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Poker Room Review: Riviera, Las Vegas

The Riviera Hotel and Casino is on 'that end' of the Las Vegas Strip. Meaning way up there to the north with Circus Circus and the Stratosphere, up there where they have already blown up the Stardust and are going to demolish the New Frontier. Already the Wynn is expanding north and there other big plans on the drawing board for this neglected portion of the famed Strip. However, don't let this 'down and out' façade make you believe that there isn't some poker to be played at the Riviera.

The Riviera may be one of the older casinos (1955) but it has been refurbished and kept up to date. Despite the current bidding war* for the property, the poker room remains an interesting and profitable choice for the capable low-limit player. The seven-table room sits right out in the casino but does not feel hemmed in by neighboring slots or table games. In fact, the entire Riviera casino has one of the roomiest, most open floor plans in town.

What makes this poker room interesting is the mix of players. Every time I have visited, many of the players know each other, but they are not locals. It seems that a hardcore group of hotel guests simply come to the Riviera because they want to play a lot of poker during their stay. They know each other from playing at the same tables over the last several days. I call this the 'tourist-regular phenomenon' and it is nowhere more obvious in Las Vegas than at the Riviera.

The games themselves are a bit soft. The room spreads $2/$4 limit and a very lively $1/$2 No-Limit game. Each of my previous visits found recent High Hand Jackpot winners of $500 moving from the limit to the no-limit table and, quite frankly, spreading their jackpot winnings around. There are usually several beginning players in the no-limit game, as well as a few 'formula' players who are just downright easy to read. Yes, each of my 'review' visits to the Riviera has been rewarding.

The High Hand Jackpots are paid for all four-of-a-kinds and all straight flushes, AKQJT down to 5432A. On every occasion I have been in the Riviera poker room at least eight of these HH jackpots were spiked at the room's $500 cap, awaiting a winner.

A brand new tournament schedule begins June 1st at the Riviera. Every day at 10am there will be a $44 + $3 add-on NLHE event. Sunday through Friday, the room will offer two more tournaments, at 1pm and 8pm. All events are NLHE and they all will have the same $47 buy-in. The Riviera is clearly trying to keep some of the players who play their ring games but then cash out and walk over to the Sahara for the long-running tournaments there.

One tip on parking. If you self-park in the rear lot, it's a long walk through the convention space to the casino; however, the underground valet brings you up via escalator or elevator right into the casino, just a few steps from the poker room.

Riviera Hotel and Casino

2901 Las Vegas Blvd., South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

(*Current bidding war for the Riviera. Over the last few months, two rival groups have been making escalating bids for Riviera Holdings Corp. The initial bids seemed more like speculation. Then, on May 10th, 2007, a bid of $30 a share came in from the same group that is developing the Cosmopolitan project next to Bellagio.
On May 17th, Riviera Acquisition, the current owners of 20% of Riviera stock, upped their bid to $34 per share ($423.6 million) for the 26.36-acre property, or about $16 million per acre.
The New Frontier, just down the Strip from the Riviera, sold for a whopping $33 million per acre recently, so the bidding for the Riviera is clearly not done yet.)

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