3 Card Poker in Reno
It is fitting that we discuss the Three Card Poker games in Reno, Nevada, since the first games in the state were played at the Atlantis Casino and downtown at Harrah’s Reno. The town of Reno was also the first to fully embrace the state’s new open-gambling bill in 1931, and the Bank Club was the state’s largest employer in the 1930’s.
By the 1990’s, when Three Card Poker came to Reno the town was no longer the Big Dog in Nevada, fully over-shadowed by Las Vegas, but even today Reno is a fun, casual destination with plenty of casinos and reasonable room rates and table minimums.
Three Card Poker has remained a very popular, low-cost pleasure for gamblers in Reno. The game’s inventor, Derek Webb, envisioned a game very similar to his experiences at poker with a chance for players to win the occasional large pot. As the game turned out, that’s exactly what the players get. The game offers even-money payoffs on a regular basis, not unlike blackjack, and then when lightning strikes, the player makes three of a kind or a straight flush and is paid the big bucks.
Reno started with a dozen or so casinos in the downtown area. Today, that number is the same, although the names and locations have changed. Where the mighty Harold’s Club once stood, there are benches and concrete, with a door leading to Harrah’s casino. Inside Harrah’s the number of table games offered has dwindled from more than 100 to about half that number, but still, you can play Three Card Poker.
In fact, Three Card Poker is offered at 36 Harrah’s properties across the United States, from Rincon in California, to Ak-Chin in Arizona, to New Orleans and Atlantic City. However, you won’t find a lower regular cost game than at Harrah’s in Reno. At least one table is open most hours, and the table limit rarely changes from a $5 minimum. The dealers are experienced and friendly, and deal a very clean and easy to read game. Their house procedures are adhered to at all times.
If you want the regular Reno casino atmosphere, play in the hotel tower section of the property, but if you really want to party, head over to the East Tower Sports casino and the Zone. The special high-energy area offers live music, specialty drinks, Blackjack and Three Card Poker, and dealers in skimpy outfits who move from behind the tables to the stage where they shake what they’ve got! It’s not your parent’s old Reno at Harrah’s.
Other casinos in the downtown area offer Three-Card Poker too, and there are times when the game can be played for just $3 per wager. The Sands, Cal-Neva, Sienna, and Circus Circus have been known to offer the game at discount prices, but $5 is the standard at most clubs.
The Silver Legacy and Eldorado are the nicest casinos in the downtown corridor these days. The Eldorado has an 11-table poker room with limit and no-limit Texas Hold’em, but as with the other clubs in town, the Three Card Poker tables are found out on the casino floor with other games like Let-it-Ride, craps, roulette, and the town favorite: blackjack.
Blackjack itself has good and bad qualities in Reno and Lake Tahoe. Many games are dealt from a single deck, providing quick turnarounds from bad streaks, but the standards in Northern Nevada are double on 10 and 11 only, and no resplit of aces. It’s a tradeoff for the beautiful mountains and lower cost of rooms and food.
At the Eldorado, I’ve played $5 and $10 minimum Three Card Poker, with either a $50 or $100 maximum wager, which limits the house’s liability, and keeps the limits low enough that players are able to play all night without burning through thousands of dollars. The blackjack tables too, have lower limits than larger casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. An occasional $3 game can be found ($200 maximum), with standard upper limits of $500 to $1000.
After playing Three Card Poker at the Eldorado you can venture upstairs to the link of restaurants between the three connected properties, Circus Circus, Eldorado, and Silver Legacy. The walkway is much-inviting when the snow is blowing outside. The weather, from April to September is very nice, with lows in the 40’s to highs in the 80’s, but October to March is a mixed bag of sunny days, cool temperatures, and snowy weeks where the temperature may drop to zero, so be prepared, although you can get from club to club on foot, even in blistery snow.
Outside the Downtown Area
Reno offers three very nice casinos that have bucked the traditional and built outside the downtown area. The Grand Sierra Resort is the furthest from downtown, but only by about a 10-minute drive. It is located almost next to the Reno-Tahoe Airport, and has 2000 rooms plus bowling, a golf range, arcade, gift shops, and plenty of table games and slots.
Their poker room is eight tables, and again, Three Card Poker is available on the casino floor nestled amongst the blackjack tables. There is also a Friday/Saturday Wet Party Pit with female dancers, and a William Hill Sports Book. Three Card Poker is available on $5 to $50 tables, and as with most casinos in Nevada, the games go until the players are gone, or all night.
Also found away from the downtown casinos are the Peppermill and Atlantis resorts. These properties are five-miles away, straight down South Virginia Street. The Peppermill comes first, a neo-Roman gargantuan with fountains, columns, and plenty of buildings to keep you guessing where you are. Room rates are as low as $49 at times, quite the bargain for such a nice property, and you won’t need to leave the grounds for days with all their amenities.
The last time I played Three Card Poker at the Peppermill the minimum wager was $5, but they also had $10 tables. Winter time could bring slightly lower limits during graveyard hours, but then again, the last game might close-down and not open again until 10am.
At the Atlantis a few blocks away, the game will definitely close if play drops to nothing in the wee hours of the morning. However, at the place where Derek Webb first brought Three Card Poker to Reno more than 15 years ago, you might just find the same limit: $3. The club does have $3 blackjack, $49 rooms (again, in season), several restaurants, and a poker room. The word for Reno is “Reasonable.”