Las Vegas has seen plenty of boom and bust stories over the years, but the poker room at Planet Hollywood is just another sad case of post-COVID life in Sin City. A decade ago when I lived in Las Vegas pre-Black Friday, Las Vegas had over 1,000 poker tables to accommodate a wide variety of players. Just 11 years and a world-wide pandemic later, that number has shrunk by over 70% with less than 300 poker tables operating in Sin City. In the last few years, smaller poker rooms had been shuttered by suits including the Palms, TI, Luxor, Monte Carlo, Hard Rock, and the Linq (old Imperial Palace). Numerous locals casinos shut down their poker rooms including the Plaza, Aliante, Suncoast, Teas Stations, and Sunset Station.
Planet Ho joins the growing list of other rooms that the beancounters at gambling mega-corps decided to shut down due to a bottom-line scenario. The Mirage, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, Sam's Town, Green Valley Ranch, Harrah's, the Rio, and Binion's never reopened after the pandemic, which was sad because all three rooms had their own appeal to tourists and locals alike. In the case of the Mirage, it was the epicenter of high-stakes poker in the old days during the last gasp of the 20 th century before the Bellagio became the hot spot for poker at the turn of the century. And for Binion's to not reopen, it truly is the end of an era.
Planet Hollywood aka Planet Ho was never one of those nose-bleed and high balla spots, but it was across the street from the Aria which had become the main focal point of the high-stakes community. Planet Ho was for the working class folks and noobs that wanted to get a taste of the tournament life. it was a lot of fun to get hammered and fling around chips with friends, but those places are few and far between these days.
There's always a suit who wants to shutter a poker room because they can rake in significantly more money if they convert the same spot to slot machines. In the case of Planet Hollywood, the poker room was smack in the middle of the casino's gaming floor, which made it easy to find and attracted a lot of curious tourists that were walking through. The suits that run casinos always had a low opinion of poker players because their profit margin is much smaller than if a bunch of geriatrics dink off their social security and stimulus checks at the penny slots.
Many casinos knew that poker rooms were not huge breadwinners, but kept them running over the years as a courtesy to locals and out of respect for the game itself. But in the post-COVID-19 era, where casinos are scrambling to recoup losses from a dismal 2020 due to the shutdowns, the ruthless suits at Caesars decided it was foolish to waste juicy real estate occupied by low-limit donks.
I always had an affinity for Planet Ho, formerly the Aladdin. Planet Ho is never a place I actively sought out, mostly because you had to walk through a labyrinth of a shopping mall to find the casino floor, but I often played there with friends and amateurs who wanted to play in one of their three low-stakes daily poker tournament. Planet Ho hosted popular lo-fi tournaments that ended up donk-addled push-fests. But hey, they were fun if you were schwasted with friends! The last time I played in one, I made the final table and busted in third overall when a elderly cowboy from West Texas won a flip against me.
RIP Planet Ho. You'll be gone, but not forgotten.