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Poker Room Review: The MGM Grand in Las Vegas

The poker room at the MGM Grand is perhaps the best example of the arena style of room layouts. By arena I mean a poker room that is actually out in the middle of the casino. Unlike the secluded poker room of say South Point or Monte Carlo casinos, the MGM room is surrounded by the Sports Book, the strolling tourists, set back slot machines and the suspended Centrifuge bar hangs, which looms over the poker tables like some kind of Close Encounter. You can watch the MGM lions from many of the tables. This openness is the reason there are players who do not like playing in arena rooms.

If you want a secluded room or a very quiet room then the MGM is not for you. While I am not a big fan of the wide opened architecture of most arena set-ups, at the MGM Grand it definitely works. The tourists are able to approach the room but not the tables; elegant iron and wood rails keep the gawkers well back from the action. The music that thumps from the Centrifuge Lounge is not intrusive at all and there are no slot machines within noise range of the room. The room is non-smoking, of course, and the smoking railbirds are often asked to step back if they are anywhere near an occupied table.

There are a total of 22 tables in the room but because of the semi-circular floor arrangement you seldom see even half of the players and tables from your seat. The room is extremely large; in fact they easily could have put 30 tables into the space where they have only 22. There is never a problem getting to or from your table. Service is all electronic at the MGM, you check in with your player card, you are logged in at your table and the empty seats are filled efficiently. Many rooms have gone to this electronic system but at the MGM they actually use it to its highest and best operating level for the player's benefit.

Cocktail service is fast and efficient and there is daily tableside massage service performed by licensed massage therapists. They will spread all games and on the weekends you can usually find Omaha and even a mixed game to compliment the limit and no-limit hold'em.

Speaking of weekends, you should remember that the MGM Grand caters to the young, hip, LA crowd and those tourists who like to be seen and be with that crowd. These are the players that inhabit the poker room particularly on the weekends. There is by comparison a high level of recreational alcohol consumption at the MGM tables and corresponding play nearly always follows. Yes, the MGM is a great place to play poker nearly every day but definitely on the weekend.

No limit hold'em tournaments are run Sunday through Friday with two-a-day Monday through Thursday. The daytime event goes off at 11 AM; it is a $65 buy-in with 2,000 chips and a nice structure. The daytime event runs Monday through Friday. The evening tournament is run Sunday through Thursday; it begins at 6 PM with 3,000 in chips and the same very generous structure. The evening buy-in is $125. Although the tournaments are advertised as being limited to 6 tables with alternates; they will often add tables to the events if the room is not full. The tournaments run very smoothly at the MGM as does the entire poker room operation.

Ed Note: Do you own a Mac? US Based? You can still play poker online anytime you want at Full Tilt

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