Bellagio Break From the WSOP

Cash Game Mecca Alive and Well

by , Jun 24, 2008 | 2:18 am

It is common knowledge that poker players in Las Vegas flock to Bellagio for cash game action, primarily on the higher end of the buy-in scale. While there seem to be a plethora of cash games going on at the Rio around the clock during the WSOP, anyone looking for games higher than $10-$20 usually heads over to Bellagio. Since I am such a high-stakes player can always use a change of scenery from the Rio, I took a trip on over on Monday night around 10pm to see what was happenin’.


First of all, the entire casino was packed, as was the Strip on the way over there. After plowing through the tourists and slot machines, I arrived at the poker room, which was just overflowing with players. At least 20-30 people were milling about near the front of the poker room, the majority of whom were waiting for seats to open up. Among them were David Pham and Padraig Parkinson. And Davood Merhmand was looking for a love connection was enjoying a glass of wine.

As I shuffled past and made my way into the upper level/back room, there wasn’t much room to move around, but I immediately saw Antonio Esfandiari, along with many unrecognizable faces. I was told that those tables were playing $600-$1200 and higher, but I didn’t see anyone I knew well enough to ask for specifics. The intensity of the players was obvious in their faces, though; these were some serious games at relatively high stakes.

And on to the Big Game in Bobby’s Room. There was a small crowd gathered around the door and windows to the room to catch a glimpse of some of poker’s biggest names. Sammy Farha and Minh Ly were at one table with several young internet-ish-looking players, and Sammy looked happy to have the fresh meat. The other table included such names as Eli Elezra, Jennifer Harman, Marco Traniello, David Oppenheim, and Johnny Chan. I was told they were playing $3000-$6000 mixed games. (What better way to prepare for the upcoming $50K H.O.R.S.E. event at the Bellagio in two days?)

According to one source who is a regular in the Bellagio $400-$800 mixed games, it has been a tough road this year. Since coming to Vegas for the WSOP, he has noticed a marked change in the caliber of player in all of the higher limit mixed games. The fields are very tough, much tougher than last year, as if the high stakes players made a concerted effort of late to step up their games. He said there are very few soft spots, and every game is a struggle. When asked about taking the limits down a notch to $200-$400 or lower, he said with certainty that it wouldn’t make a difference. He has friends at those levels, and it is the same story; there isn’t as much money to be made in cash games this year. Standard no-limit hold’em and other games might be different, but the mixed game players have brought, played, and mastered their A-games.

Nevertheless, those who crave the high-limit action go to Bellagio, despite the difficulty of the tables or the wait to get on one. There is no other casino in Vegas that spreads such a wide range of games at such a variety of limits, and Bellagio has a reputation for running one of the best poker rooms around. No matter the hard economic times or bad runs at the WSOP, the Bellagio poker room is bumpin’.

3 Comments to “Bellagio Break From the WSOP ”

  1. Bundas

    I have to say Dan adding Jen to the mix for giving updates to the site was just genius.. Here are the reasons why I say this. (No Particular order)

    1) She updates often.
    2) She’s Hot.
    3) Some times she even updates her updates

  2. DanM

    Bundas, thank you for recognizing my luck brilliance. Because really, that’s what this site is all about.

    I keep trying to convince Jen to pose naked for Pokerati, too — would be good for traffic — but she keeps telling me something about “sexual harassment” laws? Whatever those are … but anyhow, for now we will have to leave it to her words for our poker stimulation.

  3. California Jen

    Bundas, thank you! You are especially right about #2. 😉 Honestly, I couldn’t be happier to be a part of Pokerati.

    Dan, my attorney can update you on those “sexual harassment” laws – not a problem. LOL