by Matt Bourie

When visiting casinos in Reno and nearby Lake Tahoe, there will be a lot of different casinos to choose from.

For those players looking to find the casinos offering the best odds on their games we offer the following information which has been republished from the 2020 edition of the American Casino Guide book:

Roulette– The house edge on a single-zero wheel cuts the house edge from 5.26% down to a more reasonable 2.70%. Unfortunately, there are no casinos in Reno/Tahoe that offer single-zero roulette.

Craps – Almost all Reno/Tahoe area casinos offer either double odds, or 3x/4x/5x on their crap games.

The world-famous arch welcomes visitors to downtown Reno, Nevada

Blackjack – There’s good news and bad news for blackjack players in Northern Nevada. The good news is that there is an abundance of single-deck and double-deck games available. The bad news is that all casinos in the Reno/Tahoe area hit soft 17. This results in a slightly higher advantage (.20%) for the casinos. Additionally, some casinos may also restrict your double-downs to two-card totals of 10 or 11 only. All recommendations in this section apply to basic strategy players. You should always look for casinos that pay the standard 3-to-2 for blackjack. Some casinos may pay 6-to-5 for blackjack and this increases the casino edge to around 1.5% and they should be avoided. 

The best single-deck games can be found at Boomtown and Western Village where they allow you to double down on any first two cards, split any pair and resplit any pair (except aces). The casino edge in this game is .18%. (NOTE: There are numerous casinos that offer a game similar to this one except they will only allow you to double down on totals of 10 or more. This raises the casino edge in this game to .44%).

There are seven Reno-area casinos that tie for best place to play double-deck blackjack: Atlantis, Cal-Neva, Eldorado, Grand Sierra, Nugget, Peppermill and Silver Legacy. Their two-deck games have the following rules: double down on any first two cards, split any pair, and resplit any pair (except aces). This works out to a casino edge of .53%. 

The best six-deck game can be found in Reno at the Silver Legacy. The game’s edge is .32% with these rules: double down on any two or more cards, split any pair, resplit any pair (including aces) and double allowed after split.

Next best is a game found at four Lake Tahoe casinos: Harrah’s, Hard Rock, Harveys and Hyatt Regency. The casino edge here is .56% with the following rules: double down on any two cards, split any pair, resplit any pair (including aces) and double allowed after split. 

If you take away resplitting of aces from the previous game then you have a game with a casino edge of .63% which is offered at most other casinos, including:  Atlantis, Eldorado, Grand Sierra, Nugget, the Peppermill and Sands Regency. 

Video Poker – Smart video poker players know that some of the best varieties of machines to look for are: 8/5 Bonus Poker (99.17 % return), 9/6 Jacks or Better (99.54% return), 10/6 Double Double Bonus (100.07% return), 10/7 Double Bonus (100.17% return) and full-pay Deuces Wild (100.76% return).

 All of these games are available in Northern Nevada, with the exception of full-pay Deuces Wild, which is hard to find. A slightly lesser-paying version, known as Not So Ugly Deuces (NSUD), which returns 99.73%, however, is widely available.

Following is a list of casinos offering the better paying video poker games. The abbreviations used for each listing are BP (8/5 Bonus Poker), JB (9/6 Jacks or Better),  DDB (10/6 Double Double Bonus), DB (10/7 Double Bonus), FPDW (Full-Pay Deuces Wild) and NSUD (Not So Ugly Deuces).

Reno/Sparks Casinos:

Atlantis: JB – nickel to 50-cents (some with progressives); BP – nickel to $10  (some with progressives); NSUD – nickel to $10 (some with progressives)

Bonanza: JB – $1 to $5; BP – $1 to $5

Club Cal Neva: JB – 50-cents, $1 and $5; BP – 50-cents and $1

Eldorado: JB – quarter to $5 (some with progressives); NSUD – quarter to $1; BP – quarter

Grand Sierra: JB – quarter to $10 (some with progressives); BP – quarter to $10;  NSUD – quarter to $10

Harrah’s Reno: JB – $1 to $5; BP – nickel to $5 (some with progressive)

Nugget: JB – nickel to 50-cent; BP – two-cents an nickel

Peppermill: JB – penny to $100 (some with progressives); NSUD – nickel to $5 (some with progressives);  BP – nickel to $100

Rail City: JB – quarter to $1; BP quarter to $1

Silver Legacy: JB – nickel to $25; NSUD – quarter and $1; BP – quarter to $25 (some with progressives)

Western Village: JB – penny to $1; NSUD – penny to $1

 Lake Tahoe Casinos:

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe: JB – quarter to $100; BP – quarter to $100

Harvey’s: JB – $5 to $100; BP – $1 to $100 (one with progressive)

Tahoe Biltmore: JB- quarter to $5; BP- $1; NSUD – $1

Best wishes for good luck on your visit to the casinos in Reno and Lake Tahoe!