On Tuesday, June 23, the Phoenix leg of my trip came to a close and I got ready to fly into Reno. The afternoon flight was great -- at least what little I remember of it. I snoozed almost the entire time. After we landed in Reno, I got my suitcase and picked up the car from Hertz that I had gotten through Priceline: a Toyota Yaris. Meh.
The trip to the downtown Harrah's Reno was quick. Reno is smaller than I imagined. Harrah's Reno seemed dead, and I appeared to be one of the younger patrons. I can't even tell you much about the hotel since I spent so little time in it. However, I was frosted to find out that, despite paying the famous Caesars' resort fee, such simple things like coffee and water in my room were not covered. $3 for a bottle of water in the room? $1.50 for each K Cup of coffee? No thanks!
I headed to Peppermill to play some poker with Tony Bigcharles
. The plan was to head to a buffet for dinner. Tony told me that he would cover my buffet with comps. Sweet!
I was getting hungry as the evening wore on, but Tony wasn't and the game was good, so we played on. Early in the evening, I woke up to find that I was dealt pocket Aces. I raised and Tony stayed in the hand. I remember the hand a little differently than Tony. In my mind, the flop was A-8-9 -- I had flopped top set. Tony remembers the flop as A-9-2. Tony started going through his usual jabbering about the hand, and all the guys at the table, who I am sure were tired of his talk, watched the hand closely. It was pretty obvious who they were rooting for in the hand. I raised and Tony talked and talked. I just kept quiet. Tony remembers an 8 on the turn, which gave him two pair. I remember him already having two pair on the flop. Whatever.
The jabbering continued, and I had no idea that Tony was that strong. He told me that he considered shoving on the turn, which would have been sweet to the tune of over $300 from the sockroll. However, he held back. The river was an Ace, giving me quads. Fortunately for Tony, the card scared him off and he folded instead of shoving to my raise. He still jabbered on why I was silent, and all the guys at the table had a chuckle when he tabled his two pair and then saw that I had quads. The quads were good for an immediate $75 high hand bonus, and it held up several hours later to give me an extra $100 for the top hand, 6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
We headed out for the Grand Sierra Resort, where Tony could pick up a free buffet pass for that night and would buy mine with his comps, which he remembered being around $50. He was shocked to find that his comp balance was ... 72 cents! While he tried to rectify the situation with the GSR players club personnel, I got concerned that we would not get in the buffet by its 9:00 closing time. Tony's situation stayed unresolved and we got to the buffet at 8:50 only to find that they shut off the line early due to lack of seating. Dang! So instead, I drove us to Denny's where we ate instead.
We went back to Peppermill for more poker and I picked up my $100 bonus. I continued to have some success on the slots as my trip continued, and even had this fun shot from a Pete P. Peters
favorite game, Miss Kitty.
Yep -- those sticky wilds in the bonus game are fun -- especially when 13 of the 20 spots are already wild. Meow!
Wednesday was pretty much more of the same -- poker, poker and more poker. However, Wednesday was just one of those days when things did not go right. For example, I raised with A-Q and got a few callers. The flop was Queen high with two rags. One guy stayed with me and my raises preflop, after the flop, and after the turn. What could he have? I was concerned I was just playing right into his hands. The river seemed to be an innocent looking deuce. Only this time, when I raised on the river, he re-popped me. I called. He showed Q-2! What? He called all my bets with top pair worst kicker and then sucked out on the river? That was pretty much how the entire day went.
Mr. Bigcharles himself donked me in a hand. Sorry, but with a week having gone by and my life being filled with many challenges at work and in my personal life, many of the details are lost. But as I recall, I raised with A-K, Tony called and stayed along, then hit a flush on the river. What I mostly remember is that I had had a really rough poker day and was really pissed at the beat. I was looking for the nearest stapler to throw, but not seeing one, laid into Tony pretty good. I think he was a bit surprised that I got so angry in losing a hand. Hmmm ... perhaps his play-by-play chatter had something to do with it?
I was finally able to meet Tony's friend Karen, with whom I had exchanged texts and messages the past several weeks. Like many of the people I have met who try to help Tony, Karen
was great! Sometimes I think that Tony has no idea how much some people are trying to help him.
Thursday was the day we planned to go to Lake Tahoe. We headed out early in the afternoon on a wonderful day. Some pictures on the way to the lake:
We got to the lake and were ready to start driving around it, but Tony suggested that we visit a couple of casinos first -- the Tahoe Biltmore and the Crystal Bay Casino. What is a degenerate gambler to do? So naturally, we turned right instead of left and headed to the casinos. I was quite surprised to see what the Tahoe Biltmore looked like. I was thinking that perhaps, being on Lake Tahoe, it would look like the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL...
... or perhaps the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, it was not quite what I expected:
Tony directed me across the street to the Crystal Bay Casino, where I could take advantage of its ATM promotion, while Tony went to play one of dem GOOD machines -- a video blackjack machine -- at the Biltmore. I ran $50 in free play through the Enchanted Unicorn and Konami Lotus Land: Tiger's Winnings slot machines, profiting $115. Not bad! Afterwards, we ate lunch at the Biltmore Café , mostly on Tony's comps, then headed around Lake Tahoe. A few pictures of the lake:
The pictures really don't do it justice. It was very pretty and populated by tons of people stopping their cars along the lake and wading in it or sunning themselves on the shore. I am ashamed to say that I passed up my chance to dump Tony's body in the water and steal his sweet, sweet sockroll. I guess I will just have to continue going through life as a poor man.
After driving several miles around the lake, we headed to Carson City, where I was hoping to check out the Nevada State Museum. Unfortunately, we got there a little bit before it was closing. I really wanted to visit the gift shop, but as with the buffet at GSR, the doors were locked EARLY. Dang! We stopped in the little casinos in the downtown area (this is where the picture of Tony next to the Batmobile was taken) and then headed back to Reno and the Peppermill.
There were a couple of hands that final night that put a damper on the trip. In one, I got Pocket Rockets on the button and put out a $20 raise. I got one caller. He was a youngish Asian guy who was with a guy closer to my age. They hadn't played for too long and I didn't have a great read on him. The flop was 10-3-6 with two Spades. I put the guy on a flush draw and was quite surprised when he re-raised my $35 bet after the flop to $100. I had about $450 to his $300 (prior to the hand) and I pushed all in. He tanked for a bit (high card on the flop was a 10, and I didn't put him on a set because of the re-raise), then called. The turn was a blank and the river was a spade. He flipped over his cards to show 4s-5s -- a flush draw and an open ended straight draw after the flop. My stack - decimated. I just got up from the table and headed toward a Miss Kitty game to lick my wounds.
I returned and built my stack back up. A few hours later, after the table was broken and I was playing with mostly new people, I had the most heartbreaking hand of the trip. A player from a $3/5 table came over with a decent stack, and he was pretty aggressive. I was waiting for my chance. I attempted to limp in with pocket 6's and he raised to $16. I called. The flop: a beautiful 2-2-6! I hollywooded a bit and got him to shove all in, which I happily called. He showed pocket Queens - sweet! Until the river, that is. He binked a Queen on the river to win a pot of about $700 that was within my grasp. How devastating. I played for a bit longer but didn't have the heart after that. Besides, I had played through the night and had to check out of my hotel room in a few hours anyway.
Tony, who had left the game earlier to catch a few hours of sleep, amazing reappeared in the wee hours of the morning and was there to join me for breakfast -- which he paid for! Afterwards, he gave me an agreed upon $50 toward my car rental costs (the lightning36 cab company has reasonable rates!) and I headed back to my hotel room to get one hour of sleep. Before I left town, I stopped by Peppermill to tell Mike, the poker room manager, what a great room he ran. I really enjoyed playing there.
So ... although I took it on the china few times in the poker room, I had a great time playing poker and visiting with Tony. I only wish he could change some of his behaviors when playing poker -- namely constantly chattering about hands, goading people and showing his bluffs. I am convinced he loses more than he will ever realize by playing that way. But, as we all know, Tony's gonna Tony.
Is Reno worth a visit? Well, aside from Peppermill, I briefly played at Atlantis. One table of $1/2 going there. Meh. Peppermill appears to be the only really good option in town -- certainly not enough to justify a trip there for poker alone.
For my trip to Scottsdale and Reno, I won both at poker and slots in Arizona, and won at slots and lost in poker in Reno. The two big hands I wrote about were the difference between a small profit and a small loss for the trip. N0t exactly what I was shooting for, but the trip was great nevertheless.