Designed for players
The Sahara Las Vegas casino reopened its poker room on Friday, February 14, nine years after it closed. The poker room will host a grand opening celebration this Friday with giveaways, champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and a bounty poker event.
The new poker room is small, just seven tables, but even that space is a commitment, as it takes real estate away from potentially more profitable games. It is a luxurious room, with a 16-foot by 9-foot LED video wall, multiple television screens, and table food and beverage service. Every table has charging ports for mobile devices.
Some games have already lasted until daybreak
Poker room hours at Sahara Las Vegas are 10:00am to 2:00am, but management has said that poker games will never be shut down. As long as a game is going at closing time, it will keep going until the players want to quit. Some games have already lasted until daybreak.
Tables are nine-handed with a maximum $4 rake.
Early reviews encouraging
So far, reviews of the small poker room have been positive. Over on PokerAtlas.com, “belladonkey” said, “It is evident the management team knows, loves and appreciates poker players,” noting that its location in the casino is extremely convenient to (free) parking.
User “jormama” said that the Sahara’s poker room has “all the creature comforts of larger rooms.”
Nolan Dalla, a Las Vegas poker and betting mainstay and former World Series of Poker Media Director, visited the Sahara Las Vegas poker room a day after it opened. Describing himself as “difficult to please,” he echoed others’ praises. Comfort, amenities, food, and comps were all aspects of the poker room that Dalla highlighted.
He also singled out Steven Pique, head of poker operations for the Sahara. Dalla and Pique worked together on the WSOP Circuit for a number of years; Pique is not just someone pulled from another part of the casino.
“He was always thoroughly professional and knowledgeable,” Dalla said on his blog. “His impact on the new room should be both immediate and long-lasting.”
Gradual return of small poker rooms
The Sahara casino itself closed in May 2011; the poker room closed a few months before that. It was a period of time during which many poker rooms in the Las Vegas area shut the doors. Black Friday (April 15, 2011) was a major cause of the downturn.
When American players were no longer able to play online poker easily, many stopped going to live poker rooms. Within about a year of Black Friday, Ellis Island, Fitzgeralds (now The D), Jokers Wild, O’Sheas, Silverton, and Tropicana all closed their poker rooms.
The Westgate was the most recent casino to actually open a poker room in Las Vegas before the Sahara last week. Its six-table room opened in 2017.
The Sahara property was revived in 2014, rebranded SLS Las Vegas. The Meruelo Group acquired the property in 2018 and renamed it back to Sahara in 2019.