WSOP 2018: 5 Places to Play Poker Around Las Vegas You Might Not Know
The 2018 World Series of Poker will be here sooner than you think, with the first bracelet events starting May 30 — check out the full schedule here.
Perhaps my article on "winnable" poker tournaments in Las Vegas intrigued you. Perhaps you've toyed with the idea of getting off the beaten poker room path and seeking out other rooms where those visiting Sin City don't usually tread.
In any event, with this article I'd like to shine a light on some good places to play poker in Vegas that you might not know about — some lesser-known rooms those out for the World Series of Poker might find worth their while.
Club Fortune is my favorite room in Las Vegas for small action. It's about six miles off the strip on Boulder Highway in Henderson. It's on the site of what once was the only dog track in Las Vegas, but the heat got to the dogs and they had to close up the track. The little casino remained, and within is a great little poker room.
The five-table room opens at 12 noon and lasts as long as there are players, typically until at least 1-2 a.m., but often much later. Their steady games are $0.50/$1.00 no-limit hold'em with a $20 minimum and $200 maximum buy-in. They also often have $1-$6 spread-limit hold'em.
To get the games going before the 2 p.m. tournament, Club Fortune has what I believe is the best comp rate in the nation — $5 an hour from 12 to 2 p.m. The room is also extremely generous with free food, bringing it out in the evening for all seated players. Their rake is extremely competitive, too — $3 plus a $2 promo drop for high hands, pot splashing, and the like.
But as good as the comps, cash games, and tournaments are, the best part of the room is the friendly, helpful, "everybody knows your name" management who keep the games fun and the players happy. Happy players make good games, hence, my recommendation.
Where should you go in Las Vegas for some of the softest competition in a limit poker game? There is only one place, and few if any tourists know of it. It's the Silver Sevens over on the East Side of the strip near the Sheraton Four Points, formerly known as the "Terribles" Casino.
They typically spread only one game — $2/$4 limit hold'em, played with white $1 chips and the reckless abandon of a bunch of teenagers having fun in their basement. Don't expect a carefully run game with a lot of oversight. Count on a lot of drinking, dirty chips, and a whole lot of ambient noise from the slot machines that surround these worn out tables.
As far as the play goes, don't expect too much in the way of solid play, but you will certainly meet some interesting people, not to mention have a chance at some profit. Oh, and they still comp players the old-fashioned way — no hourly amount, just a free buffet dinner after playing for a couple of hours. But before you eat, make sure to wash your hands!
Santa Fe Station
At Sante Fe Station you'll find a surprising large, brightly-lit, fairly busy room on the north side of Las Vegas, north of downtown. They always have a $2/$4 or $3/$6 limit game, and they get a no-limit game going by 3 p.m. daily (sometimes it runs earlier).
The games are reasonably raked at 10 percent up to a maximum of $4, with an additional $1 drop to fund a whole host of promotions like flopped quads, hourly high hands, and the like. Players also earn $1 an hour comps.
There's a nice mix of young and old, and male and female regulars who fill up the tables, and a friendly atmosphere pervades the place. Maybe it's because they start things off right in the morning with a couple of boxes of donuts and the self-serve coffee machine. Few tourists make it up there, though I've played there several times and enjoyed it.
Sam's Town, located on Boulder Highway at the southern border of Las Vegas, caters to the older, local, low-roller crowd, and as a result tends to appeal to folks who like things a little slower, a little friendlier, and a little less glitzy than what appears on the Strip these days.
Accordingly, the poker room at Sam's Town, in addition to spreading limit hold'em, also spreads a regular limit Omaha high-low 8-or-better game as well as a weekly $2-$10 spread-limit seven-card stud game on Saturday mornings.
The rake is still very low, with a $3 maximum, although they take $2 out for many different promotions like high hands bonuses. Players earn $1 or $1.25 an hour in comps, depending on the time of day. The food is extremely inexpensive, and the buffet pretty good.
Green Valley Ranch
The locals who live in and around the southern part of Las Vegas and in Henderson know the Green Valley Ranch to be the major poker room in the area, although few tourists visit unless their convention happens to be on site.
It's a large room, comfortably accommodating 22 tables. Unlike the other rooms mentioned in this article, Green Valley Ranch consistently spreads a wide variety of games — that is, not just $1/2 no-limit and $2/$4 limit, but also a $4/$8 limit game and a $5/$10 no-limit game. As the poker room manager stated to me, they provide "Strip action off the Strip," with a very strong local base that creates consistently great games.
Like Santa Fe Station, Green Valley Ranch is part of the network of Station Casinos with frequent, well funded promotions. They rake 10 percent up to $4 with an additional $1 taken to fund those promotions. They have a daily tournament at 10:00 a.m., plus a 6:30 p.m. tournament on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Players earn 1,000 points for each hour of live play, which translates to about $1 an hour. As an off-strip property, parking is free, and there's a really terrific and very modestly-priced buffet.
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing keeping you from the constant poker action at the Rio, the Bellagio, the Wynn, the Venetian, the Aria, the Orleans, the Golden Nugget or any of the other poker rooms you've heard of in Las Vegas.
But if variety is the spice of life, these rooms should add some flavor to your trip.
Ashley Adams has been playing poker for 50 years and writing about it since 2000. He is the author of hundreds of articles and two books, Winning 7-Card Stud (Kensington 2003) and Winning No-Limit Hold'em (Lighthouse 2012). He is also the host of poker radio show House of Cards. See www.houseofcardsradio.com for broadcast times, stations, and podcasts.
Photo: Santa Fe Station Hotel & Casino.