Swinging For The Fence


The game plan is simple: have fun and don’t spend much money. With a little luck, spend no money at all.

The idea is to book a room, eat dinner, go to a baseball game, and have a few beers, all for about $45. At the end of the night, I take roughly the total amount I spend and put it on red at the nearest roulette table. Should it come out in my favor, the balance zeroes out and I resist the dangerous urge to keep betting and call it a night. Should I lose, I definitely resist that pull and still come out relatively unscathed with a fun-filled bargain night behind me.

The players: My friends Shannon, Chris, Kellie, and me.

The first pitch: We enter the purple-and-gold-flavored styles of a deeply affordable (40 bucks, evenly split two ways) hotel room at the Sand’s Regency Casino & Hotel in late August.

The combination of cheap, quality offerings in Reno make it a penny-pinchers haven. Downtown offers plenty of hotel rooms, myriad eating options, the Reno Aces Triple-A baseball team—complete with Thirsty Thursday’s cheap beer night—and of course all the gambling you can shake a chip at. The offerings in Reno aren’t just low-cost, they are substantive and often fetch much higher prices across the country.


Steal! Our first bonus is free parking, common in casino cities the state over.

Starting lineup: Our downtown location means we walk everywhere, negating taxi or transportation costs. It also wisely eliminates any driving after a few frothy ones.

Dinner is a half-mile walk to Pho 777 Vietnamese Noodle Restaurant, which has a solid 3.5-star average review from 302 Yelp reviews. One commenter writes he is a “Pho 777 PHONATIC PHO SHO!!!” in a lengthy five-star review. Strong words, but the gargantuan pho bowls are a friendly $6.95 for a large, and the $2.50 beers put me in the four-star range at the very least. A few appetizers, entrees for all, and with an unplanned beer or two each, the bill comes to $47.65.

Score! A two-minute walk and we’re at the Reno Aces Ballpark (recently named Greater Nevada Park) for the final Thirsty Thurs- day night of the season, complete with $2 draft light beers. Triple-A baseball games are a great night out; the talent level is as close to the majors as humanly possible but with $8 general seating tickets and no big-stadium hassle.

The ballpark’s layout is perfect for casual walking around the venue, without ever veering too far from the action. You can stand above the first-level seating above home plate, or take a stroll around the outfield and lean against the home-run wall, close enough to heckle the opposing team’s left fielder while barely raising your voice. Not that we would ever do such a thing.

Delay of game: Turns out the $2 beers come in pretty small cups. Not surprising, and probably safer, but my initial budget could be in great peril. The pho was about four bucks over budget —thanks a lot, appetizers—and the two-beer plan didn’t seem logical after a couple foamy cups of yellow beer. I decide to adapt and persevere, and after crunching some quick numbers I figure I can cook the books just a bit and supplement the night with a modest $10 augmentation. Game on.

Seventh-inning stretch: The Aces, down the majority of the night, fight back to gain the lead and in the 9th inning everything goes haywire. Four runs down with bases loaded, visiting Memphis rips a grand slam to right field in the top of the ninth, and closes the inning tied up. In the bottom of the 9th, the Aces rally to get everyone on base. A run wins; an out sends it to extra innings…when does this ever happen in baseball? With the crowd humming, a wild pitch sends the runner at third home. He slides headfirst and in a cloud of dust the game is over with the hometown heroes on top.

Time for a ground ball with eyes: With everything going swimmingly, it’s time to try our hand at fate. The casinos have a way of finding you—not vice versa— and I don’t recall which particular one we step into. I make some calculations, and with sweaty hands put my high-roller stack of chips on the table.

I envision pit bosses eyeing the money, and hushed voices talking into earpieces discussing what to do about this whale of a bet. A small crowd will surely gather, maybe a local celeb will swing by to give me a pat on the back. But my whopping $45 bet draws no such attention. I plop it down on red, and a guy pulls up next to me and bets about four times what I do; no one cares about his bet either.

Nonetheless, my heart rate increases as the silver pellet that holds my success tinks around the well-oiled roulette wheel for what seems to be hours, only to land on…red!

Grand slam: High fives happen all around, and the night is a success. My expense spreadsheet balances out and all is right in the world.

Extra innings? I cram the fat stack of cash into my pockets for the walk back to the hotel. We make sure to hydrate with a few cups of water before we turn in early for a good night’s sleep. At least that’s the plan; with our luck firmly in place, the lure of more budget-friendly adventures in Reno might be worth another step up to the plate.



Sands Regency Casino & Hotel

345 N Arlington Ave.
Reno, NV 89501
sandsregency.com, 775-348-2200

Pho 777 Vietnamese Noodle Restaurant

102 E. 2nd St. Reno, NV 89501

Reno Aces

250 Evans Ave.
Reno, NV 89501
renoaces.com, 775-334-4700

Reno Convention and Visitors Authority

visitrenotahoe.com, 888-255-1223


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