Harrah's has a perfectly serviceable room. The chairs are not uncomfortable, though very basic. The tables are in moderately good shape but not very attractive. There are big TV screens on the wall but they're not the latest models. Everything is certainly good enough for a place designed for poker. But it's nothing remarkable.
They spread $1/2 no-limit and $3/6 limit. They say that they also spread $2/5 no-limit but I did not find a game the three times I was by. Their rake is 10%, $4 maximum. They take out another $1 for the bad-beat and high-hand jackpots. High-hand jackpots ranged from $50 to $599 for different categories of quads, straight flushes, and royal flushes. If your four sevens are beaten and you and your opponent are using both of your hole cards the bad-beat jackpot kicks in. It was at $123,000 when I was there.
There are four no-limit tourneys a day: a $50 with a $40 add-on at 11:00 AM and 11:30 PM, and a $100 freezeout (no rebuy or add-on offered) at 3:30 PM and 7:30 PM. They seem to give relatively good play, with 20-minute and 15-minute blinds, $3,000 in tournament chips to start, and blinds starting at $25/50. Tourneys change regularly, however, so make sure to call the room before going over.
The room offers free drinks and "room service" for those wishing to eat at the table. The waitress service was slow; the waitress friendly and inattentive.
I was there Sunday at noon. There were three games going plus a "Jackpot" freeroll tournament taking up five tables. The tournament was for players who had completed forty hours of live-action poker play in one month or who had two daily tourney wins during the month of June.
There were a total of ten tables in the room. The players were all relatively sedate. The floor person and the brush were unfriendly, not eager to help me get a seat in a game or answer my questions about the structure of the game or the room itself. They seemed to think that they were doing me a favor by talking with me. Perhaps they were too busy to spend a few minutes talking.
The dealers were similarly unfriendly. What is it about Harrahs' rooms? I've found this lack of enthusiasm and friendliness in many of their properties. It's not that they are hostile, but they seemed unduly somber and unsmiling – as if they were worried about making a mistake. They were competent dealers to be sure; I did not witness a mistake in the few hours I played. But they sure weren't friendly.
They were also keen rule enforcers. "No reading at the table, sir," one said – though I wasn't slowing the game and was reading one of the free poker magazines they dispense. "Do you mind if I read the tournament listing on the wall?" I asked with a smile, and trying to make light of the rules. "Floor!" the dealer called, turning me in, no doubt, as a troublemaker. "OK. OK. I give up!" I said with a smile – and stopped my kidding.
I spoke with a couple of the regulars at the table, who witnessed the exchange. They agreed that the staff wasn't very friendly or fun. "They run a tight ship here," one player noted, sharing my disappointment in the rigid rule enforcement. "I like that they don't allow any funny business," another player added – clearly not appreciating my failed attempts at levity.
The players agreed that nearly everyone in the room was a regular. It seemed so to me, though of course I couldn't be sure, not knowing the locals from the tourists. It's not the sort of room that I'd go back to – absent some incredible promotion. Currently, there are no comps of any kind for players.
When I play poker I prefer a room of relaxed, happy players and smiling, courteous staff. Harrah's isn't the place for that. But if you like your poker serious, quiet, and well behaved, this might be the room for you.
Harrah's Las Vegas
3475 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109