Wherever in the world you travel, you’re going to find some regional specialties. For example, French food is very different to Thai food. The same goes for casinos – players in different markets prefer certain kinds of games and certain ways of playing them. That’s why roulette still has the feel of a quintessential French game, while dice games like craps are American through and through.
But one game that seems to transcend all national boundaries is poker. It’s popular all over the world, pretty much to the same rules depending on the variant, and not necessarily in casinos. But some do choose to carve out a niche for themselves as poker hubs famous for the service they provide and the tournaments that they host. So if you’re a fan of the game here are five places that definitely deserve pride of place on your bucket list.
Casino Niagara, Ontario
Spanning over 90,000 square-foot area and spread over 2 stories, Casino Niagara houses 40 gaming tables, 1400 slot machines and a special poker room. There is also a multi- wagering sports section where you can place bets on popular sports events. Live entertainment options on Friday and Saturday nights and popular restaurants make Casino Niagara a must visit for any gambling enthusiast. Alternatively, if you’re unable to make time for a land-based casino visit during your stay, you can always play at any of Canada’s best mobile casinos from within the comfort of your hotel room.
Casino de Monte Carlo, Monaco
Let’s start our whistle-stop tour of the world’s finest poker casinos at one of the oldest, and certainly one of the most famous. While the Casino de Monte Carlo may be the kind of place you’d expect to only be open to millionaires they have a surprisingly open door policy. In fact, pretty much the only people not allowed to play there are native Monegasques.
Originally opened in in 1863 by the Grimaldi family, today the casino’s owned by the Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco, and organization responsible for many tourism-related
activities. The casino specializes in stud poker with up to eight tables laid out in the stunning Salle Des Etoiles where you’ll find yourself surrounded by marble opulence and style. You’ll also be
playing in the same place that has seen many European Poker Tour Finals closely contested including one incredible event in EPT 8 in 2012 when pairs of queens, kings, and aces battled it out in a very tense and memorable round.
Grosvenor Victoria Casino, London
The Grosvenor Victoria Casino has been the go-to venue for London’s top poker players ever since owners Grosvenor Casinos opened it in 1970. As the city’s biggest poker room, it’s open 24 hours a day and there’s always the choice of plenty of cash games and tournaments on offer with a wide range of buy-ins. There’s the capacity for up to 350 players to be competing at any one time so if you turn up there certainly shouldn’t be a wait for a game.
But watch out. As we’ve said, it’s a big draw for great players – not just from the UK, but all around the world – who’ll be using all kinds of strategies to get ahead. So you’re going to have to bring your A-Game if you want to come out a winner. One technique that not many people know about is edge-sorting, in which a player tries to work out whether a face-down playing card is likely to be high or low by identifying subtle differences on the back of the cards being dealt. Interested? You’re not the only one – many gamblers didn’t even know this was possible. For any gamers wanting to find out more, casino veteran Eliot Jacobson’s story about edge sorting in Vegas is an absolute must-read.
The Grosvenor Victoria Casino is also host to the UK’s biggest poker tour, the GUKPT, where players from all over Europe compete for millions in prize money each year.
Holland Casino, Amsterdam
Many die-hard poker players will also have undoubtedly paid at the next casino on our list from time to time. Owned by the Dutch state-owned gambling operator and opened in 2008, it’s the largest of the 14 casinos that it operates in the country and easily the best for poker. The venue is situated right on the edge of the central Leidseplein. While the exterior is exceptionally modern, the spiral staircase you need to climb on entry sets a far grander tone. It also has great restaurants, which is renowned among food lovers citywide.
There are eight tables in operation until 3 am each morning and the favored house game is Texas Hold’em. But the number of tables goes up to 35 during the annual master’s Classics of Poker that’s held each November where buy-ins can be as high as €25,000 and players compete for the tournament’s version of the WSOP bracelet, the “bordje”.
The Wynn, Las Vegas
It’s taken us a while to get here, but now we’ve arrived at the inevitable Vegas. Of all the poker rooms across America’s gambling capital, it’s the Wynn that must surely set the standard for the rest. Opened in 2005 as part of the huge casino and leisure complex headed by the legendary entrepreneur Steve Wynn, everything about the poker offering is on the grand scale.
One of the reasons it’s so good is that you’ll find some of the biggest buy-ins in town which tends to keep the tourist amateurs away so you can concentrate on some serious action. There are 28 tables in all and its relatively new location in the Wynn Encore building means that it’s light, spacious and airy making it a perfect place to play. If you want tournament action all you need to know is that there are daily events starting at midday and Wynn Classics held throughout the year.
Star World Poker Room, Macau
We couldn’t have a round-up of the world’s best poker room without a mention for Macau, especially as it’s now a far bigger gambling center than Vegas. The poker room is located on the third floor of the massive 140,000 sq ft casino and has been attracting players ever since it opened back in October 2006. Owned and run by the Galaxy Entertainment Group, it does face stiff competition from the nearby Wynn Macau but most players feel it has the edge in terms of comfort, facilities and choice of games which include No-Limit Hold’em, Omaha Limit and some of Macau’s only Sit ‘n’ Go games, all with a wide range of buy-ins.
It’s also soon to raise its profile even higher by playing regular host to the Asian Tour which should attract even more high-profile players to this already impressive venue. So, wherever in the world that you decide to play your poker, we hope this article has given a few handy pointers. Now it’s over to you.