The Fandango Casino poker room is a brightly lit, festive, and somewhat garish place that is currently suffering the ill effects of a poor economy. They have scaled back their operations somewhat, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and not officially opening until 4pm on all other days except Sunday, when they open at 9am.
The poker room has three tables and is relatively new, having just opened in December 2007. The casino itself is only five and a half years old and is non-smoking. There's no table-side waitress service, but the chips, cards, tables, and chairs are new and clean; if not especially luxurious.
I had a somewhat boring experience when I visited, though. After adjusting for the many brightly colored lights, loud tropical designs, three widescreen televisions, and mirrored ceiling, I found myself in a nicely appointed room, but with only one actual player other than myself. The other three people in the game were off-duty poker room employees. They were extremely tight and passive and didn't make for the type of game I find profitable.
They do have tournaments every day that they're open, except Friday, though according to their poker room manager, they just canceled their Friday tournament for lack of interest, as well as to concentrate on their live game. The tournaments are scheduled as follows: 11am on Sunday, 7pm on Monday, 7:30pm on Thursday, and 5pm on Saturday. The Sunday, Monday, and Thursday events are only $25 and the Saturday tournament is $50.
Their live game is loose and passive. They are quite strict about rule enforcement, which is surprising in such a dead room. Usually rooms with few patrons tend to be lax about such things, but not here. No swearing is allowed, with players being warned once and then ejected if done again. I didn't test the policy myself, but the players, which included dealers, said it was no joke.
The room rarely uses shills, but when they do they're not allowed to check and raise. They do use prop players from time to time. I suspect that the off-dealers were functioning in that role, perhaps to keep them interested in the low-spirited game.
Players get a small comp for playing: $.50 an hour if you have a "Prospector's" card. There are also free, non-alcoholic drinks and pastries for players.
There was a new promotion going on when I visited; the high hand of the day received 3% of the jackpot pool, made up of $1 from every raked pot. Also, players who hit quads or a straight flush got a free spin of "the wheel", which featured cash prizes ranging from $5 to $50. Prizes doubled if they hit these hands and had both of their cards playing.
The poker room manager told me that in addition to the standard $2/$6 spread-limit hold'em game, they still get a $1/2 and $2/3 no-limit game from time to time on the weekends. But when I called on a Saturday to check on the game, it wasn't going; all they had was just one table of $2/$6. Sadly, that lack of action seems to be a trend in northern Nevada these days. Nearly all the rooms in the Reno-Carson City-Lake Tahoe area have been slow this fall.
They have one innovation that I like, and I'm surprised that more dealers don't use it. They have a long back-scratcher device that they use, similar to what a craps croupier uses, to pull in the chips from the players that are too far away. One particularly short dealer used it on every hand.
There is no hotel on this property, though there are, however, four restaurants (Duke's Steak House, the Palm Court Grill, Ti Amo Italian Grille, and the "lavish buffet" Rum Jungle) that my fellow poker players recommended as "excellent".
I don't think I'd play much poker at the Fandango. There was something about the bright neon jungle scenes coupled with the dead game that made it all seem depressing for me. However, I might stop back though to sample the restaurants which the players raved about.
800 South Carson Street
Carson City, NV