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May 28 to May 31 at the Sands
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Joined: 23 Dec 2009
Posts: 357

PostPosted: Jun Fri 03, 2016 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Because my wife just had her knee surgery three weeks earlier, anything that required walking was no bueno, so we didn't get to the Nugget. I had wanted to compare them on back-to-back days, but that will have to wait for a future trip.

But everything you say about the little Nugget is kind of why we drove to Sparks to eat!
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Joined: 18 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Jun Fri 03, 2016 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While in the Way Back Machine.....I also found a post on the El Cortez I had forgot.

From 2004 trip report:


How I nearly killed Lou Diamond Phillips:
One evening while driving in front of the old Comstock, a nerdy looking guy in a bowtie nearly pushed an old man into the street diretly in front of me. There were so many people standing around, I thought the El Cortez had become the new feeding station for the down and outers. It wasn't until the next day I see the Reno Gazette Urnial with a photo of:

------------------ From RGJ with photo:
‘Devil' shot in Reno
August 21, 2004 •• 826 words
Locals volunteer to be extras in film starring Lou Diamond Phillips, James McDaniel and Bruce Weitz By Forrest Hartman RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL For the past week, Reno has been a backdrop for dangerous characters and shady dealings. And, if all goes well, they'll be coming soon to a theater near you. Since Sunday, a film crew from Brazos Productions has been camped at the Atlantis, El Cortez Hotel and other Reno locales to film an independent thriller starring Lou Diamond
Hummm... "Reno...dangerous characters, shady dealings..." not the Reno I know.
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Joined: 20 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Jun Sat 04, 2016 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those who like Noble Pizza but not the El Cortez scene, your wishes have been answered. Noble is opening a second location at 777 South Center St. in the Midtown area. The building used to house Maytan Music Store but has been extensively remodeled and updated. It will be occupied by several other businesses in addition to Noble, and the general neighborhood is becoming one of the hottest areas in Reno with lots of development in the area. Noble is set to open any day now, might even be in their soft opening stage right now.

I'm enjoying the TR, keep it coming.
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BC Dave

Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 1379

PostPosted: Jun Sat 04, 2016 9:23 am    Post subject: Great report Reply with quote

Glad you got Photobucket mastered, MJames. Love the old motel signs - especially the gambling themed ones. Great poise there as you cast the globe like bowling ball down the lane. I'm a big fan of the little Nugget's Awful Awful. Carson city's Nugget has one too, but it's not a contender in the burger wars.
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PostPosted: Jun Sat 04, 2016 12:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Great report Reply with quote

BC Dave wrote:
I'm a big fan of the little Nugget's Awful Awful. Carson city's Nugget has one too, but it's not a contender in the burger wars.

Years ago (before the Burger Wars thing) I had an Awful Awful at a bar somewhere on the UNR campus. I'll be damned if I can figure out where it was, or if it is even still around.
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PostPosted: Jun Sat 04, 2016 12:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Great report Reply with quote

BC Dave wrote:
Glad you got Photobucket mastered, MJames.

I went into my Flickr account and I have loads of Reno photos there. I am sure I had used Flickr (and pretty sure Facebook, too) to embed photos, but that didn't work this time. So now 37 photos will forever be in my Photobucket account!
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PostPosted: Jun Sat 04, 2016 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monday Funday, May 30 (aka “Work Day” in Canada) -

As I had fallen asleep around 10:00 PM the night before, I wasn't totally surprised when I woke up around 6:00 AM, and rolled around for another hour. My wife was still sleeping, so because she gambled late into the night, I decided to head down to the casino to make up for lost time. Now, I love my wife all to bits and pieces, but this lady (who has hearing loss and was wearing a CPAP mask) must have heard me slide my money clip into my pocket as she sat up in bed like a shot and said “You going gambling? Wait for me!”

So I grabbed the 2-for-1 latte coupon that we were given at check in, got my coffees and settled in. We found slot machines that were on a 90 degree angle from each other. Before long, I heard the familiar “Quick Hit Bonus” music, and watched my wife hit for $90 or so. My machine was this cool, 3D Dragon's Temple… and it wouldn't stop paying me!

We each played for about two hours, and had built my buy-in from $100 to about $300. I decided to see if I had “the touch” today, so I found a Batman slot in the walkway from registration to the main casino, and managed to give a hundy back before I could finish the sentence “What the…?” I went to play a little video poker at a quarter machine where the Royal Flush progressive was over $1300. Suddenly, I was even for the day.

My uncle was ready to start our Memorial Day adventure, so I stalled him by stopping at the craps table. The thing about craps… what is a “hot” roll? I ask this, because the Holy Grail of shooters is to make a few points, increase your bets as you go, and as the roll continues keep racking the money. Well, I thought my roll was “that roll”, so I kept pressing my bets each time they hit… and sevened-out with a whole lotta money on the felt, and only a $39 profit in my rack. Everybody (well, both other players) cheered my and said “good roll”, but, eh. Whatever.

If you recall from our trip to Las Vegas in April, my wife hurt her knee on Saturday when we went to the Valley of Fire. That next morning we went to the Black Bear Diner, but actually spent most of that time looking for an urgent care facility that took our insurance. Not really enjoying that meal, we decided to try again at the Black Bear Diner in Reno. This meal tasted as good as the first one probably did. Being a Midwesterner, the closest location is 16 hours away bar car, so this chain rates as one I'd be happy to return to often.

From there, it was on the road for a drive around Lake Tahoe. Taking US 50 through Carson City, we stopped at Spooner Summit for bear hunting.

I didn't find any bear in my seven minutes on the mountain, so we continued on and turned north on Hwy 28 towards Incline Village.

Continuing around the north end of the lake, my uncle suggested a bathroom break, and we just so happen to be driving past the Grand Lodge Casino at the Hyatt Regency. My uncle went on his way, and I had one thought in mind… get a $1 chip for my collection. I walked up to a blackjack table, bought in for $40 and started playing. I never lost a hand, and cashed out about five minutes later for $160.

My uncle came out of the bathroom and I was surprised when we stayed for another half hour or so to gamble (and even better, that I didn't give much back) that after we got back on the road and started to head south, I thought nothing of taking my own bathroom break five whole miles later at the Tahoe Biltmore.

Before I go too far, if you guys like old-school casinos, you'd better get up there quickly. While doing some surfing recently, I see that the property was sold years ago, but financing is in place to begin the transformation to become the Boulder Bay Resort. But that's not why I had stopped there; this trip had became a chip run.

There were only about a dozen cars in the parking lot, but saw someone walking out so I figured that they were open. In an odd set-up for a casino, you walk in and there is a large foyer with a seating area and coat check booth (all of which was deserted when we walked in). From the foyer, though, you could easily see the casino down a flight of stairs. I lost my wife and uncle to slot machines while I saddled up to the only open table game… Super Fun 21.

I had no idea what it was, and when I asked the dealer and she explained it, only one thing stood out… even money on a blackjack. I laid $21 on the felt and gave it a go. Four hands later, I didn't find it super or fun, so I did what anyone else would do… I put another $20 on the table. That went just as quickly, so I went to find a slot to try to win back my money. I found an old Kenny Rogers Gambler slot, and sure enough I hit a couple of bonuses and cashed out for a $70 profit (and a $30 profit at the Biltmore).

We got back in the car and continued our tour south, stopping at Emerald Bay (possibly my favorite photo stop).

My wife patiently sat in the backseat and was given one job to do… determine what was for dinner. As we headed east, she came up with the Lakeshore Beach House. I suggested that she make a reservation for a little later and when she called, the number was disconnected. That put pressure on her to find another location.

Around the south shore through the aptly named South Lake Tahoe, CA, I stopped at a stoplight at the state line. Looking out my mirror, I saw this…

I put the photo on my Facebook page, and my sorta-sister posted “If you water it, will it grow up into a BIG STARDUST??? Sighhhhh... “ Some people struggle to let go.

Not knowing what my wife would pick for dinner, we did know that dinner time was still about two hours away, so I went chip hunting. The only Stateline casino in which I am chip-free is the newly minted Hard Rock Casino, so guess where we stopped.

That's right. The Hard Rock Casino (sheesh, I think you made that harder than it had to be).

I had been in the former Horizon Casino only once, about 10 years ago, and only remember that my wife and I saw a magic show there. But the new owners did a bang-up job as it looks remarkably good. I headed right to the craps table, and after an hour was up at least $200, but I stayed too long and cashed out with only a $30 profit. I had figured everyone else was ready to leave, but to my surprise their butts were glued to the slot machine chair. So when in Rome…

I started sliding $20s into one machine after another, and was getting nothing at all. Finally my uncle found me and said that he was ready to leave right when the Frodo bonus started on the Lord of the Rings machine. After a nice win, my uncle said that he would find my wife, so I slid over to the Willy Wonka slot and quickly got an Oompa Loompa bonus that paid well, too. With those nice hits, I only lost $60 on slots at the Hard Rock. Kinda puts my slot losses into context.

My wife announced her dinner choice of Fox and Hound, which is a barbecue restaurant four miles up into the mountains. We were a little dubious that a mountain top restaurant would be open on a holiday, but sure enough, it was full of people watching both the Golden State Warriors Game 7 and the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

And how is Top of the Mountain barbecue? Quite splendid.

Though the ribs were a teeny, tiny dry, they had amazing flavor. The barbecue tri-tip was also great and the beans, too. I didn't do any research on the owner, but he has to be a transplant. No way anyone wakes up and says “I want to smoke meat for my restaurant on the top of a mountain”.

After getting back to the Sands and their sole working elevator, the tables had turned. My wife was too pooped to pop, so I headed down to the casino. I must have gambled for five or more hours already this day, and was ahead on the day, so apparently I needed to change that.

Because there was nothing I could play that won me money. Craps was crappy and slots shredded my benjamin. I decided to play blackjack, and I saw a single-deck game that paid 3:2. I had to play. $150 later, I had to go to bed. Its hard to get on a run playing single-deck because after two or three hands, the cards get shuffled again. But to drop that much? I overstayed my welcome.

Evening came and morning followed, the third day.

Last edited by mjames1229 on Jun Sun 05, 2016 5:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Jun Sat 04, 2016 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The last time we were in tahoe we ask a cab driver where some of the best steakhouses were and he suggested the Chart House up on the road to Minden, He drove us up there and it was very good. If your on foot the lucky beaver next to Harrahs is great they have a rotating BBQ grill that does a fantastic job, and any thing you could want at a fair price, plus V/P at the bar. Keep up the great reports!
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PostPosted: Jun Sun 05, 2016 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tuesday, May 30 -

The last day in Nevada is always melancholy. Sure, theoretically I have to return sometime, but I am never “ready to go home” like I read and hear so often.

I woke up to an empty left side of the bed. “Curses”, said I, “That beyotch got the casino jump on me”. As I was making haste to join her, she comes into the room trying to hide the beaming. Not being very successful at it, I ask her how much she won, and she waves about $700 in front of me. Now I, er, I mean she has some play money, so we hustle to pack so we can go down and play.

After packing the room, we kept a close eye on the clock. For various reasons, my wife was taking an American flight home leaving at 12:30 PM (and arriving at 8:00 PM) and I was taking a Southwest flight leaving at 1:10 PM, but would also leave me “stuck” in Las Vegas for almost four hours.

I ask her which machine she hit, and I sit there and slide in a $20. As the money drips away, I tell her that she must have taken all of the money out of the machine… and just as I say that I hit for $177. After trying to get greedy and spending some of that winnings in a $5 slot, I swear off slots and keep my win.

While I was playing, a guy came up to me and handed me all of the coupons they gave him at check-in because he had forgotten to use them. The table game match play interested me as it can be used for a $5 to $25 bet. I sat down at the blackjack table and got on a nice little run.

When the time was right, I made a $25 bet and used my coupon. My hand was QQ and the dealer had a 10 showing, but she flipped up a 7 and my streak continued. I played for a little while longer and cashed out with a $100 profit. A good morning so far.

That's because I hadn't tried to check-out, yet.

As I was trip planning, I was shut-out of the good comps because of that basketball tournament (as a matter of fact, Harrah's said “Stay away” as they didn't even allow Saturday check-ins). The Sands was about fifth on my list, but one of their hosts is a contributor to a couple of Facebook groups related to bowling, so I checked with him. He offered me the first night (Saturday) as a comp, with the promise to review my play on the back end.

Unfortunately, I was told that he started this day at 1:00 PM, but they will see if they can find another host. Peg's Glorified Ham and Eggs had been the planned breakfast (just a few hours before this happened), but we didn't know how long we'd have to wait for host contact, so we ate at Mel's Diner. I missed the call that came from the other host, but his message said to contact him through the switchboard, so figuring that he must be on the property we went back to the registration desk. Well, they couldn't find him and we had flights to catch, so I said some choice words to the desk manager and went on my way.

I guess I wonder why hosts aren't available in the morning at check-out time? (To jump the story a bit, the next day when I was at home I sent my host an E-mail, and by the end of the day had reviewed my play, comped the whole magilla and sent through a credit on my card).

The trip to the airport was uneventful and my curbside check-in for Southwest was slightly eventful (here's a hint… if you have a Customer of Size extra seat on Southwest, be very wary of using the curbside check-in. They screwed mine up and though I got my seat and extra seat without incident, I got an E-mail during the flight that I didn't check-in and both my flight and extra seat were gone with no refund. That was my second order of business after I got home, and the Southwest agent figured out what happened and happily processed the seat refund for me).

From the moment I booked my ticket, I knew that I would spend my layover in Las Vegas in some casino or another (read on to find out how the gambling gods have a sense of humor). As soon as I get off the plane I contact Uber for a ride and the driver pulls up as soon as I get to the waiting area. He takes me to Hooters (though the Tropicana was my original choice. Because chip-hunting.)

If you've never been there (and judging by their financials, you haven't) Hooters is actually a very nice place. Every employee (save for the one craps dealer that moved in ultra-slow motion and didn't give two shits about her pace) was very pleasant, the games were modern, clean, functioning and the video poker had decent pay tables.

Except I couldn't win there. In the course of 2-1/2 hours, I lost about $200 total on every game I played.

My flight was to leave at 5:55 PM, and with only the duffel I was carrying (I had planned for this layover when packing my suitcase) I knew I'd breeze through security, so I called for my Lyft ride at 4:30.

In Vegas in April, as soon as I got into the Lyft, the driver started telling us how easy it is (and how) to steal a Honda. On this trip, I no sooner get in and the driver starts complaining about the short trips (apparently I was his fourth consecutive trip that originated at the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Tropicana) and that nobody tips when paying by credit card. We then discussed tips in general, and that it is easier to have a $18 fare and say keep the change, than to tip through the app. So when we got to the airport, I felt compelled to hand him $3 cash... to which he promptly said that he couldn't take. I am thinking that in the future, Uber might be the way to go.

I had a buddy who had bowled three weeks earlier in Reno and had that exact same Reno – Vegas – Milwaukee leg that I did. I had told him to spend a few hours on the Strip, and he didn't find it worth the hassle to hit security a second time. So to show superiority (and for you women folk, this is VERY important for man-buddies) I charted my time.

Called Lyft – 4:30 PM
Lyft pick-up – 4:33 PM
Drop off at airport – 4:38 PM
Through security – 4:50 PM

Only 20 minutes from the time I called Lyft and I was already heading towards my gate. That's how you manage a Vegas layover.

With more time to kill before my flight, I found a slot in the airport and when they called to line-up, I had a $20 profit. With my preboard pass, I was near the podium when the gate agent disappeared down the jetway and was down for quite a long time. He came back with a long face and announced that the radio had failed prior to landing, and there will be a delay while they try to find another, install and test it. As we all get out of line, I figure my luck would be an extended delay or even a cancellation, so I figured I'd play video poker, using the Royal Flusher “drilling holes” method.

On my first $20, this…

As the meter is rolling up the credits (because I was trying to kill time) the gate agent mentioned that they had found a radio and it is working perfectly. I cashed out with a $188 profit ($208 on all airport games, and completely shot the theory that I'd lose less money if I gambled on the strip).

Some end of trip stats (because this TR isn't long enough)…

All blackjack +19
All craps -133
All slots -401
All sports bets +103
All video poker -129

Total -561… not horrible for four days in the desert.
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BC Dave

Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 1379

PostPosted: Jun Mon 06, 2016 12:28 pm    Post subject: Thanks MJames Reply with quote

Georgeous pictures of Tahoe and surrounding scenery. Those four aces are also a thing of beauty! Just curious, what is meant by the Royal Flusher drilling holes method? (I looked that website over, somewhat, but did not find anything).

Last edited by BC Dave on Jun Mon 06, 2016 2:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Jun Mon 06, 2016 1:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Thanks MJames Reply with quote

BC Dave wrote:
Those four aces are also a thing of beauty!

Not just four aces... They're Airport Aces! The rarest and most precious kind!
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PostPosted: Jun Tue 07, 2016 5:38 am    Post subject: Re: Thanks MJames Reply with quote

BC Dave wrote:
Just curious, what is meant by the Royal Flusher drilling holes method? (I looked that website over, somewhat, but did not find anything).

Royal Flusher, for those who haven't followed previous links that I've offered, lives in eastern-Ontario and takes 2-3 trips to Las Vegas each year, and writes extensive trip reports on his own webiste. He is in Las Vegas right now, trying to do an entire 10 or 12 day (I forget) trip for under $1000 cash, using comps, free play and other tricks and tidits.

He is doing a "Live" trip report, link here.

His "drilling holes" method is to put $20 into a video poker machine to see if it is paying out or not. Instead of sticking $100 in a machine and playing it down, he spreads it out... like drilling holes to find oil. His theory is that in five machines, one of them has to be paying.

It is a bit facetious, because he knows that video poker is random and that there is no such thing as a hot machine.
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PostPosted: Jun Tue 07, 2016 11:34 am    Post subject: The lowlights Reply with quote

Great work! And I love the collection of old motel signs...that's art, right there!

Sorry to hear the bowling didn't see you at your peak, and that things were really crowded, and that you couldn't enjoy your food, and that your seats at the Dana Carvey show sucked, and that the gambling was a wash, and that the Sands elevators were so ridiculously bad...wait, what where the good points, again??

Being able to watch The Simpsons on the airplane, though...though you didn't get to watch the movie you'd planned on, I'd call that a score!

I look forward to more, as always! Even the misses make for great reading, so keep up the good work...

(edited after initial post, with this pompous disclaimer to show that I think I'm, like, a freakin' journalist, or some such thing)

I had only read half the trip report before responding, so clearly, the high points were the Tahoe barbecue restaurant, and the Vegas gambling - nice work!

And glad to see you stopped by the Biltmore - that place has always occupied a special place in my heart, but I've known, probably from the first time I ever set foot in the place, that its days were numbered! It's as though it were already gone, even while still there...

Thanks again!
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PostPosted: Jun Tue 07, 2016 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The trip - as always - was outstanding.

I talk about the negative stuff because it makes it easier to fill column inches (listen to me, talking like a journalist and all).

Especially when the negative stuff are things like misjudging crowds and forgetting to turn off my DVD player after charging it thatwere my own damn fault.

Not Reno's fault I'm am an idiot.

Those elevators on a holiday weekend, though...
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PostPosted: Jun Fri 24, 2016 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off, thanks for the TR. I just worked out my own trip to Reno for the first three nights AFTER HAN (thank god). I like Reno empty, which is how I think those days should be. Should be at Sands Regency too. Stayed there for the first time in late February, I thought it was decent enough.

A couple responses:

That Awful Awful looks terrible. The one at the downtown Nugget is so much more appetizing than that one. Lettuce? Tomato?

The UNR Awful Awful you remember was probably served at the Wolf's Den. The place was closed last year after serving underage drinkers.

Love the motel sign pics. Apparently two hotels across Virginia from Circus Circus, the Heart O Town and the Golden West, are about to be demolished. The mind boggles about the decades of depravity within those walls.

I don't understand how you wound up settling for a parking spot at Circus Circus when the lot at Atlantis was packed.
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