Wednesday November 4, 2020 at 2:56 pm

MGM Grand made a tough decision to close the poker room at some of their Las Vegas Strip properties indefinitely. That bold decision includes the shuttering of the legendary poker room at the Mirage Casino, which at one time hosted the biggest cash games in the Vegas. In addition, the suits made a decision to shut down the Mandalay Bay and Excalibur, two low-level poker rooms that used to attract both tourists and locals alike.

miragepokerchipss

RIP to the Mirage Poker Room. It's truly the end of an era as the Coronavirus pandemic forced many mega-casino conglomerates to shut down some rooms that had yet to reopen and consolidate their other poker rooms that say a drop off in attendance.

2020 was looking like a grim year for poker before the pandemic hit. For the first time in almost 20 years, the number of poker rooms in Las Vegas were declining. The last vestiges of the glorious online poker room were gone as that tremendous tidal wave finally receded. Plus, when you have gaming corporations gobbling each other up, the "bottom line" comes into play and any suit with a rudimentary business degree could whip up a power point presentation to show that they can save money and boost year-end profits by getting rid of redundancies. If you are a mega-gaming-conglomerate that owns a dozen casinos and ten of them have poker rooms and only five are profitable, the greedheads will say get rid of the poker room and add slots because slots is the bread and butter of the gaming industry and old people on death's doorstep willing to donk off their social security checks is good for business, whereas silent kids in hoodies and old chatty guys with no shortage of bad beat stories is actually bad for business.

Toss in the pandemic, and you have a recipe for disaster because poker tables are just a petri dish of filth and germs. I was never a germaphobe until I moved to Vegas and watched how many players went to the toilet and never washed their hands and then rushed back to the poker table. From a public health standpoint, there should have done a much better job figuring out how to make a safer environment for poker players. But that costs money. Unless there's a cheap workaround (e.g. plastic partitions and reducing full-ring to shorthanded), then those beancounters don't see a profitable solution.

The casino biz has always been scummy. In the old days, you had to deal with the mafia element. But at least they tried to run a legit biz in the middle of the desert. Once they got all the mafia guys out of the gaming biz, it got even scummier. That's when the real criminals took over. Those white-collar types that could destroy lives with a single meeting. Like that scene in The Wire, "I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase."

Alas, it's the end of an era in Las Vegas with the shuttering of the Mirage poker room. The Mirage opened at the end of 1989 and it was the true personification of 1980s greed with a twist -- a vision by Steve Wynn to build a Polynesian-themed resort that included a volcano.

Of course, one of the coolest things Wynn did was position the sports book and poker room right next to each other. And both were somewhat close from the front door to Las Vegas Blvd.

In the early 1990s when I visited Las Vegas for the first time, the Mirage was one of the newest and posh resort and casinos on Las Vegas Blvd. I went to bet on sports and sweat my bet in their massive sportsbook, which at the time, I had no other comparison aside from mission control room at NASA. When I caught the poker bug in college, I wandered over to the poker room and just watched in amazement. I was too chicken-shit to take a shot then and didn't quite understand the "Texas Hold'em" variation when I was a classic stud player.

By the late 1990s, the movie "Rounders" came out and all of my friends became quick experts in the "Cadillac of poker" and we played nonstop in home games and local Indian casinos in the Pacific Northwest. When it was time to return to Las Vegas, I finally had the balls and the bankroll to take a shot at the Mirage Poker Room in the late 1990s.

By then, the luster began to fade. Once the Bellagio opened and its swanky new poker room, most of the high-stakes action migrated down the Strip to the Bellagio. Gone were the days of the nosebleed games, but it was still a stalwart in the poker community.

When I moved to Las Vegas in 2005, the Mirage was well-past its prime. They had a couple of mid-stakes games but that was very territorial and the local pros in that came would eat you up. But for low-stakes fun, the Mirage was still a place that you can play cards and think about the ghosts in the room and all those amazing games that were played in the corner where some of the biggest cash games in Vegas went down.

Even KidPoker summed it up best, "That's where I grew up."

Negreanu, Erik Seidel, and Phil Ivey cut their teeth at the Mirage. Anyone who was anyone in the 1990s that played big-time poker had to step foot at the Mirage if they wanted a shot at the big time. That's where the sharks were circling. And now, it's nevermore.

Whenever I was in the middle of a losing streak, down on my luck, or just feeling blue... I'd drive over to the Mirage and play low-stakes poker. I called it my "Slumpbuster" casino or a spot where I could refocus and get back to basics. It's also a place where I could take friends that just wanted to have some fun and not worry about anything too serious. In short, it became just another spot to check out when life in Vegas got too crazy, or got a little stale.

That's all gone now. The virus wiped out the profits and in turn the gamblers stayed home. When the casinos reopened, some of them did not reopen their poker rooms. The Mirage was one of those properties that were open to gamblers, but not poker players. That's when a suit made the bottom-line decision to shut it down. They didn't care about the memories, or the ghosts of gambling past, or what the Mirage meant in the bigger historical construct of modern poker.

Vegas destroys its past and there's very few "historical landmark markers" on display. Vegas literally implodes itself and its past and rebuilds on top of the old spot. Ghosts on top of ghosts. I'd like to think that sometime in the future, some suit will have the courage to reopen the poker room and pay homage to the historical significance of the room. Isn't it pretty to think so?

Latest news
Monday October 18, 2021 at 5:22 pm
2021 WSOP: Phil Hellmuth wins bracelet #16

On a Sunday night at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, Phill Hellmuth won bracelet #16 as the last player standing in 2021 WSOP Event #31 $1,500 NL 2-7 Lowball Draw. Hellmuth outlasted 272 runners and banked $84,851 for his victory. He defeated Jake Schwartz heads up for the Lowball win and outlasted a final table that also included Chris Vitch, Rep Porter, Josh Faris, and Dario Sammartino.

Thursday October 14, 2021 at 4:06 pm
2021 WSOP: Daniel Lazrus binks Milly Maker for cool million

We finally have a champion in the Milly Maker. In 2021 WSOP Event #17 MILLIONAIRE MAKER, pro Daniel Lazrus outlasted a field of 5,326 runners to win his second bracelet and a cool million bucks out of the $7.1 million prize pool. Ryan Leng shipped his third bracelet in 2021 WSOP Event #23 $1,500 8-Game Mix. Michael Prendergast won his first bracelet and $127,428 with a victory in 2021 WSOP Event #24 $600 PLO Deepstack by fading 1,572 runners.

Wednesday October 13, 2021 at 5:18 pm
PokerStars launches another Dare2Stream competition on Twitch

If you ever dreamed about becoming a sponsored player and the next poker ambassador for PokerStars, then the latest Dare2Stream competition on Twitch is up your alley. Dare2Stream returns to PokerStars with a coveted PokerStars Ambassador contract up for grabs to the winner. The competition runs from October 23 to December 12 on Twitch with a one-year contract at stake.

Tuesday October 12, 2021 at 9:03 pm
2021 WSOP: Anthony Zinno, Vladimir Peck, DJ Alexander newest bracelet winners

Anthony Zinno shipped 2021 WSOP Event #19 Seven Card Stud Championship for his third career-bracelet and outlasted a tough final table that included Phil Hellmuth who was denied his 16 the bracelet. Vladimir Peck outlasted 253 runners to win Event #18 $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball for a score worth $134,390. DJ Alexander took down Event #20 $1,000 GGPoker Flip & Go and outlasted 1,240 runners to win $180,665 and his first-ever bracelet.

Sunday October 10, 2021 at 9:36 pm
2021 WSOP: John Monnette denies Nate Silver gold bracelet

The 2021 WSOP had a stacked final table in Event #16 $10,000 Limit Hold'em Championship, when John Monnette won his fourth-career bracelet by defeated Nate Silver heads-up for the gold bracelet and $245,680. The $10K LHE final table also included Eric Kurtzman, Terence Chan, Jason Somerville, John Racener, Scott Tuttle, and Chris Chung. In the other LHE event, Israel's Yuval Bronshtein won his second bracelet with a victory in Event #12 $1,500 Limit Hold'em for a $125K score.

Friday October 8, 2021 at 1:31 pm
2021 WSOP: Ari Engel, Jason Koon, Zhi Wu, Michael Perrone win bracelets

Phil Hellmuth made another final table at the 2021 WSOP in his pursuit of bracelet #16, but he could only muster up a fifth-place finish in Event #9 $10,000 Omaha 8 Championship when the Poker Brat entered the final day as the short stack. Ari Engel outlasted 134 runners to win the bracelet and $317,076 after winning a marathon heads-up battle. Jason Koon shipped Event #11 $25,000 Heads-Up Championship by defeating Gabor Szabo heads up for his first-ever bling. Meanwhile, Zhi Wu won Event #8 $600 NL Deepstack and banked $281,604 and his first bracelet by outlasting a hefty field of 4,527 runners. Also, Michal Perrone edged out Pierre Calamusa and a field of 1,640 entrants to win Event #10 $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty NL for $152,173.

Wednesday October 6, 2021 at 9:21 pm
The Card Counter: quick review of new Paul Shrader film

"The Card Counter", a film written and directed by Paul Shrader, hit the big screens last month but it's now available on VOD services. The Card Counter is more of a revenge thriller and anti-war film disguised as a gambling and poker movie. Oscar Isaac plays a small-time gambler William Tell, an ex-vet of the Iraq War who focuses on low-stakes poker and counting cards at blackjack tables in local casinos, while he tries to keep his demons at bay. He takes a college drop out on the road with him, while trying to help the kid avoid a dark path of revenge against his former boss.

Tuesday October 5, 2021 at 4:27 pm
2021 WSOP: Connor Drinan wins Omaha 8, Tyler Cornell binks $25K High Roller

The 2021 World Series of Poker at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas added two more winners. Connor Drinan emerged the victor in Event #5 $1,500 Omaha 8 after surviving a field of 607 entrants to win $163,252. Tyler Cornell snagged his first bracelet as the last player standing in Event #6 $25,000 High Roller after he outlasted 135 entrants and banked $833,289 at a tough final table that included Michael Liang, Adrian Mateos, Jonathan Jaffe, Mustapha Kanit, and Paul Newey.

Monday October 4, 2021 at 8:41 pm
GGPoker adds Jason Koon as newest brand ambassador

GGPoker expanded their roster of brand ambassadors with the addition of American pro Jason Koon, which was announced at the 2021 WSOP over the weekend. Koon won over $32.5 million in live tournaments during his career and he's currently ranked #10 all-time on Hendon Mob. Koon joins Daniel Negreanu and Fedor Holz as GGPoker's brand ambassadors.

Sunday October 3, 2021 at 3:07 pm
2021 WSOP: Jesse Klein wins Event #2 $25,000 HORSE

Cash game-specialist Jesse Klein took down the first open event at the 2021 World Series of Poker with a victory in Event #2 $25,000 HORSE for $552,182after he outlasted a field of 78 runners and survived a tough final table that included Phil Hellmuth, Benny Glasser, David Benyamine, Ben Yu, and Matt Glantz. Hellmuth was denied bracelet #16 when he busted in sixth place.

Thursday September 30, 2021 at 5:20 pm
PokerStars European Poker Tour returns with the EPT Prague

The red spade returns to live action! Get ready for the anticipated return of the European Poker Tour when the EPT springs into action with the 2021 EPT Prague. The Hilton Hotel Prague will host a full slate of live events between December 8 and 19. The €5,300 buy-in Main Event begins December 13 and satellites starting this weekend for as low as €1. Other notable events will include the return of the €1,100 EPT National and the €10K EPT High Roller.

Thursday September 30, 2021 at 1:22 am
Michael Addamo wins 2021 Super High Roller Bowl VI for $3.4 million score

Michael Addamo continued his hot streak with an impressive victory in 2021 Super High Roller Bowl VI at the Aria Casino. The Aussie pro dominated a tough field of supreme superstars to bank $3.4 million including defeating three-time SHRB champ Justin Bonomo heads up for the SHRB VI title. Addamo won the final two events at the Poker Masters two weekends ago to win the coveted purple jacket to add to his SHRB VI crown.

Monday September 27, 2021 at 4:40 pm
2021 WSOP begins this week in Las Vegas with $25K HORSE, COVID charity event

The 2021 World Series of Poker returns to the Rio Casino in Las Vegas on September 30 to kick off 99 bracelet events including 11 online events at WSOP.com and 88 live events at the Rio. The 2021 WSOP will require all players to show proof of vaccination. On Thursday, three events kick off the 2021 WSOP with Event #1 $500 NL Casino Employees Event, Event #2 $25,000 HORSE, and Event #3 $1,000 Covid-19 Relief NL Charity Event.

Thursday September 23, 2021 at 8:26 pm
Poker rooms at the Flamingo and Bally's to close during WSOP

The 2021 World Series of Poker begins in one week, but Caesars Entertainment announced that poker rooms at two of their Las Vegas Strip properties will be dark during the WSOP to assist with staffing shortages at the Rio. Bally's and the Flamingo will not spread live poker between September 26 and November 26. Both rooms expect to re-open at the end of November, but in the era of COVID and consolidation, you never know.

Wednesday September 22, 2021 at 7:55 pm
2021 World Series of Poker adds 11 online bracelets to schedule

The 2021 World Series of Poker returns to a live setting at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, but there will be 11 additional online bracelet events at WSOP.com up for grabs. All of the online bracelet events will take place on Sundays. Ten of those events are open to anyone playing online poker in Nevada and New Jersey, while one bracelet event will exclusively be at stake for online players in Pennsylvania.

Monday September 20, 2021 at 11:03 pm
2021 Poker Masters: Michael Addamo newest champion with back-to-back event victories

Australian pro Michael Addamo was the only player to win multiple events at the 2021 Poker Masters after he won consecutive events to cap off the prestigious high roller series at the Aria Casino in Las Vegas. Addamo banked $1.84 million in combined earnings with a victory in Event #11 $50,000 NL and another win in Event #12 $100,000 NL. Addamo also won the purple jacket, presented to the top player on leaderboard.

Thursday September 16, 2021 at 4:56 pm
2021 Poker Masters: Stephen Chidwick, Daniel Negreanu, Chris Brewer, Maxx Coleman Win Events

The 2021 Poker Masters crowned a couple of new champions this week with Chris Brewer shipping Event #8 $25,000 NL, Stephen Chidwick binking Event #7 $10,000 NL, Maxx Coleman winning Event #6 $10,000 8-Game, and Daniel Negreanu victorious in Event #5 $10,000 NL. Overall, Brock Wilson is atop of the leaderboard with Brewer and Negreanu in hot pursuit of the Poker Masters purple jacket with four events remaining.

Tuesday September 14, 2021 at 9:03 pm
RIP Norm Macdonald, comedian and gambler

Norm Macdonald, a comedian from Canada known for his stint as the host of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, passed away at age 61 after a decade-long battle with cancer. Macdonald was an avid poker player and sports bettor. Macdonald cashed in a trio of World Series of Poker events, won two lo-fi Aria nightly tournaments, and was briefly sponsored by PokerStars during the height of the online poker boom in the late 2000s.

Monday September 13, 2021 at 7:22 pm
Russia's Aleksei Vandyshev wins 2021 WSOP Online Main Event at GGPoker

Russia's Aleksei 'Ha KoJleHu' Vandyshev outlasted a field of 4,092 runners to win 2021 World Series of Poker Online Event #27 $5,000 NL Hold'em Championship at GGPoker that had 27 different opening flights. Vandyshev won his first WSOP gold bracelet and earned a hefty payout worth $2,543,073 after he defeated Brazil's Edson 'CrownUpTsu' Tsutsumi Jr. heads up for the title.

Friday September 10, 2021 at 5:26 pm
Doyle Brunson documentary in production by 'The Last Dance' director

Doyle Brunson aka Texas Dolly is getting his own documentary film, but this one seems a little bit extra special because it will be helmed by Jason Heir, the director from Michael Jordan's "The Last Dance", which was a huge hit for ESPN and Netflix last year. Heir is producing and directing the untitled documentary about the legendary Doyle Brunson, which also does not have a release date.

Free tournaments and added prizes

The Club Poker organizes freerolls and special tournaments with added prizes.
To qualify for free, register on our poker partners websites:

Tournaments Club Poker
6-MAX
$2.20
Big Poker League
Thursday October 21, 2021 at 7:04 pm
$125 added
6-MAX
$2.20
Big Poker League
Thursday October 28, 2021 at 7:04 pm
$125 added