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Feb 2005, Lisa's friend from Chicago

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PostPosted: Jan Sun 01, 2006 10:41 am    Post subject: Feb 2005, Lisa's friend from Chicago Reply with quote

This trip report is quite long – I have not been to Reno since last October 2004, and since moving to Chicago this past summer (from San Francisco), I don’t seem to get out there as often.
My casino host at Silver Legacy called me in early February and asked if I wanted to come out for one of their parties at the end of February. I hopped on the American Airlines website, found a good fare for a non-stop flight out of O’Hare, called my friend Lisa and she agreed to go – so . . .

Lisa hasn’t been to Reno in over 22 years when she and her husband drove cross country on their honeymoon. At that time she was even too young to gamble! (you do the math). Lisa is a landscape artist and not much of a gambler, so this was an opportunity for her to see some new terrain and take some photos for some future works (you can see her work at – she does great commission work at reasonable prices!).

Saturday, February 26. 2005

Up and out by 6:30 am to catch an 8:30 am flight out of O’Hare. Curbside was swamped so we decide to try inside, especially since it was cold. – bad idea! Totally swarmed with “groups” of people either going to Warm (Miami, Mexico) or Cold (Aspen, Vail and Reno!). So back outside to stand in line for 15 minutes. Checked the bags and breezed through security – but that’s because I have a system. I know to take off the belt, the shoes (why isn’t TSA consistent about shoes? Reno says always take them off, O’Hare says you can keep them on?), take the laptop out of the case, etc.

We grab the Sunday Chicago Tribune at the newsstand (a day early and weighs about 5 lbs) so we can read on the plane. Flight is smooth and not too crowded.

Arrive in Reno at 10:30am, on-time but my bag is not! Start to panic after a 30 minute wait but I realize I am not the only one waiting. It seems the flight was filled with skiers who had skis and other oversized baggage which was holding up the works. We grab the bags, get the rental car (all Dollar had left was a minivan!) and head over to Silver Legacy.

Check in at VIP Room with Athena who is very sweet, and ask for my host who is out skiing with clients up on Mt. Rose – so I’ll catch up with her later. Our room is not quite ready, but ready enough to drop off the bags, wash up and get on our way.

Lisa and I grab a small lunch at Sweetwater Café, register for the party on Monday night and the slot tournament on Sunday/Monday. Then we decide, since the forecast is for light snow up at Lake Tahoe on Sunday, we better do the side trip on Saturday.

We drive up 80 through Truckee, down 267 through Kings Beach and Brockaway with a stop at Cal Neva. I love the Cal Neva and it looks like they are doing some big renovating there – I like the Gold Room where you can put one foot in California and the other in Nevada! Sit at the bar, have my first Patron Silver margarita and hit $1 VP for a four of a kind (7s). This trip is going great already!

Head back to Reno via Carson City so Lisa can mark off another state capital on her list. Get back in time to change and have dinner before the BB King show at 8pm. We ate at Fairchild’s – had the Dungeness crab cocktail and the oyster stew – outstanding! Sat and played some VP while we were waiting for the show to start and then head down to the Grande Exposition Hall.

We had Row 3 tickets in the Center! And what a great show – I didn’t realize that BB King was 79 years old. He had a great 8 piece backup band which played for the first 20 minutes. Then he came out, sat on a folding chair and played Lucille for over an hour! And at the end, he made a point of standing up on his own and walking off by himself. He came back out and handed out some pins to the fans at the end – again, a great show. Lisa bought a t-shirt for her husband on the way out and since it had been a long day, it was back to the room for an early start tomorrow!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Up and out at 8:30 am for breakfast at Sweetwater’s. SL has a new “comp yourself” system which I don’t use – I still go through my Casino Host for my comps. Basically I sign everything to the room and at the end of the stay, she looks at my level of play, comps what she can, then she bills my credit card what I didn’t cover. It works better for me in that it is a bit more discreet – I’ve seen too many people watching the terminals to see what kind of comps you get.

This morning we go to the Nevada Museum of Art ( ) which is a short walk down N. Virginia Street, across the Truckee River. We both have wanted to see the Steve Wynn Collection before it leaves the museum on March 30th. While Wynn is building his new mega casino in Las Vegas, he needed a place to store his collection of Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and Rembrandts and the Reno museum was the perfect place. I always try to stop in here on a Reno trip – it really is an island of tranquility away from all the casino noise and lights – is a great break especially if you’ve hit some bad luck.

We stop by the Siena on our way back and I am lucky again at VP – only it is 25 cents this time. Still, I hit two sets of Four Aces and some nice size money and walk away with over $100. Thanks Siena!

The rest of Sunday afternoon is spent with me playing VP and some serious Blackjack while Lisa checks out the health spa for a steam and relaxation. I do pretty well on VP – actually supremely well. I play my favorite bank over near the craps tables at Silver Legacy – these are progressive Deuce’s Wild machines, multi-denom but I play the Double Double Bonus which treats me pretty well. I know that the VPFree website ( ) says that the paytable is best for the Deuces Wild progressive but after two hours of playing DB, I walk away up $700 on a 25 cent game. Hit quite a few Four Aces and Four Aces with the 2 Kicker for 2000 credits.

Blackjack was not so good – but not so bad. Playing $25 a hand for about three hours meant I could get some points for the raffle tickets at Monday night’s party. Talked with some of my favorite dealers and learned the latest gossip on Reno casinos etc. Started with $500 and was up to $800 when I should have walked away. Left with about $300.

It also seems that all the BJ tables are now single deck 6:5 payoff for Blackjack and no more of those damn ShuffleMaster machines. I didn’t see one while I was there. I’ve heard different stories about this: that they get breaking down or that SL didn’t want to pay the high cost of leasing them.

I had a 4:00pm round in the slot tournament so I had the pit boss hold my 3rd base seat for me. I racked up 5180 points in first round which was my best ever – and the woman next to me had 5800 (she would later take one of the top prized for the tournament on Monday night).

Dinner at Sterling’s Steak and Seafood was great as usual – another must see when I am in Reno. Phillip DeManczuk ( ) who is the maitre’d there always takes good care of me. Lisa is a big Pinot Noir fan (and not because of the movie Sideways) so she had picked out two pinots from the wine list and wanted a recommendation. Phillip actually recommended a different one, a 2001 Russian River Barham-Mendelsohn which was out of this world. It is described as an “iron fist in a velvet glove” – and we ended up calling the winemaker when we got back to Chicago and ordered a case! It can be found on some websites such as or Sam’s Wine in Chicago. Lisa had the salmon special with Dungeness crab and a mornay sauce with potatoes o’brien. I had my usually Filet Mignon and Jumbo Shrimp. We finished it off with a chocolate crème brulee and a piece of chocolate chip cheesecake to go (for Meagan down in High Limit Slots).

After dinner, more VP and more BJ. Nothing spectacular – just held my own and back to the room by 1am.

Monday, February 28, 2005

The game plan for the day is for me to rack up some more points – more points mean more raffle tickets for the party that night. It is a Mardi Gras theme and they are raffling off a Macy’s Gift Certificate, a New Orleans Vacation, a Toyota Corolla and a Toyota FourRunner. So it is slots, VP and BJ all day – down quite a bit at the end but lots of fun, met some great people and I enjoyed myself.

I also have my second round at the Slot Tournament and pick up another 4800 points – given my past experience, it should put me in the money for at least $250.

Back to the room, get ready for a great party and we’re off! SL puts on a great party – good live music, the food (boneless ribeye) is great, and the Ferrari Carrano wines can’t be beat, especially the Fume Blanc.

While dinner is starting, I find out I placed 19th in the slot tournament which is good for $500! During the rest of dinner, other people’s tickets are being drawn to come up on stage and play a 5 minute round of slots to see who qualifies for one of the four prizes. Once you win the slot round, you spin a big wheel which has both Cash and Prize sections on it. The sad part is, you want the person to land on Cash – this means they get a bit less money than what the prize is worth, but for the rest of the party goers it means that there is an extra drawing for money at the end of the party! So on the last prize, the SUV worth $43,000, the woman lands on cash – meaning there will be 5 more tickets drawn for $2,000 each. And guess who is the first one to be drawn? I was shocked – ran up there, had to fill out that damn IRS form, but it also meant I could go up to Casino Credit after the party and pay off my line of credit. Any trip where I break even in Reno is a winning trip to me!

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Up at an ungodly hour (4:30am) for a 6:30am flight back to Chicago. Return the rental car and get situation on another uneventful flight. Karma is with us when we land, our bags are the first ones out of the chute – so we are able to catch a cab and get home by 1:00pm!

Another great trip and I hope to be back in early May.
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