Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay poker room returns for first time since pandemic

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 07/21/2021

At long last, the Mandalay Bay poker room in Las Vegas will soon reopen for the first time since March 2020. The MGM Resorts casino will bring back its card room August 1.

Plans to reopen the poker room have apparently been in the works for weeks. On June 3, local blogger John Mehaffey shared photos of poker tables set up inside the space formerly used for poker. Prior to that date, the poker tables were absent of poker tables during the pandemic.

“The Mandalay Bay poker tables reappeared but it is still closed. The Excalibur poker room is still an empty ‘slot tournament area.,” Mehaffey wrote.

Is it a big deal?

Excalibur, MGM Resorts’ lowest-end property, still hasn’t announced plans to bring back poker. The old poker room space remains empty. Mandalay Bay, the southern-most casino on the Las Vegas Strip, however, is just days away from welcoming back the poker community.

When Mandalay’s card room returns August 1, Las Vegas will be back up to 21 open poker rooms. Planet Hollywood, a Caesars Entertainment property, pulled the plug on its poker room earlier this month less than six months after reopening. Resorts World, the newest Las Vegas casino, opened its poker room to the public last month.

As for Mandalay, the poker room should be a nice addition to the city for low-stakes players who prefer the smaller card rooms. Many of the smaller rooms that attract recreational players, such as Harrah’s and The Strat, haven’t reopened since the pandemic. Mandalay’s poker room previously had just eight tables.

According to reports, the casino will only use three tables at a time for the time being. And the room will only be open Thursday to Sunday from 3 pm to 11 pm initially. That could all change if demand increases. Mandalay’s poker room, albeit a comfortable and clean place to play poker, has never been among the top poker rooms in Las Vegas. It’s mostly a spot for low-stakes recreational players. Games spread typically include $1/$3 no-limit hold’em and under-$100 daily tournaments, with the occasional $2/$5 NLH game.

Plans halted?

On Tuesday, the Clark County Commission unanimously voted to reinstate the face mask mandate for employees at every Las Vegas business. As of Wednesday morning, the masks were back on inside poker rooms, casinos, restaurants, and all other businesses.

Rumors are also swirling around town that additional COVID-19 restrictions could return as the Delta variant continues to spread at an alarming rate. If social distancing guidelines and face mask mandates return full steam, smaller poker rooms such as Mandalay Bay could decide to close back up until the restrictions are lifted.

The poker rooms that only have a few tables aren’t very profitable and don’t make the casino enough money to justify being open during a pandemic. That is why card rooms such as Harrah’s and Mandalay Bay have remained closed. Mandalay Bay’s poker room is just now reopening after most COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. If those restrictions return in the coming weeks, MGM could pull the plug on the poker room shortly after it reopened.

Featured image source: Flickr