With more than 30 Las Vegas poker rooms to choose from, how do you really know where to play? You read this article, that’s what you do! As a local who has played in darn near every card room in town, I’m going to share with you the seven places to play poker that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Quite honestly, the other poker rooms aren’t worth your time, unless you’re staying at the property.
I’m going to sound like a bit of a hypocrite here, based on that last sentence, but there is one card room — Green Valley Ranch — I occasionally visit that you won’t find on this list. GVR is an up-scale Station Casino brand property, at least compared to Sunset Station and Palace Station, located in Henderson, about 15 minutes from the Strip.
The only reason I play at GVR is because I live in the neighborhood. On a 1-10 scale, with 10 being best, I’d give that card room about a 3.5. They rarely spread games above $1/$3, only have a few games running at a time, and most of the players are chain-smoking regulars. Not my crowd and not the games I typically play. But since it’s nearby and I love the casino for other reasons (restaurants, sportsbook, video poker bars, etc.), I occasionally play poker there.
That aside, I believe you’re better off playing cards at one of these seven Las Vegas poker rooms.
The Aria Resort and Casino, an MGM Resorts-brand property, is located in the central part of the Strip. It’s not only one of the top Las Vegas poker rooms. It’s one of the best places to play poker anywhere in the world.
Aria offers a little something for every type of poker player. The poker room spreads games ranging from $1/$3 to the highest stakes you’ll find in town. You’ll find no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and even some mixed games spread among the card room’s 24 comfortable poker tables.
If you’re a celebrity chaser, you’ll occasionally spot someone you’ve seen on TV at Aria. Over the years, I’ve played with or seen numerous celebs at Aria, such as Jose Canseco, Norm Macdonald, Don Cheadle, and others, along with poker royalty including Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Eli Elezra, Johnny Chan, and many more.
What makes this card room so special? Aria has one of the most aesthetically pleasing poker rooms I’ve ever seen. The staff — led by Director of Poker Operations Sean McCormack — does an excellent job of keeping the room in tiptop shape. The chairs are comfortable, the dealers know what they’re doing, the cash games are juicy, and the daily low-stakes tournaments are among the best in town. What’s not to love?
Bellagio, much like Aria, is among the the most popular poker rooms in town. Not only that, Bellagio is the most nostalgic card room in town. Some of the highest stakes games in Vegas history have been spread at this center-Strip casino.
Bellagio is one of the fanciest hotels in the world. The poker room could use some new carpeting, but remains one of the nicest looking spots in town. The poker room has a back room — Bobby’s Room — where you’ll find some of the best players in the world, such as Doyle Brunson, Dan “Jungleman” Cates, and just about every who’s who in poker.
For the players who don’t have a seven-figure bankroll, there are still plenty of games to play. Even better, Bellagio attracts some low-stakes tourists who barely know the difference between a royal flush and a toilet flush. The MGM Resorts brand casino offers $2 per hour comps, which is above industry standard. If you enjoy low-stakes daily tournaments, you’re better off playing at Aria, Venetian, or Wynn.
What makes this card room so special? Every poker player should add Bellagio to their bucket list. It’s one of the most iconic Las Vegas poker rooms. I used to play at Bellagio more often, but have since switched more to Aria and a few other places. But it’s still nice to stop in once in a while for a $2/$5 cash game for old time’s sake. You’ll almost certainly have a wait to get into a game in the evening, especially on the weekends, which will give you an opportunity to check out Bellagio’s sportsbook next door.
Back when I used to travel to Las Vegas for vacation, Wynn was my main poker spot. The old poker room was located on the Wynn side of the property, and always attracted its share of wealthy donks who were just killing time waiting for their show to start or were bored of playing blackjack. It was great action, but the casino built a new poker room on the Encore side a few years ago and it’s amazing.
Without a doubt, this is the cleanest and most gorgeous poker room in town. I don’t play at Wynn as often as I’d like and I think I’m going to start making a point to play there more frequently. You’ll find numerous pros at Wynn, but you’ll also encounter plenty of recreational players and tourists with money to burn. Wynn is one of the most expensive hotels in Las Vegas, so it attracts some of the highest rollers.
The $1.50 per hour comps are a bit light compared to Bellagio and Aria, but still reasonable. The only issue with the Wynn comping system is you have to put in countless hours to get much out of it, as the casino’s restaurants are quite expensive. I’m just not that dedicated to one poker room to benefit from the hourly comps at Wynn.
What makes this card room so special? Wynn offers some of the best poker series in town. And the $200 daily tournaments are tough to beat for the low-stakes tournament grinder. But what I really love about this poker is the atmosphere, its comfortable chairs, and the fact that it just looks so luxurious.
If you despise Sheldon Adelson, and I really can’t blame you, you can go ahead and skip on by this one. Venetian is a gorgeous property, but it’s owned by Adelson’s company — Sands Corporation. The GOP mega-donor is one of the most influential anti-online poker lobbyists in the country. He’s been lobbying to ban online poker at the federal level for many years.
But if you can get past the online poker-hating aspect, you’ll likely love Venetian’s poker room. This 32-table card room is perfect for tournament grinders, low-stakes hold’em players, and mixed game specialists. Venetian’s poker room will spread just about any game if you ask for it, and there’s enough interest.
I’m a bit turned off by the $1 per hour comps, but it’s nice that you can use your comp dollars toward tournament buy-ins. That’s a unique perk that I’d like to see from other poker rooms.
What makes this card room so special? Venetian, in my opinion, has one of the least crowded poker rooms in town, at least on the Strip. The room is spacious enough that even during peak hours, you never feel crowded. I also like the free self-serve soda and coffee machines that are located near the back entrance. That’s unique to Venetian, as most Las Vegas poker rooms require a cocktail waitress to bring you a non-alcoholic drink. I save $1 each time I need a soda as I don’t have to tip a waitress. The downside to that is I drink too much soda when I play at Venetian.
I’ll be honest here. I’m not actually a huge fan of the Golden Nugget’s main poker room. But it’s the best poker room on Fremont Street, by a ton, and I love me some Fremont Street. If you’re visiting Las Vegas, especially if you’re a first-timer, you have to spend at least one evening downtown in this amazing entertainment district.
And if you’re downtown and get the urge to play some cards, your only reasonable option is Golden Nugget. I used to play there once a month or so back in 2012 and 2013, and it was a nice change of pace. It’s not a fancy card room, so if you’re a bit of a poker room snob, you may despise this place. But the action seems to be great for low-stakes games.
Golden Nugget was at one point home to both NBC’s Poker After Dark and Game Show Network’s High Stakes Poker. Some of the most memorable TV poker hands in history took place at this casino. So, there’s a bit of nostalgia in playing at Golden Nugget if you were a poker fan during the boom.
What makes this card room so special? I would say the strongest selling point of playing at Golden Nugget is that it’s the only reasonable place to play downtown. The $2 per hour comps are also nice, considering food at Golden Nugget is a bit less expensive than those fancy Strip casinos I mentioned earlier.
The Orleans poker room is one of the best places to play poker, but for some reason, I always forget that it even exists. Six months will go by and I’ll realize I haven’t played there in ages. I’m not quite sure why I don’t play there more regularly, but maybe I need to add it to my rotation.
What bothers me about The Orleans is the building is old and its too smoky in there. I can’t stand cigarette smoke. I will say that the poker room is less smoky these days compared to seven or eight years ago. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with The Orleans poker room.
Most games are low-stakes, and most of the players are elderly. If you’re fine with inhaling cigarette smoke and want to avoid the Strip, this is a great place to play. The Orleans is located a little over a mile west of the Strip, close by many adult arcades and hooker corners.
What makes this card room so special? The Orleans’ Friday night $150 tournament (15,000 chips, 30-minute blind levels, $15,000 guarantee) provides arguably the most value of any regular tournament in Las Vegas. I also enjoy The Orleans, mostly for its lively atmosphere and lack of snobby rich folk. The Alligator Bar, a video poker bar in the heart of the casino, is one of my favorite places to drink.
Red Rock Resort
Red Rock Resort is a Station Casinos brand property in Summerlin, a ritzy area west of the Strip. The casino is located about a 20-minute drive from the Strip next to the upscale Downtown Summerlin District, an entertainment and shopping center with numerous quality restaurants and shops.
Inside the casino, you’ll find a poker room that is a bit similar to Green Valley Ranch, the card room I already said I don’t recommend. But this one is more worth a visit for a couple of reasons. First off, there are better dining options at Downtown Summerlin than at the Green Valley District (Dave and Busters, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Lazy Dog, etc.). But the biggest benefit of playing at Red Rock versus GVR is that Red Rock’s poker room is busier. There are more games, more players, and better action, from my experience.
Is this poker room worth visiting if you’re in town without a car? Probably not. An Uber ride will cost you around $25 each way from the Strip, and there are better places to play poker on the Strip. But if you want to get away from the craziness of tourist Las Vegas, head out to Red Rock for some dinner, drinks, and poker.
What makes this card room so special? I’m always looking for an excuse to visit Downtown Summerlin and Red Rock Casino. I sometimes wish I lived in the area because I really love it out there. I don’t get over there very often — a couple times a year — but always have a great time when I do. The surrounding entertainment should be reason enough to bring you out to Summerlin to play poker.