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Playing Poker in Las Vegas

Here are some tips for organizing a poker trip to Las Vegas. Non-stop poker games all day and all night, with free alcohol ... what more could you ask for! The big question is where to play poker in Las Vegas and what Las Vegas hotel should you stay at? This is a brief summary of the different options that are available for the typical Las Vegas poker player.

If you are going to Vegas to play poker, and in particular poker tournaments, you probably want to get a hotel in the mid-strip area. This is the central area of Las Vegas Boulevard at Flamingo Road and gives you a 10 minute walk to the most popular poker rooms and poker tournaments at Caesars Palace, The Venetian, The Mirage, The Bellagio, Treasure Island, Planet Hollywood, etc.. A hotel in the mid-strip area will enable you to walk to most of the places you want to go to while in Vegas - no need for a taxi or rental car.

Staying at the south end of the strip (MGM, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Monte Carlo) will require a 15 to 30 minute walk to the popular mid-strip poker tournaments and staying at the north end of the strip (Sahara, Circus Circus, Riviera, etc.) will require the same 30 minute walk to the mid-strip area. Keep in mind that summer temperatures in Las Vegas can hit 117�, as they did during the 2007 WSOP. Taxi's to the mid-strip area will cost about $10 to and from these areas.

Poker in Las Vegas

Las Vegas map
XDowntown
 North strip
 Mid strip
 South strip

Here is a map of Las Vegas showing the downtown area (Fremont Street) marked with an "X", the north-strip in orange, the mid-strip in blue, and the south-strip in green. It takes well over an hour to walk from the top of the north strip (The Stratosphere) to the bottom of the south strip (Mandalay Bay).

If you are in Vegas to walk to a variety of good poker rooms or casinos, you probably want to get a hotel in the mid-strip area. this area features Caesars Palace, The Venetian, and The Bellagio - all top ranked poker rooms, as well as several other good poker rooms such as The Mirage, The Wynn, Treasure Island, Bally's, Planet Hollywood, The Flamingo, Harrah's and The Imperial Palace. From the mid-strip area it is a 30 minute walk to the extreme north or south end of the strip.

Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas features some of the older poker rooms which are known for cheaper hotel room rates, lower-limit gambling, and low-buyin poker tournaments. Many people come to Vegas and stay downtown, playing only at the downtown casinos.

Las Vegas Vic The downtown casinos are mostly located on Fremont Street which features a roof that covers the entire road and displays a multimedia light show at night. It's the Vegas version of a Pink Floyd light show heavy on U.S. patriotism. It is actually quite a good show but like most Las Vegas attractions, once is probably enough.

Binon's Binion's Horseshoe Casino was the home of the World Series of Poker for a couple decades and some of their poker tournaments are still quite popular, especially with the lower-limit crowd. Be prepared to see a couple characters at this casino as it just reeks of old-time poker. Other than Binion's Horseshoe, The Golden Nugget also has a good reputation for a downtown poker room.

Be warned that there can be some rough looking characters in the downtown Las Vegas area and I would not want to stray too far from Fremont Street if you want to avoid the occasionally drug addict looking for a handout. I have never had a problem but it can be a bit scary if you are not accustom to seeing the underbelly of a large U.S. city.

It is probably best to take a taxi between downtown Las Vegas and the casinos on the strip. You can take The Deuce bus but be prepared for lots of stops and lots of time.

North Strip

North Las Vegas strip

Stratosphere Hotel and CasinoThe north strip begins at The Stratosphere Hotel and Casino (a Las Vegas landmark) and heads south to the Fashion Show Mall and the Wynn Casino. The casinos in this area are some of the oldest casinos on the strip and many could use a renovation. The hotel room rates can be fairly cheap at $50 per night or less. The poker room cash games and tournaments are lower-limit and a bit less populated than the mid-strip poker rooms.

Circus Circus Hotel and Casino You can feel a bit isolated when walking the north end of the strip - there is a lot of open space between the casinos which are located fairly far apart from each other.

The only real advantage to staying in the north end of the strip are the cheap hotel rates. The poker rooms are a bit dead, except for the occasional good low-buyin tournament.

Mid Strip

Las Vegas mid strip

The Venetian Hotel and Casino The mid-strip features most of the more popular poker rooms such as Caesars Palace, The Venetian, The Bellagio, The Mirage, The Wynn, Bally's, Planet Hollywood, and Treasure Island (not shown on the map but just north of The Mirage).

The casinos in the mid strip area offer numerous $100-$500 poker tournaments at various times throughout the day and night. There is a tournament starting every hour or two and if you bust out of one tournament, or show up too late to register, you can easily take a 10 minute walk to a different casino where another tournament is soon starting. Caesars has weekday poker tournaments at 9AM ($65), 12PM ($330), 3PM ($65), 7PM ($150), and 11PM ($120) and The Venetian has poker tournaments at 12PM ($150) and 8PM ($125). Both of these poker rooms offer good, deep-stacked poker tournaments ... and the Venetian will serve you super-premium alcohol! Throw in a late night 2AM ($60) tournament at Planet Hollywood and you hardly have enough time to indulge in a couple all-you-can-eat buffets!

Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino A good variety of cash games are offered in the mid strip area - there are plenty of $1-$2 and $2-$5 no-limit games as well as $2-$4 and $3-$6 limit games. The mid-strip area is also best for most $5-$10, $10-$20, and non-Texas Hold'em (Stud, Omaha, etc.) games. Some of the better higher limit cash games are also offered in the mid strip area. Bobby's Room at The Bellagio is the probably the best place to catch a glimpse of famous poker players. You can also run into professional's playing in some of the higher buyin ($500 and up) tournaments in this area.

South Strip

Las Vegas south strip Luxor Hotel and Casino The south-strip  is the area north and south of Tropicana and features the popular poker room at The MGM Grand and some of the more middle-of-the-road poker rooms - The Luxor, The Monte Carlo, The Excalibur, and Mandalay Bay. The Aria poker room in the CityCenter is a newer poker room and is fairly well ranked poker room.

Excalibur Hotel and CasinoThe MGM has an active poker room, set in the middle of the casino very near the go-go dancers, and is better known for its cash games than its tournaments. The other casinos at the south end of the strip have poker rooms that are a bit smaller and less active. The Mandalay Bay poker room seems to attract a very young and hip crowd of jetsetters.

 

It can be quite a long walk between casinos at the south end of the strip. The casinos are spaced fairly far apart and many of the poker rooms are set well back from the road. Luckily there are several moving walkways and trams to help get around.

Off Strip

Palms Hotel and Casino Most of the Las Vegas casinos are located on the strip (Las Vegas Blvd.) or the downtown Fremont Street area but there are numerous "off-strip" casinos mostly located a couple blocks east or west of the strip. These off-strip casinos and hotels usually feature cheaper rates than the hotels located on the strip and they also feature lower stakes games and gambling. Many off strip casinos offer free shuttles to and from the strip but keep in mind that most shuttles stop running about 2 or 3 in the morning.

The Orleans Hotel seems to be a popular destination for poker players who want to play and stay off-strip. The Palms and the Rio (home of the WSOP) and just west of the strip on Flamingo.

Hotels

Try to schedule your Las Vegas poker trip from a Sunday to Thursday when hotel room prices are cheapest since prices can double on the weekend. Vegas hotels sometimes charge a different nightly rate for your entire stay depending on the day of the week that you initially arrive at the hotel, with weekend arrivals being the most costly. When you are researching your hotel room costs, try using various check in dates. There are two slow times in Vegas - the middle of the summer, when temperatures can reach almost 120�, and the week before Christmas.

You can usually find a cheaper mid-strip hotel such as Casino Royale for about $50-$75 per night on a weeknight when there are no big conventions in town. A higher class hotel such as The Venetian, The Bellagio, or The Wynn can cost well over $200 per night. I found the best Las Vegas hotel deals at FatWallet.com.

There are plenty of cheaper hotels downtown (Binion's, Golden Nugget, etc.) and on the north strip (Stratosphere, Circus Circus, etc.) but be prepared to spend more money on taxis going to mid-strip although some people do check in at a downtown hotel and stay downtown, playing poker at the old established casinos.

The south strip hotels range from the more expensive Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand, to The New York, New York, and Monte Carlo and Excalibur. Other than the MGM Grand, none of these hotels are known for having particularly popular poker rooms.

The World Series of Poker is held at the Rio All Suites Hotel which is located near The Palms on Flamingo Blvd., a couple blocks west of the strip. The WSOP is held during the "slow season" in Vegas - mid summer. It was 117 degrees Fahrenheit during the 2007 WSOP!

Where are the best poker games in Las Vegas?

The poker scene in Vegas is constantly changing and your best bet is to check the AllVegasPoker website for the latest information and reviews. AllVegasPoker has a list of Las Vegas poker tournaments, and reviews of Las Vegas poker rooms.

Hotel poker rates

Some Las Vegas hotels/casinos offer a cheaper poker hotel room rate that requires you to play a certain number of hours of poker at that particular casino. Typically, you must play 5 to 8 hours of poker per day to qualify for the special hotel room rate and usually more than one guest staying in the same hotel room can combine their hours of play to meet this requirement. AllVegasPoker has a good list of poker room rates. Keep in mind that you might not want to go to Las Vegas and then feel forced to play poker in the same poker room day after day ... to save $20 per day.

Las Vegas Airport McCarron International Airport

Cost of a taxi from the airport to mid-strip is about $15-$20. The cost of a taxi back from mid-strip to the airport is a couple dollars cheaper due to the lack of the airport service fee. The cost of a taxi to downtown is about $25. The wait for a taxi at the airport can be daunting. The waiting line zigzags back and forth about 50 yards at a time and it can easily take fifteen minutes or more to reach the front of the line. It usually looks much worse than it actually is - the line usually moves fairly quickly.

You can take a shuttle instead of a taxi, from the airport. The shuttle costs under $10 but makes plenty of stops along the way to your hotel. You can hire a limousine for about $30 plus tip.

Rental cars

The prices quoted at the major car rental companies (Hertz, Alamo, etc.) can be quite high and the prices offered by Expedia, Travelocity, etc. aren't much better. The cheapest car rental prices seem to be found at Hotwire.com and Priceline.com. Priceline almost always beats Hotwire, but Hotwire is more convenient to use. Hotwire seems to save about 30% off the prices quoted by the car rental sites.

Here is the Las Vegas McCarran Airport car rental web page. When you land at Vegas airport you take a shuttle to a dedicated car rental building where all the major car rental agencies are located. The shuttles are free and run every 5 minutes.

Taxis, buses and the monorail

I never rent a car in Las Vegas since I am usually drunk within hours of arriving ... and stay that way until the end of my trip. I take a taxi from the airport to my hotel, a taxi from the hotel back to the airport, and take one or two taxi trips during my stay in Vegas. The cost of a taxi trip from the airport to mid-strip is about $15-$20 and most taxi fares from one casino on the strip to another casino on the strip is about $10-$15. Taxis will not stop for fares on the streets of Las Vegas so you must walk to the nearest hotel/casino taxi stand.

The Las Vegas Monorail runs down the east side of the strip from The Sahara in the north to The MGM in the south. The cost is $5 per trip but you can usually find discounted fares at the LVMonorail website. The monorail is located to the east of the casinos on the east side of the strip and it can take at least several minutes to walk from the strip, through the casinos, to the monorail. This amount of walking, and the cost, makes it a somewhat less attractive alternative to walking the strip or taking a taxi.

There is a double-decker bus called The Deuce that travels from the south end of the strip all the way downtown. The cost of the bus is $5 per day for an unlimited number of trips or $2 for a single trip. Be warned that the bus can be fairly slow due to numerous stops and automobile traffic on the strip. It is somewhat cramped on the upper level of the bus.

My recommendations

I go to Las Vegas to play poker and I am not too fussy about my hotel room because I spend all my time playing poker, eating at all-you-can-eat buffets, or walking to a poker room or buffet. For me, location is the most important factor when staying in Vegas. I want to stay mid-strip, near the Las Vegas Blvd. and Flamingo Road intersection - within walking distance of all my favorite poker rooms and The Bellagio sports book. I want to play poker at The Venetian, Caesars Palace, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Planet Hollywood, etc. - all located in the same general area. I am willing to take the occasional walk (15-20 minutes) south to The MGM poker room or The Wynn poker room to the north. Once per trip I will take a taxi downtown to Binion's Horseshoe, the Fremont Experience, and (several) 99� shrimp cocktails at the Golden Gate.

I usually visit FatWallet.com to find the cheapest rate at the Imperial Palace where you can get a Holiday Inn quality hotel room with two double beds or one king size bed for about $40 per night on a Sunday to Thursday. The Imperial Palace is located across the road from Caesars Palace and is at the center of the most popular Vegas poker rooms. I even enjoy playing in The Imperial Palace poker room. It's always nice to come home to a Crown Royal at The Imperial Palace poker room - it's small, cozy, smells like smoke and whisky, and reminds me of the outdated 1970's shag rug in the poker room in my basement at home. As of November 2009, The Imperial Palace is getting a bit rundown and my latest Vegas hotel stay was at Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon - it is located at the corner of The Strip & Flamingo Road and you can't get more central than that! The best thing about Bill's is that it only takes a minute or two to get from your room to the strip - many Vegas hotels are so huge that it can take 10-20 minutes to get from your room to the street. When I'm not playing poker (or indulging in an all-you-can-eat buffet) I like to spend time in the Bellagio sportsbook, only a 10 minute walk from a room at Bill's. Hotel guests at Bill's can make use of the pool at The Flamingo - one of the best old-school pools in Vegas.

Please note that The Imperial Palace and Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon are being renovated. Bill's is completely closed and The Imperial Palace is being rebranded as The Quad. As of 2013 there is a lot of renovation construction going on in the area from Bill's to Harrah's.

Casino Royale is located in the same mid strip area and offers slightly lower prices than The Imperial Palace. For medium priced ($75-$150) hotels in the area you can stay at The Flamingo, Harrah's, Treasure Island, or Bally's. For a higher-end hotel ($200 and up) you can stay at The Bellagio, The Venetian, The Mirage, The Wynn, or Caesars Palace.

I find that a cheaper mid strip hotel such as The Imperial Palace or Casino Royale is fine if you are traveling by yourself or with a small group of men but I would probably upgrade to a nicer hotel if your spouse or other relative is accompanying you. And, if I were upgrading I would skip right past the mid-grade hotels and splurge on one the higher-class mid-strip hotels such as The Venetian or The Bellagio. You will probably want to stay mid strip if you are playing higher-stakes poker since most of the high stakes games are played at The Bellagio, The Venetian, and The Mirage.

Total cost

You can get a cheap hotel in the mid-strip area for about $40-$75 per weeknight. Add another $15 for a breakfast all-you-can-eat buffet and another $25 for a dinner all-you-can-eat buffet and you can live like a poker god in Vegas for about $100 per day! Remember that drinks are free while playing poker so $100 per day will buy you unlimited food for lunch, unlimited food for dinner, and unlimited drinks all day long. I don't know about you but I can easily drink $100 per day of premium alcohol. There's nothing like sitting at The Venetian for 12 hours drinking Crown Royal Special Reserve ... and winning money at poker!

Poker supplies in Las Vegas

Las Vegas poker supplies There are surprisingly few poker supply shops in Las Vegas that are open to the general public. You would think that it should be fairly easy to find poker chips, playing cards, dice, and other poker accessories in the gambling capital of the world, but it's not that easy!

Two of the largest poker supply shops in Las Vegas are the Gambler's General Store (red bubble) and Spinettis Home Gaming Supplies (blue bubble). Both are located about one mile south of the downtown casino's and are within walking distance of each other. Both are open to the public seven days a week. Click on the map to the left to obtain more information about either store.

If you are looking for poker books in Vegas the place to visit is the Gambler's Book Club. This shop stocks more poker related books than you can shake a stick at! If you are looking for some obscure poker book that you can't find anywhere ... the Gambler's Book Club is the place to find it.

 
 

Las Vegas Links

Weather.com for Las Vegas

Maps of Las Vegas

Las Vegas casino property maps and floor plans
Las Vegas maps (Lots of good maps of museums, art galleries, golf courses, etc.)
Las Vegas Strip map (CheapoVegas)
Las Vegas Sun newspaper casino map
Vegas Today and Tomorrow

Transportation in Las Vegas

Bus Routes
Las Vegas Monorail
McCarron International Airport Location Car rentals Taxis Shuttles/Limos
The Deuce (Bus route on The Strip)

Poker Games in Las Vegas

All Vegas Poker Poker room reviews Forum Hotel poker rates Tournaments Trip reports
Card Player
Poker Player Newspaper
Poker Tournament Formula
The Poker Atlas
Vegas Texas Holdem

Warning!
Some of these links contain material that is a somewhat explicit. Remember, this is Vegas baby!

Entertainment in Las Vegas

Fill a Seat
Five Hundy By Nidnight (Podcast)
Golf Now
House Seats
I Go Clubs
I Go Shows
Las Vegas Online Entertainment Guide Concerts
Las Vegas Weekly
Show Tickets 4 Locals
Spy on Vegas
The Ultimate Strip Club List
Vegas Rex
Video Poker in Las Vegas
Weekly Seven

Eating in Las Vegas

A2Z Las Vegas
Eating Las Vegas
Fodors
Frommers
I Eat Vegas
Las Vegas Restaurants
Vegas Buffets

Guides to Las Vegas

A2Z Las Vegas
American Casino Guide
Best of Vegas.com
CheapoVegas.com
Las Vegas Advisor
Las Vegas City Life
Las Vegas Leisure Guide
Las Vegas on 25� a day
Scenic Las Vegas
Vegas Today and Tomorrow
Vegas Tripping
Visit Las Vegas
We Do It All Vegas
Wizard of Vegas

Pools in Las Vegas (Many pools close during the winter)

Best of Vegas
Destination 360
Las Vegas Advisor
Las Vegas Direct
Las Vegas Insider
Las Vegas Weekly
Lavish Las Vegas
Metro Wize
Travel and Leisure
Vegas.com
Vegas Hotel Pools
Visit Las Vegas
Wet Vegas

Warning!
Some of these links contain material that is a somewhat explicit. Remember, this is Vegas baby!

Deals and Promos in Las Vegas

Advantage Player
Better Bidding
Bidding For Travel
Bidding Traveler
CheapoVegas.com
Fat Wallet.com (Go to the last page and work your way backwards)
Front Desk Tip
Hotwire.com (Great for car rentals)
Las Vegas How-To
Priceline.com
Save LV
Smarter Vegas
Vegas Coupons
Vegas Hotel Hunt
Vegas Hotel Special
Vegas Hotels Online

Forums About Las Vegas

City-Data
Las Vegas 4 Ever
Las Vegas Message Board
Open Vegas

Poker Supplies in Las Vegas

Gambler's Book Club
Gambler's General Store
Spinettis Home Gaming Supplies

Newspapers

Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Sun

Conventions in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Conventions
Vegas Means Business

Atlantic City poker links

Atlantic City Poker Guide Poker room reviews Forum Tournaments Trip reports
The Poker Atlas

 

Feel free to contact me if you know of a good link that could be added to this page.

All the free photographs of Las Vegas on this page are courtesy of
Photos by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com

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