Poker Room Review: Sahara, Las Vegas
It seems like in every review I have written recently I have had to say something about new rooms or new tables or future plans for new rooms or tables or flocked wall paper. Not so for the Sahara. It's the same old room with the same great tournaments. Yes you can play low limit cash games at the Sahara but probably the game will go down when the next tournament begins and will restart after the first few bust outs. Sahara simply has the best middle buy-in, good structure tournament schedule in Las Vegas.
The tournaments go off each day at 11 AM, 7 PM and 11 PM. They are, of course, No-Limit Hold'em tournaments with a $42 buy-in and one $20 rebuy. Easily 95% of the players make the rebuy, so for all intents and purposes this is a $62 event. The morning event draws 5 or 6 tables during the week and more on the weekend. The evening events regularly fill the entire 15 table room with an alternate list on the weekends. The initial $42 gets you 3,000 chips; the rebuy is another 2,000 and with blinds starting at 25/25 and 20 minute rounds, you get a lot of play in the Sahara events. You just don't find many buy-ins of this size with 200X the big blind in chips.
The mix of players is what makes playing at the Sahara so interesting. In a typical tournament you will find players unable to follow the action or know when it is their turn to act. Sitting next to them are the internet hat&sunglasses boys with a little knowledge and a lot of gamble. But you will also find veteran tournament grinders at the Sahara playing everyday and cashing their fair share plus some. Finally, the dealers around town love to play the Sahara events and generally make a solid 5%-10% of the evening fields.
Several professionals have told me they learned their chops at the Sahara playing the same type of events they run today. The reason this is such good room to practice is because of the mixture of players who show up at the tables here. The tournament scene now is saturated with mixed fields, players of all skill levels and all types of game. Rock, maniac, tight-aggressive, fish and fowl fill the seats in all of the major events. If you want to face those fields and come out ahead, you should practice with similar players in smaller buy-in events and that is exactly what the Sahara offers three times a day, everyday.
One important additional note, which is true every night but particularly true on Friday and Saturday night; the cocktail servers work very hard at the Sahara, which means that certain players get looser and looser as the night goes on. In addition, as the 7 PM tournament breaks down, busted players will buy-in to the 11 PM event and then take seats in the low limit cash games to wait it out. On any given night there are probably 50 players who play both of the evening events and many who drink steadily through the entire evening. The biggest tell in the Sahara poker room is the resounding call of "Cocktails!"
In case you haven't figured this out yet, I really like the tournament play at Sahara. The room is not fancy, the carpet is not new but it is a real poker room with all the necessary characters and action.