The last four times I have played at the Stratosphere, I have taken a different set of poker buddies with me. Each time I get different opinions on the Stratosphere's poker room. I am going to let them 'write' this review for you because this is clearly a matter of personal opinion.
But first the facts. The Stratosphere is way up on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. It is the last casino property on the Strip proper; keep going north and you will hit the downtown properties on Casino Center Drive. The Stratosphere always — and I mean always — has great room rates and as everyone knows, players tend to play where they stay. The poker room in the Stratosphere is a mix of tourists staying on site, plus a good number of north-end locals. The mix of players covers a wide range, but I have observed that the locals are more rock-like than shark-like, so there are clearly winning opportunities when playing this room.
Where my poker buddies disagree is on the actual physical design and layout of the room. Imagine if you will, a small sports-betting set-up: a couple of dozen comfortable theatre-type seats arranged in front of the big tote board, a fairly familiar sight in many casinos. You expect the oversized odds boards, and right below it would be the betting windows, a common enough arrangement. However, at the Stratosphere the betting windows are off to the left and right under the big electronic board is a cave entrance (at least that is what some call it); it's a big opening to the poker room. Some of my buddies liked the room because it is indeed a room all to itself; others felt like they were playing in a cave boxed in by the loud sports bettors watching a game on the big screen. The room itself was recently redecorated and has new felts and comfortable chairs. The lighting is good; my only complaint was that sometimes the temperature was a bit warm.
Inside the grotto there are six tables spreading mostly $2/$4 limit and $1/$2 no-limit Hold'em. There is a monthly freeroll held on the first Monday of each month, qualifying standard is 40 hours of play in the prior month. There is also a high-hand jackpot; the Royal Flush was at $1,000 the last several times I played the Stratosphere.
Four identical tournaments are held everyday at 9am, 1pm, 8pm and midnight. $60 gets you a very generous 4,000 chips in a nice, easy structure. The tournaments often draw three or four tables with average competition. The locals really understand the structure, so pay attention and don't jump too early; patience is a virtue here.
There is a special WSOP Main Event Satellite coming up on Sunday, July 1st at 1pm. It's basically a $1,100 Single-Table Satellite that will win you a $10,000 seat into the 2007 No-Limit Hold'em World Championship, which begins on Friday, July 6th, 2007. Should there be more than ten players registered, they will payout second-place money and if they hit 20 players a second seat will be awarded. If they make it to three tables, the Eiffel Tower in front of the Paris casino will launch into orbit and the Bellagio Dancing Waters will go disco.
Stratosphere Casino Hotel
2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89104
General phone: 800-998-6937