Palms Casino Sign

Palms Casino Resort Closes Poker Room

While the 2014 World Series of Poker is rolling at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, the poker room at the Palms Casino Resort across the street on West Flamingo Road has been closed, according to a report by

Once a solid, albeit small, poker room, the Palms poker room had obviously been struggling. It was in its second iteration at the 13-year old casino off the Las Vegas Strip, having been redesigned in spring 2012. Operated by Cantor Gaming, the current (well, former) poker room opened on May 4th, 2012, as part of Vegas’ first hybrid sports book-poker room. Sports books and poker rooms are often in the direct vicinity of one another, but never before had they been combined.

When the initiative was announced in April 2012, Cantor Gaming’s President and CEO, Lee Amaitis, said in a statement, “There is a natural overlap between sports bettors and poker plays and by situating poker within the sports book we can offer customers maximum entertainment and convenience.”

Palms Poker Room (C)

Palms Poker Room

Apparently, it didn’t work. The former home of the Celebrity Poker Showdown and High Stakes Poker television shows was struggling to find people to play in its cash games. While the casino did not give CardPlayer its reasons for shuttering the poker room, it was likely a simple business decision. In February, former Palms poker room manager Todd Buechler addressed accusations of impropriety with jackpot funds on and in doing so, talked about how poorly the poker room had been doing:

We were running a $1/ $4 rake promo all the way up to just the other day. The idea being that we could reintroduce the room to a bunch of players by creating excitement and giving away tons of money. The room had gotten so slow, that there was usually only 1 or 2 games going. We figured if we could get up to 6 or 7 games then we would be raking the same as 2 games yet open up the room to a whole new Guest base.

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I also thought is [sic] would be crazy exciting, and our room would get packed. That did not happen. We were trying to be hyper-aggressive and beat the competitors at the promotions game. Orleans, Mirage, and Monte Carlo all had a lot going on; and we were trying to make it so you couldn’t afford not to play at the Palms. It just didn’t work, even with all the giveaways, we barely ever got a 1-2NL game going and never got a 4-10 Limit game going. The only good thing was switching the 2-4 to a 2-6 spread limit. That game had tremendously more action and was a lot more fun for the players and dealers.

It should be noted that after initial accusations leveled against Buechler that he had stolen jackpot funds, it was generally agreed that he had done nothing wrong except run a promotion that failed miserably. To illustrate just how wrong the promotion went, Buechler gave some figures (remember, this was a very small poker room):

… as of my last day the promo fund was at negative $22,000. So not only did we pay every penny back to the players, we actually added $22,000 of our own money and gave it to the players. We were taking in around $2,000 a day in promo money, but paying out $3,500 or so.

Unfortunately, the Palms is not the first Vegas-area casino to close its poker room during the last couple years. Last August, the M Resort, located on the extreme south end of Las Vegas Boulevard several miles away from the main “Strip” casinos, shut down its poker room, filling the space with tournament slot machines. The M Resort is still hosting the annual Hollywood Poker Open, just not in a formal poker room.

In September of last year, the old Circus Circus Hotel and Casino on the north end of the Strip closed its poker room. Three months earlier, its across-the-street competitor, the Riviera, got rid of its six-table poker room. Both were likely wise decisions, as the poker rooms were ghost towns, unable to compete with their larger, more glamorous neighbors.

On the bright side, despite the disappointment of poker room closures, there are still plenty of places to find action in Las Vegas, as one would expect. You’ve still got the big boys clustered on the strip: Bellagio, Mirage, Venetian (unless you want to avoid Sheldon Adelson’s properties), Aria, MGM Grand, and Caesars, to name a few. Off the strip, the Orleans is very popular and of course, the Rio is poker central right now. The list goes on; fortunately the ones that have closed were small and sparsely populated so they will not be particularly missed.


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