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Weekend at the Wynn

It was a big weekend here in Las Vegas as the month of April drew to a close. Steve Wynn's new casino "Wynn" opened, and although there is still construction going on to the crosswalk over Las Vegas Blvd. from the corner of Sands Avenue, the property itself was ready for action.

The big weekend allowed most properties in town to charge their "higher" room rates, and a standard (but so nice!) room at the Wynn was $400+ for Friday. That's a bit pricey for me, but that's what a poker-rate is for. The poker room is very well appointed in a muted, off-white and brown, much like the Bellagio. The ceiling is very high, and the lighting excellent, with no "dark spots." A new "Wynn" red card, and six hours of play in the room brings the hotel room cost down to under $200. That's a nice deal for a poker player!

Down the Strip at the Bellagio, the room was packed, as usual, on Friday night. On Saturday, there was a $1060 buy-in NL Hold'em tournament, which attracted a decent field and paid about $25,000 for first. David Sklansky was almost smiling, even when he got bumped out of the tournament, and Puggy Pearson looked great. What's the point of mentioning them? My personal belief that the big games and players will not be trotting down to play poker at the Wynn.

The Bellagio already has an established room. It is semi-secluded from the rest of the casino, has a nice "upper-limit" room for the better games (plus the two-table, "Bobby's Room," for the big games). What is the attraction of the Wynn?

Well, the Wynn is a brand-new property, and if you taxi over there, have the driver drop you on the corner of Sands Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard (tell the driver to meet you at the front door). If you do this, you get to smell the grass and enjoy the bright flowers. As you approach the front drive, you see nothing but pine trees. The hill and the trees are so high you can't see the casino, and the smell is wonderful. In fact, when you walk in the doors, you don't walk into the casino. Instead, you enter an indoor garden.

Past the garden to the left, the poker room is less than 100 steps away. The room itself is beautiful, semi-secluded, and right across the hall from the Ferrari Store (for that jacket or hat you need), and Corsa Cucina (Italian Café), if you get hungry. Instead of a $9 sandwich at the Bellagio, I had a seared tuna steak that was delicious. It was $16.

Back in the poker room you will find 27 tables. It is a bit crowded together for my tastes, and I was disappointed the tables seemed so small. I was expecting more from Steve Wynn and his nearly $3 billion dollar property. The staff is attentive, and outgoing, and there are plenty of flat screen's to check the day's sports, or see what poker games are offered. There is also a small "upper-limit" room like the Bellagio's, but how high will the games go? On Saturday there was a $75-$150 Omaha game, and I'm sure they will have some other games in this range as the room develops.

Las Vegas is finding it more and more difficult to fill poker-dealer positions. Strangely enough, none of the dealers have name tags, but I recognized Michelle and Dave, and maybe a few other smiling faces from Canterbury Park in Minnesota. It appears that now, Vegas is importing dealers. Interesting.

I think the room will do well, and I'm sure the addition of Daniel Negreanu as a spokesman and host, will help, but can he get any of the high-limit players over to the new room? Maybe, maybe not, but that probably wasn't Steve Wynn's goal, either.

Coincidentally, Daniel chose today to issue an open challenge to all players. He announced that he was willing to play anybody in a heads-up, freeze-out match, for stakes ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. And, he offered to play from a list of nine different games and limits. The guys is both confident, and well-bankrolled! I wish both Daniel, and the new Wynn poker room the best of luck. It would appear they both have their work cut out for them

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