If you want to play poker–and we mean real poker, not just sitting at your dining room table with your buddies when your girlfriend is out of town–you’ve got to head to Vegas. Any casino will be able to accommodate your poker needs, but below are a few of the city’s most authentic ace-dealers.
Consider The Wynn as a fortuitous poker pun as well as a pretty damn fancy hotel. And with that kind of name, The Wynn also has one of the fanciest poker rooms on The Strip. First of all, it abuts the Ferrari/Maserati dealer; feel free to stroll next door and buy a beauty on wheels with your winnings, or hop into a getaway mobile if you can’t cope with your losses. The poker room is lamentably non-smoking for those who want to enjoy a victory cigar indoors, but the premises hold 26 tables with automatic shufflers. Most of the tables spread Texas Hold’em at limit and no-limit tables. Limit Hold'em games start at $4/8 and going to $100/200 and above, and no-limit Texas Hold'em starts at $1/3. Buy into a $1/3 no-limit game for $100 minimum, or $200 will get you a seat at $2/5 no-limit.
The Wynn has an electronic queue system, so simply walk up to the front desk and ask to be added to any list you want. Bonus for Wynn Hotel guests: when they put your name on the waiting list, you can watch the queue on the in-house poker channel from your room.
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Poker history buffs opt for the historical Binions in downtown Las Vegas, AKA the original home of the World Series of Poker. Binions hosted the World Series of Poker from 1970 until 2004, when it moved to the Rio All-Suite. It might not be the fanciest, or cleanest, poker room in Vegas, but you’ll find lots of characters at the tables, bleary-eyed from their dedicated vigils at the rounds.
Even beyond the series, Binions beefs up on its selling points by stocking their floor with 46 tables in a red-papered room. You can find many tables spreading Texas Hold'em with Limit tables going from $2/4 to $10/20, no-limit tables with $1/2 to $2/5 blinds, and usually a few tables with $4/8 Omaha hi/lo. For the casino’s 8:00 pm tournaments, it'll cost you a $70 buy-in Sundays through Thursdays and $150 buy-in on Fridays and Saturdays.
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Hard Rock Poker Lounge
Luxe card rooms are the new bottle service, and the Hard Rock has a recently debuted tricked-out poker lounge that will surely be the envy of competition everywhere. The $30 million, 7,500 square foot rock-themed room with 18 tables is decorated with oversized portraits of various music legends, from Elvis to Madonna. There’s a plethora of high-end TVs and a runner to take sports wagers at your poker table.
High rollers can choose to play in one of five semi-private VIP rooms with bottle service, iPod docks and, in the largest room, a built-in buffet set-up. The regular tournament stakes go from $75-$340 and cash-game blinds start at $1 and $2.
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The Bellagio might not be as glam as the Hard Rock Lounge, but it is the crème de la crème of Vegas poker rooms. If it attracts poker pros when there aren’t any tournaments, it’s obviously doing something right. The dealers, floor men, drinks and leather-bound chairs are all of the highest quality. The non-smoking room holds 30 tables and is open 24/7. But you’ll definitely pay for the high quality – the lowest limits you’ll find here are $4/8 limit and $2/5 no-limit Hold’em. There are plenty of higher limit games from $20/40 and an elevated area where the stakes go from $300/600 to even higher. There is also a separated room, where the “Big Game” goes on. This is where, on any given night, you can see poker superstars and regulars of high stakes poker playing in a glass-windowed room in the back. The stakes of the game range, but are often $4000/8000 limit Hold'em. It's not a closed game, and if you have the cash (at least 100K or so) you can join them. Want a cheaper way to get in on the tournaments? The Bellagio hosts daily no-limit Hold'em poker tournaments, and though the buy-in is steep – $500 Sunday through Thursday and $1000 on Friday and Saturdays – each day these tournaments start at 2 pm, and there are satellites starting at 9 am.
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