MGM Grand Card Room Review by AlbinoDragon Location: http://www.mgmgrand.com/gaming/poker-tables.aspx MGM Grand Hotel & Casino 3799 Las Vegas Boulevard, South Las Vegas, Nevada 89109 General (877) 880-0880, (702) 891-7777 Poker Room (702) 891-7434, (877) 757-0007 Games offered: 1-2 NL, 2-5 NL, 2-4 limit, 3-6 limit, 4-8 limit. $60 S&G NLHE (10 player) when list fills). Others by interest, incl. Omaha. Daily tournaments. Number of tables: 22 (each with 10 seats) Over the course of a little more than two days, I spent about 10 hours over four separate sessions at the Grand poker room. I had played at the Excalibur on a previous trip (when I was still getting my feet wet) and played there again for about two hours on my first night this trip. I knew I wanted to play somewhere different, but didn't feel confident enough in my game to go to the Bellagio or the Venetian. I had heard good things about the MGM and decided to give it a go. I liked it enough that I wound up spending the rest of my poker time there and thoroughly enjoyed it. Pros There is quite a bit of space in the room... the tables aren't crowded together, giving plenty of room to get to and fro or to just get up and stretch for a few. Fairly diligent drink service from fairly attractive ladies. It never hurts to have something easy on the eyes when the cards aren't. If you need a drink, just ask and the dealer will call them over. There is no bad beat, jackpot or wheel which means they only take the rake (10%, $4 max., at least at the 2-4 limit where I played). A non-smoking poker room and in an area that is not surrounded by a lot of smoking (the Centrifuge club is immediately to one side of the room and the sports book on the other side [not sure if the s.b. is non-smoking], but they are each blocked off by a large wall. There are non-smoking regular table games in the same immediate area). Computerized waiting list. There are several flat-screen TVs with the list on them making it easy to see where you stand on the list from either end of the room or even from the middle. I saw the little "pagers" you get at some restaurants behind the people maintaining the lists. I was never issued one and I suspect they are reserved for those playing at the higher limit tables or maybe even the sit-and-go's. Cons Over-padded tables (in my opinion). The padded area of the table sits probably 2/3 of an inch above the level of the marble racetrack. The number 6 seat suffers the most from this as it is right in front of the shuffling machine. At that seat, you are putting your bets onto a 1-inch wide area of felt over the line or onto the machine which is also sunken into the table 2/3 of an inch or so. The general proximity to the Centrifuge club. For the most part, I was able to ignore the music as just part of the background, but when the bar dancers get going, they turn the music up with plenty of bass. Not chip-rattling loud, but definitely louder than the normal din of the music and the area. If you're sensitive to it, it could get really bad for you. If you're in your happy place, you probably won't be bothered too much. My first day, I found it a bit distracting but by the second day, I didn't really notice it. If you aren't fond of rail-birds peering over your shoulder, there are four to six of the 22 tables in the room that are located close to the rail surrounding the two ends of the room. People on the rail looking in are no more than five or six feet from your back with nothing between you and them except the rail. If you're sensitive to people looking in on your game, these few tables may not be your favorite (I didn't sit at any of the tables in question, so I can't tell how bad it would be. These also seem to be either the tournament tables or the higher limit tables... probably to attract the eye of passers-by). Games/stakes available While there, I played exclusively the 2-4 limit games (what can I say, I'm a cheapskate). There were also 3-6 and 4-8 limit games always available, as well as 1-2 NL and 2-5 NL. There was a constant running "interest" list for the $60 NLHE sit-and-go they offer. The S&G would fill up and be run roughly once and hour, give or take, depending on the time of day. On Friday night, they made an interest call in Omaha, though I didn't notice if there was enough to open a table. The wait for all the open games I saw was not too terribly long. The most I waited for a 2-4 table was 5 minutes and most times was able to sit immediately. The longest wait was where there were 11 people on the list. I added my name and saw one other get added several minutes later at which time they opened a new 2-4 table. There are sufficient tables available that opening new tables is probably a frequent occurrence. Decor and atmosphere Much like the rest of the MGM Grand, they've stuck with the whole art-deco, Hollywood heyday appearance to the place, but more to make the poker room blend in with the remainder of the casino. The art-deco font on the signage leading to the room and the dark paneling all around and the bold, striped carpet through the room. Quite frankly, I didn't notice the decor much one way or the other. Essentially, it was pleasant enough and non-intrusive that I really didn't take special notice. There are quite a few flat panel TVs up around the room that are frequently showing various sporting events. A lot of basketball while I was there and an NFL playoff game as well (mid-January). A few of the TVs are used exclusively to display the computerized wait list for the room as well. Quality of opponents To preface this section, I'm not the best player in the world by any means, but I feel I'm able to hold my own in a group of regular but casual players. I'm too much of a cheapskate and I'm not confident enough in my game to sit at a NL cash table. That said, I do play in a $35 buy-in NHLE tournament at a local Indian casino pretty regularly and am in the black in nearly a year of playing in those. Hopefully, that gives an idea of where I'm coming from here. There were periods where I saw things get a little fishy, to my benefit. My last night, I sat down to the right of a grade-A calling station who proceeded to burn through a few hundred dollars in about 2 hours. When he'd win a pot, it was usually rather large because of the pot inflation he drove, but he was generally on a downhill streak. Another session (my first there actually) had a gentleman who would repeatedly go into his wallet for another $20 of chips from the dealer and did this steady for a few hours. Others had obvious enough tells or betting habits which told you to get out unless you had the nuts. A different occasion (an afternoon session) had some fairly solid players, and for the most part we managed to just pass around our money for a couple hours. I actually found this to be the session I had the most fun at, mostly because the people there were so much fun to play with. I nearly had to be dragged away from the table when my family was ready to head out for dinner. There was one case where I saw an early 20's co-ed come to the 2-4 table I was at and bought in for $200 (most people did no more than $100) and proceeded to act like she had no clue what she was doing, asking what the rake was all about, didn't get the betting structure, that she only played a NL game at home and wondered why we weren't playing that. After about 30 minutes, it was pretty obvious by the hands she won and generally being a big stack bully that she knew what she was doing and was eating up all the little fishies a the table. I left when I realized that she not only way outclassed me but many of the players at the table. I had already taken a bit of a hit from her and didn't want to donk off any more of my money to her. Chips This is ChipTalk after all, so, here's the lowdown. They are Paulson chips on the MGM Grand house mold with a smooth inlay. The only chips I ever saw in ring-game play while seated or being a rail-bird were the $1 and $5 chips. In my opinion, they are some of the prettiest chips on the strip. Sure, the Bellagio and Wynn chips are beautiful in an elegant way, but the boldness of the lion logo and the color match between the lion and the base chip color make for stunning chips. The chips I had were all in fairly good to darn near new condition. There was the expected wear and a bit of dirt from use (smoothed faces, rounded corners and dingy white edge spots) but they weren't all grungy. I actually saw one of the cashiers in the cage cleaning chips with a damp rag. This is pretty remarkable considering the comments from others here on the way chips at other casinos are treated. Sorry that I can't comment on the tournament chips as I didn't play in one. I did see them in use from the rail and it seemed to me that they were all very similar with no edge spots and darker, more muted colors. This lack of contrast from one chip to the next might be a possible problem when playing a tournament there, but without having seen them up close and in hand, I can't really tell. These are what the tournament chips look like. The inlays are the same, on all denominations. (Courtesy of Casino chips, poker chips, clay poker chips, poker chips for sale, playing cards, poker) Additional perks There really isn't much in the way of perks. As mentioned above, there is no bad-beat or jackpot at the Grand. They have a players club that earns you $1 in food from most of the restaurants there or even table-side delivery for every hour you play. I signed up for and got a card when I first sat down, but never used the comp while there. Apparently, there is a room rate, but I'm not certain as I wasn't staying there. Reviewers Comments I really liked the MGM Grand poker room. On a future visit to Vegas, I might get the gumption to play at one of the higher end rooms, but for a nice place to play that isn't too intimidating and has a nice variety of games going, it's hard to beat. I suspect with a more experience, my level of play could make this a fairly profitable room. I really liked the openness of the room and have been constantly comparing it to others I've come across. The MGM room is located in a pretty main thoroughfare through the casino (take the pedestrian overpass from New York, New York, go down the stairs and it is right there). On one end, it is possible to look out and see the Rainforest Cafe. Out the other end, you can see the lion habitat and the rest of the casino. The 2-4 tables I was at were all a couple tables in from the rail, and I really didn't notice the people walking past or watching. The evening my family had to tear me free to go eat, they told me they had been at the rail for 15 minutes trying to get my attention. One finally had to come in to get me. The only real noise there is the general din of the casino, but the poker room is far enough from slot machines that the constant beeping, honking and jangling isn't heard. If you are able or willing to disregard the music from the Centrifuge, you generally won't be bothered by that either. In summary, I really liked the MGM Grand. The level of play for me was just about perfect. Fishy at times to pad the bankroll, challenging enough at others to make play enjoyable and to my benefit in skill I was able to develop. I suspect those with more experience and skill might be able to do well there. It's comfortable, inviting and a really nice place to play without an air of exclusivity to it. My only regret was not having more time and not being able to take advantage of the mid-week tournaments they hold or to actually sign up for a sit-and-go.