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NORTHERN NEVADA TRIP REPORT-Part 2

by KC Brooks

I have been addicted to blackjack ever since reading Revereís "Playing Blackjack as a Business" when I was 15. The art of blackjack is a lifetime endeavor. I went through the learning process backwards, learning Revereís Advanced Point Count first. I found out early that the actual count system is only a small piece of the puzzle. Presently, I travel "my" Devils Triangle (Reno, Wendover, Vegas), playing mainly single- and double-deck games. Hi Lo is my choice of strategies and "Professional Blackjack" by Wong is my bible. I worship a large spread, and have been known to wong everywhere I go. Thank God I havenít had to register as a wonger yet, but I am sure it is not too far off. I also help fellow AP Nick teach card counting at www.Blackjackclassroom.com. 

Casinos covered in this report (all in Reno) include:

Sands Regency

Circus Circus

Eldorado

For Part 1 of this trip report, click here.

Billy and I rolled into the Sands Regency (Reno) a little after noon on a Sunday. I usually stay here when Iím in Reno. The weather is perfect; the temperature is close to eighty. The Regency caters to seniors and offers various deals, as long as you have a Terribleís Players Card. The cost of a room mid-week is around twenty bucks. I have gotten rooms for as low as $13 from Hotwire.

Everybody here is friendly, and the rooms are spacious and clean. We checked into our room on the 15th floor, overlooking downtown. The view at night is spectacular. I always ask for a room in the Dynasty Tower. The Eldorado and Silver Legacy light up the view, and you can keep an eye on your car in the parking lot below. The Sands is an older casino, not really glamorous, but offers all the amenities of bigger resorts, without the added cost of a resort fee. My only complaint is the slow elevator to the parking garage, and I solved that problem by parking in the front, which also happens to be the entrance to Melís Diner. It is also close to the Dynasty Tower elevator, a godsend if you have a lot of luggage. I actually stay here with my two kids Rexx and Sam, a 160lb Newfy and a yellow lab. They love the elevator, and the transfer from car to room is usually pain free from this location.

My body still hurts from the drive from Vegas. Billy relaxes in front of the television. I decide to take in a few rays, and soak in the hot tub. The pool area here is nothing fancy, not that big, but serves the purpose. The enclosed area has a small bar with live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

There are quite a few people in the pool, but nobody in the hot tub. I flip on the jets and climb in; however, the water is scalding, almost too hot. After a couple of minutes, three more people climb into the Jacuzzi (apparently, nobody knew how to turn it on). I think how nice it would be, if somebody marketed a body swimsuit. A two-piece on a wrinkled brown paper sack is none too appealing. I close my eyes and try to relax.

The food offered here is decent and priced right. The Original Melís Diner is on the property along with an Arbyís. The newly remodeled Copa Bar and Grill offers daily drink and meal specials. There is also a buffet that I went to once. It was not very good, but then again, I am not a big fan of buffets. If that is your cup of tea, either Eldorado or The Nuggetís rotisserie buffet would be my choice.

Terribleís offers blackjack, craps, roulette, three card poker, let it ride and pai gow poker. They offer 10-times odds on craps and the usual blackjack rules that are prevalent in Reno: h17, no double after split, and double on only 10 and 11. I am usually here mid-week, and the games operating are usually only blackjack, roulette, and craps. The penetration on their single-deck games has improved as of lately. They usually have just two or three single- and double-deck blackjack games open.

After about an hour in the sun, I meet Billy back in the room. We work on basic strategy for single-deck game and some of the more important strategy deviations. For anyone looking to blackjack as a career, I recommend visiting http://www.blackjackclassroom.com. A few years back, before deciding on playing full time, I attended a class offered by Nick. It was money well spent. All I can say is that Nick has been living the life I have dreamed about for over nine years, and he is a true professional. Check out his web site ... he offers a variety of group and private classes.

I was living in Northern California, and traveled to Vegas to meet Nick. Back home, I spent the next year coming up to Reno, applying what I had learned. Briefly, I lived in South Lake Tahoe along with some close friends. We practiced Revereís Advanced Point Count for over a year, and then tried to grind out a living playing nickels. A few years later, underfunded, and a bad car accident later, my dream of team blackjack was put on hold.

Back surgeries in 2009 have left me un-able to do much, depressed and broke. I turned to blackjack. I am lucky that I have a wonderful wife who supports my endeavor. I had most of the tools needed to play a winning game. Nick's training taught me the finer points of winning play. His continued assistance has been a tremendous asset. The confidence gained by training with a full time pro, to me, is priceless.

Now, I am in Reno with my good friend Billy. He had trained me back in the Tahoe days, and is working to learn the system I use now. Some thirty-three years later, the team has reunited. Unfortunately, we need some practice-time together, before we wager any serious money.

Billy runs through the cards counting aloud. He is getting a lot better. I drill him on basic strategy. I say, "seven, seven. Dealer has ten up." He thinks a second and says "hit." "I respond, No! You stand," I tell him, but only in single deck. It can be confusing, and to be honest, Billy has been working on double deck and after about an hour of practice, we decide to walk the couple of blocks to the Silver Legacy casino.

The Silver Legacy, The Eldorado, and Circus Circus, are connected to one another via the second floor. A variety of shops, restaurants, and bars are scattered along the walkway. Each casino offers the usual buffets and coffee shops. I have found The Eldorado the best bet for food connoisseurs. They have their own in-house bakery, pasta, gelato, butcher shops, coffee roaster, and microbrewery. The Reno News and Review voted it "Best Reno Restaurants under one roof." I can attest: the food is...

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