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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Hot Times in Reno

21 December 2002

Okay, so the weather is cold... but it’s winter, it’s high desert, and it’s nestled below the mighty Sierras... But if you are thinking of making Reno part of your holiday plans, you will find that it is one hot place to visit. The Reno casinos are geared up for the holiday season, all packed with decorations, and games, and entertainment that can’t be beat. Everybody is partying for the New Year... and providing it isn’t a blizzard or a downpour or ? there will be fireworks off the rooftops of many downtown casinos at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and as tradition holds, there will be thousands of people in the street ready to greet 2003.

I noticed that just about everyone, and I am sure there is an exception or two, has added IGT’s "Tabasco" to their offerings. It’s a 12-line game, available in pennies, two-cent, and five-cent versions. Some of them are multi-denomination, and some are just nickel only. I stopped at Boomtown the other day, and found the version that was nickels... and put a whopping $1 in, just to see if it played well... and my first 45 cents netted $10 in nickels, as an assortment of "wild" Tabasco symbols lined up with some others to make a hefty little first pay. I didn’t stay to see how often the bonuses came up... it was an E-Z Pay voucher pay ticket machine, and I took my $10, after all... it’s a week before Christmas!

Off topic, but kind of on topic... when I was playing the Tabasco machine, I noticed that they had all the sauces listed on the reels, but one. My favorite one. The one they won’t push for whatever reason at the Tabasco headquarters... they have one that is Chipotle... a sweet, smoky, thicker sauce.... leaving me a little paranoid. It is already near impossible to find... I have to go to one store either in Tahoe or Reno... "Smart n’ Final" to find it. I hope that just because it isn’t on their slot machine that means it is short-lived in nature. Take away my Chipotle Tabasco, and I’ll probably swear off the sauce!

Back to Boomtown... they have four new slots worthy of checking out. It’s a house progressive, three quarters, called "Monte Carlo" and is located outside of the General Store, right across from the Deli counter full of good eats. The machines are towering displays with colorful "wheels" at the top. It is possible to win the progressive even in the middle of the bonus feature... which is a neat addition. I wanted to stop and play immediately when I saw them, they were attractive enough to "pull me in..." but alas, time is also my enemy lately. It was marked in the book as a "must" to return to play.

Last weekend’s storm dropped snow all over the place... Reno had some mighty winds... something around the 82 mph mark... and it really ripped up the casino billboards along the Interstate... Twisted, shredded, or missing. I have never seen so many power poles snapped like twigs in my life. My dad called me and reported that hurricane winds had blown over a whole herd of cows. He also sent me a picture of snapped power poles near him. My daughter who lives in Tahoe with my grandson said that the snow in many places came up to 8 feet, that people are still without power, that trees are unable to handle the snow load and are now starting to snap. This morning (Thursday) she said that many people are bailing out today, because the next storm is arriving, even as I write. I have an uncluttered view of the snow blowing off the mountain tops, and I am sure soon, probably tonight or tomorrow, the interstate will resemble a parking lot for trucks.

Hey, somebody else stuck their pin in my guest map on the Reno Gaming Guide. I wish all of you would drop by and do that too. I get one heck of a bang seeing how far things reach that I do. So far, I think I’ve hit someone in every state a few times, and I know things appeal to the European, South African, Mexican, and Russian countries. I’m begging here folks... stick me!

I’ve had troubles keeping my furnace going in the RV... something is amiss... it’ll get warm, but not hot... and no matter what I seem to try, that is all she gets. I’m still a piece of toast in a toaster... a couple of electric heaters that keep blowing the circuits unless plugged in outside... and there is always the gas oven... when I want to feel like I’ve moved from a toaster to the oven. But I miss just flipping the wall switch and basking. So Santa Claus... this kid needs a new furnace, or a fix... and while you are at it... could you stuff a couple of casinos with funding for me in my stocking?

People seem to think I’m set with tons of bucks for some reason... let’s just say that my yearly income for 2002 doesn’t require me to pay the IRS and most people make more in a month than I have made all year. Let’s just call it being devoted to what I do. It has been my feeling, and always will be my feeling, that the casino industry needs to maintain a better line of communication with their gamblers.... all the gamblers... not just the whales or the sharks. I can do that... and hope that they all realize that I am going to die out here if they don’t help out just a little bit. It’s not like I’m a giant money-sucking, do-nothing, costs a zillion dollars ad agency. I’m a gambler too... and probably never would have left the casino floor to do this, if it weren’t for the fact that I saw them missing their mark on marketing forever and forever, and ignoring the masses in favor of the 300 whales.

So many people have written me to tell me they have, or haven’t been to Reno yet... but they are going to come... it’s a delight to me. I hope everyone who hasn’t been to Reno will at least think about it... if you haven’t been, you are missing some of the special and unique treats Reno offers. You won’t find the masses that go to Vegas, unless you come New Year’s Eve... and that holds for Tahoe too. If you can imagine 50,000 people screaming in the street, then you have an idea of the size of crowds that appear for the ultimate parties... just be sure that if you do come in the near future, that Reno gets pretty cold... (not to say I haven’t done Vegas twice when it was in the mid-twenties in the winter...) And those longjohns will come in really handy, as well as snuggly warm ski jackets, and windbreakers... also a hat and gloves can make a world of difference. Tip: Dress in layers when visiting Reno and Tahoe. You can always peel like a grape if you have to!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS; May they be merry, bright, safe, and wonderful.