While most of the tournaments are held at Las Vegas and Reno casinos, there’s plenty of action in the clubs lining the Colorado River at Laughlin, too. For example, daily “Man vs. Machine” tourneys are sponsored by the Colorado Belle, while “Spin to Win” competitions are featured at the Golden Nugget on various days of the week. Entry fees at the former are $10, $20 and $30 (first place prizes of $1,000, $2,500 and $4,000), while all the “Spin to Win” tourneys have a $10 entry fee and $1,000 total prize money each day.
Comparison Reveals Differences
Although almost all weekly tournaments involve metered machines set so each participant plays for five minutes, there’s no sameness about their entry requirements, prizes awarded or other features. Weekly slot tournaments at two Reno “neighborhood” casinos (casinos away from downtown patronized largely by locals) illustrate these differences.
Weekly tournaments at the Atlantis, about two miles from downtown on S. Virginia Street take place daily 1 to 6 p.m., with winners announced at 6:30 p.m. They are free and open to all members of Club Paradise, the casino’s players club. Individual play lasts for five minutes on metered machines. Prizes awarded each day are 1st Place, $100 cash with other prizes of “free play” on the casino’s slot machine. These are, 2nd place, $75 free play, 3rd place, $50, two 4th places of $20 free play and 15 of $10. Winners need to be present at 6:30 in order to receive these prizes.
Gold Dust West Has Additional Requirements
At Gold Dust West, about a half-dozen blocks northeast of downtown, the weekly Wednesday tournaments begin at 11 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. , with each player having five minutes at a machine. Prize winners — $200 for first, $100 for second and $75 for third — are announced about a half-hour later. Entrants must be members of the Gold Dust West players club and over the age of 50 to participate. In addition, each participant must accumulate 50 points on his or her players card on tournament day prior to entering (each entrant gets a free dinner voucher).
While tournament play is free at most Reno casinos, other clubs, such as John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks, have set entry fees (the Nugget’s is $5). Video poker tournaments are also held on certain days of the week at several casinos.
Special Event Tournaments
In addition to weekly tournaments, casinos often sponsor special event or themed tournaments. These are usually two-day competitions, but unlike the Invitation Only and High Roller tournaments, are affordable as far as most gamblers are concerned.
The tournaments are generally themed, with names like “Shamrock Celebration” or “April Showers,” and flyers are sent out in advance to both local players’ club members and those who live elsewhere. Although formats and prize structures vary somewhat, the majority of these tournaments have an entry fee of $200 or less. This fee includes a complimentary room for two nights and a meal or two. Discounts are offered to the second person sharing a room and participants who don’t require accommodations.
Two-day tournaments usually consist of three rounds, the first held on one day and remaining two on the second. The typical tourney round lasts from ten to twenty minutes, and prizes are sometimes awarded to the winner of each round. Since not all participants can play the tournament machines at the same time, each entrant is assigned a playing time.
Entry Fees and Prize Money
Total prize money for a recent tournament with 600 participants and an entry fee of $199 ($100 for person sharing room; $149 for person not requiring accommodations) totaled $40,000, with cash prizes of $10,000, $3,000 and $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000 for the top five players; $500 each for players who placed sixth to tenth; $300 for those who placed from 11 to 20 and $25 each to those placing 21st to 40th. Players who came in from 185th to 41st received $100 or $25 in free play, depending on their ranking.
A variation of the above is the single-day special event tournament such as the 2010 “Millionaire Maker” tournaments held at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. These competitions,, based on 350 players at each tournament ($200 buy in), award a total of $30,000 to 15 players. The top prize is $15,000 and top two finishers get to advance to the Millionaire Maker Slot Finals at Harrah’s New Orleans in October.
Short Summer Guide to North Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe, straddling the California-Nevada border in the midst of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is one of those truly remarkable creations of nature that lends itself well to holiday-makers.
The various ski resorts around the lake make up the largest “winter sports” region in the U.S. For those that prefer summertime activities, the regional parks offer many opportunities for hiking, biking and wildlife viewing, there are a number of golf courses, and the lake itself is ideal for every water sport imaginable. Even people who prefer indoor entertainment can be satisfied; half of the lake sits within the gambling-friendly state of Nevada, with its casinos and related entertainment.
The Lake Tahoe Region
The Tahoe Basin is blessed with nearly 300 days of clear-blue-not-a-cloud-in-the-sky sunshine per year, and the 6,000+ feet in altitude and strict environmental policies mean that clean air is available year-round. The lake itself is truly an awe-inspiring thing to behold: with 1,645 feet of depth, it is the deepest alpine lake in the country, and it spans 72 miles in circumference. This means that it never freezes and averages a not-quite-cozy but definitely swimmable – at least in summer – temperature of 55°F throughout the year.
The true beauty of Lake Tahoe, commonly known as “the jewel of the Sierras” lies in the unparalleled clarity of its crystal-like waters, the utterly magical scenery of its alpine setting, and the pristine, user-friendly beaches scattered around its shores. Mark Twain famously described Lake Tahoe as “the fairest picture the whole earth affords”, states the Sierra Nevada Virtual Museum.
All in all, Tahoe is a premier year-round holiday destination, but it is particularly appealing in the high summer, when the 74+°F temperatures tempt swims in the clear blue waters and BBQ picnics under the shelter of Ponderosa pines.
Summertime in North Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is split from north-to-south by a state line, putting approximately 2/3 of the lake in California and 1/3 in Nevada. The lake is also divided, pretty much across the middle, into North Shore and South Shore. Although Tahoe’s South Shore is a popular destination due to Heavenly Mountain Resort and South Lake Tahoe, which is the largest town on the lake with myriad attractions, North Tahoe offers a more relaxed, less-touristy option for a holiday.
According to the North Shore Visitor Bureau, North Lake Tahoe is “where summer dreams are born” with unique resorts and towns full of every activity imaginable and catering to everyone’s tastes. Here you can: play golf, rent a kayak, go mountain biking, try white-water rafting, visit art galleries, gamble, enjoy gourmet dining and so much more.
Tahoe City – Where Adventure Abounds
As the largest town on the North Shore, Tahoe City sees its fair share of visitors, but it still manages to retain a sort of old-west, historic feel. It sits at the headwaters of the lake’s only outlet, the Truckee River, so it is a Mecca for adventure activities of all kinds, including white-water rafting. A number of outfitters in town offer guided rafting, climbing, hiking, kayaking, and even horse-back riding tours to suit every type of adventurer.
Once adrenaline limits have been exhausted, Tahoe City offers a few small but charming shopping malls, a town cinema that runs one movie at a time, and dining options ranging from fine steakhouses to homey Mexican to casual cafes.
King’s Beach – Mellow Out by the Lake
A popular area for visitors due to its large public beach, King’s Beach is your typical Tahoe mountain-beach town. In fact, the North Shore Visitor’s Bureau claims that this stretch – located almost directly at the lake’s true north, just over the California border – “wrote the book on mellow kick back and more information“. It also provides the main access from the lake to the much-loved, historic mountain town of Truckee, which itself is the main gateway to Tahoe’s North Shore and a fun, eclectic place to visit.
Incline Village – Cultured Lakeside Living
Perched on the northeastern shore of the lake, Incline Village is a small, friendly town where many wealthy fans of Tahoe spend holidays at their lake-front estates. With a couple of private-use pristine beaches, its own local ski resort, Diamond Peak – which also offers fantastic hiking and biking trails – and some excellent dining choices, as well as a popular hotel and casino, Incline Village is great for a relaxed but sophisticated vacation.
Nearby Sand Harbor State Park is a large and beautiful beach that serves as the stage for Tahoe’s somewhat famous summer Shakespeare Festival, an event that should not to be missed.
As a summer holiday destination, few places beat Lake Tahoe’s North Shore. With plenty of activities, sunshine, natural beauty, fine cuisine, and unique towns full of character and charm, North Lake Tahoe really is a jewel for holiday-makers.