Vegas Poker Rooms, Part III
In these two previous Weekly Shuffles, we reviewed a total of eight poker rooms in Las Vegas. This week, we're taking a look at four more.
It's becoming increasingly harder to tell Vegas rooms apart from each other. The majority of the rooms in the city have between 6 and 15 tables, offer four daily $40-$80 buy-in MTTs (with a huge entry fee and horrible structure), and have an abundance of $1-$2 no-limit games. I think it's fair to say that the live poker action in Vegas has nestled into its post-poker boom grove.
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The more similar rooms are from a broad perspective, the more meaningful their micro-differences are. Two years ago, rooms were vastly different when it came to the stakes and tournaments they offered. Now, since they are much more similar, tiny details such as TV-access and the attractiveness of the cocktail waitresses are what can make or break a poker room.
Number of Tables: 15
Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: A-
Game Availability: B-
Customer Service: A
Formerly the Aladdin, this casino's theme was recently renovated along with its poker room. The new Planet Hollywood's poker room is quite impressive. Boasting 15 tables in a space that could fit 20, this is a comfortable and friendly room. I was very impressed with how willing their shift manager was to answer my questions.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights at 7 pm, they have a $60 multi-table tournament in which Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi participates. A $300 bounty is on The Grinder's head, which is enough money to negate the tournament's high entry fee. This is a pretty unique promotion. I know of no other poker room in Vegas that offers regularly scheduled access to a top professional.
An extra $1 is raked out of each pot in this poker room. That money is redistributed through high hand jackpots that range from $50 to $599 for all hands four-of-a-kind or better. The reason the cap is set at $599 is so they can avoid withholding any of the prize money for tax purposes.
The TV access in this room is good in some parts and not so good in other areas. Regarding the cocktail waitresses, two words: fishnet stockings.
Best For: Small-stakes players and anyone starstruck by Michael Mizrachi.
Number of Tables: 40
Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: C
Game Availability: A
Customer Service: C-
This is the most high-stakes-friendly poker room in Vegas. Their game availability is unrivaled thanks to the various stakes and poker variants they offer. Many people think Bellagio has the nicest poker room in Vegas, but I disagree with that claim. Their customer service is flat-out rude. Unless you're a high stakes superstar with several TV appearances, you're likely to be treated like a waste of time by this room's employees. I have been to this room well over a dozen times and not once was I made to feel welcome. Furthermore, the room is fairly cramped unless you're playing in the designated high-stakes areas.
Unfortunately for players who want games higher than 2-5 no-limit and 10-20 limit, there aren't too many options outside of the Bellagio. This is especially the case during times when there are no major tournaments in town. This is also the only location in town with high stakes daily tournaments. Sunday through Thursday, they spread a $500+$40 tournament. On the weekends, the buy-in increases to $1,000+$80.
The room has several televisions, but unless you're near the edges, they can be hard to see. The cocktail waitresses at Bellagio are among the most conservatively dressed in the city.
Best For: High-stakes players
Number of Tables: 6
Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: C+
Game Availability: C+
Customer Service: A-
In operation since 1957, this is one of the oldest functioning Strip casinos. The poker room is small; it has just six tables. However, it might have some of the softest $1-$2 no-limit action in the city according to Terry, the shift manager on duty I spoke with. He informed me that most of the room's patrons are tourists staying at the hotel. Since this is a fairly low-end property, I wouldn't expect to find many sharks at the poker tables. As Terry put it, "most of the games play like a kitchen table home-game."
The room is very spacious and offers good access to TVs. For every four hours logged at the tables, players get a comp for the buffet or deli. That's a pretty generous comp offering.
Best For: $1-$2 no-limit players looking for the softest game in town.
Number of Tables: 10
Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: A-
Game Availability: B
Customer Service: D
If the totality of their customer service is anything like the shift manager who was utterly disrespectful to me, it would be worth avoiding this room entirely. Generally, you would expect a poker room manager to treat someone who is there to review their room with the utmost respect. Instead, I was told to "move away from the desk," when I tried to ask a question about the poker room!
Aside from that unpleasant experience, this seems like a pretty nice poker room. They have ten well-spaced tables and cute cocktail waitresses with low-cut dresses. Their game offerings were fairly typical save for one aberration: crazy pineapple. You'd have to assume the average player at their crazy pineapple table has absolutely no clue what they're doing, so that game might be a pretty soft spot if you can figure out the basics of the variant.
It should be noted that an extra $1 is withheld from each pot and contributed to a high hand jackpot where royal flushes and straight flushes can win around $300-$3,000.
Best For: Fans of rude service workers and crazy-pineapple connoisseurs.