treatments at Sunstone Spa, and even VIP seats for performances at The Show, a venue Agua bills as “the premier concert theatre in Southern California.”  Good to know:  The point system is interchangeable at both Agua or at Spa Resort Casino, its sister property in Palm Springs.

Until I can flash a Red card of my own, I’ll have to count on the kindness—if not of strangers—of my dear Marie, who has always been more than happy to share her wealth of perks.