Know Where to Hold 'Em?
August 7, 2006 1:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Las Vegas in the middle of next month (September 2006) and intend to play poker while there.

Can anyone tell me the best place in town to play, in terms of small rakes, short waits for low-stakes tables, and friendly, clean atmosphere? My wife likes the slots, so bonus points for suggestions of locations with large slot machine areas.
posted by BigLankyBastard to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I spent a week in Vegas playing poker at almost every casino on the strip (mostly 3/6, 4/8, and $200 buy-in NL), but this is all from memory. YMMV. I'm assuming by "low stakes" you mean around 2/4 - 4/8. In general, the stakes offered at a casino are proportional to how "nice" (expensive) the place is. For example, Wynn/Bellagio/Venetian will usually only be spreading 4/8 and higher.

Assuming you want to play 3/6 limit, I'd try the Mirage first, followed by Paris, Caesar's Palace, Treasure Island, and maybe finally Bally's. I didn't see any significant differences in rake structure, but I wasn't playing much attention to that. As long as you're on the strip, I'd highly recommend hopping from place to place until you find somewhere you like. If there's a long wait or the game isn't soft, it's a very short walk to another card room. You won't find any casino without a mind-blowing number of slot machines, so that shouldn't be a problem.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:22 PM on August 7, 2006

A friend of mine advises:

I haven’t been there in over a year, but from what I remember, low stakes now means 4-8 limit or $100 buy-in no limit - the limits have gone up in recent years. The Excalibur is the kindergarten of casino poker. I recommend going there if it’s his first time at the casino. The best low limit game I found was at the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street downtown. The 4-8 game had the same rake as the 2-4 game and about the same number of terrible players. Four Queens, Binions, and The Plaza also have poker downtown.

The rake will make low limit games nearly unbeatable without some horrifically bad players at the table. Luckily this isn’t usually a problem. Try to avoid places that have a bad beat jackpot. This is just another tax on the pot that you probably won’t see a return on. For more current information, check here:

Search for ‘poker room reviews” and “vegas trip reports” and start wading through until you find what you need.
posted by NoMich at 1:26 PM on August 7, 2006

Best answer: In May I played at the Luxor. $2/$4, immediate seating, and really crappy players who didn't mind losing a lot of money. It was quite nice.
posted by unixrat at 1:28 PM on August 7, 2006

I second Excalibur. Stayed there in March. With $1/$2 tables Excal was the cheapest I could find on the strip. Also it is connected to the Luxor through indoor walkway so if the slots at excalibur aren't enough for her, she can walk around without leaving the air conditioning.
posted by gerg at 1:43 PM on August 7, 2006

The MGM has a nice, hi-tech, open room, surrounded by one of the largest slots floors you'll see.
posted by Merdryn at 2:07 PM on August 7, 2006

Best answer: Your inclusion of "small rakes" is a killer. Live low-limit poker is notorious for their very high rake rates compared to on-line poker. Some rooms run as high as 10% with $4 cap. It is customary to toke the dealer $1 per pot when you win. Add in a jackpot rake and $1 per drink to the cocktail server and it starts to get very difficult to make money at 2/4 or 3/6.
If you are a completely inexperienced player, the rules at Excalibur are very friendly to new players. If you play on-line, I'd suggest you seriously consider playing a bit higher than usual. Live poker goes much more slowly and the players are much worse, so I think you can safely stretch your normal limit a bit.
allvegaspoker is pretty much the definitive resource on Vegas poker rooms. If you decide you can swing 3/6 or 4/8, I'd try to play in one of the nicer rooms (Bellagio, Wynn, Venetian or Caesars are the most pleasant rooms at the moment). Pretty much everyone has tons of slot machines.
In my view the nicer casinos not only have better poker rooms, but they attract mroe recreational players who barely know the rules and don't mind blowing through a few hundred bucks to have the "poker experience." Almost every room will be tighter and more careful during the day and looser and drunker at night.
Wait times during peak hours at night can be bad at Bellagio or Wynn. Caesars and Venetian usually pretty much you can sit down within a few minutes.
posted by Lame_username at 2:12 PM on August 7, 2006

unixrat I had the same experience at the Luxor a couple years ago.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:42 PM on August 7, 2006

I played at the Vegas Hilton several months ago and they have a decent (but small) poker room back by the sports book. They have $1/$2 tables and plenty of slots. With the monorail connecting it to the strip, it's a pretty decent hotel to stay in, too.
posted by bedhead at 2:45 PM on August 7, 2006

The MGM. Of all the low stakes rooms it is the best run. The staff is friendly and while there might be a wait it always moves pretty quickly. I live in Vegas, and have played in most every room on the strip, and always end up back at the MGM. As far as the rake goes, it will be the same at all casinos for some of the games, but when you get into the 2-5 NL games the MGM also has the best rake. If I remember correctly the Mirage is second best, and the Venetian was the worst. Concerning the Luxor, I would stay away. Although they do have really low stakes, it is not the best room. The Excalibur recently downsized, but I believe the game selection is still the same. The staff at the Excalibur has always been helpful, but it is not the greatest casino, and the room is much smaller now. The MGM wins for all around best experience.
posted by HSWilson at 11:47 PM on August 7, 2006

Best answer:
As far as the rake goes, it will be the same at all casinos for some of the games, but when you get into the 2-5 NL games the MGM also has the best rake. If I remember correctly the Mirage is second best, and the Venetian was the worst.
I'm afraid you do not remember correctly. MGM and Mirage share the standard 10% up to $4 rake structure. Wynn and Venetian have a slightly better structure that still caps at $4 but gets there more slowly. The Wynn rakes $1 at $10 (10%), $2 at $30 (6.7%), $3 at $50 (6%) and $4 at $80 (5%). The Venetian is similar, but I don't have the exact rake structure available to me now. However, the V gives $3 an hour in food comps and the Wynn $1 an hour. None of the other casinos will give you hourly comps

I do agree that the MGM is a very nice room and well-run. It is somewhat more quiet than the standard poker room because of the system of buttons and lights that they use instead of the dealer shouting across the room at the floor.
posted by Lame_username at 11:13 AM on August 8, 2006

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