THE HISTORY OF POKER
THE VENUES—LAS VEGAS
Las Vegas, meaning "the meadows" in Spanish, is one of the most popular cities worldwide and the most populous city in Nevada. It has been known by many names, such as the "Atomic City" when the US tested its nuclear weapons in the Nevada Test Site. However, it is best known for its premium offering of casinos, resorts, and various types of entertainment.
The city is considered the prime destination for every poker player dreaming of making it big. In addition, it is home to the WSOP and countless card rooms, many of which are genuinely part of poker's heritage itself.
In this article, we focus on the exciting story of poker and Las Vegas—how it got started, what makes it unique, and where it stands today.
POKER AND LAS VEGAS—A QUICK HISTORY
Like California, Nevada shares a long history with the game. Initially, the gold rush enticed many pioneers to travel to the old west. Nevada, like California, became a hotspot for the increasingly popular game of chance and skill called poker.
The state itself was created from a group of mining towns where the game was particularly popular. While the state tried to keep games like poker legal, it was forced to follow the other states in America, and passed anti-gaming laws in the early 20th century.
However, by 1931, all card games and betting were legalized in the state. Las Vegas and Reno became two of the biggest cities in the state for poker and kept growing over the following decades. The Nevada Gaming Control Board was established in 1955 to protect the state's budding industry from the federal government.
During the 1940s, one of the most active areas in Nevada for poker and other games of chance and skill was the Las Vegas strip. Resorts like the Flamingo Hotel and the Last Frontier Hotel started adorning the area. The state introduced a gaming tax of 2% on gross winnings during this era.
The following decades saw several new casinos open and the state revenue from gaming growing exponentially. It is estimated that the gaming industry generated $2.5 billion per year back in 1980. As Nevada became America's favorite state for gaming, Las Vegas became its favorite city.
In 1970, the World Series of Poker started its annual event at Binion's Horseshoe, bringing the best players in the world to battle for the title of world champion of the game. Since the city had no shortage of cardrooms, there was plenty of action to keep them interested. As a result, some of the game's biggest legends, such as Doyle Brunson and Stu Unger, emerged from the Las Vegas poker scene.
The city continues to attract professional poker players today. Its legacy was cemented due to wide coverage in the media with several movies, songs, and books written about living, losing, and winning in the sin city. Nevada remains the most prominent gaming market in the world and an alluring destination for poker players worldwide.
WHAT MAKES LAS VEGAS UNIQUE FOR POKER?
Las Vegas is the number one destination for poker in the USA. Several things make the city unique in terms of poker greatness, such as being home to the WSOP and having the biggest and most esteemed poker card rooms worldwide. While finding a low-stakes game is relatively easy, it is also possible to play in some of the biggest games against the best professional poker players in the world. Only in Las Vegas. Cardrooms in venues such as Bellagio and Aria have become the most prominent venues to play poker in, and its games are populated by literal legends of the game.
NOTABLE POKER VENUES IN LAS VEGAS
Las Vegas has no shortage of glamour or action, with several poker rooms available for all types of players. However, if there were a list of must-visit poker rooms in Las Vegas, they would include the following:
- Aria—24 tables, home to the PokerGO Studio
- Wynn—28 tables, significant events like Wynn Classic Series and Wynn Signature Series
- Venetian—37 tables, hosts major events like the WPT
- Bellagio—40 tables, home to Bobby's Room (now Legends Room)
- Caesars Palace—18 tables, located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip
- Binion's—Historical and legendary venue where the WSOP began in Las Vegas
POKER'S HOME IN THE USA
There is no other place like Las Vegas for many poker players, and, likely, there will never be. The city offers a wonderful mix of hedonism and glitz with a line-up of card rooms that are literally unmatched anywhere else in the world.
If you want to play live or tournament poker against the best in the world and at the highest stakes, Las Vegas is where you should be heading towards. Even if you bust, there is a fair chance you're sitting at the table with the next Stu Ungar and are part of poker history in some way.