Loud and tricky: The last Reno post

This is really a two-parter, finishing “Reno musing” and maybe clearing the way for relevant posts (don’t laugh: it could happen).

The first part is a grumble of sorts, pointed mostly at a few of the downtown Reno casinos: Turn down the music, dammit! Last time we visited, I thoroughly enjoyed Eldorado’s selection of music, played at appropriate volume (you could enjoy the music, but you could also converse or think). Ditto Silver Legacy. Other casinos had less interesting music selections, but only infrequently too loud.

This time (what, I can’t hear you over the music) (I said, THIS TIME) (sorry, I still can’t hear you…) the music at Eldorado was less interesting and the volume was nearly deafening. For two evenings, Silver Legacy was better: A little loud, but still interesting selections and not intolerable. Then, the third evening, the volume was up. Way up. Painfully way up. To the point that I actually went to the concierge desk and complained. Twice. After they said “yes, it is too loud, we’ll deal with it” the first time–and the volume went up again.

Oddly, most outlying places (e.g., Atlantis and Peppermill, also a casino in Carson City) we went to were much better in this regard–music at near-background levels. Making them much more pleasant places to be.

Then there’s the “tricky” part: The new slots. Much of this is good–after years in which there were ten nickel machines over in a corner and about an equal mix of quarter and dollar slots, now there are loads of penny machines as well, but mostly there are multidenominational “bill-in, print-out” machines, which accept folding money or cash-out tickets from other machines and where you can choose one of several denominations (either penny, nickel, dime, and quarter, or nickel, dime, quarter, half-buck, or in some cases quarter, buck, fiver), then choose one of several games (typically several poker variations or maybe keno/blackjack/traditional slots).

Not my first experience with ticket-out machines: that was at Harrah’s New Orleans (sigh) a year or so ago, but at that point, you had to go to the cashier to cash a ticket, which made it a nuisance. Most Reno casinos that have ticket-out machines also have remarkable multifunction machines that are ATMs (with huge fees), bill changers (with no fee), and ticket-redemption machines (even spitting out change): No fuss, no problem.

Harrah’s New Orleans was also my only previous experience with an intriguing variation on slot draw poker (my only real gaming preference, and one of few casino slots where you know the actual payback percentage right away, because the payback for each hand is posted): Multihand poker. You play some number of hands, typically one to three, one to five, or one to ten (but there are penny and nickel slots with one to fifty or one to one hundred); one hand is dealt; you decide which cards to hold. Then all the hands you play are treated as the same set of held cards, with the draw dealt separately for each hand. I like it–particularly since you’re not obliged to play more than one hand.

But there’s a downside to the multiway/multidenominational machines: The “bet max” button, always just a little too close to the draw/deal button. On traditional poker slots, the maximum bet is five (five quarters, five dollars, five nickels). Hit the wrong button by accident, and a little “Oops” is in order.

On the new machines, maximum bet may be fifty or even 100. If you’re playing pennies, no big deal. If you’re playing quarters…well, suddenly you’re putting $12.50 on a single play, which I would never intentionally do (in my socioeconomic range, that would move from gaming to gambling). I accidentally hit the wrong button just once; fortunately, I was dealt three of a kind, so it worked out OK…and I was extremely cautious about buttons from then on.

Did I see lots of people accidentally playing $12.50 hands when they intended to play $1.25? Not really. What I did see were the odd “non-problem/big-bucks” gamblers, the ones that casually slide $100 into a quarter machine, then keep hitting Bet Max until they run out of money, sometimes not even really looking at the machine. I base “non-problem” on the way they dress and look–these aren’t poverty cases. Some are young “action” players who just want to see fast action; some seem to be wiling away a few minutes before dinner or something. At $12.50 a pop. You’ll see the balance go up to, say, $300…and go down to nothing just as quickly, because they don’t really care about the money.

In some ways, I think that fifty-coin max buttons that are too easy to hit hurt the casinos, because they slow down play for all but the craziest players. You make very sure that you’re touching the right button…

That’s it for this little vacation. Thinking too much, I guess–one reason I’ll never be a big-time gambler (knowing my math is another reason: slot poker is cheap entertainment, but I know I’m going to lose–which is only cheap entertainment when it’s small-time gaming).

Oh, and if you submit a comment related to this post and it just doesn’t show up at all, apologies: Because of spamment, I’ve added a few words to the “delete automatically” vocabulary.

One Response to “Loud and tricky: The last Reno post”

  1. rochelle says:

    I was in Reno once, about 14 years ago, visiting family. My experience was limited to glimpses from the sidewalk, as I was sporting a six-month old in a frontpack carrier the entire time. I know they’re mighty tolerant of behavior in places like that, but I figured that playing the slots while nursing a baby was probably beyond the pale. All I really remember is some woman stopping me on the street and telling me that I would spoil my child and ruin my back if I kept carrying her like that.