Price cutting is the latest rage in our neon oasis, but it’s true, the price of playing tournament poker in Las Vegas is on the rise. But sometimes the best values and best competition can be found in off-Strip casinos.
There are daily poker tournaments at most of the Strip casinos. These attract both in-town sharks and fresh off the plane suckers. I have a friend who loves the games at Excalibur. He says the kid-friendly nature of the place attracts desperate to get-away dads that think they know how to play poker because they’ve watched a lot of it on late-night TV. They usually bargain with their families for a set amount of time to play and keep a close eye on their watch. When they start edging up against the appointed hour they’re supposed to re-unite with their families, their play gets reckless. Really reckless. This apparently is a major “tell” with these beleaguered dads.
My friends’ logic makes sense and according to him he usually walks away a winner.
My esteemed colleague, Steve Fey, lamented the lack of cheap poker in Las Vegas this week in his article. It almost made me change my mind about writing this article on finding good tournament poker games in some off-Strip casinos.
Almost, but not quite.
Steve is right. With a bankroll of only $20 and a preference for playing anything other than Texas Hold’em, Omaha or HORSE, neither Strip or off-Strip casinos have much else to offer. But an amateur poker player can still find some good action, good pay-outs and good competition if he or she looks around a little. Playing live, as opposed to on-line tournament poker is a great way to hone your poker playing skills for minimal risk and potentially walk away with five hundred dollars or more if you finish at or near the top. It’s often fun, often vexing, In my experience you learn to play the good cards and sit-back to watch the knuckle-heads (almost) always bust out early.
A few tournaments at a few locals oriented casinos worth considering:
1) The South Point offers a variety of No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments throughout the week ranging from $50 – $100 buy-ins. There’s a daily tournament at 10 am ($50 for $2,500 in chips) that attracts a good mix of players (2-3 tables to start) and not too many knuckle-heads that go all-in with a 3-7 off-suit. There’s also a variety of different evening tournaments that start at 7 pm. Most do not allow re-buys or add-ons which is good for players with a thin bankroll. (A re-buy is an option to re-enter a tournament at full cost after a player has busted out. An add-on is the option to buy extra chips at the beginning, for instance an extra $5 buys an additional $1,000 worth of tournament chips.)
2) The Silverton Lodge has daily tournaments at 11 am and 6 pm ($45 buy-in with a $5 add-on option to double your starting chips). The Friday and Saturday night tournaments attract lots of tourists ($55 buy-in with a $5 double your chips add-on option) and have a guaranteed $2,000 prize pool. Friday nights are Ladies Night with a 9:30 pm tournament ($40 with a $5 add-on option). Starbucks coffee is served at all the tournaments to keep it interesting. (Over-caffeinated poker players are easy marks!)
3) The M Resort has daily 10 am and 6 pm tournaments ($55 buy-in with one re-buy allowed), but they often have so many players playing cash games that according to notices in the poker room and the poker room manager I spoke to the evening tournament is often canceled. But when it’s on, they usually start with 3 or 4 tables and with two buy-ins that means the prize pool is usually around $3,000 with 40% going to the winner. Lots of good, very experienced live poker players from California at these games.
4) The Eastside Cannery has daily tournaments at 10 am ($30 buy-in) and 7 pm ($25 buy-in) but sometimes has trouble attracting more than one table so the prize pools aren’t usually very big. But, it might be the most affordable poker tournament experience in town and you can always check out the band at Marilyn’s Lounge or the view up at Club One-Six after the evening tournie.
So good luck poker players. If you know where there are any other good games in town let me know!
Last week I broke even, batting .500 in wins and losses – not good.
Last Week: 6-6