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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Somebody Won a Big One

8 September 2002

I was surprised to see the progressive jackpot on Wheel of Fortune (quarter) get so high this past week. It was climbing over a record $8 million, and those meters were really flying. I admit that even though I firmly believe that people like me don't win that kind of money, I had to get some quarters and take a shot at that one. Obviously, I wasn't the lucky one. But... it did go sometime overnight. Somebody is dancing for joy!

The first issue (again) of the Reno-Tahoe Gambling Weekly went out last Saturday. It felt good to do things again, to feel that glimmer of hope pulsing through my veins. Admittedly, I have been in a deep funk for a long time. It was great to get rave responses from subscribers, new and old. I feel alive again. My sincerest thanks to everyone who took a moment to welcome me back. The amount of responses refueled my energies... time to rock, I think!

Reno is getting ready for the Great Reno Balloon Race... this weekend. It's one of my favorite times of the year. The skies will be full of colorful balloons, it always thrills me to see the newest shapes take to the sky. The "Dawn Patrol" is looked forward to this year. Hopefully the winds will die down, because this time I'm in town, and I can go watch the colorfully lit balloons take to the early morning sky. Also this weekend is the 43rd running of the camels at the Camel Races in Virginia City, where they will also be racing ostriches and emus. It's a great time of year to visit Reno!

Next weekend, the National Championship Air Races & Air Show takes to the skies at the Reno-Stead Airport. This is also one of those events that you don't want to miss. It isn't every day that you get to see these vintage planes race. And the weekend following is "Street Vibrations," when thousands of motorcycles fill the area. Can't say that there is nothing to do in Reno after Labor Day, now can you?

I'm not sure what I think about the latest round of slots to hit the casino floor. I've tried IGT's newest "Spooky" slot... "Elvira..." and all I know is that I should have gotten a coin or two back, and I didn't. And I tried the newest "Harley-Davidson" slots. The graphics are great, and the bonus is great if you can get there... outstanding audio and video... What I don't like is the fact that to get anywhere on either slot, you have to play 12-15 lines. I don't like the odds of having to bet something like 60-75 nickels to get a jackpot that starts at what I consider a low amount. Criminy, look at what the amount was on Wheel of Fortune for three quarters.... why would I want to spend so much and get so much less? Even MegaBucks is over $13 million for a few bucks... if I understood the psychology of what the slot manufacturers are thinking, then maybe I could find some logic in there... but right now, I don't think so. I find myself becoming happier and happier with the pennies. Nobody seems to mess with the pennies. They don't jack with the speed, the pay-outs, and they don't pay much mind. People I know are winning hundreds of dollars playing pennies. They are playing between 30 cents and 75 cents and they are winning. I used to knock them, but I've changed my mind. The whole point of gambling is winning, and what's the difference. Winnings are winnings, no matter what denomination got you there.

Reading the newspaper online today, I noticed that Phil Satre, CEO of Harrah's Entertainment (HET) is handing over the reins to Gary Loveman on January 1, 2003. I'm sorry to see him leave. Phil Satre has taken the time over the years to call me and to send me e-mails periodically in answer to my questions. He's put up with my harping about jackpots, and he's always been so prompt in replying. I'm going to miss him, and I wish him well. He'll be staying on for a couple of years on the board. He's been the mighty captain of a tremendous ship. Every time I set foot in a Harrah's I will remember. He's been an integral part of Harrah's since Bill Harrah died.

How many of you have been to Reno in the past couple of years? Have you seen it since they built the Silver Legacy, and connected all the dots so you can walk from Circus-Circus into the Silver Legacy (both Mandalay Resort Group properties-MBG) and then on into the El Dorado. It seems so super to be able to get out of the weather and wander from one great property to another... so many choices of games, all in a great atmosphere. I don't think I'll ever get tired of marveling at the 120' mining machine they built inside the Legacy.... the midway at Circus Circus, or the food and games at the El Dorado... if you haven't been to Reno in a while, why not come up this fall? Everybody has room and food specials going on, and the gambling isn't quite as crowded... but nobody turns anything off.... the jackpots are still growing and going... and if I have anything to say about it.... Reno will be putting their progressive jackpots online on the every single day just as Tahoe used to. And they will find that if they do.... that people will watch, and they ultimately will come. It's the nature of the thing, y'know!

I'm open to questions about Reno, gambling in Reno, where to stay, and what to do in Reno. But if you simply would rather have a free e-mail newsletter coming into your box every Saturday, please stop by the and subscribe. I'm also busy adding "how-to-play" sections to the site, and recently added another version of "Babelfish" to it so it can now be translated into other languages.