The poker options in and around Detroit have been changing the last year or so and will continue to change for the next two years as each of three major casinos in Detroit build there new permanent hotel and gaming facilities. Back in the late 90s when the three Detroit based casinos first opened there was a stipulation in their State charters that they would have their permanent facilities with hotels and convention amenities fully operational within five years. Well that time frame has come and gone but finally the three big projects are underway and poker will be affected.
There are currently three choices for live poker in Metro Detroit. Greektown Casino, Motor City Casino and across the river is Casino Windsor. As of this time the third Detroit based casino, the MGM, does not have plans to add a poker room. Although I was told that "the addition of the MGM Hotel and Convention structures may dictate changes in those plans going forward."
Greektown was the first legitimate, public poker room in Metro Detroit and has undergone one major expansion since it opened. It is a large, two room arrangement with more non-smoking area than smoking. For nearly two years, Greektown was literally the only game in town. While it continues to be the largest poker room, it also continues to be the icon for Detroit poker management and that is not a compliment. From day one it was clear that the Greektown poker room would be run on a shoestring with surly staff and no comps. Nothing has changed. The games start at $5/$10 and the waits on weekends can be as long as three hours. When you are the only game in town you can get away with this and Greektown did exactly that for nearly two years. I really do not like the poker room there but out of necessity, I have played there often and found most suggestions and comments to floor staff to fall on deaf (and clearly overworked) ears.
One would guess another case of poor management, not necessarily poor staff.
Greektown does have a nice tournament schedule with events each day at 10 AM. Monday thru Thursday it's a $125 buy-in and Friday, Saturday and Sunday it's a $65 tournament. There is also a Wednesday 7 PM tournament also $65 buy-in. I have to admit that the tournaments run smoothly and that floor decisions though conservative are consistent.
Motor City Casino
The second room to open in Detroit was at Motor City and in my opinion the MC Cardroom is in many ways an improvement over Greektown when the two are compared side-by-side. Motor City is a bit smaller and a bit more cramped but the arrangement of the brush desk is both well thought out and electronic. Waits are no shorter here on the weekends but the process is more efficient and the staff more friendly and seemingly less overworked.
The big games in town took very little time switching from Greektown to Motor City and they have been there ever since. As you might expect the "Big" game is the No Limit 300 minimum, no maximum buy-in game, which is really a tough game full of regulars all circling and waiting for the occasional fish. The next step down is the $50/$200 No Limit game, which is surprisingly much softer than the "Big" game, much softer. On the weekends there can be several of these games going. During the week, even with long lists, the wait is generally less than half an hour. Again comps are nearly non-existent and as the cardroom is on the non-smoking third floor of the casino, it's an escalator ride for your nicotine fix.
The very plush Casino Windsor was open years before the Detroit casinos but did not have a poker room until early in 2005. Everyone will tell you that service and staff at Casino Windsor are friendlier and of a better class as far as customer service and training. It's just flat out a friendlier place to gamble and enjoy an evening or a weekend.
However, since 9/11, the border crossing at the Ambassador Bridge and/or the Detroit-Windsor tunnel can be an issue. I have been to Casino Windsor about half a dozen times and only had one bad border experience but that added nearly an hour to the trip, which on most days is less than 15 minutes from downtown Detroit to Casino Windsor.
The "Poker Place" at the Windsor Casino is a large, comfortable and friendly room. They offer a 10 AM tournament Monday thru Friday. The buy-in is $100 on Monday and Friday and $50 mid-week; these tournaments are limited to 60 players. The last Friday of the month is a $550 NLHE tournament, which is a ten table event. The Poker Place also spreads a lot of $1/$2 NLHE tables, particularly on the weekends. In Canada the gambling and drinking age is 18 and well I think you see the picture forming here. I would not recommend the Poker Place on a weekend night unless these conditions meet your poker playing needs and tolerance.
Another item to remember, the Canadian dollar is about a 20% discount to the American greenback; so the $5/$10CD game is actually a $4/$8 game in US dollars. No big deal but I cannot tell you how many times I have heard players make a crying call with the line: "Well it's only an eighty cent dollar."
There is one more reason to travel across the Detroit River to Casino Windsor. As of September 1st there is sports betting in the new 170 seat sports lounge. Being that Michigan, Ohio and Indiana have no legal sports betting outlets, the addition of sports betting at Casino Windsor has already been a boost to the tables in the Poker Place. The weekends (football) have been most effected but the addition of sports betting will draw more and more players to Casino Windsor and the friendly and knowledgeable poker room staff will likely keep them there.
Ed Note: No reason to go to Detroit when you can play in your living room at Titan Poker