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Reno! It's good to be back....

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PostPosted: Jul Mon 11, 2011 11:50 am    Post subject: Reno! It's good to be back.... Reply with quote

A week in Las Vegas two weeks ago wasnít enough for The Dog and I, so we booked in for a weekend in Reno! Harrahís was gracious enough to send me $70 in free play during a time period that I could actually use it and some comped rooms, too, so off to Reno we goÖ

The Dogís work schedule didnít let us leave until 7:30 Friday night. Fortunately, no bee truck incidents or anything else for the 2.5 hour drive up there, though there was a situation with taco sauce and a white shirt that caused a ten-minute off-highway detour.

So we roll up to Harrahís at 10pm, hand the car to the valet, the bags to the bellhop, and go to the desk. Our room is NOT ready. Itís 10pm. What the hey? No real biggie as we usually donít make it up to the room when we arrive as we like to get to gambling as soon as we arrive, but stillÖ itís TEN PM!

We go right ahead and sit down at some machines. I promptly lose $30 in freeplay and then some more. The Dog turns his $15 in FP into $40 cash money. Our room is finally ready so we get the room keys. We head over to El Dorado to swipe our cards and The Dog scores a free sunglasses car-visor clip. Awesome because he actually wants one of these and when he goes to the desk to get it, the clerk gives him two of them. Score! However, during this transaction, I proceed to lose more money in the slots.

Note: The El Dorado has put in new chairs all over the casino and they no longer have that cool ďEĒ logo but they are far more comfortable. Also, they have stopped using that oppressive air freshener and switched to something more subtle.

Next up, we head to Silver Legacy to swipe our cards and try and win that Mini Cooper convertible. MF Ė someone had just won it earlier in the day! Arg. All the machines for this car noted that the color on display (a lovely aquamarine) might not be available, as someone had won the car on 7/8. And then I proceed to lose more money in the slots at Silver Legacy.

And after that, on to Cal-Neva to cash in The Dogís $7 in freeplay. (Cal-Neva never sends me anything <whine>.) The players club was closed but there were two clerks there who happily added the freeplay for The Dog. The Dog turns this freeplay into real money and we wander around CN for a bit. The craps tables are packed but not a lot of hootiní and hollering, so we decide to grab something to eat from Top Deck. Service was non-existent. We got seated and that was it. After ten minutes (or perhaps eleven), we eased out of there and went to the grill downstairs. Phat Philly for me and Patty Melt for The Dog Ė delicious!! The Philly was cooked fresh on the grill. While our order was cooking, I decided to give the slots a go one more time. Ahh, my beloved Goldfish! Those little swimmers put me back towards the good foot for the night. After dinner, itís really time to hit the sack.

Saturday morning and weíre both up and ready to hit the floor, but we decide to have breakfast first over at ElDo. Gold Plus and above members get a discount on their buffet and itís just delightful to eat there. Low lighting, great service, excellent selection of items. They also have homemade gelato (at least eight flavors) available. No giant swirly ice cream machine here! A++ for ElDo buffet.

Silver Legacy and those comfy chairs are calling our names so over to SL we go. And another brutal slots session and Pai Gow session for The Dog that now requires us to get a marker. Cash in hand, things turn around a bit on the slots at SL and I feel like Harrahís will be lucky for me. We head back over there and well, it turns out my hunch was good. Iím back up for the day, thanks to some killer hits on one of those new Penguin machines that has all sorts of random bonuses that pop up. The Dog was tired and decides to just go rest in the room for a bit.

All the sudden, itís somewhere on Saturday afternoon and we had received the secret passcode and directions to find the elusive JD up in Virginia City. We ease out towards VC. 45 minutes from Reno to there per Google Maps, but that seems like too much time for what appears to be a short route.

Oh. Itís 6,000+ feet up a twisty, windy road. Within minutes of turning off the traffic circle towards VC, weíre spiraling higher and higher.

That's Reno way down below. Nevada is an interesting landscape Ė rocky and dry. Itís like this all over the Western border of the state from what weíve been able to see.

So nothing nothing nothing and then Virginia City. It was the Americana Music Fest weekend and lots of folks are there, but we manage to find parking and make our way up to the secret meeting spot. JD is holding court at the Ponderosa and Miss Cherie is there, too! I tried to capture a picture of JD, but this is what came out on the card.

JD has added a new person to his posse and we are introduced to Jerry, the engineer for the V&T steam engine. The band at Ponderosa is jamming and cloggers are kicking up their heels. You can cruise down (for a $5 cover charge) into an old mine shaft directly inside the Ponderosa. We opted to drink instead.

JD strolls us down C Street, giving us snippets of history and quick takes on the people who populate this borough. We are introduced to the proprietor of the Mark Twain Saloon, a dapper fellow who is smartly dressed and quite personable.

Strolling on, we land at the Red Dog and order some Irish Nachos and some more beer. JD regales us with tales and history as we enjoy this fine afternoon. Jerry notes that his favorite singer Jenny Lynn is just down the road, singing at the hill overlooking the Camel Racetrack. Down the hill we go and ooo-wee, that girl can sing! At the end of her set, Jerry disappears, presumably to go charm Miss Jenny LynnÖ.

We ease up towards where The Bus is parked. JD vaguely indicates where it is, but he obviously had the Cloaking Feature on and we only spot a gaggle of girls carting a case of Pabst.

Back to the Ponderosa for another cold one and itís getting late in the afternoon. The Dog has a jacked-up work schedule and from late-evening shift the past week, he now has to switch to crack-o-dawn on Monday so we bid farewell to the fabulous JD and head back to Reno so The Dog can get some shuteye.

Back at Harrahís, we head to the newly opened Hash House A Go Go. As mjames has reported on here, HHAGG has GIANT portions. Seriously. Split the plate with someone. We order a burger and split it. So big I canít even finish my half. The only bummer about HHAGG is that you canít use any of the Harrahís food credits there (we had a $10 dining credit). Nonetheless, Iím so pleased that Cafť Napa is gone, I donít care that we canít use the credit Ė you can use your points, though!

The Dog heads up to the room to crash out for the night (thank you, Harrahís, for having the very, very, very best room darkening curtains!) and I proceed to the floor to gamble a bit.

The slots are somewhat better to me, but still nothing big. Iíve decided Iím going to head to Cal-Neva for $3 blackjack. $3 tables everywhere, 3:2 payoff and all the tables are either single or double-deck! Thatís what Iím talking about, kids!

I play for a while and lose a bit, but keep the dealer happy with frequent $1 bets for him. The dice are calling to me and I figure Iíll give it a go. $100 buy-in and I catch a couple of good rolling streaks. Some guy walks up to me and tells me Iíve got a good arm and he buys in and tells me heís skipping his roll to pass it to me. I helped him double his buy-in and heís pleased and I make a few bucks at it, too. Fun night at the table and I played for probably two or three hours. I play a few more rounds of blackjack and then decide to head back to Harrahís.

Yeah. That was a mistake. I wiped out my entire bankroll within an hour. I get two bottles of water from the slot attendant and head back up to the room.

Note: Harrahís doesnít seem to have cocktail waitresses around the slots anymore. Itís all slot attendants now, but they ask if you need drinks and carry trays of water and bring cocktails and ashtrays if requested. This actually seems to work out well as theyíre constantly around Ė in fact, I had just placed an order and within 45 seconds, a second slot attendant came up and asked if I needed anything.

Another note: Harrah's is celebrating the anniversary of Bill Harrah and has developed this weird logo with his face in the middle of it. They need to hire someone who knows what they're doing with logos. It's most unflattering. Also, I guess in honor of all the great performances from years' past, they have these plaques all over the place with past show adverts. Whoever did these obviously whipped them up using some Modge Podge and some leftover lumber. Again, please Harrah's, use a professional for these sorts of endeavors.

Sunday morning comes early for The Dog and he wakes up, retrieves from coffee for me, and lets me sleep as he heads over to Silver Legacy.

By 10:30, Iím up and ready for the day. Itís almost checkout time, so we pack the bags and attempt to get a bellhop up to get the bags. I head downstairs to checkout and the line is three or four people deep. After standing there for about two minutes, I call The Dog who is still waiting on the bellhop. He does the checkout from the room and decides to just bring the bags down himself.

Note: After going to Las Vegas and seeing their checkin and checkout lines, I really shouldnít be so impatient, but one of the reasons we love Reno is the lack of lines and quick service!

We check the bags with the bell desk and head over to Brew Brothers for lunch. Half-order of Killer Nachos and the Buffalo Chicken pizza. We use up the rest of our ElDo comps to pay and head to Silver Legacy to swipe our cards. I won a free Berry Parfait. Yay. The Dog had tried out a new slot called Las Vegas Fun or something, but couldnít hit anything on it. He handed me a Jackson and pointed me in the direction of the machine as he didnít want the machine to know he was nearby. Eh, no love there for me either.

I played one of those jumbo machines and cashed out up by a few bucks. By the end of our session at Silver Legacy, we had maybe $60 between the two of us. Ouch. We still hadnít been to Siena so across the river we walked.

Sienaís river entrance is most underwhelming. Gray and flat. But itís just a few feet to the casino and the casino is pretty with high ceilings and fancy lights. They have an automatic sportsbook machine (Leroyís is who runs the sportsbook) where you can place bets and a live desk, too, but it closes at 5pm on Sundays. The casino floor is SMALL. You can see all of it with a turn of the head. We signed up for cards (fancy and sparkly and they asked both of us what names we wanted on the cards Ė The Dog uses his middle name in real life but all his players cards show his first name except for here at Siena!)

The machines were all turned down in volume and the music was at a low level, too. It was really empty in there. At most, there were thirty players in the whole place. We both doubled our buyins on our first round at the machines. Then, I wandered to play VP and promptly lost all my cash. Wait. I still had fifteen cents.

I find The Dog and he flashes his cashout ticket Ė eleven cents, plus a hundo! Nice. Weíre back in the game. As you may know from previous reports, weíre an all-or-nothing gambling couple. Either we roll out with a big win or we go home with less than a dollar (you know, those random nickels you seem to collect if you play penny slots).

Off to Cal-Neva to roll dice! Fifty buy-in for each of us. The Dog does well on the six and eight and field bets and I stay pretty even for an hour or so. The table isnít happening and so we go to play some blackjack. The Dog is tearing it up at Royal Match and Iím down a bit, so I switch tables. I stay even but then The Dog arrives at my table and heís down for the count. I hand off $15 in chips to him and a new dealer comes out. Tina rocks it for us, but Iím still just even. She was a fun dealer to have and when she goes off shift and a new dealer comes, I lose four hands in a row and decide I want slots again.

The Cal-Neva VP at the bar is good to me (this is at least twice that Iíve done well there) and I hit 4OAK on DDB and a Royal with Deuces on DW. Cool, now I can go play penny slots. I walk past The Dog and his chips are almost gone (six bucks out on a bet and maybe five bucks left in his stack).

I figure Iíll play where I can spot when he gets up. I hit something on Hoot Loot and double up my 20. I cash that out and The Dog is still playing blackjack.

I then proceed to lose most of what I just won at Hoot Loot and VP, chasing those QuickHits and Bonus Games. Itís now almost 4:30pm.

The Dog finds me and we walk to the cage. Heís up to $91. Nice climb from the $15. He hits the Star Wars Droid Hunt game to lose $20. I play some more VP and stay even. Itís really, really time to get on the road.

We debate putting whatís left on a roulette wheel for black, but instead, we chose to actually leave Reno with a few dollars in our pockets. The Dog came home with $71 and I came back with $40. The losses were brutal, but it was fun!

As we're waiting for our car at Harrah's, their stretch limo is there. The Dog walks over to it and notices RUST spots.

Final thoughts: We really like Cal-Neva. The Dog hates casino-hopping and prefers to just park it at one casino. Our current Reno favorites are Silver Legacy (though those slots just suck me dry every time, it seems) and Cal-Neva. I think weíll skip the comped rooms at Harrahís for our next trip and pay for something at SL or Cal-Neva.

Caesarís Palace has comped rooms for us at Christmas and itís tempting (I did book them just in case we want to go AND I can find really cheap airfare) but after this weekend, we realize how much we truly love Reno. LV seems to be more for the folks who are either super-high rollers or want to go to the shows and try to spot celebrities and hang out at the pool party scene. Us common gamblers are treated much better in Reno and itís way less hassle Ė micro-lines relative to LV, much more personable service, and better comps. Reno rocks!!
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BC Dave
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PostPosted: Jul Mon 11, 2011 1:10 pm    Post subject: Heartily agree Reply with quote

Great Report Lily

Glad to hear you had fun in the Superior place! I'm with you on the Cal Neva too! Though the Pep's been nice to stay at, the Cal Neva will always be the center of my Gambling Universe!
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PostPosted: Jul Mon 11, 2011 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much, you always write GREAT TR! We are on the clock for arrival at 1:40pm on Thursday August 4th.
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PostPosted: Jul Mon 11, 2011 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was a great trip for me! We don't track our wins and losses too well, but I think I only lost $150-200 this time and I know $100 went to Silver Legacy's Pai Gow that has a $144,000 jackpot. Can anyone confirm that Pai Gow is Chinese for "motherf#@*er"?
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PostPosted: Jul Mon 11, 2011 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One more thing I finally crossed off the to-do list: eat at Pho777 behind Cal-Neva and across from Harrah's. It was fairly busy for lunch and The Dog and I split the "special" which involved flank steak, something, something, tripe, something, and beef balls.

By the phrase "beef balls", we thought perhaps it was a bastardization of "meat balls", what with it being a Vietnamese joint and all.

However, upon receiving the soup, we're pretty sure they were real-deal Rocky Mountains.

It was tasty and quite filling for less than $7. Will I go back? Perhaps. Will The Dog return? Only if I insist.

Next trip, I swear to Bill Harrah himself that we will go to the Santa Fe Hotel for some Basque dining!
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PostPosted: Jul Tue 12, 2011 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been out of touch for awhile, but really enjoyed your trip reports note the ('s). I always wondered what JD looked like, so thanks for the picture.....too bad he forgot to shave for the picture.
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PostPosted: Jul Wed 13, 2011 9:09 am    Post subject: Nice! Reply with quote

Okay, maybe not nice wins, but a lush trip, and a bountiful report, as always!

Your fine level of detail generated a follow-up thought or two:

-Eldo: A sunglass-visor clip? Man, I've never seen anything so useful coming out of that department - I scored innumerable pens, which I hardly ever even bothered to collect (which is what I assumed they were hoping I'd do!), and the odd half-off-a-comedy-show-featuring-no-one-you've-ever-heard-and-who-might-or-might-not-be-at-all-funny coupon, but nothing quite that cool. And the final doubling of the prize - sweet, indeed!

-I share your lamenting the departure of those chairs with that distinctive "E" logo; it evinced a sense of design that seems to be getting eroded with the passage of time. On the other hand, little is more important than comfort in recreation, so I can only applaud that part.

-Cal-Neva: that shrine of shrines - but interesting that the top-deck restaurant was so dysfunctional at the time you attempted to visit. I've never even eaten there, but it always struck me as the kind of place that was *probably* reliable for the kind of barebones, cheap-but-plentiful fare that one might find at, say, the Sundowner, or other entities of the glorious-but-blue-collar past - how unfortunate that this test did not pass muster, but an interesting follow-up at that "grill" - which I've also never eaten at - but that appears to be the solution, and look how handy its location is! Could one ask for better proximity to the prime gambling action? I would imagine not. At some point, I shall simply have to try the same "Phat Philly" that you had.

-Great photos on the Virginia City excursion. On that panoramic shot taken from the climb, where the heck's downtown Reno? Is it even within the frame? Is that I-80 snaking away from the region, off to the left, or is that what the 395 thingy is doing on its way to Carson city? I'm so confused.

-JD pic: I thnk we've found JD a new avatar or two.

-That Americana music fest sure sounds like the thing to hit; like Virginia City wasn't *already* enough of a perpetual party...

-Gotta love the Pabst-hauling crew. Ah, Virigina City, do your delights ever stop?

-Good stuff on the "New" Siena - I sure hope those folks can give it a good run for the money. It sounds, thus far, like a pretty good effort, though the lack of crowds is once again a nail-biter.

-"Hundo" - don't think I've ever heard that word before. I think I get it. What a nice addition to our endless vocabulary of slang.

-Cal-Neva, again - it's so true that it's the best for Blackjack, as you pointed out - but did you see any of the dreaded 6:5 Blackjack payoff business? I found a couple of those in this fine establishment last time I was there, and was horrified. Could there be a worse act of sacrilege in this sacred place??

-A rusting Harrah's limo. Perfect. There's arguably no better example of Reno's wobbly state than this.

But your final conclusion is on the money: The Cal-Neva just plain rocks. No, it will never please the poseurs, who will opt for Vegas, anyway, but who cares? Let them have their I-don't-gamble-I-just-go-for-the-shows-and-restaurants, there-to-be-seen philosophy. I'll take Reno any day!

And yes, the Silver Legacy really does have the nicest cavernous-style good atmosphere - but the real action's at Cal-Neva!

Thanks again; return to Reno soon, so that you may regale us non-visitors with more news from paradise!
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PostPosted: Jul Wed 13, 2011 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I specifically scoped for that dreaded 6:5 at the Cal-Neva and found NONE. All double-deck or SINGLE deck.... now, mind you, this was on a Sunday afternoon, but I don't believe I saw any on Saturday night either... or at least, not at the tables I checked. And I have to say, yes, the Casino Grill at Cal-Neva was excellent. It took a while, but like I said, he cooked it fresh upon ordering.

I really don't know what to say about Siena. Someone obviously spent a lot of money and time to make it a swank place, but the players weren't there. The Dog estimated 30 people, but I think it was more like 15-20... of course, I can't tell how far away or big something is either, as in, "It's 100 feet from Cal-Neva to ElDo."

Speaking of distances, I believe that's Carson City below in the pano pic from the car. Reno is up towards the right and I think that's 395. We were pretty high up within about five minutes of turning towards VC.

And for the moment, I've still got room comps at Harrah's for Christmas (due to the children returning, that will be our next time to travel) and I'm thinking about staying there but not playing. However, I kinda think I should bite the bullet and pay to stay at Cal-Neva. Anyone got pics of the rooms there?
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PostPosted: Jul Wed 13, 2011 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The ElDo sunglass clip score was priceless. When I went to go claim it, I told the lady "You're going to laugh, but I actually need one of these." At that point, I see her slyly reach in her drawer and pull out a second clip. Following her lead, I slid the first one into my pocket, cognizant of the ever-present eye in the sky. She smiled knowingly and thanked me for my discretion. I dropped a deuce on the counter and left.

The GOOD kind of deuce, JD.

This dog IS housebroken...

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PostPosted: Aug Sat 06, 2011 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great trip report Lily, and awesome pics as well! I recall seeing what I think were the other set of celebrity signs at the other elevator, where everyone had the big hair...practically falling off the wall! Like I said, I think Harrah's Reno is one of their "standard" properties, apparently all the way down to that rusty limo!

Thanks for the info on the Pho777, I've always wondered if it along with that pizza shop a block or so down the way are worth checking out. I remember the grill at the Cal-Neva was the perfect hangover cure-all a few trips back.

Keep the awesome reports coming!

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