RENO - Eastbound Interstate 80 drops out of the Sierra Nevada like a stone. And at the point where the driver can finally stop leaning on the brakes, Reno lurches out of the desert - casinos blinking and high-rise construction cranes twirling.

This town - "The Biggest Little City in the World" - is one of the most coveted banking markets in the country, a key battleground for any bank with nationwide ambitions.

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