The World Series of Poker wraps this month with the 10-day main event expected to complete with the final table established by July 16. Once that organized chaos closes down, things will begin to return to business as usual in the Las Vegas poker rooms. With several newcomers visiting Sin City during the summer, I thought it would be fitting to discuss the biggest rooms on the Strip.
Though most have at least heard of these rooms, it’s some small details that seem to set each of them apart from each other. Taking a look at the big standbys reminds us we don’t need a huge poker event to enjoy big-money action in Las Vegas. The big rooms bring consistent big action, with a variety of games, every day of the year.
Catapulting onto the poker scene upon Project CityCenter’s grand opening in December 2009, the Aria Resort and Casino debuted a thoroughly modern poker room, replete with the newest technology, chair design and a strong focus on social media to get the word out about its poker room. Offering 24 tables, Aria sets itself apart with daily mixed-game offerings, consistent $1-$3 and $2-$5 no-limit hold’em action, and their version of the “Big Game” with a near daily $300-$600 mixed game in a more private salon in the back of the venue, hosted by poker ambassador Jean Robert Bellande. Some of the more unique aspects of Aria include the availability of watermelon juice from the cocktail servers, $2- and $3-per-hour comps (depending on when you play), and a consistent mixed game at the $15-$30 level spreading nearly every day.
The Bellagio is the room many consider to be the true center of Las Vegas’ poker universe. Though there are other contenders on the Strip, no one has been able to fully crack the stranglehold that Bellagio has on mid- and high-limit poker. Bellagio is the only room in Las Vegas that gets consistent limit hold’em games of the mid and high variety, including $10-$20, $40-$80, $50-$100 and bigger. Plus, their daily $5-$10 NLHE game often spreads on multiple tables. This is also the home of the original “Big Game,” which still spreads often at the highest levels of $1K-$2K and occasionally $4K-$8K.
The flagship of the Caesars Entertainment empire, Caesars Palace is still a consistent player in the Las Vegas big room market, but not necessarily for what you’re thinking. Though its cash games are consistent at the $1-$3 and $2-$5 levels, it’s the daily tournaments and special tournament series that run often throughout the year in the dedicate WSOP-branded tournament room that truly sets Caesars apart. Though the rake is the highest amongst the Big Rooms at 10 percent/$5 max plus $1 on most games, many players appreciate the bad-beat jackpot and other unique promotions.
The poker room at MGM Grand is truly a room in transition. Placed in a temporary location while the room’s permanent location is part of a multi-million dollar renovation of the property, the room is known as being one of the best homes of low limit no-limit games, with its $1-$2 and $2-$5 games being consistently popular. Though the room is far from self or valet parking, the MGM was the first room to allow players to earn a valet tip through play (which does not subtract from earned comp dollars). The MGM also recently hired poker pro Karina Jett to be the official ambassador of the poker room, and she has successfully brought a frequent $6-$12 mixed game to the room on many nights.
The Venetian is the largest poker room in Las Vegas, at 59 permanent tables, and has set itself apart with its quarterly Deep Stack Extravaganza tournament series that gets the most players of any tournament series, outside of the WSOP. Consistent $1-$2, $2-$5 and $5-$10 NLHE spread alongside $4-$8 and $8-$16 Omaha/8 and $4-$8 limit. The Venetian often has more than 20 cash games running at any given time, and is best known as a great room for NLHE action and tournaments.
The Wynn Poker Room has gone through some management changes recently, and is working hard on re-establishing itself in the limit hold’em realm. Though $1-$3 and $2-$5 NLHE spreads daily, the offering of a $2 max rake on limit games has helped spur that business. Perhaps best known as the most convenient parking situation of any poker room on the Strip, the Wynn is a beautiful venue known for its deep games and house-funded freeroll tournaments.
No article about the Big Rooms on the Strip would be complete without mentioning the Mirage poker room. The only room in this article that has been around since 1989 (in the same location, no less), the Mirage offers 19 tables of $1-$2 NLHE and $3-$6 LHE action and a popular menu of high-hand jackpots and promotions spread under the supervision of long term poker industry veteran Chris Coffin. From a historical perspective, the Mirage is the gold standard and is worth your time simply because of the respect and appreciation we all have for the original center of the poker universe.
— 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.