Best Vegas Hotels for Poker Players
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2011-06-05, by OzonePlanning a Vegas trip can be a little overwhelming if you've never been. There's so much information to sort through on so many different travel sites that sometimes it's nice to just have someone tell you where to stay and what to do. If you're a poker player and are thinking about taking a trip out to Vegas, here's our guide to choosing a hotel.
The following properties make the top tier of our list for offering great hotel rooms and a great poker room. You can't go wrong by staying at either of these properties on a trip to Vegas:
Venetian (and Palazzo): The Venetian is arguably the nicest hotel in Vegas with arguably the nicest poker room in Vegas. You can always find a game running no matter what hour of the day. Even the most basic hotel room in Venetian is probably nicer than anywhere you've ever stayed.
Aria: The newest property on the Vegas strip is Aria. It's so nice that you could take a trip to Vegas, never leave the Aria property after check-in, and have a fabulous time. Their poker room is a bit small relative to the total property, but there's still always plenty of action. The rooms are state-of-the-art and exquisite.
The Tier 2 hotels are all perfectly great options. They're just not quite in the same class as Venetian and Aria which are tough to beat.
Wynn (and Encore): Wynn and Encore are arguably the most lavish properties on the Vegas strip. For that reason, their hotel rates usually tend to be at the top of the market. Their poker room is adequate but not incredible. Given the high cost usually associated with this property, you can probably find a better deal somewhere else.
Caesars: Caesars has one of the nicest and largest poker rooms in Las Vegas. I would rate it second only to Venetian in terms of the poker room you should go to if you're looking for a game at 5:00 a.m. The hotel is also very highly regarded, though I should say I've never stayed there myself.
Bellagio: Bellagio is perhaps the most famed poker room in Las Vegas. They have housed all of the "Big Game" action for the past decade. However, the customer service in their poker room has always rubbed me the wrong way. There is a certain elitist attitude among the staff. The games tend to cater more towards higher-stakes players, so if you're looking for low-stakes action, expect to be treated as rather expendable. Additionally, I find the Bellagio hotel rooms to be very underwhelming compared to the rate they typically command.
At the Tier 3 level, you'll find properties that might have great hotel rooms or a great poker room, but usually not both. These places are all fine choices, especially for visitors on a budget, but overall they won't knock your socks off as much as the Tier 1 and 2 properties will.
MGM Grand: The largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1993, the MGM Grand is a Vegas cornerstone. Their poker room is very spacious and there is usually plenty of action being spread at the lower limits. Their hotel rooms are perfectly fine, but won't blow you away.
TI (Treasure Island): TI is one of the most underrated properties in Vegas. The sidewalk pirate show and corny casino theme make people write this place off too quickly. In truth, it's a great hotel with a nice little poker room. Smaller stakes players would be hard pressed to find a poker room that makes them feel as much at home as TI. The staff is friendly. They run fun promotions. There's a good vibe in the TI poker room. And you can't get much better value on your hotel dollar than at TI.
Mirage: You could make case that Mirage belongs in the Tier 2 level. They have a very nice, large poker room. Their hotel rooms are very nice. But this property is definitely past its prime. The poker action was once the best in Vegas. Now, it's pretty average.
Mandalay Bay: Mandalay Bay has a very spacious poker room right next to what I think is the best sportsbook on the strip. Although I've never stayed there myself, their hotel is regarded as one of the nicer places you can stay in Vegas. The major knock on Mandalay is its location. This would probably be a Tier 2 property if it wasn't on the very south end of the strip.
At the Tier 4 level, you're starting to roll the dice a bit. Almost all of these properties are perfectly fine choices for a hotel to stay at. The major knock is that their poker rooms usually don't offer much action. These are the types of properties where you'll find only 2 or maybe 3 tables running at most times. This means fewer choices, sometimes a long wait for a seat, action that can dry up very quickly, etc.
Rio: The home of the WSOP is a very underwhelming destination for poker 11 months out of the year. During the WSOP, this is a Tier 1 property just because of the immense amount of poker action taking place downstairs. But it's very average the rest of the year and the location sucks.
Palms: This is a very nice hotel with a very underwhelming poker room. The only reason you'd play poker at the Palms is if you were staying there anyway.
Planet Hollywood: This is a pretty solid hotel. When the poker room is running on all cylinders, it's a Tier 3 property. Unfortunately, the poker action is usually pretty limited.
This is the last tier of Vegas properties that we can even vaguely recommend to poker players. Anything below this is either a.) a real dump of a hotel or b.) doesn't even have a poker room.
Monte Carlo: Pretty mediocre hotel with a small poker room. You'll almost never see more than two tables running in this place.
Harrah's: This is the epitome of a budget option. The rooms are barely satisfactory. There's some decent poker action downstairs. This is not a terrible option if the price is right.
Bally's: This is basically the same as Harrah's: basic, decent rooms and a basic, decent little poker room.
Golden Nugget: This is the nicest hotel downtown and probably the only place we'd green-light for a downtown hotel stay. The poker room usually has a good deal of action. Everything about this place is pretty quality except for the fact that it's located downtown.
Hard Rock: Hard Rock has put quite a lot of work into making their poker room better than average. There are usually a lot of soft spots at Hard Rock since most of the players are people staying in the hotel. The type of people to come to Vegas and stay at the Hard Rock generally aren't that good at poker. The major knock on this place is its off-strip location. Take everything about it but put it in a good location on the strip, and we'd rate it as a Tier 3 property.
Luxor: The Luxor poker room is small but it's actually pretty nice. The major knock on this place is that the rooms are god awful. If you don't mind sleeping in a pretty crappy hotel room, Luxor is worth putting on your radar.
Tier 6 and beyond
If there's a property we haven't mentioned by now, then think of it as our way of recommending you avoid it. There are however two decent hotels in Vegas worth mentioning in this space. The reason that they didn't make the list above is that neither of them have a poker room! Those properties are Paris and New York-New York. Both are solid hotel options, but you'll have to go elsewhere to play poker.
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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