Ellis Island Poker Room Opens for Business

by , Jun 23, 2012 | 2:49 pm

The newest poker room in Las Vegas opened Friday night at Ellis Island, which sits just off the strip behind Bally’s, between a 7-Eleven and Super 8 motel. It’s a casino that caters to local casino workers — with stiff drinks, cheap steaks, and loud karaoke — and I was there for the very first hand. (I folded 2-8 offsuit in early position.)

Cards got in the air shortly after 6 pm for a 1-2 no-limit and 2-4 limit game, both 10-handed. Though inside a Leroy’s Sportsbook, the casino operates the two-table room, which is next to the cage and slot machines, but out of earshot from the karaoke bar.

Poker players clamored for free T-shirts for being present at the first game, but didn’t get any. Danny, the room’s poker supervisor, who worked a floor person at O’Sheas before it closed, thought up a couple promotions on the spot: High hands and “aces cracked” got a spin of a wheel, where players could win hats, T-shirts, beer, dinner, free slot play and a whatever else the staff could come up with.

“While we get started,” games will run between 6pm and 2am, or until the tables break, he told me.

There’s a $4 max rake, and players earn $1 an hour in comps, “which is a great value because you can get a steak dinner (and a beer) for $8 in this place,” Danny said.

There are empty maroon walls in front of me and TVs showing sporting events behind me.

On my second hand of the night I donated $100 (QQ < AA) and immediately reloaded.

To call the game soft would be an understatement. The couple next to me was making out half the time. One guy asked whether this was “single deck poker.”

I had invited Andrew Neeme to the game, and less than an hour in, he sent me a text from across the table: “I’m too sober for this.”

The dealers were a little slow, and there was no automatic shuffler, but most of the players seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Andrew and I were the only ones without alcohol in front of us.

Paul, a grizzled older guy to my left, said that he played pretty regularly at O’Sheas, and Danny called him up to help get the Ellis Island game started.

“This will be a fun room,” he said, “if they get some promotions going.”

As Andrew and I pick up, a player they call Turtle Mike scooped a $300-plus pot with QTo.

Another local looked shocked.

“Ellis Island poker,” he said shaking his head. “This is a crazy game.”

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