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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Thunder Not So Loud?

29 June 2003

Thunder Valley, the Station Casinos/Auburn Rancheria casino that opened on the 9th of June in Lincoln, California (just over the mountain from Reno) isn't having a very visible impact on Reno, and I think maybe there are a couple of issues that will keep things that way. Reports coming my way indicate that it is too crowded, that it costs $4.50 for a beer (they don't deliver freebies to players) and that the slot selection isn't all that great for most good gamblers. Maybe, in a real pinch, if you just have to have a video poker fix, maybe then they would be adequate... but reports indicate that conditions aren't that great. Sure it looks good, but not everyone goes just because of appearance... they are supposed to be a casino and they are supposed to cater to gamblers. So if you don't have enough video poker maybe you aren't reading the gamblers too well???? So I thought I'd pass on a couple of posts from my message board on the Reno Gaming Guide. I hope that everyone will eventually start posting their trip reports on the message board, it is off to a slow but good start. Just think, if you share the good and the bad about your trip to Reno (and nearby casinos like Thunder Valley) then you can help others planning to come too! Another plus is that if the Reno casinos are paying attention, and I believe they are, then they can take the measures needed to ensure that your visit is better than ever! So join people like Chris and Al below, post those trip reports!

About Thunder Valley... From Chris: "I went to check it out last week, and I don't know if I will be back. I like to play advantage VP, and I could not find any. They had very few Video Poker machines, and even fewer 0.25 machines. Those they had were full, and people lined up waiting for someone to leave. I had to pay $4.50 for a beer at the bar while playing poor pay tables. I have to drive through Sacramento to get there, and the traffic is always bad. I think I will just continue over the hill next time to Reno or Tahoe, and find free drinks for players, and much better paying machines. Thunder Valley is a nice place for sure, and everything is new. However, I prefer a better gambling atmosphere."

And from Al: " The reports I have received indicate Thunder Valley is a major disappointment. No decent blackjack games at all. Continuous shuffling machines and poorly-cut six-deck shoes. I hope that people will pass it by and continue to go to the good games in Reno.

The Reno Rodeo is in full swing, the buckaroos are visible everywhere, I've seen so many pairs of neat boots and so many fancy belt buckles and hats, it is amazing. It ends Sunday... and also this weekend is the Eldorado BBQ, Brew & Blues Festival on Virginia Street. So if you are in town, I hope you make that event, there will be stages on Virginia Street with some really great blues. I'm going down to see Marshall Tucker... haven't seen them since they were at the Horizon somewhere in the 90s.

I just came in from another RV stay at Boomtown RV Park... and I can't say enough about the place! I've never had a bad stay, never met anyone friendlier than the RV staff there, and always enjoyed the scenery down there. Thanks to Bill, Robert, Norm, and Jan for all the good times so far, and you'll be seeing me more and more! It is always pleasant to wander to the edge of the bluff and watch the trains in the distance, with the Truckee River right below, and having Boomtown above, waiting for me with its 1300 slots and all those table games. We went to the International Buffet on Italian night, and stuffed our faces with some excellent Italian fare, and I sort of went nuts over the swordfish in an oregano sauce... mmmmmm.... I love swordfish anyway, and this was excellent! Plus they have the neatest dessert counter... my doctor would put me out of my misery if he saw the sugar consumed! But, that is what makes such a terrific buffet. And those who need the sugar-free desserts won't be left out here! Also, under construction at Boomtown is a special high-limits slot section... and if you do happen to get to Boomtown, take a gander at the Drover's Inn, which is the truck-stop casino/store/restaurant. I was over there this morning, and watched someone get a $4000 royal flush on the dollar video poker, and someone else hit two "fives" and a purple seven for $2500 and both hits were within minutes of each other. It's small, comfortable, and the portions on the plates are trucker-size meals. Hard to go wrong there!

From the Silver Legacy... Now guests can also enjoy popular EZ Pay™ ticket-in, ticket-out machines at the resort casino. The EZ Pay machines allow casino guests to spend more time playing by eliminating the wait time associated with machine refills and jackpot payoffs. On an EZ Pay machine, players can receive their credits on a printed ticket instead of waiting for coins to drop or for a hand pay. An EZ Pay ticket can be used to play other EZ Pay machines, redeemed with a cashier or saved for another trip to the casino. The system is popular with many players not only because it saves time but also because it eliminates the need to handle coins and transport change buckets from machine to machine. All 56 slot machines located in Silver Legacy's Legacy Island, which is completely dedicated to multi-denominational penny slots, now feature the EZ Pay system as well as a variety of slot machines located on the mezzanine level near Fairchild's Oyster Bar. Video poker players can also benefit from the new system with EZ Pay Fifty Play Draw Poker™ machines located on the main casino floor. Silver Legacy will continue to add more EZ Pay slot and video poker machines throughout the second half of 2003. I was just remarking to my husband yesterday, while digging into a poorly designed hopper in search of my coins, that the world would be a better place if everybody offered the technology. If you have ever waited, and waited, and waited and waited for a hopper fill while the staff is off paying hand-paid penny jackpots, then you will appreciate the ease of these machines. Plus you save yourself a whole bundle of germs on that filthy money!

Fourth of July is heading up fast, so if you get the chance, Reno has all kinds of festivities, the Chicken Wing Festival is going on down on Virginia Street (and you can get a basket of wings from the Fitzgeralds Reno booth on the street for $2) and there's entertainment, fireworks, picnics and barbecues, with events going on everywhere from up at Lake Tahoe, to Carson City's bash in Mills Park, to the festivities at the Sparks Marina... even Virginia City has fun things for all ages on the Fourth of July! The fun is just beginning... so why miss any of it?

Coming up at Gold Ranch on July 3... the $2500 cash drawings from 5-8 p.m. as well as the customer appreciation barbecue. With live entertainment too... it is a fun event, I made last year's barbecue, and it was fantastic. The whole staff participates, it's free, and it is worth dropping in for. Plus, after the drawings, all entries will be dumped into a grand prize drum for the 2003 Jeep Liberty they are giving away on September 15.

Someone said I should keep the heart on the sleeve. So I guess I will try. It doesn't come as easy as it used to. I used to expect (and sometimes get) miracles that kept me in business. Lately there have been no miracles. Just a string of stress-related illnesses and things I can do without. I just had a root canal. Note the "a" in there. I needed three. This one was the most wretched root canal I have ever had, spent three hours clinging to the dentist's ceiling, and still he stuck with just lidocaine. It hurt. I don't usually scream, hope he is feeling a bit deaf in one ear... and then I came home to bills up to my neck, no way to pay them, proposals and contracts still on the table, checks still waiting to be sent to me, and promptly came down with the worst chest cold and sinus crap I've had in awhile, wondering if it had anything to do with the infection in my jaw being released by the root canal...and my car is at the end of its line... bad u-joint that will flip me like a pancake if it goes out while I'm on the road and no way to fix it, and I'm still living without a refrigerator after the nasty ammonia poisoning a couple of months ago... so it hasn't been easy... there has been some good news... The Reno Gazette Journal is doing a web site review on the Reno Gaming Guide and it should appear this week, probably on Monday. I hope they like what they see. I hope it gets the badly needed publicity rolling. I've never had an ad budget, always relied on word-of-mouth because it was all I could do. I hope this review helps, I guess there is no shame in admitting how very badly I need the help. I'm not living day to day anymore, I'm living second to second. My family is in chaos, and I can't help anyone this way, let alone myself. I feel like the end is near, and I don't know which end. End of me, end of the web site, or end to all the struggling. I sure hope it is the end of the struggling. I'm weary.

So if you do come to Reno, please let your casino know that you found your information from the Reno Gaming Guide. Every little bit helps. And thanks... for visiting, for posting, for sticking pins in the guest map, and for holding me up when I am down.