Vegas Poker Room Reviews
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2007-01-07, by OzoneA decade ago, there were only a handful of poker rooms in Las Vegas. Now, due to the poker boom, nearly every casino in Vegas offers their customers the chance to play poker. Casinos view poker as an efficient method to bring in hoards of gambling hopefuls who want to play the game they've been watching on television.
Casinos do not make much directly from poker. The rake charged in poker games is not nearly as much as they could expect to extract from someone if he or she was playing at the blackjack tables. Nevertheless, casinos have fine-tuned the art of using a poker room to increase their bottom line. This is done by supplying not enough poker action to meet the demand from players. The result of this is waiting lists that cause customers to stand around the casino for up to a couple hours while they wait for a seat at the poker table to vacate. Casinos hope that, amidst all this waiting, John Q. Tourist will decide to burn through a few hundred on the slots or table games.
Although nearly every Las Vegas casino offers poker, the differences between each establishment's poker rooms are vast. Some rooms are small with dried up action and poor customer service. Others are poker havens with automatic shufflers, marble accents, and table side food service. Take a look at the following four Vegas poker rooms for a glimpse at how the poker experience can vary greatly from casino to casino:
Number of Tables: 22
Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: 74
Game Availability: 84
Customer Service: 87
Located below one of the largest hotels in the world, the MGM Grand poker room is noted best for its comfort and accommodations. Mike Green, director of poker operations, says "we believe in comfort here." The MGM Grand delivers just that in its poker room. With an industry leading seven feet separating each table and a four foot barrier between every wall, this poker room is spacious and inviting. Just 22 tables are located in a large area where other poker rooms would probably try to squeeze upwards of 35 tables. This is the most spacious poker room in Las Vegas by design.
Tournament players can enjoy a daily $65 tournament at 11:00 am. This tournament typically draws around 90 players and pays out to the top bube finishers. Note that, as is typical of a small buy-in live poker tournament, only $50 of this $65 buy-in goes towards the prize pool. The room's most popular cash games are $1/$2 and $2/$5 no-limit. On the weekends a couple tables of $5/$10 no-limit are spread. The max buy-in for this game is $2,500, which is attractive to sharks.
Best For: Players looking for a hidden gem of a poker room, who require a spacious atmosphere, or who enjoy a more "futuristic" looking room as opposed to "high-society" looking room.
Number of Tables: 39
Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: 81
Game Availability: 97
Customer Service: 96
New to the scene of major Vegas poker rooms, the Venetian boasts some unrivaled qualities. With thirty-nine tables spread out over a spacious room, one can't help but feel comfortable playing in this cardroom. The most popular game in the room is $1/$2 no-limit with a $200 maximum buy-in. There are often several tables of this game running during peak hours. The Venetian is also noted for spreading the smallest mixed-game table in Vegas. Players can enjoy $8/$16 H.O.R.S.E. or other various mixed games. It should be noted that these games are only popular enough to run on the weekends.
The spacious room is used to host daily tournaments. At 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm on every day except Saturday, a $125+$20 tournament is spread. At noon on Saturdays, a $500+$50 tournament typically draws around a hundred players and is considered among the best weekly tournaments in Vegas.
This cardroom compliments the casino in which it is housed by offering top class service and amenities. What little the cocktail waitresses lack in visual appeal they amply make up for with fast service. An indicator of how much this room takes care of its players is evident in it's default bottled water, Fiji. This might be the most player-friendly poker room in all of Las Vegas.
Best For: Anyone interested in playing at one of the most fluidly functioning rooms in Vegas, fans of smaller mixed-games, and those looking for great tournament structure.
Number of Tables: 14
Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: 82
Game Availability: 71
Customer Service: 58
This poker room has recently staged promotions in an attempt to join the ranks of great Vegas card rooms. While they have been successful in infusing their room with a steady influx of players, they are unlikely to ever become more than a dinky room suitable for small stakes tourists. A $50-max buy-in $1/$2 game is the only no-limit poker spread in this card room. Needless to say, with the buy-in capped at just 25 big blinds, rarely are there any decisions left to be made after the betting on the flop. By keeping the stacks small, Luxor is protecting the weaker players by limiting how much they can lose on one hand. This cardroom is indeed full of weak players. Unfortunately, taking money off of them is a long, slow grind.
Luxor hosts a variety of small-stakes daily tournaments. These events range in price from $39 up to $85. The vigorish on these events makes it virtually impossible for anyone to be a winner in this game over the long haul....except, of course, Luxor.
Best For: People afraid to lose much money, are adverse to making hard decisions, or might enjoy a poker room with just a couple of active tables.
Number of Tables: 26
Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: 97
Game Availability: 76
Customer Service: 79
With their no-limit games containing no max buy-in, the Wynn poker room is a shark's paradise. Stakes of $1/$3, $2/$5, and $5/$10 are very popular. On the weekends, a $25/$50 no-limit game often features players with stacks over $10,000.
Each Friday the room hosts a $530+$55 tournament that generally draws around 100 players. The structure for this tournament is mediocre at best when compared to similarly priced tournaments held at other Vegas casinos.
This poker room is one of the weaker features of the casino, which is arguably the nicest in all of Vegas. The room is still among the five best in the city, but it fails to meet the gold standards of the casino's other segments. Twenty-six tables are cramped into a fairly snug area. This room is also notorious for its long waiting lists and fairly tough games. Now, compared to online poker, the games in Wynn are a breeze. However, among major Vegas poker rooms, they might be second only to Bellagio in terms of difficulty. Undoubtedly one of the nicest parts of this room is the attractive waitresses in revealing, yet classy uniforms. Just hope you don't start to get dehydrated because chances are it'll take a while for that next water to come around.
Best For: Players that possess a need to feel high-class, a love for buying a very deep stack, and patience with drink orders.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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