Live poker in Vegas consolidates around remaining poker rooms as Planet Hollywood mothballs its tables

Jon Pill
Posted on: July 01, 2021 16:14 PDT

The poker room at Planet Hollywood's Las Vegas location, will be closing down on July 11, 2021, according to Vital Vegas. The Vital Vegas Twitter account announced the closure as a rumor. But their speculation was quickly confirmed by several other sources.

Vital Vegas originally wrote: "Told reliably Planet Hollywood’s poker room closes July 11." Shortly afterward, confirmation came in from Chris Mudd who used to work the poker room. "Yep I work there," Mudd wrote. "I mean used to work there. CLOSED."

Planet Hollywood is owned by Caesars Entertainment, which also owns the WSOP, Caesars Palace, the Flamingo, and Harrah's. It also has temporary deals/ownership of the Rio and Bally's Las Vegas. Both of these properties will be moving away from the Caesars brand over the next year or so.

Closing the PH poker room may represent a move similar to MGM's closure of several poker rooms earlier this year. In MGM's case, the goal appeared to be consolidation around a few big poker rooms, rather than running multiple smaller venues.

Poker rooms consolidate

The closure marks yet another in the long list of Vegas poker rooms that have been shut down. These include classic rooms like the poker room at the Mirage. Back in March, the MGM announced it would not be reopening the Mirage's poker room. The Mirage's poker room closed along with the rest of the site, when Nevada went into COVID lockdown last year. It has re-emerged as a bank of slot machines.

MGM, which owns the Mirage, also shut down its poker rooms at Mandalay Bay and The Excalibur. This shifts MGM's poker center entirely to the impressive room at the Bellagio, and indirectly to the Aria in the MGM-part-owned CityCenter complex on the strip.

According to Bill Boudreau, a Canadian poker-player, the reason for the poker room's closure is that management is looking to "go in a different direction."

Poker is often a loss-leader for casinos. It's a good game for luring punters, but the rake on a poker game is usually much lower than the vig on fast-moving blackjack tables or roulette wheels at the same stakes.

COVID has permanently closed 26 of Vegas's poker rooms. Another 11 are yet to reopen. This makes indirect measurement of the poker economy's health difficult.

The numbers at events like the Wynn Millions and Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open seemed to suggest a post-COVID poker boom. However, this may be more reflective of a kind of concentration rather than expansion. As poker rooms close, those that remain will do better. Players have got to play somewhere, after all. But the shift throws into doubt some of the optimism that has shone on the poker community in the last few months.

Record turnout at an event means a lot less if the competition is a shuttered door and a "closed for business" sign.

Featured image source: Flickr by milomingo