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Poker Room Review: Circus Circus Casino, Reno, NV

Poker Room Review: Circus Circus Casino, Reno, NV 0001

Circus Circus is a large, hotel and casino much like the other hotels and casinos in the downtown Reno area. It caters principally to local residents and conventioneers, who buck the trend of staying in the pricier, glitzier, and more modern casinos south of downtown.

The Circus Circus poker room, in its current incarnation, is only three years old and reflects a somewhat older, shabbier, and gloomier downtown. The casino is home to two great games, a $2-6 limit hold'em with "overs", and a $1/2 no limit hold'em; both potentially very lucrative to the skilled player.

The $2-6 game is, I believe, unique to Reno and maybe all of pokerdom these days. At the very least, I'm sure I haven't encountered it in my travels. What makes it unique is that it can be played with "overs," a term which means that the stakes can be exceeded by players who are willing to do so (as indicated by a marker at their seat). Though the game is $2-6 spread limit, if you would prefer to play the game no limit, you may do so with others who are similarly inclined, provided no other players remain in the hand.

As you can imagine, this can have a very flammable affect on an otherwise sedate limit game. When I was there, for example, myself and three of the other seven players had overs buttons. Uncharacteristically, a hand I was in (holding pocket queens) became heads up on the flop, with myself and another player both having overs buttons, and me with position on him.

The flop, {j-Spades}{6-Clubs}{5-Spades}, had two spades in it, but also contained no cards higher than a jack. My opponent, perhaps not realizing that the game could now be played no limit, bet $6 into the $16 pot (a couple of players had called the $2 blind pre-flop before I raised and we took to the flop alone).

I had not played at the table for more than an hour, but had recognized that he played with somewhat wild and tricky tendencies. I believed that had he hit a two pair or a set, he would not have bet. I put him on either a flush draw that he was semi-bluffing, or maybe top pair, top kicker. There was also a possibility he was just playing two overcards.

Had this been a limit game, my options would be severely restricted. I could raise $6, which would have been my only option, though not a great one. If he were really semi-bluffing with a flush draw, he'd be getting great pot odds at $6 to call, for a $34 pot. On the other hand, I could just call the $6, but then I wouldn't be exerting any pressure on him to fold. Neither of these options would have been very appealing.

But with the overs buttons, I could raise any or all of my stack, which was about equal to his; a few hundred dollars. I took advantage of this fact and raised to $30; roughly the size of the pot. This got him to think, and after thirty seconds or so he called. The turn was {9-} and he checked. Once again, I was pleased to have the option of playing no limit instead of limit. Had I been restricted to betting $12, he'd surely call, and correctly risk the $12 to win a large pot if he hit his flush. As it was, I was able to bet $100. "Good bet," he said while folding, and I gladly added the $100 pot to my stack.

I was happy to have played this version of hold'em and ended up staying for a few hours. As it turned out, that was the only hand that I played where I was able to use the overs.

I called back later to see if they spread anything else at night, and discovered that they had a rocking $1/2 no limit game. Circus Circus is creative with this game as well. While other casino properties around the world generally limit the buy-ins to a fixed minimum and maximum, Circus Circus has a different approach. They require a minimum buy-in of $30, but their maximum depends on the size of the other stacks at the table, allowing a buy-in to be as large as the largest stack. This is a great rule, especially for games that have been running for awhile and consist of players who are playing aggressively. When I called in, for example, there was $10,000 in chips on the table, with the largest stack around $2,500. If I had gone over to the game, I might want to compete on equal footing with that player. Being limited to a $300 buy-in could put me at a competitive disadvantage, since I'd be out-chipped. This "tallest stack" rule is good for the game in the short run, in my opinion, and encourages wild action, as deep pocketed, losing players reload for increasingly large amounts. This can benefit the skilled no limit player enormously.

Circus Circus is an MGM property and, as such, you'll want to get an MGM Rewards card. You'll earn $1 an hour in comps, but they're not transferable to other MGM properties and must be used on site. Circus Circus has six restaurants, including a sushi place and a steak house. My fellow poker players had not tried the sushi, but said the steaks were "excellent". Although the options were appealing, I'd stick with the $5.99 steak and egg breakfast special.

The rake is 10%, with a maximum of $3.50 per hand. The poker room currently has a huge bad beat, with the qualifying hand being quads beaten, with all hole cards having to play. As of October 25th, it stood at slightly over $161,000. It is not a multi-property bad beat either, being limited to only the Circus Circus poker room.

Room rates at Circus Circus, and other downtown properties in Reno, tend to be very reasonable. The minimum here is about $40 during the week and $90 on weekends. You might even be able to book a room for under $30 during especially slow weeks; a great deal in my book.

Overall, I enjoyed my time playing at Circus Circus and I'd gladly come back. Next time, however, I'll be going late at night to play in their no limit game.

Circus Circus Hotel and Casino – Reno
500 N. Sierra Street
Reno, NV 89503
(800) 648-5010

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