Say la vie to the Mirage poker room in Las Vegas

Mirage poker room Vegas
Jon Sofen
Posted on: August 29, 2020 17:32 PDT

The Mirage poker room is one of the most iconic places to play poker. But the Las Vegas card room won't reopen when the hotel casino returns to action this week. Instead, it's already been transformed into a smoke-free slot machine room.

Mirage isn't the first Las Vegas poker room to bite the dust due to COVID-19. Binion's, the original home of the World Series of Poker, removed its poker tables back in June. Harrah's also recently decided to say goodbye to its seven-table card room.

The global health pandemic has led to a decrease in Las Vegas tourism. Additionally, many locals are avoiding the casinos and playing poker online instead of at the casino. Decreased demand has forced many of the casinos to discontinue poker, a game that brings in far less revenue than slots or table games, at least until tourism rises from the ashes.

The poker room at Mirage, prior to its closure, is a shell of its old self. But it's still an iconic room and plays an important role in poker's history. Back in the 1990s, most of the biggest games in town took place inside the Mirage poker room. Pros such as Daniel Negreanu got their start as pros playing at Mirage.

That all changed in the 2000s when Bellagio opened Bobby's Room, a small high-stakes room inside the main poker room named after 1978 WSOP Main Event champ Bobby Baldwin. All the high rollers who previously played at Mirage then shifted over to Bellagio and still play there to this day.

But Mirage remained open and was still a popular card room among low-stakes grinders and recreational-playing tourists. During the summer when the WSOP was in town, you'd find some higher stakes games, reaching the $10/$20 limits and occasionally even higher.

The once prominent poker room is now a slot machine area for non-smokers. MGM Resorts reopened the Las Vegas Strip property this week and decided poker is no longer profitable in today's climate. But they haven't ruled out bringing back the Mirage poker room in the future, after the pandemic passes and tourism in Sin City returns to normalcy.

Many Vegas card rooms remain closed

Live poker returned to Las Vegas on June 4, along with the casinos, for the first time since mid-March. But only four poker rooms opened their doors during reopening weekend — Venetian, South Point, Golden Nugget, and Orleans. The other 27 card rooms in town remained closed.

Things have changed drastically over the past couple of months, as 10 more poker rooms have reopened. That includes popular rooms such as Bellagio, Aria, Caesars Palace, and Red Rock. Still, 17 of the rooms that were open pre-coronavirus haven't come back into play. Three of those — Mirage, Harrah's, and Binion's — have already decided to permanently close.

Wynn remains the most popular poker room in Las Vegas that hasn't yet reopened. We're all still waiting to get word from the casino on when the modern card room will return to action.