The Linq Poker Room Closes, Venetian Poker Room Downsizing

The Linq Poker Room Closes, Venetian Poker Room Downsizing

linqThe Linq poker room permanently shuttered Saturday.  It was open less than one year in that location.  The Linq poker room temporarily closed earlier in the week.  It reopened Friday for the purpose of giving away the jackpot pool through drawings over a two-day period.

The Linq poker room struggled in its second location on the property near the south Strip entrance.  The previous poker room location was by the sports book on the Harrah’s side of Linq.  It closed on January 18, 2015.  Poker was never able to regain its previous popularity on the property after being moved to the third floor during the resort’s transformation from Imperial Palace to The Linq.

The new poker room at The Linq was located in nearly the same area as the former O’Sheas poker room, just steps away from the Las Vegas Strip.  It offered the lowest stakes no limit cash game on the Strip.  It was a No Limit Hold’em game with a $1 small and big blind.  The minimum buy-in was $50.

The Linq poker room closure was the first in Las Vegas since the one at Eastside Cannery shuttered in May.  Fifteen live Las Vegas poker rooms have closed in the past four years. This includes Tropicana, Riviera, Westgate, Circus Circus, El Cortez and M Resort. Two electronic poker rooms shuttered earlier this year at Plaza and Aliante Casino due to the withdrawal from the Nevada market by the game’s manufacturer.

Venetian Poker Room Downsizing

In other Las Vegas poker news, Venetian is slashing the size of its poker room.  The largest poker room in Las Vegas is reversing its 2012 17-table expansion.  The contraction includes the removal of about one-third of the poker tables.  The new room will host about 40 tables, down from 59.

Stadium blackjack will replace the section where the uninstalled poker tables were removed. It will be immediately across from the sportsbook in an area that already spreads stadium baccarat.

The poker room at Venetian has suffered a dramatic loss in traffic after several new policies were rolled out that players found unfavorable.  This included canceling all comps from inactive players, raising the max rake to $5 and cutting the hourly comp rate from $2 to $1.

Cash game traffic is down more than 50 percent from the peak, according to a quarterly poker traffic column by Two Plus Two Magazine.  Venetian went from regularly being the number one poker room in Las Vegas in terms of cash game traffic to the sixth place spot. It fell below locals’ rooms The Orleans and Red Rock Resort, as well as Aria, Bellagio and Wynn.

The Venetian poker room’s traffic soared during the World Series of Poker.  It filled all 59 tables on several nights during the annual series when poker players flock to Las Vegas.  The traffic returned to its previous levels when the World Series of Poker ended.

Venetian is owned by Las Vegas Sands.  The company’s CEO Sheldon Adelson is an active opponent of online poker.  Adelson stated in 2013 that he is “willing to spend whatever it takes” to make online gambling illegal in the United States.

Las Vegas Sands lobbied heavily to oppose the expansion of online gambling and attempted to push the Restoration of America’s Wire Act that would have put the regulated online gambling industries in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey out of business.  The attempts have been unsuccessful up to this point.

John Mehaffey – @john_mehaffey