Jun 9 2009

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Jennifer Harman’s top 10 Las Vegas poker rooms

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Las vegas hotel By E.C. Gladstone

As all players know, the annual World Series of Poker is now running at the Rio Las Vegas Convention Center. But nearly all of our Las Vegas hotels offer card rooms these days, and the WSOP crowd doesn’t come just for tournaments — they want some cash action, too! With that in mind, it was time to rate the rooms. But I’m no pro; that’s why I called Jennifer Harman. You might have heard of her. She’s arguably the best female poker player in the world (easily one of the most successful, period). And I give her kudos for being unbiased — as you’ll see, she didn’t even rate the room that hosts her own event the highest!

10) Red Rock Resort
Open 24 hours (certainly rare off-Strip), Red Rock’s 20-table room has quick computer screen sign-in kiosks as well as a system that tracks your play time for club points usable at all Stations casinos. They’re also part of the Stations-wide Bad Beat Jackpots.

Jennifer says: I really like the Red Rock. It’s got a spacious poker room, they really cater to their players and if you feel like a break from playing poker, you can catch a movie just 100 yards away inside the casino.

Las Vegas hotels 9) Hard Rock Hotel
The new “Poker Lounge” here definitely must be seen — this 18-table hipster hang sports its own full bar, VIP rooms with bottle service, iPod docks and huge flatscreen TVs. And hey, their free poker lessons on Sunday mornings even include bloody marys!

Jennifer says: It’s a brand new poker room and they really did a good job. One of the best things is, the restrooms are inside the poker room.

8 ) MGM Grand
Close to the Strip entrance and West Wing rooms, the 22-table, smoke-free open poker room here is crescented between the funky Centrifuge bar and well known Sportsbook. Word is, they are one of the most flexible when it comes to game variations.

Jennifer says: I like this poker room because it hosts many charity events. I haven’t really played here but the rumor is that it’s a nice room to play.

7) Mirage
The 25-table room right in the middle of the casino here has long been respected in the poker world, and offers lots of low-limit games.

Jennifer says: Mirage used to be the place to play before the Bellagio was built. This is where I got my start playing High Stakes Poker. They have always been great to their players.

las vegas hotels 6) Binions
The original home of the World Series, this Fremont Street stalwart is seeking to reclaim glory by augmenting the massive original poker room (where tourneys are still held) with a state-of-the-art 10-table, glass-walled, smoke-free sunken room which still sports rock-bottom rakes. The wall of fame is a must-see for any true poker fan.

Jennifer says: This is the place I used to play when I first got to town, and there is a lot of history for poker players. I love this place.

5) Caesars
Well known for years in the poker world, Caesars sports 30 regular tables in an 8,500-square-foot main poker room and additional 6,000 square feet for tournaments, all in a very discreet environment, accented by legendary canvases from by the unofficial artist of poker, Leroy Neiman.

Jennifer says: This is where they host the NBC Heads Up finals. It’s a very nice room and the restaurants at Caesars like Joe’s Stone Crab are great. You also have the Forum Shops, so if you want to do any shopping in between hands, this is the place to play.

4) Wynn
The well-appointed 26-table poker room here, conveniently located right next to the self-parking entrance, is almost always abuzz with activity, offering limits from under $10 to much higher (in fact, the highest stakes cash games ever played happened here). Stratta restaurant, located just across the hall, serves probably the best casual Italian food on the Strip, IMHO.

Jennifer says: Wynn is a beautiful casino and also a great poker room. They really do a good job of treating their customers well.

Las Vegas vacation 3) Venetian
Prominently set on the casino floor, Venetian’s 24-hour, smoke-free card room is a remarkable open-wall private club-level facility. Thirty-nine tables in almost 11,000 square feet, with seven for high-stakes games offering butler service! Plenty of flatscreen TVs and two leather-upholstered lounging areas.

Jennifer says: This poker room is very spacious, run very well and also offers a private room for the higher limit games. The Venetian hosts my poker charity event for the NSPCA, and are very supportive of this.

2) Rio
This intimate smoke-free room has 10 tables with lots of novice-friendly sit-n-go tournaments. But I’m pretty sure Jen’s rating here refers specifically to the WSOP events they host every June/July in the convention center.

Jennifer says: The Rio has to be close to the Bellagio, so maybe it’s number 1 1/2. They’ve done a great job putting on the WSOP every year, where millions can be won. They really care about making the best tournament ever for the players.

1) Bellagio
In 7,000 square feet, this World Poker Tour stop offers 40 smoke-free tables and two high-limit areas, lots of flatscreen TVs and cool commissioned canvases by Leroy Neiman.

Jennifer says: This poker room is run very well. I like it because they have a private room inside the poker room called Bobby’s Room — it’s quiet and very spacious. We usually eat at the tables, and the restaurants are very good — I like Prime and Circo — and offer us great service.

Insider Tip: You hardly think of coming to Vegas to watch movies. But June 10-15, Brenden Theatres at Palms resort host the annual CineVegas film fest, featuring everything from celebrity-filled premieres to underground cult films. Also on Mondays through Wednesdays until mid-July,  Regal cinemas in Texas Station, Aliante Station and the Fiesta Henderson casinos will be showing “Flashback Features,” a slate of classic films on the big screen ranging from Singin’ In The Rain and Casablanca to Jaws, Breakfast Club and, yes, Grease.

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A
contributing editor at VEGAS Magazine, E. C. Gladstone also interviews
top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes
players for other local and national publications and websites. Like
many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.

More About: Eric Gladstone

Veteran entertainment and travel writer E. C. Gladstone writes regularly for Las Vegas Magazine and the Las Vegas Weekly, also interviewing top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for other local and national publications and websites. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.
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Posted on: June 9, 2009 | Tags: | Category: Gambling VacationCategory: Las Vegas VacationCategory: Top 10 Lists

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