Cell phones at the poker table are here to stay

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Las Vegas poker rooms constantly compete with each other for players. They’ve tried nearly all of the standard variations of promotions, bad-beat jackpots, comps, drawings and the like. The latest effort to encourage players to play and stay in their room revolves around the cell phone.

And now these rooms are making it easier for players to use and charge their cell phones while they play, often right at the poker table. On the strip, three of the biggest rooms, the Wynn, the Venetian and the Bellagio, have installed power strips right under their poker tables so players never run out of juice (the electronic kind, that is). Smaller rooms such as the Flamingo and the Quad have followed suit. Off the strip, the popular locals room at the Orleans offers the same service. This trend is certain to continue.

At most Vegas rooms, the rules are different for tournaments and cash games. Talking on the phone at a tournament table still is forbidden. But at cash games, most rooms allow you to talk on the phone as long as you don’t slow up the action.

The ease of texting might cause concern that friends playing together at the same table could be sharing information. Though the dealer should be able to recognize this, players should be alert to this, too.

GOLDEN NUGGET: The downtown poker room has added a weekly $115 Open Face Chinese tournament on Thursdays at 8 p.m. Players start with 10K chips, with an optional staff add-on of $10 for 5K chips, and the first level is $100 a point. Levels increase every seven hands. It’s the first regularly scheduled OFC tournament in Vegas.

The Nugget hosts a $115 Big “O” tournament, also known as five-card pot-limit Omaha on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Wednesdays at 8 are $50 SNGs. These shootouts have a 50-hand maximum. At the end of the 50th hand, the tournament ends and the chipleader gets $300, while the person with the second biggest stack gets $130. Each table is a separate tournament. A $115 HORSE tournament is offered on Saturdays at 2.

Plus there are the six daily $65 no-limit hold’em tournaments the Golden Nugget has been running for years, as well as the popular Sunday, 9 a.m. $100 event that has a $5K guarantee.

BELLAGIO: The big Strip room announced a revamping of its regular tournament schedule starting this month. The daily tournaments move from 2 to 5 p.m. The bigger buy-in tournaments will be eliminated; it will be a $125 tournament seven days a week. Late registration and re-entry will end after the first three 30-minute levels and the first break (around 6:45 p.m.).

VENETIAN: Deep Stack Extravaganza IV saw all four events with guarantees meet their guarantees, including the $2,500 main event on Nov. 26. James Van Alstyne of Las Vegas took the $136K first-place prize over runner-up Mark Darner ($84K) and third-place finisher Joey Weissman ($61K), both from Florida. Nearly 240 entrants created a prize pool of $544K, easily surpassing the $500K guarantee.

The room has announced the dates for DSE I, which will run Jan. 30-Feb. 26. It will feature $1.1 million in guarantees and include two $300 freezeouts with $30K guarantees. These freezeouts allow one entry per flight, a change from recent multiple re-entry events.

LUXOR: The nine-table room on the south end of the Strip was moved and remodeled in front of the sports book. The room offers a $40 tournament five times a day and spreads $1-$2 NLHE as its main cash game. It offers progressive high-hand bonuses that increase the payout the more often they are hit.

— Email Rob Solomon at rob@allvegaspoker.com. Follow him on Twitter @Robvegaspoker and read his blog at robvegaspoker.blogspot.com.

Poker cruise giveaways at Caesars, MGM

Caesars Palace and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas are giving away Ante Up Poker Cruise packages. Caesars has added a cruise package to the prize pool of its Winter Poker Classic Main Event in January. The 23-event series begins Jan. 10, and the $560 main event begins Jan. 18. The main event features a $50K guarantee and 30,000 starting units. In addition to the normal cash payout, the champion will win the cruise for two for the March 30 Mexican Riviera sailing out of Los Angeles.

• The MGM Grand poker room will be giving away five Ante Up Poker Cruise packages for the same sailing in February. Details for those giveaways will be in our February issue, and for more info, visit AnteUpCruises.com.