RENO TRIP REPORT
JPB has been playing blackjack and counting cards part-time since 1996. He plays throughout the country but primarily in Missouri. He has been a Green Chip member of BJ21.com for four years and one-time winner of the Post-of-the-Month. JPB is a professional engineer with three engineering degrees and works as a consulting engineer.
Over my 20-year blackjack career, Reno was one of the last destinations that I visited. It was not until around 2012 that I made my first visit to Reno, and I played mostly the single-deck game that Reno was well-known for. As a newcomer to the area, there were enough casinos that I could play a one hour or less stint of single deck with a modest spread and then move on to the next casino with limited risk of being backed off.
On my latest visit (Dec. 2014), I started to expand my selection beyond the single-deck games in Reno and found some worthwhile options other than their single-deck games.
There are over a dozen casinos (18 according to Current Blackjack News) in the Reno area that offer blackjack. Reno has historically been known for its single-deck games. I assume that retaining the single-deck games was a competitive decision to cater to the "single- deck market" that Vegas was abandoning.
One nice feature about Reno is that the casino cashiers are willing to cash chips from neighboring casinos. Overall, cashing out chips in Reno is very quick and efficient. For anyone that has been stuck waiting 5+ minutes in long lines to cash chips in Vegas or other casinos around the country, this is a strong point about Reno.
Comps and free rooms are very easy to snag at most of the casinos I visited. In addition, although there a few casinos associated with the big chains (Silver Legacy and Circus Circus with Harrah's/ Caesars), there are also a bunch of independent casinos to visit (such as Grand Sierra and Siena).
There are about six casinos in the compact downtown Sparks area: Harrah's, Circus Circus, El Dorado, Silver Legacy, Cal Neva, and Siena, and they are all within walking distance. Once you park your car, it is most efficient to just walk. The other casinos are within a few miles and generally require a car. On this trip, I visited the following casinos: Harrah's, Circus Circus, El Dorado, Cal Neva, Siena, Boomtown, Nugget, and Terribles Rail City.
This casino is about five miles west of Reno in an area called Verdi. When I visited, there were two single-deck blackjack tables open. Rules were the most favorable in Reno (along with Terribles Rail City): H17, no DAS, no RSA but can double on any two cards for a house advantage of 0.18% against a basic strategy player. The other single-deck games in Reno are double on 9-11 or 8-11. Table limits were $5-500 at Boomtown, and penetration was mediocre. I was only getting three or four rounds most of the time although one dealer was giving slightly better penetration. The dealers are instructed to preferential shuffle if a player increases the bet by five-times the previous bet. Overall, this is a decent place for a low-stakes player looking for some real single- deck blackjack. I kept the bets below $250 and did not have a problem, but I doubt that big bettors with any kind of bet spread are tolerated for any length of time.
Terribles Rail City
This casino is just east of downtown Sparks. It is similar to Boomtown, low-stakes blackjack were black action sticks out like a sore thumb. There was only one table open when I visited: single deck H17, no DAS, no RSA, but can double down on any two cards for a house advantage of 0.18%. Table limits were $5-200. I only received three rounds at the single deck even when heads up. This place is similar to Boomtown- if you are looking for some low stakes, real single-deck games, this is worth a visit. However, this is not a particularly good place for a card counter who is trying to spread bets large enough to get a decent advantage.
This is on the eastern edge of the downtown Sparks area. I found it most convenient to...
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