Riviera, Trop remind us of Old Vegas

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Las Vegas offers more than 50 poker rooms of all shapes and sizes. Some are as small as two tables and others are as large 40-plus. On the Las Vegas Strip 23 rooms are spread out over about a 3.5-mile span. And 16 of those have fewer than 12 tables, offering around-the-clock action, value-minded tournaments and aggressive promotions. This month’s column will focus on two small rooms under new management and offering an exciting roster of special promotions to appeal to visiting and local players alike: Riviera and Tropicana.

The Riviera Hotel and Casino is one of the last remaining Rat Pack-era properties left on the Strip. The casino features a nostalgic look and feel reminiscent of classic “Old Vegas.” In fact, the Riviera played the part of the “Tangiers” for the filming of the epic Martin Scorsese film Casino because of its classic Old Vegas atmosphere. To a Vegas trivia and history buff like me, playing in the Riviera is like a step back to the good old days of Las Vegas.

Its six-table poker room recently had some major changes with regard to management and location. In my previous column, I incorrectly reported the Riviera poker room drops a $2 jackpot. This is no longer the case. The new management of the room has decreased the jackpot to the Las Vegas standard of $1 and offers a player-friendly assortment of promotions.

To differentiate from other rooms, the Riviera and its new manager, Christina Sharkady, are focusing on a customer-service-oriented approach for the players. Sharkady makes an effort to learn all player names and was happy to have 30 players qualify for her recent $2,500 guarantee Sunday freeroll, run weekly for those who play at least 15 hours in live cash games throughout the week. Like the days of Old Vegas, the Riviera is focusing on the intimate and personal aspects of customer interaction, where the employees know your name and what you drink.

In addition to the weekly $2,500 guarantee freeroll, the Riviera offers hourly drawings for cash prizes from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. In mid July, they began a special all-inclusive travel getaway promotion that’s being guaranteed by the house. Every Wednesday at 11 a.m. the Riviera will offer a $225 satellite where players can win a $4,000 all-inclusive trip to Punta Cana Resort in the Dominican Republic. One package will be awarded per week. In addition to this special Wednesday satellite, the Riviera offers three tournaments a day whereupon players receive up to 12,000 chips for a $70 buy-in ($50 plus $20 rebuy). This daily tournament is offered at 11 a.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

On the south side of the Strip, the Tropicana recently reopened its poker room. The new owners of the Trop have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the complete top-to-bottom renovation of the venerable hotel and casino, and the Tropicana poker room is no exception.

Wally Womer, the Tropicana poker room manager, has worked in the industry for more than 30 years, and started his poker career at the Tropicana as a break-in poker dealer in 1978.

Womer is proud to be managing the all-new Tropicana poker room, which has six tables and is equipped with new furnishings, electronic list and comp management, and new leather swivel adjustable chairs. He has implemented several daily tournaments, progressive high-hand jackpots, and even occasional celebrity tournaments with Tropicana’s Comedy Club headliner Brad Garrett.

The Tropicana poker room is adjacent to the race and sports book and most commonly spreads $1-$2 no-limit hold’em and $3-$6 limit hold’em. It is the newest poker room in Las Vegas and is one of the most modern and luxurious small rooms in the city.

With more than 50 poker rooms fighting for your business, it’s important not to overlook some of the better kept secrets that Las Vegas has to offer by the way of small rooms. Most of these convenience rooms have fewer than 15 tables, have aggressive player-friendly comps and promotions, and often require little to no wait to get into the action. Small rooms offer an atmosphere and rarified intimacy that’s reminiscent of that classic Rat Pack-era we all wish still existed.

— Michael Hamai (a.k.a LasVegasMichael) resides in Las Vegas and is Content Manager and Editor of AllVegasPoker.com. You can follow him on Twitter @LasVegasMichael or email him at Michael@AllVegasPoker.com.