With the insanity of the live poker room boom behind us, it’s been awhile since a chichi new poker room has opened in Las Vegas. From the looks of it, the new one that opened at the Wynn last night will be a big hit among players, as long as they don’t actually go looking for it at the Wynn itself.
In a slightly confusing move, the Wynn closed its old room that was just inside from self-parking, and moved it to its sister property, the exclusive Encore.
The two casino hotels are connected and players can walk from one property to the other, indoors. But the continued moniker of “Wynn” poker room seems a bit odd, since the room is no longer in the actual Wynn.
That being said, it’s a gorgeous new space, and business was booming on opening night like it was 2006 again. Players were lined up outside the room, chomping at the bit for the 7 pm start time to kick in. And in fact, play started about 15 minutes early.
For those who like stats, here they are:
Size of room: 8,600 sq ft.
Numbers of tables: 28
Amenities offered: USB ports at each table for on-site electronic device charging, sports book inside the room (Steve Wynn clearly has recognized that this will be a moneymaking cross-marketing concept), and 37 65″ high-def TVs, all live-streaming sports.
Restrooms: designated in-room restrooms will no doubt be welcomed by poker’s coffee, Red Bull, and booze-guzzling community. It also means you are more likely to never miss a blind again, if you time it right.
High-Limit Area: What’s the fun of having a massive bankroll if you can’t play in an exclusive area? To that end, the new Wynn/Encore room is all decked out with one.
We spoke to Ryan Beauregard, the Wynn’s director of poker operations, when the room was still being created, to get his take on where live-action poker is going these days. We present highlights from that interview here.
CardsChat: We know you spent six years at Wynn Macau as the poker room manager there prior to this gig. Tell us how the live scene differs or correlates to what we have here in Las Vegas.
RB: First and foremost, the stakes are higher in Macau, especially the live stakes play. Aside from that, one of the first things people will notice is how quiet the poker rooms are [in Macau]. While it is still a very social game, you will find that players are very focused during live play.
CardsChat: What are the most popular cash games these days and what levels?
RB: In Las Vegas, the recreational player makes up a large portion of the poker play. With that in mind, $1 to $3 [No Limit] games are most popular. We are also hosting more PLO games, at both the higher and lower limits, along with some very good mixed games.
CardsChat: Talk about live poker demographics. Are you pulling in more 20-somethings or is that crowd still happiest on their laptops?
RB: With the location of the new poker room being in close proximity to Encore Beach Club [a cabana’d out pool area with music, where liquor flows freely and expensively] and Encore Players Club, we are expecting to attract a younger generation [in the new poker room].
CardsChat: Tell us about your tournament series that falls during WSOP. It’s somewhat stealth. Is that by design? What kind of numbers did you pull in last year, and what are you projecting for this year, both in terms of players and prize pools? What are the kingpin events?
RB: Our Wynn Classic Series has been consistently growing and the buzz of the new room will certainly bring new excitement to it this summer. The most recent Classic in March featured a $500,000 guarantee Championship, which was a first at Wynn. That was a huge success and so we have gone one step further this summer. The Championship Event will feature a $750,000 guarantee over just two starting days.
We understand that our players enjoy daily events and, as a result, we have increased our daily event guarantees to $50,000 and $100,000 this summer. We are running more daily events to complement o ur multi-day events as well.
[The Wynn Summer Classic runs from June 2 – July 17].
CardsChat: We went by the [old] Wynn Las Vegas poker room recently on a Thursday night and it was hopping! Your business seems to be thriving. We also noticed you had a $250,000 prize pool poker tournament going on nearby. How much do you rely on ancillary tournament events to pull in live players? Obviously players are antsy for action after busting out of events.
RB: That’s great to hear! We are lucky that we have the luxury to offer both cash games as well as tournaments. We understand that some enjoy leisurely play, while others enjoy the more competitive environment that tournament play offers. We want our guests to play in the way that brings them the most enjoyment and, as such, we focus on both segments equally.
CardsChat: How has having legal online poker available in Nevada affected live poker room traffic for you? What kind of impact do you think it might have on Nevada casinos if California ever gets around to legalizing online there? Do you think it could affect your traffic plus or minus?
RB: It has certainly brought more awareness to poker as a game and a sport. In addition, it has provided an increased affinity for it, which is certainly beneficial for the poker community.