Las Vegas is the best place in the world to play poker. There is countless supplies of “Fish” all over town, hundreds of daily tournaments, and tons of poker rooms with plenty of action. If you can’t find your game in Las Vegas, try leaving your hotel room. There’s a game for every type of poker player with any bankroll. Whether you have millions in the bank or just want to kill some time at the $2-$4 limit tables, you’ll find it in Las Vegas.
There are about a dozen high-quality poker rooms in Las Vegas and a handful of other decent ones. There are also about 30 horribly run poker rooms that attract only the drunken frat boys (i.e. Excalibur) or the lowest common denominator in society (i.e. El Cortez). You can find a game all over town – not just on the Strip. If you like low-limit tournaments and are staying downtown, Golden Nugget has a few semi-profitable games everyday. Or, if you’re staying down south on Las Vegas Boulevard at The M Resort, there’s plenty of action and some decent tournaments as well. But these 5 poker rooms are the absolute best in Las Vegas…
5. The Orleans
Location: Off Strip (within 2 miles)
Comps: $1 per hour
Room Comfort Level: This is a huge poker room situated out in the open, right next to the slot machines. The noise level from the casino is somewhat of a problem, but not nearly as bad as in many Vegas poker rooms.
Why We Ranked it 5th: The Orleans is a bit of a forgotten poker room to those that mostly play on the Strip. If you placed The Orleans on the Strip, this poker room would potentially be the best in town. But we drop it a notch simply because it’s located a couple of miles away. With that said, this is an exceptional poker room. It’s well run, with Floor Manager’s that care about their customers. Comp rates of $1 per hour is standard for poker players in Las Vegas.
What we like most about The Orleans poker room is the mix of games. They regularly spread even some of the least commonly played games such as 7-card Stud. There are a lot of quality poker players that play at The Orleans, but even more Donkeys. Tournaments are solid and have reasonable blind structures. They even have a regular H.O.R.S.E tournament if you’re into mixed games.
4. MGM Grand
Location: South Strip (next to Tropicana, across from New York New York)
Comps: $1 per hour
Room Comfort Level: The new MGM Grand poker room is less comfortable and noisier than the old poker room. The good news is they are eventually going to move back to the old room. Or, at least that’s what they’ve been saying since April 2012. Who knows if they ever will. The current poker room is a bit closer to the main casino floor and does not have the nice appearance of the old poker room.
Why We Ranked it 4th: MGM’s poker room is ranked ahead of The Orleans simply because of location. But The Orleans has a slightly better poker room. Location is very important for tourists. If you’re staying on the Strip, there really is no need to venture outside the Strip. But MGM still has a very good poker room, despite how negative we’ve sounded. The dealers are very friendly and you’re unlikely to have any issues with them. The Floor Mangers are friendly as well.
As for the games, you won’t see many mixed games spread. It’s mostly low-mid limit Texas Hold ‘Em (limit and no-limit). The 7:00 tournament ($80 buy-in and $125 on Friday/Saturday) has favorable blind structures and can be profitable. They usually get about 20-25 players for that tournament and they do allow re-buys. First place usually takes home around $750. Overall, it’s a very good poker room in a good location. However, doesn’t stack-up with the Top 3 on our list.
Location: Center of Strip (next to Aria and Caesars Palace)
Comps: $1 per hour
Room Comfort Level: Despite being jam packed at nearly any time of the day, the Bellagio poker room is quite comfortable. You don’t have to fight your way to your table. It’s located right in the heart of the casino, but there are small walls that help block out the noise.
Why We Ranked it 3rd: Bellagio is one of the most famous poker rooms in the world. It’s also one of the best. On any given day, you will see poker players such as Johnny Chan, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Ivey playing in the back room, which is named after the legendary Bobby Baldwin. You may even run into a celebrity or two. Bellagio is one of the few poker rooms that spreads different games at virtually every level.
There are 2 reasons Bellagio ranks below Aria and Venetian. First off, their customer service skills are slipping. The poker dealers are still excellent, but the other poker room employees could use some customer service training. It’s not uncommon to have to wait 5-10 minutes just to put your name on the waiting list. And sometimes you’ll even have to wait an unnecessarily long amount of time for them to bring you your chips. Also, they give $1 per hour in comps, which is half of what Aria and Venetian give.
Location: North-Central part of Strip (next to Wynn, across from Mirage)
Comps: $2 per hour
Room Comfort Level: Venetian has always had a great poker room. Now it’s even better. In August 2012, they put up a glass wall to help block out the noise from the main casino floor. This improvement has made it difficult for us to rank Aria ahead of Venetian.
Why We Ranked it 2nd: The fact of the matter is Venetian is one of the best poker rooms in the world. It’s comfortable, big, and there’s always a game at every level going. If you like mix games, you’ll find plenty of them here. If you want some easy money, the tables are packed with Donkeys just begging someone to take their chips. And don’t forget about their daily tournaments. The $150 noon tournament regularly gets 60-70 players and is one of the better daily tournaments in Las Vegas.
One thing is certain – The Venetian cares about their poker room. You don’t get the feeling the poker room is just “there”. It’s an important part of this Casino Hotel. Many Vegas poker rooms are just there to appease to the poker players staying in the hotel. At The Venetian, they take great pride in making their poker room a big part of who they are. And because of that, this room gets packed into the wee hours of the night – everyday.
Location: Center of Strip (City Center)
Comps: $2 per hour ($3 per hour from 5:00 am – 10:00 am)
Room Comfort Level: The comfort level of this room is a big part of why it’s ranked #1. The chairs are the most comfortable chairs you will ever find at a poker table. The room is always crowded, but only in numbers. It’s not difficult to move around from table to table. The set-up is very similar to Bellagio’s poker room, but maybe even slightly more comfortable.
Why We Ranked it 1st: It was a tough choice between Venetian and Aria. The reasons we ranked Aria ahead of Venetian were for minor things such as slightly more comfortable chairs and being able to see the top poker pros in action. When you play at Aria, you’ll see top pros such as Ted Forrest, Johnny Chan, Jean Robert-Bellande, and Daniel Negreanu on a daily basis. Just make sure you get there in the evenings because everyone knows poker players don’t wake up before noon!
The games are very similar to Bellagio. The big difference in terms of games is the 2 daily tournaments at Aria. These are, in our opinion, the best daily tournaments in Las Vegas. They are both $125 buy-ins. One starts at 1:00 PM and the other at 7:00 PM. The 1:00 tournament usually gets a few more players. You receive 10,000 in chips and the blinds raise every half hour. We don’t recommend this tournament for unskilled players unless you’re just looking to have fun. There are some very solid poker players in these tournaments. And you should expect to commit to at least 5 hours of play when signing up – longer if you finish in the money.