In a surprising move that has become all too rare in recent years, the Sahara Las Vegas casino announced that it will re-open its poker room. The proclamation came last week via Twitter, a couple days after New Year’s.
Tiny, but welcome
As can be seen in the tweet, the new Sahara poker room will only have seven tables. Thus, do not expect large tournaments. The old Sahara poker room did have daily tournaments, though, and was famous for giving players free sandwiches, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see that tradition resurrected. A high roller area is also extremely unlikely. It will be nice to have something on the north end of the Strip, though, as there is not a whole lot of poker over there.
Though some people have read way too much into the artist’s rendering of the poker room (standing dealers, six-handed), the Sahara confirmed that tables will be nine-handed with a $4 max rake. This also implies that the cash game stakes are likely quite low. The Red Rock’s poker room, for instance, runs $1/$2 games with a 10 percent rake up to $4. The lower stakes games at the Bellagio have a 10 percent rake up to $5.
Past decade saw Las Vegas poker rooms disappear
Black Friday was a killer for live poker in the United States, as when people were unable to play online poker, they lost interest in playing live, unless they had a local casino they could frequent. Even then, though, many poker players preferred to just stay home and get into other things rather than sit in a casino for hours.
Sahara closed its poker room in 2011, just a few months before the casino itself shut its doors. The property re-opened in 2014 as the SLS Las Vegas, which stood for “style, luxury, and service.” The Meruelo Group bought SLS Las Vegas in 2018 and brought back the Sahara name last year.
In the year or so following Black Friday, loads of poker rooms closed in Las Vegas. Among the casualties were Ellis Island, Fitzgeralds, Jokers Wild, O’Sheas, Silverton, and Tropicana.
Other closures since 2011 include Aliante Casino, The Linq, Luxor, Monte Carlo, and the Plaza. More recently, Suncoast, Treasure Island, and Arizona Charlie’s Decatur closed their poker rooms in 2018. The Stratosphere shut its poker room down this past October.
Second new Las Vegas poker room since 2017
The Westgate was the most recent Las Vegas casino to open a new poker room, unveiling a small, six-table room in 2017. It was the fourth go at poker for the property, which had its poker room go under in the early 2000’s, 2007, and 2014. It is located behind the casino’s legendary sportsbook.
The biggest reason why more poker rooms haven’t cropped up in Las Vegas is simply because it’s not a very profitable part of the casino. This is also why the newest poker rooms are very small. They can be a way, though, to draw customers to the property who might not otherwise think to visit. And once someone is in the door, they may start spending money on other games, in the shops, or at the casino’s restaurants.