World Poker Challenge

The Grand Sierra Resort in Reno hosted the World Poker Challenge, February 24 to March 14, 2010. However, the challenge seemed to be in driving to Reno from Sacramento. For the second time this winter my plans were derailed and I was left cursing at the Weather Channel. My plan of playing in the Saturday, February 27th, $500 buy-in with $50 entry free and $7500 added tournament was cancelled. Alas, the huge storm on Friday night saved me from a 300 mile drive to Reno.

Why I would make the 300 mile drive up the hill to Reno to play in poker tournament? Simple: this casino knows how to treat the players. The Grand Sierra has done a great job of improving the facility over the last five years. Besides, I really like playing there.

The Grand Sierra still offers ridiculously cheap rooms of $35 a night or $30 a night if you pre-register. A generous comp program allows players giving a minimal amount of play at black jack or video poker to receive marketing offers for free rooms. I refer all my friends to my host, Richard Pineda (hint: all you have to do is mention my name and you can get players rate and get put into his book). Richard will see to it that you have a good time and that you get all the comps you deserve.

Recent improvements include a restructured player card system with easier-to-achieve tiers, allowing me to reach Gold Card Status with a limited number of trips. Their video poker is very strong argument for going all by itself; 9/6 Jacks or Better available in all denominations including a bank of quarter progressives. The blackjack tables have decent rules and they deal a fair game with average penetration and not too much heat. The gaming floor is attractive and the best in northern Nevada.

The Grand Sierra has also brought in Charlie Palmer, the first celebrity chef in Reno. Offerings at the Charlie Palmer restaurants are high end and priced on the higher side, the quality is excellent and completely worth it. The coffee shop was recently revamped and the menu now offers lower prices and the larger portion sizes. Be sure to check out the nightly specials in the coffee shop. The buffet is good quality and offers a $7.77 deal for the locals – so, you need to make friends with a local to get the better than half-off dinner deal.

The hotel was also renovated and the upper floors are now called The Summit and boast near suite quality rooms which can be had on most weekends for a small upgrade. This is an area where working with a host, like Richard, can really help. If you are making a trip with your spouse and want to have a nice weekend, ask Richard to put you in The Summit.

However, the main reason I personally love the Grand Sierra is the poker room. The maximum rake is three dollars per hand and players that have a card are earning two dollars an hour in comps for playing poker. This is in addition to 2% or all tournament buy-ins being returned in the form of comps. I believe this is one of the best live game deals going anywhere.
I extend my compliments to the Grand Sierra on making adjustments in all areas and working hard to earn player loyalty in these tough economic times. I highly recommend anyone and everyone at least stop by and see if you can prove me wrong on what a great place the Grand Sierra is. Now if I could only get the weather to cooperate.


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