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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Reno's Hoppin'...

18 October 2003

Reno is morphing again...into slots, new systems, new tournaments and games, great shows...the list just goes on and on and on. Jackpots are going off like leaves falling off the trees... and that's the kind of play we all expect and want. I'm feeling real good about gambling in Reno during the fall months...and I'm hoping everyone else is feeling that way as well. Fall is the time when the crowds aren't as great, but the gambling is. I just made the drive over Donner Pass from Sacramento to Reno, and it sure was a pretty time of year to do so. CalTrans has been rebuilding much of the eastbound and westbound lanes, and it looks like they are getting ready to wrap it up as soon as the snow flies. Like most of Reno, I am hoping that people will still come over to Reno during the winter months...I think it is worth driving through a little snow with chains on the tires to come over the pass and have fun in Reno. I've heard such mixed reports coming out of Thunder Valley in Lincoln, California...but none really make me want to even drop in. Last report from someone on the Reno Gaming Guide's message board about Thunder Valley was that everyone looked so "serious" about their play and I'd have rather heard the word "fun" in there...could it be lacking in fun? Well, just another plus for Reno if there's no fun found in California!

Over at Gold Dust West they are converting to ticket technology, in a couple of phases, plus making sure the bill acceptors will take the new $20 if you are used to teams of slot personnel running all over the place making hand pays, you'll have to get used to punching the cash out button and taking your ticket to the next machine. I've heard that the Winner's Corner gas stations are switching to ticket technology soon, as well as the three little Winner's Circle casinos. Ticket technology is taking over...even into the smallest of places. And I'm glad. I really didn't think I would like it, but have found the benefits are greater than originally thought. I have more time to play, freedom of movement between machines without waiting long periods of time for someone to clear my machine and pay me... and I'm sure regular readers will remember how many times I've pointed out the health benefits and the benefits of clean hands and clothes without black streaks. I wore a white blouse the other day into the casinos...guess what? It was still white when I left! I made sure I went somewhere that was 99.9% ticket machines, because I went out to Tamarack Junction, which is way out on the southern end of Virginia Street. That is where I go for good food, good coffee, and ticket machines that often reward me with enough money to make me smile. Coinless slots are taking over, slowly but surely... Yesterday's headlines on the front of The Reno Gazette-Journal had news about Harrah's buying 11,000 coinless slot machines from IGT, which goes down as one of the largest single orders in the 23-year history of IGT. I'll be visiting Harrah's more often too... I appreciate the technology and the benefits.

I'm sure many people are wondering where oh where is their weekly newsletter, and for the past 10 days, I've been wondering where oh where is the mailing list. I'd used a third party server to send them because I felt that was the easiest place for people to subscribe as well as the safest place to keep the list. But last week, the list wouldn't accept my password. I wrote the company about seven times asking and they didn't answer until Sunday morning...when I received a terse message telling me that the list was held up because I had abused their ad policy and it would cost me $50 to retreive appears that in my effort to shrink the once huge ad at the end of August that I reduced one line of the ad...the part that said "lease this web app for less than $5 a month..." wording that looked like it was geared to me anyway...who else would lease it? I doubt a stranger would...or could... so I borrowed more money and paid off the ransom money...subscribers should have their newsletters flowing once again ... Those who haven't subscribed can do so by going to THE RENO GAMING GUIDE and putting your e-mail address in the subscribe box... just be sure to confirm your subscription when the notice arrives in your e-mail and you too will get your copies!

Reno is losing a part of the skyline when the Sundowner Casino closes in early December and word on the street is that more are closing as well. I hope not. Reno is a great place to visit...though the Sundowner was a place I used to visit and one I currently haven't visited much, I still will miss it. I used to visit the Sundowner because it had an older, more funky casino with good casino coupons and great food specials... Reno has changed a lot in the past years, and I will always have fond memories of places like Harold's Club, the Nevada Club, Eddie's Fabulous Fifties... now the Sundowner... I miss the little casino, Mr. C's, that used to adjoin the Sands along with a Denny's restaurant, too. Ah... those were the days... but the new things that have come along... the changes from MGM to Bally's to the Reno Hilton, the newer properties like the Silver Legacy, Eldorado, and even Circus Circus since it got "attached" to the Silver Legacy... all the new additions have brightened up the whole town, bringing along more fine entertainment, great dining choices, and it all has come together well. I'd like to see someone pick up the Sundowner, and bring it back, it doesn't seem right to have an empty building...but I guess only time will tell.

I'm looking for people with tales to tell of the "old" Reno. If you have a story that you want to share about something that was and isn't anymore... about old gambling name it, please share it! You can visit the message board for some "historical" fun. What did you used to play, where'd you used to go, or memorable jackpots and happenings... it all counts.... just pop over to the RENO GAMING GUIDE and you can let everyone share in the fun!

And finally, the most interesting Halloween affair to hit Northern Nevada...and it isn't a casino event or a gambling event, but it seemed worth passing on... THE 1864 GOVERNOR'S BALL.... Two amazing Governor's Ball events to choose from at Historic Pipers Opera House in Virginia City, Nevada over Halloween-Nevada Day weekend. The first is GOVERNORS' MASKED BALL on Friday, October 31 at 8pm till Midnight. Tickets $15.00. The second is the GOVERNORS' GRAND GALA on Saturday, November 1, 4pm till? Tickets $50.00. The first event features star performers in Reno's critically acclaimed magic show, Carnival of Wonders and Magicians of the Year, Kalin & Jinger, who will present "Ghosts" at Piper's Opera House as part of the 1864 Governor's Ball. There will be two different 1864 Governor's Ball events at Piper's Opera House. The first Governor's Ball is on Friday, October 31 at 8pm. Wear your costume and win a prize. Awards will be given for the best costumes in each category in for: Victorian, Piper's Ghost, Goriest, Prettiest, Most Creative, and the Funniest costume. Dancin' music by Nevada's number one western band* David John & the Comstock Cowboys. Refreshments will be available at Piper's no host bar. On both evenings, experience the unimagined. Kalin and Jinger will make your nightmares come to life in "Ghosts". Those who dare to partake will experience a bone chilling, spine tingling visit by the spirits at historic Piper's Opera house as part of the 1964 Governor's Ball this year on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, and on November 1. The second 1864 Governors' Ball is the next evening, November 1, 2003 at Piper's Opera House 4pm till ???. This time it's the Governors' Ghost Grand Gala Saturday November 1, 2003. The $50 cover includes an elegant Victorian tea and light supper (finger sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres and desserts) Gus the Dance Master will be teaching Victorian-style dances such as The Virginia Reel, The Contra or Contredanse and The Spanish Circle Waltz to the music of the Victorian Dance Band with the famous re-inactors, Dennis Butterfield's Victorian Orchestra. Victorian Dress or Elegant Western Attire is encouraged and recommended. The highlight of the evening again will be the presentation by Kalin and Jinger, "Ghosts". "Ghosts" is a one-of-a-kind experience; an evening of the mysterious and the impossible, the frightening and the ghoulish. Your dreams and nightmares come to life at Piper's Opera House in Virginia City, Nevada. The chill-down-your-spine actual spirit séance may be unsuitable for the entire family. Its creepy poltergeists, comedy and illusion - circa 1870. Learning about Virginia City history has never been so fun - or so scary! Tickets for both events can be purchased at or by calling:(775) 832 1606 or 1 800 go tahoe.

So do something different... come to Reno... either for thrills and chills, or just for gambling thrills. Reno-- it has it all.