Poker room closures: Bally’s for WSOP, Flamingo permanently?

Kat Martin
Published by:
Posted on 09/22/2021

As part of their struggle to staff this year’s WSOP, Caesars Entertainment was contemplating closing some of its poker rooms during the series, as Poker.org previously reported. Dealers and floor staff at Bally’s, Flamingo and Caesars Palace were advised closure was possible, and that they would be offered WSOP positions at the Rio.

Official word on the matter was released by the rooms involved via the Bravo app today. Both Bally’s and Flamingo independently posted that the rooms would be closed for the duration of the WSOP, and invited patrons to satisfy their poker needs at Caesars Palace and the WSOP at Rio.

A massive rake sacrifice

When rumors of this move first began circulating, many players and poker room staff  members were skeptical. All rooms during the WSOP are packed with customers. Both Flamingo and Bally’s, for example, traditionally set up overflow areas beyond the rails of their poker rooms to accommodate more tables.

By closing these two rooms, Caesars Entertainment will be giving up at least $5,000/hour in generated rake, according to an industry insider interviewed by Poker.org on condition of anonymity. While several million dollars in gross earnings over the course of the WSOP series may be small potatoes for an entity the size of Caesars, it is nonetheless unusual for any poker room to voluntarily relinquish profits during its busiest season.

It seems Ceasars has been compelled to rob Peter to pay Paul in order to staff the WSOP. In doing so, they may be exacerbating an already frustrating situation for Las Vegas cash-game players. Wait lists for games during the series have stood at two hours and up in recent years. The removal of over fifty tables is going to make the situation much worse.

Flamingo poker room closing permanently?

In reviewing the statements issued by Bally’s and Flamingo on their respective closures, one important detail leaps out. The Bally’s statement concludes with the following:

“The Bally’s Poker Room will reopen everyday starting November 26th.”

No such reopening date is explicitly appended to the statement posted by the Flamingo. Given that such postings are approved at a managerial level above the individual rooms, it’s unlikely this omission is a simple mistake. And while it doesn’t guarantee that September 26 is the end of the line for Flamingo poker, it clearly gives Caesars the leeway to close the room permanently.

Many Las Vegas locals have a fondness for the Flamingo poker room, if only out of nostalgia and sentimentality. The room is well run and has a loyal player base, along with good low-stakes action at weekends. Unfortunately, the room has some severe physical limitations. Some seats are basically inaccessible to anyone carrying an extra twenty pounds, and the proximity to slot machines played by wheezing chain smokers makes for poor air quality.

There has been speculation for some time that the Flamingo needed either to completely move/renovate the room, or say goodbye to it.

Like everything else in Vegas, unconfirmed news such as this generates prop bets. Poker.org asked an industry insider to set a line on the Flamingo poker room closing.

“It’s odds on,” he told us.

Featured image source: Twitter