Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Wynning New Poker Room

One of the top items on my “to-do” list for my most recent Vegas trip was to visit the new Wynn poker room.  I actually discussed it in my most recent Ante Up column, recently published (and located here).  My plan was to get my review for the blog up before the column came out, but somehow that didn’t quite work out.

For those of you who didn’t read my column, or for those with very bad memories, in May the Wynn moved its poker room.  In fact, they completely moved it out of the Wynn.  It’s now in the Encore, the Wynn’s attached, sister property.  But they are still calling it the Wynn poker room.   It’s basically the Wynn Poker Room at Encore.  Sort of like The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

It opened when I was still in L.A., so I didn’t attend the big grand opening gala they had. I understand Steve Wynn himself was there.  But my buddy Norm in Vegas was there and he sent me a pic from the first night, which I’ve already included in the post here. And I’m reposting it at the bottom of this post.

All I’d heard was how nice the new room was, so I was very eager to see it for myself.

It did not disappoint.  I can honestly tell you that I personally have never seen a nicer, more beautiful poker room in my life.   Seriously, it is freaking gorgeous.  In my t-shirt and jeans, I felt seriously underdressed.  It was so stunning, I felt like I should have been wearing a suit and tie to enter—if not a tuxedo. I think I would have gone back to the room and changed, but fortunately there were plenty of players there dressed a lot worse than me.  Ladies might feel like they should be wearing their best ball gowns to play.

The 28 tables are all comfortably spread out.  If you know the old room, you know that, though it was very nice, the tables were a little bit too crammed together in certain spots.  Not in the new room.  Plenty of room to walk between the tables.  The adjustable chairs are very comfortable too.

There’s a nice podium as you enter and a separate cashier cage in the back.  Sports betting degens will appreciate the fact that the room has its very own sports betting window.  And there’s approximately 346 TV’s around the room to watch games on. 

The poker room has its very own dedicated rest rooms.  I have to say, the Men’s Room was really something.  It was nicer than a few local poker rooms I’ve been in.  It was roomy enough to put a poker table in there and play in.  I didn’t see the Ladies Room (they wouldn’t let me in), but I have to assume it is even nicer.

There’s also a separate high-limit area, with its own entrance (but totally visible to the rest of the room) and dedicated floor person.

That came into play early during my visit.  After a brief wait, I was sent to a table. One of the other players at my game took a break, and when he came back, he asked everyone in general, “Does anyone here follow the NBA?”


I told him I do.

“Do you know the name of the point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder?”

I immediately responded, “Russell Westbrook?” 

He replied, “Yeah, that’s it.  I couldn’t think of his name.  Anyway, he’s in the high limit room playing 100/200 PLO.”

Oh really?  Apparently this guy’s buddy was playing in the room at an adjoining table (not nearly as big a game) and he went to see how he was doing and the buddy pointed out Westbrook to him.

Cool.  Westbrook, by the way, played his college ball at UCLA, my alma matter. 

I had to see for myself, so I took a break and wandered over there.  I didn’t go into the room, but I didn’t have to.  I could see him from a distance.  It was definitely Westbrook.  Unfortunately, all I really saw was his head.  Westbrook is famous for his rather unique fashion sense, and I later wondered if he was wearing something unique.

Now this took place just a few days after the NBA league office chose Cleveland as this year’s NBA champions (see here).  So basketball was fresh on my mind, and I also recalled that on their way back to Cleveland from Oakland the night they stole won the trophy, the Cavs stopped in Vegas and partied all night at one of the nightclubs at the Wynn.

I was trying to imagine what the hell a 100/200 PLO game could be like.  Man, I can’t even imagine the amount of money that must have been on that table (I didn’t get close enough to see).  My thought was, unless you are one of the best poker players in the world, you probably needed a max NBA contract to be able to play in it. 

Now, I was a bit apprehensive about actually playing at the Wynn.  My track record there is not very good.  Prior to this session, I had never had a winning session playing NLH there.  And because the game is 1/3,not 1/2, I buy in for $300, not $200 (with a backup $300 in my pocket).  The only time I ever won at Wynn was a long, long time ago, long before I kept records.  It was very early in my poker playing days, when I was still playing 2/4 limit.  Of course, I couldn’t play 2/4 there but back in those days (it may have been close to 10 years ago), they did always spread 4/8.  So I played 4/8, probably for the first time.  I just wanted to play at the Wynn at least once.  As it happened, I ran pretty good.  Only thing I really remember is that I had pocket Aces once and was too chicken to raise with them. Somehow I won with them (unimproved, I think, but am not sure).  The guy who paid me off complimented me for my brilliant strategy of slow-playing them.  I don’t recall how much, but I know I left with a profit that night.

With my more recent history at the room, I didn’t mind one bit that the table I was at was very nitty.  No aggros, very unlike any other time I’d ever played there.  It never cost more than $15 to see a flop; it can often cost $25-$30 to play.  I was pretty card dead, and was quite content to just sit down, enjoy the luxuriousness of the room, and wait for the occasional hand to play.

In the small blind I had 9-8 off.  I completed and the big blind made it $13.  There was a call so I called as well.  The flop was Queen-7-6, two clubs.  I checked/called $25 and it was heads up.  The turn was a lovely 5.  I bet $50 and the other player tanked and folded.

I called $10 in late position with Ace-Queen off, it was three-way.  The flop was Ace-Queen-4.  It checked to me, I bet $15, no call.

Ace-Queen again, one limper, I made it $15, one call.  The flop was Jack-high and a $20 c-bet took it.

I called $10 with pocket 3’s, and three of us saw a flop that had a 3 on it, and two clubs.  The raiser bet $20 and I decided to take a bit of a chance and just call, as did the third player. A third club hit the turn and I was not happy.  But this time it checked to me, so I put out $50 and didn’t get a call.

Note that I had two hands there where I called a raise to $10.  That’s a real small raise for the Wynn, and for a 1/3 game.   Nitty as I am, I’m going to open to $12 in 1/3.  And my experience at the Wynn, a $20-$25 opening raise is not unusual.

The set of 3’s was the last hand I made note of.  I had a small profit and felt I’d played long enough. So I decided to call it a night and break my long losing streak at the Wynn.  New room, new results.  Yeah, the $20 I was up wasn’t much, but it was my best result at this venue in years.  I was ok with that.

As it happens, a couple of my buddies from MGM had recently left there and word had gotten to me that they were both working at the Wynn.  I hadn’t seen either one of them that night.  But this was during the Wynn Classic, and that event was taking place in the old Wynn poker room, back at the Wynn.  So I took a walk over there to see if by chance either one of them was working there.

Walking through the promenade that connects the Encore and the Wynn, I noticed an attractive black woman coming in my direction.  She was wearing an open shirt—literally, an open shirt.  I think it was like a men’s shirt, not sure, but it was totally unbuttoned all the way down.  It exposed either a bra or a bikini top.  She had shorts on the bottom.  I was just starting to get a better look at her when I saw her give me a big smile and she said to me, “Hey baby.”

OK, I think I just figured out why she was there.  Pretty sure that was my first hooker sighting at the Wynn.  It was an odd outfit for a working girl, but I suppose she might have been working the pool. I think they have a beach nightclub there.  I just kept moving.

I didn’t see my friends in the old poker room, and walked back to the Encore.  Once there, I was passing by a high rollers type casino area (where the lady dealers dress in like cocktail dresses) and I noticed someone who looked familiar sitting there, on a couch I believe, talking on his cell phone.  Holy cow.  It was Steve Wynn himself.  Imagine that, Steve Wynn sitting in his own casino.  There was a big guy standing near him, and I think it may have been Wynn’s assistant or even a body guard.  He noticed me looking at Mr. Wynn and gave me one of those looks, as if to say, “Yeah, it’s Steve Wynn….don’t you dare come over to him.”  I beat a hasty retreat.

The Wynn has a bunch of nightclubs and at least one of them was open on this Wednesday night.  I of course had to go over there to see if there was a Slut Parade worth reporting on.  I only did that for you, my dear readers.  Well, there was a bit of a line, but it was a real slow night and I have nothing titillating to report.

So that’s my first experience with the gorgeous new Wynn poker room at the Encore.  It is really a must see-room, I certainly recommend you all check it out, even if you don't play there. Now, here’s a tease:  I returned to the Wynn before leaving town, and will have another post about that session somewhere down the road.  And it will be a fun post to write.


  1. Rob:

    I enjoyed the post - thanks for putting it up. I did have a question about how you played your set on that flush turn:

    "I called $10 with pocket 3’s, and three of us saw a flop that had a 3 on it, and two clubs. The raiser bet $20 and I decided to take a bit of a chance and just call, as did the third player. A third club hit the turn and I was not happy. But this time it checked to me, so I put out $50 and didn’t get a call."

    What was your intent in betting out that turn? It seems like the more standard play is to check, as you're only getting called by flushes, and MAYBE a naked A of clubs. It would be very difficult to call a raise there, as it would probably be in the $150 range and you would almost always be behind; so you're effectively chaseing off all worse hands and only getting called when you're beat, IMO. However, I could be way off...


    p.s. - no parking issues? ;-)

    1. Thanks, s.i. You make excellent points, I probably should have checked.

      My thinking though was that since preflop aggressor had checked, I didn't want to give a free card to someone with a single club. I wanted to charge them.

      No parking issues...no charge to park at Wynn (for now). And somehow, both Wynn & Encore parking garages are pretty close to the poker room.

  2. Great title.

    I can honestly tell you that I personally have never seen a nicer, more beautiful poker room in my life.

    The "old" one wasn't exactly chopped liver. For example, several years ago when I played there, it was the first one where they had phone chargers right at the table.

    1. Thanks, MOJO. No doubt the old room was nice. But it was a little too cramped in certain areas.

      And honestly, compared to the luxury of the new room, the old room looks like the Poker Palace! Just kidding...I wouldn't know, I've never set foot in the Poker Palace.

    2. Quick question Rob: have you ever played at the El Cortez when they had that little poker nook?

    3. Actually I did. ONCE. It was not longer after I started playing poker in Vegas. There were two games going, I played at the table where Jackie Gaughan was NOT playing. It was truly one of the worst poker games I've ever been in. Bad game (some kind of variation on limit) and just pathetic players, I was the youngest player at the table by at least 1,000 years.

  3. Room looks amazing but unfortunately they raised the rake when they opened the room and I haven't noticed an increase in business at all, even with the Venetian downsizing its room and getting less business than ever. And I haven't noticed the games getting any better with the increased rake (same with Venetian).

    I'm tempted to say the room would be doing much better if they kept the rake lower, but I also wonder how much the higher buy-ins chase people away. Personally I love the 1/3 game there but there used to be a time when I was intimidated by it and mostly stayed away from the room because of it.


    1. Thanks, Steve.....yes, the upped the rake when they moved, following Venetian's lead. Don't really know how much that has to do with the amount of business they are getting.

      Do you know of any room that is busier now than they were a year ago? I think they are all hurting, except when the WSOP comes around.

  4. A lot of recent/recently in the first two sentences :). I'll have to check it out next time I visit LV. Aria is my #1 LV PR. Nice write up, Rob.

    1. Thanks for your comment, xedx. As you may have recently noticed, I recently approved it for publication.