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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Touring Reno Casinos

11 October 2002

Tuesday seemed like the perfect day to get out and about in Reno... a warm 80 degree day, sunshine, and all those glistening casinos to look at, luring gamblers in their doors, with offerings of food and parties and jackpots galore.

I headed out towards Sparks, enjoying the morning sunshine and the drive. I passed up the activity on Virginia Street in Reno, and found my way to Rail City... it was shades of deja vu as soon as I entered the door.... a slot tech rushed up... it turned out to be a friend from Lake Tahoe... one who had spent an equal amount of years at the lake, where he had worked for Bill’s casino for years. Said when we walked through the door, he thought he had awakened from a long dream and was still at Bill’s. It was good to see a familiar face, one now not creased with the stresses of survival at the lake.

Walking around Rail City, there were many new slots that I hadn’t seen in Tahoe, or for that matter Reno either. Things like "Run the Table," "Lone Ranger," "Risque Business...." to note a few.... I noticed a large amount of popular slots that had been converted to penny slots, and inquired as to why so many were converted. The answer was that when the gamblers balked at playing that many coins with nickels, they took the time to convert them to a coinage that the people would accept. They are also busy converting slots over to coin in/voucher out options. Many were set to range from a penny to a buck... something I thought was terrific, because it appeared that they had a "full house" when it came to the number of people playing. Coffee was available either by waitress or by a self-serve area along one of the walls. Promotions were plentiful.... the top seller being the two New York Steak dinners for $9.95.... which we heard plenty of recommendations for... and the promotions available were alluring... one being a chance to get 100 free pulls on "Wheel of Fortune..." and that, I understand, is a daily event. Keno is also a popular event for live games at Rail City. I checked the pay schedules, and found them to be fair, if not generous. While many casinos make you pay more money for tickets like "Sweet Sixteen," you could play it for a buck, and they also had penny keno.... with a 500 game minimum. All in all, it left me wanting to come back.... especially after playing $5 in the "Lone Ranger" penny slot and cranking it up to over $25 in a few minutes with only a "sample" bet of twenty-seven cents! After all, the concept is to win... and it was so easy. Everything I "sampled" was playing well and paying well. I think that is about the best recommendation a gambler can make to other gamblers. Hey people, you can win here!

From Rail City, I headed for my original destination, Baldini’s Sports Casino.... home of 100 television screens, and a center for sporting events year round. The place was packed.... first indication was the parking lot full of cars and trucks. The inside of the casino was equally busy, with people playing everywhere. Food specials were abundant.... as were promotions involving football games and parties. While the pit and table games area was being remodeled, people were happy to just sit and play the games. There were a lot of penny games available there, too. As well as two-cent games tucked in between the nickel, quarter, and dollar slots. The food smelled terrific, though we didn’t pause to eat.... we made plans to return to do just that. Where else are you going to find a good steak and egg breakfast for $2.99? It was only a matter of a minute or two and I was being offered a drink.... and since I am a coffee-holic it was a delight to have a cup of java delivered so promptly. My motor doesn’t run without coffee-oil! There were some newer slots looking at me in Baldini’s too... so I had to mark it as a return trip.... they were all being played. That was really noticeable.... heading towards mid-week, off-season... and both casinos were full of people eagerly pursuing those jackpots. Looking around at Baldini’s, I noticed large numbers of progressive jackpots.... which sent my "interest meter" soaring over the top.... and I made a note to try to get those jackpots online again as soon as humanly possible. Oh, and before I forget, Baldini’s gives away an autographed football helmet every week during their Monday Night Football festivities. Something really worth going for.... My husband said that the men’s room is even adorned with football spreads and figures and facts.... We will be going back to Baldini’s soon. They have three restaurants, and we have eaten at two of them, but still have one to go... we haven’t been to their "Turf Club" yet.

I’m going to try to walk everyone through a couple of the Reno casinos each week, and I hope everyone will find it as interesting as I do. We’ll be in Reno and Sparks next week, and I’m going to check out several on Virginia Street.

No, Reno isn’t Las Vegas.... but it is a good solid place to gamble without the distractions. Every gambler should be taking notes.... no, you won’t find pirate ships, volcanos, and dancing waters.... what you will find is a friendly, fun place, "The Biggest Little City in the World." It has the games, the food, the entertainment, and more... and it doesn’t sit smack in the middle of a big old desert. It’s scenic, and it doesn’t cost as much as Vegas does.... no more excuses, folks. We have the airport, the planes, the trains, the buses, the cars, and the RVs. Book now, and see what I’m babbling about... you will be glad you did! And drop me an e-mail after you’ve been, or before you come... I answer questions, am happy to help with anything anyway that I can.... the offer stands. I’m star@renogamingguide.com.

When will we see the jackpots online daily again? I know people are asking. So the weekly progress report is that I am actively pursuing the Reno casinos to sign up with me, "The Jackpot Lady" as some call me... and I will resume putting those jackpots online every day again by 7 AM. It isn’t that the energy is gone.... far from it... the "turbo heels" are lubed and ready to go.... the brain is doing back-flips in frustration from not doing them, and the notebooks and pens are by the door and ready to roll. The facts are that I am not known in Reno like I was in Tahoe for the 644 days those jackpots appeared.... I am not sitting comfortably on a cushion of cash, rather far from it. I have no investors, no venture capital, or even close to it.... but I still have the dream, the drive, and the determination that has been with me daily since 1999. I still "go to work" every day, I’ve re-built the Reno Gaming Guide, I’m still adding more daily, I’m still writing this article and I’m still pumping the Reno-Tahoe Gambling Weekly newsletter. Advertising is still by word-of-mouth and "please tell your friends I exist..." and it will be that way seemingly forever, but I really couldn’t quit. I still don’t know how. That "Q" word isn’t in my dictionary!

I used to compare my charges to the cost of a one-time newspaper ad covering half a page.... I’ve tried every angle in the book that I know of to get around the budget hurdles that face me in my quest. I might interject at this point that advice and encouragement are equally welcome from my readers. That means I'll accept "web-hugs" too.  It's been a long journey, a couple of missed Thanksgivings and Christmases too... gads, I would give the rest of my teeth to have holidays again.... it doesn't interrupt the work grind, but it would be nice to bake a Christmas pie and put the jackpots online at the same time.  I've missed out (by choice or lack of dollars) on a lot of things... so if you have any ideas that would help me smash those hurdles once and for all... I'll love ya forever!

Some casinos would rather spend a half million bucks on radio and television commercials on another coast.... heck.... half a million would be close to 1,000 months of me.... but I refuse to back down, and I refuse to go up on the price... there’s a purpose behind my madness.... to convey what Reno gambling is all about, to make people come to Reno who wouldn’t otherwise, and to share the marvels of gambling in Reno. You’d think they’d all be happy to support that.... but unfortunately, I’m beginning to think some people should be replaced with an "excuse meter...." That way the excuses would be automatic, and nobody would have to be paid to do it. That alone would save them thousands of dollars a year. People who know me do know that I am convinced that what is required in the future is teamwork. All I am trying to do is get them to work together in a different way, and I’m not going to give up until every last one of them knows what the heck I do and why I do it. It might be one of those "die trying" things, but if I don’t succeed, then I will be happy if people just remember that I truly gave it the effort and put it on my grave. And if I fail in the effort, send a congratulations card to the California Tribes.... because I would give them a run for their money, and all they will have without me is the rhetoric coming out of Reno and Tahoe. The casinos in Nevada can then say, without further efforts, that the Tribal casinos made toast out of them... and nobody will argue that.... they will be too busy gambling in California to even notice the noise in Nevada.