The Restoration of Venetian Poker

by , Sep 7, 2012 | 1:00 pm

Let’s hope it’s an omen. I picked up pocket Aces on my first hand in the new-and-improved Venetian poker room. My good friend and fellow Pokeratier Andrew raised into me, then called my three-bet “just in case” before check-folding the flop.

venetian sands poker room

$10 Million Rebuy: The Venetian poker room has expanded to add 50 percent more tables and hopefully 50 percent more donkey tourists.

The new digs reopened at 5 am Wednesday; I arrived around 4:30 pm, or what Vegas grinders call morning. I wanted to see what a month-long renovation and supposedly $10 million could do for a major poker room. And I can tell you, this is now the fanciest poker joint in Vegas — if only for the giant, shimmering chandeliers hanging under a Renaissance ceiling mural at the front of the room.

Here’s some of what I couldn’t help but notice upon re-entering this previously familiar poker space:

First off, the new place is simply huge. At 11,000 square feet, it’s bigger than Aria and a bit smaller than Caesars Palace, but without a warehouse-like tournament room.

Some regulars might take issue with tables set up to play 10-handed, but with 59 tables at the Venetian (up from 39 before) you’re almost certain to find a fish or three across the felt no matter where you get seated.  And you don’t really have to worry about someone bumping into the back of your chair while you’re in the middle of a hand.

The 47 TVs dotting every section of the wide-open room might look small, but it’s only because the room is so much bigger than the old one. Catching the score of the NFL season opener was a breeze.

Wednesday Afternoon: the Venetian had 16 tables of Omaha and hold’em running, easily the most live action in Vegas during the deadest time of the week.

The sign out front says “Sands Poker Room” because, as one dealer told me, “we’re now international.” But the playing cards are still labeled “Venetian Poker Room.” No word on whether or not that will change. Or if @VenetianPoker will be changing its Twitter handle.

They also picked up all new velvety fabric chairs, which are as comfortable as any in town and seemed to help my posture — though it’s possible that was just a tell I was giving up about good my cards.  But still definitely better than the old dry pleathery ones. With these new chairs costing about $400 each, according to one dealer who has to sit in them every day, my quick math says that’s $236k in rake going directly to quality cushioning.

The renovation stretches across floor space previously used for overflow tournaments and slot machines, abutting the new Cantor Gaming Sportsbook and Noodle Asia. They knocked out the high-limit area and encompassed the entire room in a pony wall with frosted, stained-glass windows that allow people to see in, but keep smoke from the casino pits out.

Dan will probably be happy to hear, too, that the plaque declaring Venetian the winner of Pokerati’s award for being the best poker room in Vegas in 2008 survived the 2012 renovation.

It really is a beautiful room — the kind of place that clearly considered the comfort of everyday grinders waiting for the next school of tourist fish.

Once technological tweaks are fixed with the Bravo registration system, dealers say that players will be able to use comps and player points to enter events such as the Venetian’s popular Deep Stack Extravaganza and other tournaments.

Art of Poker: I like my poker rooms like I like my light fixtures — big and classically elegant.

Andrew and I had each logged a few hours of 1/2 NL play when he left up a small winner for the evening. I stayed a while longer and almost immediately ran into the deck — flopping full houses, turning various nuts, and rivering quads.

As I soaked up the new Sands room ambience (and that patented floral Venetian smell) I want to believe I would’ve enjoyed the cards action even if I hadn’t cashed out +$500. After all, that’s the kind of player most Vegas grinders are hoping a room like this attracts.

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