Trip Report - Reno

Discussion in 'Western USA' started by AR Nick, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. AR Nick

    AR Nick Active Member

    A week ago I embarked on my first ever AP tour of combat. The trip was not quite the roaring success I expected it to be, but it was certainly a learning experience, and I hope that some of the information I've obtained during my rollercoaster through hell can at least be of use to the community - fellow noobs and veterans alike - despite its now limited usefulness to myself.

    First stop on the way to Reno was Boomtown. It's technically not in Reno, but in a place called Verdi, just off I-80 (you'll see signs) west of the Reno-Sparks metro. Their single decks don't allow doubling after splitting, but you can double on any two cards and the penetration is all right (about 60% - 70%, dealer dependent). The dealers and floor personnel are all friendly and pretty cool, and in the very little time I was at the tables, I made a small fortune and felt no real heat. For those amongst you that are struggling with your bankroll, you'll like that fact that Boomtown has extremely low table minimums, at one point (during a weekday) sitting at only $3. They also have full pay deuces wild video poker machines. I made a few hundred on those while there. It can be a grind, I'll admit, but if you've memorized the strategy and are willing to sit through it, it's really easy money.

    The Peppermill. Located outside of downtown Reno, so easy parking and little traffic. The casino is amazing in terms of visuals. Unfortunately, they're incredibly sweaty and that can kinda kill the fun. I mean, I've heard people talk about this so many times before, but I didn't think they'd actually crack down on my for winning $200 with a 1-3 spread in less than an hour. As you may well imagine, I didn't spend much more time there. Rules on the single deck are double on 10 and 11, no double after split, and about 65% - 70% penetration.

    Silver Legacy was the first casino to begin ruining my trip. Their single deck games are D10, NDAS, and about 50% pen. I'm not even sure why it took me $600 to convince myself that my time is better spent elsewhere. They do have full pay deuces wild video poker, though. I made some money on that a few times. Worth checking out, just not for the tables.

    Circus Circus can go straight to hell. Seriously, I'd rather subsist entirely off of jenkem for the rest of my life than ever set foot in that den of degeneracy again. I mean it. It's a dump. The patrons are all apparently homeless, the cocktail waitresses seem to be recruited out of retirement homes, and the dealers are all likely graduates of the John McEnroe School of Charm. Thanks for the $400 though, guys. If anyone cares to go nonetheless, the rules on the single deck are NDAS, double on either 9+ or 10+ (sorry, I didn't record this one into my log so going off memory) and the penetration is fairly decent at about 75%. Just make sure to stiff those huns. They won't appreciate your tip even if you give them your entire bankroll anyway.

    El Dorado surprised me the first time around. The rules are nothing to write home about (D10, NDAS) but I got to experience a single deck game with around 90% penetration. No, I'm not exaggerating. The dealer literally had only about 5 or so cards by the time he shuffled again. I returned the next day, but much to my dismay, I found that their dealers aren't actually trained to do that. Conclusion: if you're in the area, roll on by and have a peek if any of the deep dealers are around. Be advised, though, El Dorado has a lot of "Super" single deck tables that only pay 6:5 on a natural; the tables (all two of them) with the rules I described above are in the "high limits" section. I put that in quotes because the minimum on them is often between $5 and $10. This obviously does not apply during peak hours.

    The Siena is probably the best casino of the ones I visited, and I say that despite the massive losses I incurred there. Single deck, double on any 2, no double after split, and about 60% - 75% penetration (dealer dependent). Apart from the liberal rules, what really struck me about the place is how pleasant all of the employees are. The Siena is basically the polar opposite of Circus Circus. The pit is tolerant, but heat comes from the eye. In other words, don't be the only person at the tables.

    I did stop by The Truckstop of Death and Dispair, and the rules are indeed as liberal as you've probably read. I didn't play, though. There were too many people at the table (absence of plurality intentional), and I was far too spent to play anything other than heads-up. Their buffet is amazing, though. Country style cooking. Held me over for the long drive home.

    Despite my losses, the trip was a great learning experience. While I would certainly have preferred to not have to learn anything and just jump straight into the winnings, reality doesn't quite work that easily. Below are a few things I learnt, some of which are universal, other perhaps a bit more specific.

    Paranoia of heat, while not unfounded when in Reno, will do you more harm than good if left unchecked. Do NOT be so afraid of heat that you limit your spread to the point where you're playing a losing game. That will NOT end well for you.

    Single deck with the common set of rules in Reno is a whole different animal compared to other games. I made the grave mistake of not really tweaking my strategy, betting ramp and cover plays to suit the new setting. I subconsciously assumed that since Reno has "easier" games, I can just use the same strategy and I'll win more anyway. In hindsight, I'm a dumbass.

    Playing rated in Reno is not a good idea. Not getting a player's card is one "cover play" that costs you nothing. Believe me, the suspicions you'll raise in not having one do not outweigh the effect of getting flagged. Some of you who live or "work" in gambling cities may be thinking I'm stating the obvious in saying this, but I'm putting this point up for the benefit for those - like myself - who live in areas where there are few casinos and sitting down at a table without a card gets everyone's attention pretty quickly.

    Bet consistently. After incurring some heavy losses while betting with a high minimum, my inner ploppy took charge had me betting as low as one fifth the previous day's minimum bets when I returned the next day. This latter day, I won, but because of the change in betting, my win paled in comparison to the previous loss. Looking at the numbers back at the hotel, I realized that if I had bet the same both times, that day's win would almost have covered the previous day's loss. This was a totally irrational, ploppy move on my part, and I'm still kicking myself over it. (Before anyone says it, no, my bankroll was in no danger of depletion at that point, so I can't even use the Kelly excuse)

    I realize I'm just repeating a lot of what can be found on every other advice thread on this forum, but sometimes it takes feeling the burn and saying it out aloud to really have it sink in. Learn from my fail, folks.

    Finally, Circus Circus blows. Eff everything about that place.
  2. avd7a

    avd7a New Member

    Thanks for the detailed report

    Sorry to hear you weren't on the positive side of the bell curve.
  3. LVBear584

    LVBear584 Administrator

    I enjoyed your report; comments

    Nice report. You were fortunate at Boomtown. You wrote:

    I made a small fortune and felt no real heat.

    A small fortune at a place with only a $200 maximum bet is quite an accomplishment. Were you able to get the table limit increased? I have found them unwilling to increase above $200 since it was lowered from the previous $500. Congratulations if you got them to do it.

    Your other observations were spot on. Circus Circus Reno and Alamo in Sparks are worthless.

    I will be presumptuous enough to give you a bit of advice. In single deck, learn to count the rounds, and express penetration in rounds dealt, not percentage. Here are two links that may be helpful to you in your study of single deck:

    Single Deck Game Selection:

    Counting cards in Reno - General Guide for new players:;read=162654
  4. AR Nick

    AR Nick Active Member

    Bear, I didn't ask them. I didn't approach the maximum either. I think the reason for my win that day was an unnaturally (by my standards) aggressive spread (about 5-85, neutral counts and openings at the one-third line) and a sprinkle of good variance. I was hopping back and forth between the tables and the video poker machines, so wonging was in full use and my sessions in the pit were extremely short. That might be why no heat was felt and why I felt so comfortable with the spread (not that that carried over to the rest of my trip).

    Thanks for the advice on counting single decks. I'll be certain to heed that next time around. I'm not sure if it's because my eyes weren't used to looking at those smaller discard trays, or because the ones they use don't fill up to the top, making me have to eyeball an imaginary cap, or even because a single round dealt on crowded Reno tables is such a huge percentage of the deck, but whatever the case is, my old method of calculating percentages was very much not working as best as it could be.

    Funny you should mention the bell curve. When I finally got around to compiling the full results of the trip into a table and totaling it up with my home results, my win rate per hour is DEAD ON at what my sim predicted. $44/hour, right in the middle of the bell curve.

    Oh, fate, how you mock me.
  5. Lonesome Gambler

    Lonesome Gambler Well-Known Member

    Definitely didn't see a jenkem reference coming in a Reno trip report, but you've made your point! Nice report (and quite entertaining)!
  6. AR Nick

    AR Nick Active Member

    Looking back on my report, I realized I had missed out some important things for folks that might be going to Reno. In my haste to write up the game rules of various casinos and dog on Circus Circus for being a steaming pile of excrement, I neglected some of the more "mundane" aspects of a Reno trip.

    If you're planning on not using a car while there, I invite you to reconsider. Sure, there are three casinos that are literally side-by-side, with another three in extremely close walking distance. These are Silver Legacy, Circus Circus and the El Dorado (attached with "skywalks"), with Sands, Harrah's and Cal Neva awkwardly hanging around the cool crowd. Although I've not confirmed the following with any of these casinos, I know that other stores in Reno offer airport shuttles and I'm pretty sure that at least one of the six will do the same. That said, it's certainly possible to hop between as many as six different stores in Reno without driving or long walks. That doesn't make it a good idea, though. I say this because none of the above offer spectacular games. For details on the core three, I'll refer you to my first post. The other three I didn't visit on my trip, but I've heard nothing good about any of them.

    Indeed, if you're the type that hunts around for good rules, the best stores in the area - for pitch players, specifically - are Boomtown in Verdi, Siena just on the edge of downtown, and The Truckstop of Death and Despair in Sparks (although you'd do well to only hit this last one at odd hours and with little elegance). For the sake of brevity, I'll refer you once again to my first post as to the reasons behind my recommendation. As you've no doubt noticed, these three are each in different cities, so if you're not one to haunt for too long, you'll spend a lot of time behind the wheel.

    The good news is that parking is never a problem. The three recommended casinos each have expansive outdoor (and indoor, in the case of the Siena) parking lots, which, even in crowded times, don't fill to capacity. It's always free too. As for the core downtown casinos, you may get a little confused at first if you're not used to Reno or crowded cities, but there are open parking garages attached to the casinos. A couple of the entrances are for hotel patrons only and a few more require validation for free parking. I'm sure the latter is easy to get done, but if you're not looking to add any extra hassle to your work, there are wide open portals on the garages attached to Silver Legacy and Circus Circus. Drive the circuit going south on Sierra, west on 4th, north on West, and east on 6th, and you'll see one eventually. They'll be unmarked, so don't wait for a sign. Just enter any one that doesn't mention validation or patronage. You'll be able to exit the same way.

    Traffic isn't too bad. Downtown can get a little slow during the peak hours, but it's not the rumbling parking lot that you might expect from other big cities. Uptown never seems packed and freeways are always moving, so it's smooth sailing for the most part. However, while driving in Reno, it's important to keep an eye on oncoming traffic when making a left turn. Laugh all you want, but rural/ghetto hicks such as myself get used to just making blind left turns when we get a green. Green lights in Reno do not guarantee you safe passage through the approach lanes. Yield when turning left. [/PSA]

    Finally, if you like country music and listening to the radio while driving, 92.1 FM is the first (only) country station I came across. Of course, the problem with this is that they only cycle through the same three songs day in, day out. I've developed a healthy contempt towards Blake Shelton and Justin Moore. Still better than listening to Katy Perry's cynical lies, though. Now I don't remember where I was going with this. Well, while I'm off topic, I might as well take this opportunity to remind you all that Circus Circus is a 28-story latrine that's been temporarily moved to Reno while they refinish the ninth circle of hell.

    In sum, here's a list of stores in the Reno area (excluding Tahoe) in order of desirability:

    Boomtown, Verdi
    Siena, Downtownish - Close tie between the first two, but Boomtown wins for having FPDW
    Alamo, Sparks - Takes the last spot on this list for only having one table

    El Dorado, Downtown - You can occasionally find deep dealers on the HL SD
    Silver Legacy, Downtown - Avoid tables unless you intend to spread aggresively; hit the FPDW right near the entrance at Virginia and 4th

    Poo Sandwich
    Circus Circus, Downtown - To be fair, they have pretty good penetration
    Peppermill, Uptown - Bad rules, sweaty, no real redeeming qualities apart from the purdiness of the decor
    Harrah's, Downtown
    Sands, Downtown
    Cal Neva, Downtown

    Any store not on the list, I have no intel on. Also, I'd like to mention once again that the above list doesn't factor in shoe games. If you're a shoe player, you might be sorely disappointed if you tackle these stores in the order presented above.

    Good fortune to all.

    Well, I wanted to compare Circus Circus to something that's insuperably disgusting, and the only thing that beats jenkem in that category is Circus Circus itself, which just wouldn't have worked for my comparison.
  7. BJLFS

    BJLFS Well-Known Member

    Good report. What's FPDW BTW?
  8. AR Nick

    AR Nick Active Member

    Full pay deuces wild. A variant of video poker that pays out more than 100%. Only with the right strategy, of course, conveniently found here and here. Easier to make money than in Blackjack, but quite a grind, unfortunately.
  9. WRX

    WRX Well-Known Member

    Ragging on Circus Circus to this degree is unjustified. It's true that it's kind of seedy, some of the dealers and other staff can be unpleasant, the tables are often overcrowded, many of the customers are downright disgusting, and every place off the casino floor is overrun with snot-nosed kids. On the other hand, Circus Circus has lots of single deck games with traditional Reno rules, which are just fine, and you can find dealers who will give you exceptional penetration. You just have to watch out for preferential shufflers. And you can get shuffled up on if you hop your bet by too much. Also, there are lots of 25 ct. 9/6 JOB machines, including a progressive bank. Some play on those can get you pretty good weekly direct-to-machine free play. Also, the hotel rooms are just fine, and are an easy comp. And I love the bands that play in the little lounge on the casino floor Fridays and Saturdays. It ain't the freaking Bellagio, but Circus Circus can be good fun, in a blue collar sort of way.

    The Cal-Neva bears a lot of similarities as far as the gaming goes. But unfortunately, in place of good bands you have painfully bad karaoke. And comps at the Cal-Neva are about as useless as at any place I can imagine. What would you want to buy with them?
  10. AR Nick

    AR Nick Active Member

    You misunderstand my intentions. I'm not trying to paint Circus Circus as a place where it's impossible to make money, nor am I denying the relative attractiveness of their games. I did pretty well there myself, and the rules on their tables have been in the first post since day one. There reaches a point, however, where the atmosphere is just so intolerable that it's not worth bothering there, especially when you can, quite literally, walk outside and be inside another casino within a matter of seconds. Everyone has different tolerances, and I'm sure some might even enjoy kicking the turd right back to any of the numerous vulgarians trying to pick a fight. Personally, and perhaps this is my inner ploppy talking, but I like to have a good time while playing. I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed anything during my time at Circus Circus other than cashing in my nice stack of blacks with a big, spiteful grin on my face.

    Although the news of bad karaoke has certainly made me want to check out Cal-Neva. :eek:

    As a final aside, coming from someone who enjoys shooting some paper on the range (read: someone's large backyard with a sandhill at one end) with buddies before heading home to grill up some meat over a couple of Heinekens in a dried out backyard, I saw none of the "blue collar" charm you refrered to at Circus Circus. Perhaps this was the term you were looking for. :)
  11. Albee

    Albee Well-Known Member

    I enjoy the dealers on Fri & Sat at the Cal-Neva upstairs.....wearing almost nothing :toast: I'm a sucker for a nice set of boobies and the last time I was there a girl with a few tats and hardly nothing on was
  12. AR Nick

    AR Nick Active Member

    So how much did you win at her table? :laugh:
  13. RorySF

    RorySF Member

    Headed up to Reno for the weekend ourselves. SO is primarily going up for the World Science Fiction Convention, although he'll be playing some. I'll be playing, too. A lot :laugh:

    See y'all up there ;)

    Good cards to all.

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