My wife and i just returned last night from a four day trip to Reno. Random observations/events/thoughts/opinions follow. Curse you, Southwest for ending direct Seattle/Reno service last year. Now it's via Vegas. Yes, Alaska flies direct, but we fly essentially free on Southwest. Turns a two hour flight gate-to-gate into a six hour adventure. Hard to complain about the price though. We stayed at the Eldorado on a three-night comp offer, paying a casino rate for Friday night. They've upped their "resort fee" to $15 a night, plus about $2.50 in tax (not applicable to the comped nights). Seems it was under $10 a year or so ago. Anyway, you don't get much for that. Internet for two devices is about all. Still, we like the upkeep of the property, friendly staff, good table and video poker service, and top-notch drink service of both the Eldorado and the Silver Legacy. Last year the Carano family (owners of Eldorado) purchased the rest of the Silver Legacy (they already owned about half) plus Circus Circus, so they own the entire three-property complex. We have always considered the Eldorado and Silver Legacy to be about on par (Silver Legacy may have a slight edge), but Circus Circus is definitely not. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, they do with it. Changes we noticed since our last visit in the spring of 2015 are the increases in resort fees (Silver Legacy is now also $15), an abundance of 6/5 blackjack at both casino, and worsening of some of the video poker pay tables. The good news is that there are still plenty of good options both places. The four 100+% Dueces Wild machines at the Silver Legacy are no more. I'll submit an update to VPfree2. There are now no 100+% quarter level machines at either casino. And of course why change the pay table if it's only going to be a bit? They took them from great to not worth playing. Still, there's a good selection of other 99% or so machines of various types and denominations both places. The progressives at the Eldorado were truly impressive - over $1600 on 99.8% DDB (we contributed to that), $1350 on 9/6 JOB (contributed there too), and over $1500 on TDB (with the bad luck we were having elsewhere we didn't dare try this!). At the $5 level, the Eldorado had one shoe game and a whole bunch of 6/5 single and double deck games. Weekday day time there was a 3/2 double deck game, but it disappeared when things got busier. Same at the Silver Legacy. Friday night they had a bunch of $5 blackjack tables going, all 6/5 single and double deck except for one 3/2 shoe game, which of course was always full. During the day they had more $5 3/2 shoe games, none that were single or double deck. We played the 3/2 shoe exclusively and pretty much offset each other in the end. The Silver Legacy remains the mecca for $5 Pai Gow Poker. They must have ten tables or more, with most open on Friday night. Even then they didn't raise the minimum. Still a great way to push money while drinking, and they have an excellent beer and mixed drink selection. Served in real glasses by friendly and attractive servers too. The $2 bill is still a conversation piece in Reno. Got a lot of appreciation and attention from servers. We are cowardly low rollers. That behavior is reinforced by tragic results when we've tried to be otherwise. I'll up my base bet to $10 when it appears a hot streak is on. But I'm the guy who always gets the two aces to split in blackjack when I really press and then gets two 2s on the draw, or the Pai Gow hand when I press the base and Fortune bet playing Pai Gow Poker. So the people with real stones always impress me. One night a guy sits down at our $5 Pai Gow table and lays out $2000. He proceeds to play two hands, making all three bets (they've got the progressive pot bet as well), putting out $600 to $1000 total each round. Thirty minutes into it he's down to his last two hands. And of course! He gets four of a kind on one hand and a full house on the other. Now suddenly he's about even. Thirty minutes later he's up $1200. Thirty minutes later we leave and he's way down again. Cojones grandes! This guy was pretty normal and friendly too. He carried on social conversation with us little people at the table the whole time. It was an incredibly slow week. It hadn't occurred to us that this weekend there are no playoff games and next weekend is the Super Bowl. Also, there weren't any big tournaments going on at the nearby bowling center. The big thing was a women's Christian conference at the civic center a block away and Donnie Osmond performing at the Silver Legacy Friday night. Needless to say, while those may fill some rooms they don't fill the casinos. The lack of patrons and (fairly mild) winter weather gave downtown Reno even more of a post-apocalyptic feel than it normally has. I usually enjoy that, but it was enough it even made me a little ill at ease. During the weekdays it seemed like most of the people in the casinos were homeless people wandering around or hanging out to keep warm. I quickly figured out which men's room at the Silver Legacy they hit to take care of business. We couldn't get anything going this trip, but avoided what could have been a major ouchy. When we checked out yesterday I left the suitcases and my backpack with my wife while I went to the desk. When I was done I walked back over to the bench where she and our stuff were, we grabbed things and went to the airport shuttle. In an unbelievable brain fart I didn't realize until we got to the airport that my backpack wasn't there. It had about $1000 in it in addition to my tablet and some other electronics. To make a long story short, the shuttle driver was amazing. He radioed back to the hotel, took me directly back (finding out along the way that they had it), escorted me to Security and then the casino cage to get my money, took me back to the shuttle and made a special trip back to the airport. I tipped him well, but he hesitated to take it. He said it was just what he does. I insisted, saying he'd done much more for me than I could reasonably expect. I have already sent a commendation to the Eldorado. That's one of the reasons we like Reno. We've always had good interactions with the casino staff at the Eldorado or Silver Legacy. I can't imagine if it had been Vegas. We continue to enjoy the relaxed and low-limit environment of Reno, and it's still a great deal compared to Vegas. But given the choice of either paying to fly directly there with Alaska or just going to Vegas with Southwest for free we'll continue to go to Vegas more often. Next trip there is the first rounds of March Madness.