With the WSOP Online Bracelet Series less than two weeks away, it’s time to plan where you’re going to stay and play. How’s about Reno, Nevada? You’ll be just a short drive from gorgeous Lake Tahoe, and have numerous casinos at your disposal. Those who reside in the Northwest or in Northern California won’t find a better option within driving distance, given the strict internet gambling laws in the US.
The WSOP Online Bracelet Series runs from July 1-Sept. 6 and features 85 gold bracelet events. The first leg of the series — consisting of 31 events — will take place on the WSOP.com poker site, which is only available to those in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. On July 20, the series shifts to the global poker site, GGPoker. You won’t be able to compete in those events anywhere in the United States. Feel free to thank the anti-internet gambling politicians and also Sheldon Adelson for that.
The good news is, you aren’t required to live in New Jersey or Nevada to chase bracelets this summer. In a recent article, we gave you some tips on traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the series during the COVID-19 era. For those who live far north of Las Vegas and, possibly, outside of Nevada, here’s some advice on a Reno trip during a global health pandemic.
You Can’t Compare Reno to Las Vegas
I’ve visited Reno no less than 30 times in the past six years. While I’d love to tell you what an amazing place it is, that wouldn’t be honest. But it should do the trick for those looking for a decent spot to compete in the WSOP Online Bracelet Series.
If your expectation of Reno is for it to be a mini Sin City, you’ll be sadly mistaken. The Northern Nevada destination, like Vegas, boasts a plethora of casinos. But the cities are about as similar overall as Phil Hellmuth and a GTO bot.
Reno lacks the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, and it doesn’t have the $60 buffets, fancy nightclubs, or 42 million annual tourists. But you will find a cash game, comfortable bed, edible grub, and a nearby brothel, if you’re into that sort of thing.
How to Compete in the WSOP Online Bracelet Series in Reno
WSOP.com, home of the WSOP Online Bracelet Series, is available anywhere in Nevada. But if your preferred method of withdrawal is to pick up your money at a cashier’s cage, you can only do that in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace or Harrah’s. If you’re in Reno, or anywhere else in the Silver State, PayPal, e-Check, and Caesars Play+ (an ATM card) are your only options.
Signing up for a WSOP.com account is easy, just like most poker sites. There’s really nothing more to it than downloading the software, picking a screen name (keep it PG, folks), entering your personal information, and then submitting a photo of your personal ID to customer support so they can verify you are who you say you are.
After your account is verified, you should head to the cashier’s cage on the app to make your first deposit. If you use a bank card or credit card, there’s a decent chance your bank will decline the transaction. You should, however, have little problem using the e-Check option, and the money will be available in your account almost instantly.
If that isn’t a viable option, your next best bet is to use PayNearMe, which is similar to Western Union. You simply take the cash — up to $500 — to the nearest CVS or 7-11 store to make a deposit. Please note that the $500 daily maximum for PayNearMe may limit you. WSOP Online Bracelet Series tournaments range from $500-$3,200. So, if you’re planning to play multiple events and prefer using PayNearMe, you’ll have to make daily deposits.
Hotels, Motels, Holiday Inns
Now that you know how to get your WSOP.com account set up, you need a place to stay while you compete in the WSOP Online Bracelet Series. Reno is a medium-sized town, with around 425,000 people in the metro area, which also includes the city of Sparks. Nearly five million travelers visit the area annually, so, there are plenty of decent hotels, some of which have casinos attached, where you can lay your head at night and play online poker.
Peppermill is one of the most popular casino resorts in town. It’s also the only casino in Reno that’s reopened its poker room as of this writing. And the hotel is reasonably priced. From July 1-8, for example, Peppermill is charging $76 per night, according to Expedia. Similar to Las Vegas, the resort fees at the casino hotels in Reno have become quite pricey. You can add another $34 per night to that rate.
Hotel rates are down in Reno, like they are in most places, due to COVID-19. So, you’ll find a place for much cheaper than normal in July.
Personally, Peppermill is my favorite place to stay in Reno because of its solid poker room, quality rooms, and the restaurants are decent by Reno standards. But I also enjoy visiting Grand Sierra Resort ($89/night plus $34/night resort fees), Atlantis ($95/night plus $34/night resort fees), and Silver Legacy Resort Casino ($71/night plus $34/night resort fees).
If you’d like to avoid the casinos, places such as the Hyatt Place ($138/night) and Holiday Inn Express ($110/night) will do the trick. To compete in the WSOP Online Bracelet Series, unlike the regular live World Series of Poker, all you need is access to Wifi. So, there really isn’t any real need to stay in a casino.
Where to Get Your Grub On
Like any other city, Reno has all the standard fast-food and chain restaurants your heart can desire (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr., etc.). But if you aren’t on the “Have a Heart Attack” diet, there are better restaurants in town. Due to COVID-19, many of them don’t offer dine-in service yet, although that could change by July 1.
Restaurants in Nevada are limited to 50% capacity, so if you plan on visiting a fine dining establishment, it’s best to reserve a table as far in advance as possible.
When it comes to fine dining, I’d love to recommend the Atlantis Steakhouse. Unfortunately, the restaurant remains closed at this time. My second recommendation is La Strada, an Italian restaurant inside the Eldorado Casino, which is conveniently set to reopen July 1. (Pro tip: Order the mushroom ravioli. You’re welcome).
For moderately priced grub, the Atlantis Manhattan Deli has some tasty sandwiches. The restaurant only offers take-out service at this time, however. Cafe Milano at Peppermill is a quality standard cafe, but they too, currently only offer take-out.
You may be noticing a theme during this global health pandemic in Reno. Although most restaurants have reopened, many still aren’t offering dine-in service. There are some decent dine-in sports available, however, including the Grill at Quail Corners (modern American grill), and Ruby River Steakhouse (decent steak at a more reasonable price than a steakhouse inside a casino).
Or, you can always just chow down on Big Macs and Whoppers, although, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Where to Play Live Poker in Reno
Reno is one of the most underrated poker towns in the country. Sure, it isn’t Las Vegas or Los Angeles, or even Atlantic City. But the card rooms at Peppermill, Grand Sierra Resort, and Atlantis always have some juicy games running. Well, they did before COVID-19.
On June 4, Nevada’s casinos were permitted to reopen for the first time since mid-March, but Peppermill was the only casino in Reno or nearby Lake Tahoe to reopen its poker room. That, of course, could change by the time the WSOP Online Bracelet Series rolls around.
Until that happens, you’ll have to stick with Peppermill, which isn’t a bad option. The Nevada Gaming Control Board limits poker games to five-players per table so getting a seat could involve a little bit of a wait if the crowds turn out for the online bracelet events.