The Grand Sierra is a beautifully appointed poker room in a luxury casino resort. There are nice high ceilings, extremely comfortable "extended play" chairs, and large flat-screen televisions that surround the room. The tables are luxurious, the cards and chips are first-rate. There is no smoking.
The casino resort itself is also top-shelf all the way – from high-end luxury suites, great entertainment, and extremely well rated, high-end steak and seafood restaurants, to an elaborate buffet and many casual restaurants, including one of my personal favorites, Johnny Rockets. They have a spa; they have a ballroom; they have a business center; they have everything conventioneers and tourists seek.
But there was one thing they didn't have, at least until recently, and that was a crowded poker room.
Fortunately, that is changing. Perhaps it's due to the aggressive promotions in the room as of late. Or maybe the word about this great poker venue has finally gotten out to poker players in Reno and beyond. For whatever reason, the Grand Sierra poker room seems to be finally coming into its own.
There are three poker tournaments a day. The first, at 9:00 AM, is an $18 satellite to the $55 11:00 AM game. Three players from the satellite win seats. The last tournament is a $75 deep stack event that kicks off at 6:30 PM. Players start with 6,000 in tournament chips. This tournament generally lasts between three and four hours.
The room spreads $4/8 limit hold'em with a half kill during the week, but the popular game these days is $1/2 no-limit that goes nearly all of the time. They did something with the buy-in that I liked – and that I do in my home game. The maximum buy-in when a new table opens is $300. But after an hour, as stacks tend to creep up in size (as the winners win and the losers rebuy) the house allows buy-ins up to the size of the largest stack. This tends to accelerate the action, which it turn tends to attract players who are attracted by the action. According to the shift manager, the room often fills all seven tables.
Attendance may also be helped by the promotional comp rates of $2/hour (the regular rate is $1/hour). Comps may be used in all of the restaurants and toward the price of a room. Tableside food and drink service is available, though I found it more convenient to just buy my food at the nearby Johnny Rockets and bring it to the room while I waited for a seat. The buffet, as of late, has also been sending over platters of food for poker players – not just sandwiches, I was told, but shrimp and steak.
The poker room has an additional reward for frequent locals. Players entering the daily tournaments earn points for their finishes. The top monthly point earner wins $2,000. The year's top point earner wins $25,000. I don't know of a better promotion for regulars anywhere.
Admittedly, the major tournament action has been slow in the past at the Grand Sierra. They are trying hard to counteract that trend with a special room rate of only $30 during their next World Poker Challenge held in late February 26 – March 15th. The casino is adding $100,000 to the prize pool. They are also offering their $2/hour comp for live play during that time.
The Grand Sierra is away from downtown – right by the airport – with spectacular views of the nearby mountains. This has always been a popular destination for conventioneers, skiers and golfers, and the casino offers many different promotions for them. With all of the promotions and no-limit action in the poker room of late, it now seems that it will be a popular destination for poker players as well. I hope so. It's a great room.
Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
2500 E. Second Street