@RandomPoker around Vegas
Bobby Griffith, poker room manager for Cantor Gaming at the Palms, will take on double duty overseeing Silverton’s room and ultimately a new role as Director of Poker Operations for Cantor.
Griffith says he’s already hired a crew for the newest Cantor poker room, and is working on a special event for the re-opening. Cosmetic improvements include plans for ripping up old carpet and bringing in new chairs — with cards in the air sometime around Thanksgiving weekend.
Earlier this year, Cantor built a new sports book/poker room at Palms, the first of their rooms to merge the idea of gambling on sports and cards. At the end of 2011, Cantor unveiled a snazzy sports book at the Venetian, though Cantor does not operate the newly refurbished Sands Poker Room.
The sports book is at the heart of the deal with Silverton, where players will be able to use wireless gaming systems to wager on sports direct from the poker table.
“By partnering with Cantor Gaming to build a sleek race and sports book that incorporates leading technology, style and service, we are bringing to our guests an enhanced gaming experience,” said Craig Cavileer, president of the Silverton, in a recently published statement.
Along with Venetian and Palms, Cantor operates five other race and sports books in Las Vegas — Palazzo, M Resort, Hard Rock, Tropicana, and Cosmopolitan. Cantor officials announced in June that they planned to add the Silverton to their gaming portfolio, building a new 700-square-foot race and sports betting book. Silverton will be their second space running both the poker room and the sportsbook.
The return of poker in a five-table room at Silverton comes as a bit of a surprise, however, as smaller poker rooms tend to face a growing struggle amid continued revamping and expansions of the bigger rooms in town. On the heels of Venetian’s upgrade, MGM is expected to make a few small tweaks to its poker room as part of a massive casino-wide renovation.
And on a recent beer-soaked.50/$1 NL sesh at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, I listened to the staff contemplate their future. Caesars recently announced a $180 million renovation that will likely see the poker room close, at least temporarily, during construction.
In many ways, it’s tough for smaller rooms to compete with the top poker attractions in Las Vegas. Just in the last two weeks Aria and Bellagio saw the likes of Negreanu, Hellmuth, Doyle, Durrr and Lederer. What poker geek in town wouldn’t want to catch a glimpse of that action?
The Imperial Palace moved its poker room upstairs — practically out of sight — during construction of the Linq project. And now the room rarely sees much action. Drunken poker ceased at O’Sheas in April just before they demolished the casino to make way for Linq and its 550-foot tall “observation wheel” called the Las Vegas High Roller. Downtown, Fitzgerald’s — now The D — also folded its poker room this year.
But Silverton, with its lodge-type atmosphere and giant fish-tank, there seems to be as much emphasis on the supersized Bass Pro Shops as it does gambling for drawing tourists. The poker room shut down in January because its games were crippled by fellow south Las Vegas casinos South Point and M Resort.
Griffith hopes that Silverton can lure some of those gamblers back by giving them more than one reason to stick around.
So what is Cantor up to?
The six-table poker room at Tropicana, also next door to a Cantor Gaming Sportsbook, closed last month, after a little more than a year in business. Griffith won’t say whether Cantor also has plans for a new Trop room, or where else Cantor might be looking to expand. But it’s not hard to see that the company believes sports betting and poker might draw similar crowds.
“We feel like the two go hand in hand,” he said.