We all know Texas Hold’em (specifically no-limit) is the most popular game spread, including Las Vegas. But many of us desire to be more rounded in our poker education and want to play games other than NLHE while in Vegas. Fortunately there are some options.
By far, the most common non-hold’em cash game spread with regularity here is Omaha/8. There’s a $4-$8 and $8-$16 Omaha/8 (with a half-kill) spread daily at Orleans, which has O/8 games 24 hours a day, and usually gets multiple tables running. Other off-Strip rooms that spread O/8 with regularity are Red Rock and Santa Fe Station. On the Strip, O/8 is found daily at Venetian ($4-$8 and $8-$16) and Bellagio ($30-$60).
A unique daily spread game (and unique poker room in general) is found at Boulder Station. It spreads a game that’s known as being the deepest and heaviest action limit game in town: $4-$8 Omaha (high, not O/8) with a half-kill. It’s the most common game spread at Boulder, often with four tables or more of just Omaha. This game often has players each with six or seven racks of $1 chips. Swings of $600 or more in one hour are common. Be sure to buckle you seatbelt and light up a smoke before you take a seat in that game. You read that right. Boulder Station is one of only two poker rooms left in Las Vegas that allows cigarette smoking at the table. This, along with Omaha high, contributes to Boulder’s extreme popularity. The room is packed most nights, often with all 11 of its tables going strong.
Pot-limit Omaha is slowly gaining popularity in Vegas. New PLO tournaments and cash games are popping up in pretty random places. With regularity, PLO is found mainly at Aria and Venetian. Aria spreads $1-$3 PLO whereas Venetian offers $1-$2 PLO with a $5 bring-in.
Stud games are seeing a slight resurgence. In August, Tropicana’s new poker room started spreading a weekly $2-$8 spread-limit razz game every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The game has built a following and often lasts late into the night. Suncoast (in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas), spreads $4-$8 stud/8 with some regularity and is home to “The Hoggie Game,” which is a $2-$10, $2-$20 (on seventh street) stud double qualifier (two-pair or better for high, 8/B for low). The Hoggie Game has been around since the 1980s and spreads every Monday at Suncoast.
Stud can be found with regularity at El Cortez ($1-$5), Sam’s Town ($1-$5) and Bellagio ($20-$40).
Mixed and H.O.R.S.E. games are gaining significant popularity. Low limit mixed games are found with regularity at Imperial Palace (Sunday nights) and Tropicana (Wednesday and Saturday nights) and occasionally at Wynn, Aria and Treasure Island. Mid- and high-limit mixed games are found at Aria ($12-$24 and $300-$600) and Bellagio ($40-$80 and more).
The longest running low-limit mixed game is at Imperial Palace every Sunday night at 7 p.m. It’s a fun, action-oriented 10-game mix that I put together in March 2008 and am proud to see that it still runs with regularity. Games include the standards of O/8, razz and stud/8, as well as unique games such as deuce-to-seven triple draw, badugi, four-card ocean crazy pineapple and 3-2-1 Omaha (three flops, two turns, one river). If you’re in town on a Sunday night, it’s a game you don’t want to miss!
Non-hold’em tournaments are out there, but unfortunately not with any consistency on the Strip. Orleans, Fitzgerald’s, Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock offer non-hold’em tournaments. A PLO/8 tournament is every Monday at GVR that carries a $45 buy-in. Orleans gets big numbers for its weekly $75 H.O.R.S.E. and O/8 tournaments, and Red Rock offers an O/8 tournament every Friday evening.
Non-hold’em cash games and tournaments are a great way to build your poker knowledge and take a break from the monotony that is hold’em. With limits as low as $3-$6 and usually a friendly and patient group of players these unique games offer a fun and educational way to expand your poker knowledge with little financial risk. Be sure to call ahead to get on the list for the weekly cash games.
— 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.