Friday Night Poker in Downtown - Binion's, the Plaza and the Golden Nugget
Downtown Las Vegas on a Friday night, you got your Fremont Street Experience light show, you got deep fried Twinkies, and you have a choice of poker rooms. Yes, you not only can pick your game but you can do so at three very interesting and very different rooms. Plus on a Friday night in downtown Las Vegas, you are going to find a lot of action and a lot of downtown fish ready to bite on backdoor flush draws and play three outers to the river.
Let's start just across the street from the downtown boardwalk at the Plaza. The 7 PM NLHE tournament is down to four tables and there are a couple of limit and several no limit cash games going. Several cocktail waitresses are working the room; at the Plaza they understand what fuels the Friday night poker experience. The room is brighter and cleaner then it has been in past years but I will come back to the Plaza later tonight for one of my favorite tournaments.
Over on Fremont Street, past the most famous deli line in Las Vegas at the Golden Gate, we find ourselves at the brand new, completely remodeled poker room in the Golden Nugget. This is not the old dark room or yester-years nor are we under the tent that was the temporary room for most of the past year. The Golden Nugget has been undergoing its first major face lift in over 20 years (be sure to see the new pool) and the poker room is all new. Tonight there is a full stock of limit and no limit action. The 7 PM tournament is down to two tables and they seem to be a bit tighter than over at the Plaza. The Plaza event totals out at $70 with the rebuy for 4,600 chips, here at the Golden Nugget its $105 for 5,000 chips with a slightly slower structure and a few more rocks.
Tonight the Nugget has a small band of buddies playing the event (with a big bunch already on the rail); there are also a fair number of local regulars who play both the cash games and the tournaments at the Golden Nugget, this is becoming a prime downtown location. The rooms at the Nugget and Binion's feed off of each other because not 50 yards across the promenade of Fremont Street is the famed poker room at Binion's. I see many of the same local faces in both rooms.
This Friday night Binion's is full of the regular mix of locals, tourists and poker travelers coming to play at the "Home of Poker." There is a $60 tournament in swing at Binion's and the final three tables of today's $330 Ultimate Poker Challenge event. The regular $2/$4 and $4/$8 limit tables are hopping and there are several No Limit cash games in play. A $10/$20 Hold'em table is just starting up and there is a crowd of either conventioneers or Irish hurling fans checking into the hotel. Binion's front desk is only 20 feet from the poker room, I have suggested in the past that they convert a Keno runner to a poker runner and just sign up the guests as they register for their hotel rooms. But no need tonight, the new arrivals have spotted the felt and are getting ready to descend on the 10pm tournament. Perhaps a little cash game for me.
I promised to go back to the Plaza and I do that just before midnight because midnight at the Plaza is one of my favorite places to be in Las Vegas. Yes, there is a tournament each night at the witching hour at the Plaza and yes, this was the first tournament I ever won outright. No chop, no deals, give me the cash. The only late night tournament downtown and tonight there will be seven tables to begin play. If you give the Plaza midnight a go, remember—the event starts at midnight, which means you have to be awake at 12 and still able to check raise at 3:30am. No problem? Then come downtown on a Friday night and enjoy the poker at Binion's, the Golden Nugget and the Plaza. And don't forget the deep fried Twinkies.
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