Sneak Preview of the New Hard Rock Poker Room

by , Aug 20, 2008 | 6:30 pm

The Hard Rock Poker Lounge is almost ready to serve you.

The PR people at Hard Rock are trying to keep a tight lid on the unveiling of their new “Poker Lounge”, which opens to the public tomorrow — they don’t want any bad pictures getting out that fail to capture the venue in all its glory, nor any inaccurate information being spread widely for many to misconstrue. Er … ok, but that’s kinda what we do, ya know?

I’ve heard two numbers about how costly this new construction was — $12 million and $30 million. While there’s a big difference between the two, and at least one of them is probably wrong, either way, you get the picture … it’s a really nice place — built from the ground up and the inside out. Brian from the Poker Atlas and I swung by yesterday, where they were busily at work in their final stages of preparation, and we got a little tour from the Director of Poker Operations, Houston Waldie, who was brought to HRH after his success turning the Golden Nugget’s rinky-dink room into arguably the best game downtown. No cameras allowed as he pointed out features he was most proud of, but I did manage to sneak a few pics from behind the ropes to give you a sense of the space we’re talking about here.

I gotta say … Fuckin’ A …

Go Hard Rock. (General info and future reviews here; official site here.)

The luxe tables, couches, chairs, flatscreens, etc. were all expected, maybe a tad nicer. But the art, the architecture, the vibe — all created specifically to be a poker room, the most well thought out and well funded since the Venetian — make me miss living on the east side of town, where the Hard Rock was the most convenient casino to my old pad. And though I suspect it may take some time to build up a player base (perhaps when the new hotel rooms at the Hard Rock open?) that should make it one of the premiere poker destinations in LV, at least the set-up for the action seems pretty sweet. Here are a few tidbits I picked up without the benefit of tape recorder or notepad:

  • The $2/$5 NL game will be a $200 min / $2,000 max buy-in. The $5/$10 NL will have no cap.
  • They’ll be spreading multiple stakes of Hold’em/Omaha – round of each. Can we say paging Bent Tree Boys?
  • The “Hard Rock Straddle” — which I like to think of as the Dallas Underground Straddle — is in effect. Straddle from under-the-gun or on-the-button … last action’s always on the straddler, but at no time do the blinds have to act first (as they do with the “Mississippi Straddle”).
  • 7,000 dealers, chip runners, and floor people applied. About 80 or so got a job. All those who made the cut have been warned that bitching about being stiffed on a big pot will get “a boot in their ass.” But all of them presumably already understood that, or they wouldn’t have gotten hired.
  • Some top dealers, tourney directors, and floor management folks were recruited away from Bellagio, Venetian, and Caesar’s … along with some of Waldie’s top lieutenants from Golden Nugget, who now are serving as “generals.”
  • A select few veteran Hard Rock pit dealers — the most loyal, professional, and studied in casino psychology — also got brought over to the poker room, and are reportedly enthusiastic about learning the nuances of poker.
  • 18 tables, well spread out in about as much space in the Bellagio poker room.
  • There are 5 VIP tables and one big-big game table … set up kinda like a nightclub, as these tables can be reserved for private games and have bottle service. Each of these is also wired for iPod hookup, so you can bring your own music.
  • The big-big game room was going to be open to the folks coming out of a concert, but for security purposes, they had to wall it off in glass on one side. But still open on one side, with a buffet area built into the architecture.
  • Big tourneys can/will be held in The Joint, the Hard Rock’s mini-arena rock concert venue (which is undergoing a redesign of its own).
  • Ja Rule (I think it was Ja Rule … some hip-hoppy rock star) was at the Hard Rock just a few days ago and he was bummin’ that the tables weren’t open, because he was itchin’ to play.
  • It’s the only poker room I’ve ever seen with a bar directly connected to it — this comfy lounge (leather seats, small tables, video poker at the bar) is close enough to the game yet ever-so-slightly separated … such that you can only imagine it could become a popular hangout for railbird hotties who are bored to tears by their boyfriend/husband/john’s impressive play.
  • Speaking of … while there, two absolutely lovely 20somethings — one blonde, one brunette, both busty — walked by comfortably and casually in nothing but perfectly fitting bikinis and pool shoes. They stopped to take a peak over the ropes, and it was so matter of fact as they gandered and giggled that workers in the back of the room hardly noticed; but I took note for sure, as the scene provided a refreshing reminder of the near-nudity-in-the-middle-of-a-workday that makes Las Vegas such a special environ.

I’m headed back to the Hard Rock Poker Lounge right after posting this — they’re apparently having a little soft-opening/real-money dress rehearsal … a bunch of sit-n-gos, I think, with free booze and a fancy buffet.

Public opening is supposed to be tomorrow morn. ZZ Top and Fall Out Boy will be watching you:

Here’s their debut tourney sked, via The Poker Atlas.

5 Comments to “Sneak Preview of the New Hard Rock Poker Room”

  1. Drizztdj

    This is on my list to visit for the December blogger trip. Wow.

  2. Woody

    Can’t wait to check this joint out.

  3. DanM

    I got some new/better pics. I just have to figure out this iPhoto thing. more to come.

  4. ItsOverJonny

    Looks awesome. More pics please!

  5. DanM

    More here: