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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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A Rare Sight

11 January 2003

Both yesterday and today I’ve been witness to one of the miracles of nature. Being able to stand within 25 feet of a little doe, weighing less than 80 pounds, feeding with her three fawns. Yes, I said "three" fawns. They appear to be identical triplets, and to have sprung forth from such a small and delicate creature is truly amazing. They appear to live in a nearby thicket of small pine trees, on the other side of a small creek. This morning I watched them bouncing in and out of the creek, and counted my blessings that I was chosen to see them. It adds to the draw to the Reno area, when you realize that nature at its finest is just around the next turn, and slightly uphill.

I was walking past a newspaper rack yesterday at the Lake when the headlines caught my eye. It appears that the City of South Lake Tahoe has decided to offer its support to El Dorado County in "a fight to the death" to stop the Tribe in Shingle Springs from building their proposed casino. Apparently this means that legal action is underway, on the premise that the Miwoks aren’t Indians, but some type of Hawaiians. So I guess that means years of litigation ahead, and more mud-slinging...against a Tribe that I think got handed a really raw deal in the first place. Their reservation is land-locked, and split by Highway 50 leading to the South Shore of Lake Tahoe, and the Stateline casinos. I, for one, don’t get it. They are now saying that Lake Tahoe will lose $45 million in revenues, but... they’ve always said that it wouldn’t hurt too much, because they have that huge blue lake to draw people... and Vail just bought the Heavenly Ski Area in the past year or so... as well as Marriott building a very large timeshare hotel and entire village next to the Gondolas right in town... They’ve always touted their ability to advertise to and draw those who didn’t care about stopping at a Tribal casino as long as there was still the variety of options of "things to do" at the lake. Then there’s the facts of other towns and counties that have shelled out tons of money to fight the Federal Government over proposed Tribal Casinos, and after all the wasted time and taxpayer monies, they lost. Prime example is the Thunder Valley Casino being built off of Interstate 80 on the way to Reno... a joint effort by the Auburn Rancheria and Station Casinos. Last word was it opens in June. I’d be trying to work out some sort of cross-marketing plan between the Lake and Shingle Springs to encourage people to visit both areas, because if I were El Dorado County, which is in California, I’d want the gaming revenues from Shingle Springs, rather than send those revenues on up the mountain to Douglas County in Nevada, home of the South Shore casinos at Lake Tahoe.

But who am I to say? I just ask a lot of questions.

About the Four-Card Keno pay tables... I’ve been told there is no industry standard pay table, just that some pay settings are more popular than others. In all fairness, 99.9% of the casinos believe a 10 spot (odds reportedly at 8.9 million to one) should pay 10,000 coins per coin-in. Thankfully it’s only a fraction of a fraction that think it ought to pay only 400 coins. The gambler in me opts for the 99.9% favorite. As far as the "speed" settings that vanished, they will return. No reason given for the disappearance... just word that they will be back. I don’t know about other Keno players, but I definitely like to have the option of setting how fast my game is going to be played. There’s a definite negative when I insert my money and the game is played while I blink. At least give me hope that I can "rub" that last number into place... I can’t even blink as fast as some of the games go! There isn’t that much coffee available!

The Martin Luther King holiday weekend is bringing all kinds of fun things with it... The South Shore Room at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is presenting "Creedence Clearwater Revisited" at 8 PM January 17th - 19th.... and tickets are reasonably priced at $45... You can get tickets by calling 1-800-HARRAHS... this is one band that I did see a few summers back outside in a concert that was presented by Harveys. They rocked the place, and while the days of John Fogerty are in the past, the "new guy" John Tristao can belt out the hits at the top of the list. It’s something worth going to see.

The same holiday weekend also offers some hot tournament action, which I’ve added to the Reno Gaming Guide’s "Casino Tournaments" section... one great one being over at The Atlantis Casino Resort, where they are having an "$85,000 Grand Cash Weekend" with 82 cash winners. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun.

At the Peppermill Reno, they are having their "Winter Luau" Slot Tournaments on January 18th and January 19th... Top Prize is $10,000, with a $99 entry fee. Not bad, you also get a special $29 room rate with that, which is really cheap for a Saturday and Sunday. Reservations need to be made by calling 1-800-648-5555. On February 17th and 18th, they are holding an "over $25,000 Honest Abe" video poker tournament. Based on 150 entrants, it too is only $99 to enter. Very reasonable fees for entry, I see why they get so many awards out at The Peppermill. It’s always a favorite place to visit, so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and see for yourself.

The Reno Hilton has come up with a new game for all of 2003... they’re featuring twice weekly drawings where winners can win $400 in cash or play one of four games where they can win up to $100,000 and a chance at a million bucks. "The $1,000,000 Game-A-Thon" includes games like "Ladder of Cash," "Money-Go-Round" and "It’s In The Bag..." all inspired by game-shows. It runs right through the year. I like the thought of so many chances to win. Seems to even it out. This is for Club Magic members, but that’s not a hassle, it’s free. I’ve got my card!

For the skiers out there, word has it that everything everywhere is open, packed, and has great conditions. I pass by the Northstar-At-Tahoe ski area frequently, and the signs are always pointing to a full parking lot, with shuttles full of skiers arriving by the half hour. It’s amazing. My daughter works at Heavenly Ski Area, as well as another friend, and they both say conditions are still great. The weather has been good in Reno too... blue skies, broken clouds, a little rain overnight, chilly at night, but no freeze last night. The days have been trying to run between 60 and 70 degrees. That’s fine with me. I can go out and watch the deer feed. I can look at the snow-capped mountains against that blue sky... and it seems to be pretty fine with me!

Reno has a lot to offer. I find a little more every time I look. It’s evolved a lot since I first visited in the mid-eighties. New profiles have gone up, with the Silver Legacy in its green-glow at night. Reno is a colorful place, a homey place, a friendly place. It has something for all ages, and it can be considered a pleasant diversion from the Las Vegas gambling scene. You’ll find more people playing the games instead of zooming from sight to sight with camera in tow like you see in Vegas. Oh, you see the people taking photos too... there’s lots of things to take pictures of... but it’s not as "kinetic" as Vegas. Come play in Reno!