I drove down from Las Vegas to Laughlin, Nevada a while back, looking to explore poker rooms a typical tourist might not normally visit. Before checking into my hotel room at one of the six hotel-casinos located right in the heart of Laughlin, I decided to further explore the region. I headed down the road into the desert. I discovered, about five miles out of Laughlin, what I can only describe as an oasis in the desert – the Avi Resort and Casino.
Unlike the other casinos in the Laughlin area, Avi is run by an Indian tribe, the Mohave. They have created a truly magnificent place, well worth the short drive from Laughlin, and maybe even worthy of a special trip from wherever you may be.
The enormous resort casino complex is set back nearly two miles from the main road. My anticipation grew as I drove on the unimpressive, long, and serpentine driveway. It was rewarded with a beautifully appointed casino, hotel, RV park, convention center, pool area, and 18-hole golf course. The poker room, though not huge, was impressive as well, worth the ten miles or so of driving from Laughlin to get there and back.
There are seven tables, two of which were going when I arrived on a typically slow Monday night. Four were going later in the week on a Thursday afternoon when I called back. The standard game is $2-6 spread-limit hold'em. It is played with a single $2 blind. More often than not, they have at least one table spread with a full kill, bringing the game to $4-12 spread-limit. On weekends they usually get at least one table of $1-2 no-limit hold'em, with a minimum $100 buy-in and no maximum buy-in. When it's busy, they'll spread a $2-5 limit game with the same $100 minimum. They never get stud, but they do get stud-8 maybe once a year and an Omaha-8 game from time to time.
The pot is reasonably raked at ten percent with a maximum of $3. There is also an unusually aggressive high-hand bonus rake. They take $1 out of the pot at $10 and another $1 out at $30. This funds the many high-hand, aces-cracked, kings-cracked, and other promotions they have from time to time. When I was there, they were paying anywhere from $100 to $1,000 for the progressive straight flush bonus and $34 to $2,064 for the royal flush bonus.
The tables appeared relatively new and the chairs are moderately comfortable but nothing fancy, without wheels or height adjustments. The room was done up in vintage Indian motif, with stucco-looking walls adorned with sunset and lake photos. The carpeting was a pattern of somewhat abstract pyramids. The whole effect was of a vaguely southwestern design. I found it pleasant and unobtrusive. The room is non-smoking.
There are daily no-limit hold'em tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $25 to $35 depending on the day of the week. Players start with 3,000 in tournament chips. They run a couple to three hours.
In the $2-6 hold'em game I was in, there were two good, serious, tight-aggressive players and four very weak and passive players who were just along for the ride. One other player had never played in a casino before and asked folks to help him as he tried to follow the action and figure out what to do. Some of the players groaned and some were genuinely helpful, without playing his hand for him. After talking with the floor and the players, I'd say that the ratio of local regulars to tourists was roughly two-to-one. In my estimation the ratio of good players to bad players was about the opposite: one-to-two. This was definitely a profitable poker room for the good player.
The accommodations are excellent and very modestly priced. Rooms are now going for $49 a night on Friday and Saturday and $21 on weeknights. There are some very nice restaurants as well. I looked at the menu for their highly-touted steak house, Moon Shadow. It had excellent reviews from a few of the poker players I spoke with. Prices were in the $20 range for a steak. I'm not one to spend a lot when I am on a poker playing trip, but I might be tempted to eat there the next time I visit.
I talk with poker players who visit the Laughlin area from time to time. No one ever mentions this place. I figure that few tourists venture outside of Laughlin. That's a shame, really. I'd certainly put the Avi Casino and Resort on my itinerary for the next time I'm in the area. And I'm planning on making the drive down to Laughlin the next time I'm in Las Vegas, just to stay and play poker here for a night or two.
Avi Resort and Casino
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