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Vegas Poker Rooms, Off The Strip Edition

In each of these previous Weekly Shuffles, we reviewed poker rooms at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. This week, we're reviewing four Vegas poker rooms situated off of the Strip. All four of these casinos can be found a short distance from Las Vegas Boulevard. From any point of origin on the Strip, one shouldn't have to pay more than a $10 or $15 cab fare to visit these poker rooms: online poker 468x60 Rio Number of Tables: 11 Overall: C Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: A Atmosphere: D Game Availability: B- Customer Service: B It wouldn't be unreasonable to estimate that the casino which plays host to the WSOP probably has a fantastic poker room. Ironically, that is not the case. The poker action at the Rio is fantastic when the WSOP is in town. For the rest of the year, however, a meager 11 tables of small-stakes action is all there is to be found at one of Vegas' most sexually charged casinos. These 11 tables are tucked away in a remote corner of the casino. It's unlikely anyone would stroll by this poker room unless they were purposefully seeking it out. For that reason, the games can be void of fishy tourists who happened to be walking by. The lack of a computerized waiting list serves as further evidence that this casino does not cherish its poker room. You'd have to look at a dry erase board to know that their most commonly played games are $1-$3 ($300 max buy-in) no-limit and $2-$5 ($500 max buy-in) no-limit. For its shortcomings, Rio's poker room does have one thing going for it: cocktail waitresses that are among the hottest in the city. Best For: Anyone who likes being disappointed. Gold Coast Number of Tables: 8 Overall: C+ Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: n/a Atmosphere: C Game Availability: F Customer Service: A Although it is located by two tourist-heavy casinos, Rio and Palms, Gold Coast is generally considered a "locals' casino". That basically means its atmosphere is more relaxed and its clientele is more of an older crowd compared to Strip casinos. In other words, the Gold Coast is slow and lifeless. But if you're a small stakes player who can tolerate a room full of complaining retirees, there could be a small fortunate to be made at this casino's poker tables. The (extremely friendly) poker room manager informed me that $2-$4 and $4-$8 limit hold'em accounts for most of the cash game action in this eight table room. Rarely is there enough demand to start a no-limit game. Each morning at 10 a.m., they hold a $22 buy-in no-limit tournament. It was clear from observing the betting habits of the players in this game that the action is incredibly soft. One thing the locals in the Gold Coast's games can't complain about is the rake. Most rooms in Vegas cap the rake at $4, and take an additional $1 for jackpot promotions. Gold Coast caps their rake at $3 and does not take any additional money for their jackpots. Four-of-a-kind and straight flushes are worth $50 and $100, respectively. The Royal Flush jackpot is progressive, but rarely tops five figures. If you're going to this casino hoping to see world-class cocktail waitresses, prepare to be thoroughly disappointed. In the thirty minutes I spent inside, I didn't see a single waitress! These phantom girls could be indescribably attractive for all I know, but what's the use if they're never around? Best For: Players on a very tight budget or anyone who wants to play in a very low-energy casino. Palms Number of Tables: 10 Overall: B Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: A Atmosphere: B+ Game Availability: B- Customer Service: A When this casino opened six years ago, they had one poker room with six tables. When poker exploded in popularity, their six table room was too small to handle the demand of their patrons. To remedy this, they converted their adjacent bingo room into a second poker room. This second room contains four tables. Today, the action is split between the rooms. The six-table room spreads $2-$4 and $4-$8 limit hold'em while the four-table room is for "high stakes" ($1-$3 and $2-$5 no-limit). Since Palms is off the Strip, most of their patrons arrive with a purpose. In other words, there is very little passer-by traffic at this casino. This results in a poker room that is not very popular. While I was there, just one game was running: a $2-$5 no-limit table with just two players. During peak hours, the poker action at Palms could be worth checking out. The customer service is extremely helpful and the cocktail waitresses are top notch. Best For: Anyone hoping to get lucky enough to find some live shorthanded action. Orleans Number of Tables: 35 Overall: B+ Cocktail Waitress Eye Candy: C- Atmosphere: A- Game Availability: B- Customer Service: A- Unlike the other casinos in this review, Orleans is located a significant distance from the Strip. However, they have a fantastic poker room that might be worth a journey away from tourist-central. Dozens of locals can be found at any of the 35 tables in a poker room spacious enough to hold 45 tables. Most of the cash games at Orleans are played for relatively small stakes. No-limit games of $1-$2 and $2-$5 are popular. Limit hold'em with stakes of $2-$4 and $4-$8 dominates much of the action. Omaha hi-lo fans can find a game running constantly, usually with stakes of $4-$8 or $8-$16. Orleans' poker room also has a reputation of offering great tournaments. They run two daily $80 buy-in tournaments (usually no-limit hold'em, but sometimes Omaha hi-lo) with fantastic structure. I know of no other sub-$100 buy-in tournament in Vegas that offers as much playing time. One reason the locals may find this poker room so appealing is the bad beat jackpot. An extra $1 is taken from most cash game pots to fund this huge progressive jackpot which is usually advertised at more than $50,000. This poker room isn't perfect, though. Their management likes to cut costs by having only as many dealers as absolutely necessary. Because of this, expect a waiting list for almost all games. While you wait, you can watch TV. I counted 22 of them throughout the room. Best For: Small-stakes tournament players and those who like Omaha hi-lo.

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