Three Strip Poker Rooms Appear Down for the Count

It’s looking more like three poker rooms on the Las Vegas Strip won’t be back following what were originally thought to be temporary closures due to the pandemic.

The three former poker rooms were at Mirage, Mandalay Bay and Excalibur.

According to, MGM Resorts will be giving away left over jackpot money, signaling these poker rooms are shuttered for good.

When Mirage reopened, we shared photos of the former poker room now decked out as a “Non-Smoking Slots” area. It didn’t look temporary.

Mirage non-smoking slots

Fun fact: They can’t guarantee the slots aren’t smoking when we’re playing.

Before the pandemic, Las Vegas had 31-ish poker rooms. Now, there are 21-ish.

Poker rooms aren’t a huge moneymaker for casinos, they’re more of an amenity, so it’s possible some rooms are being closed under the cover of COVID-19.

The three closed poker rooms in question have money (leftover “bad beat” jackpots) they’re required to give away, in this case via something called a “freeroll tournament.” It basically means they’re free to enter. Learn more.

“Freeroll” should not be confused with “pre-roll.” Hey, things can get confusing now that marijuana is legal in Las Vegas.

The freeroll tournaments to give away jackpot money from the three closed poker rooms are taking place at MGM Grand. The two remaining tournaments are Nov. 17 and Dec. 1, 2020. (The first one sold out.)

Poker jargon

That time we learned what an “aquarium” is in poker.

We aren’t a poker person, but sort of wrote this entire post just to share the Nov. 17 tournament will give away Mirage’s $69,804 jackpot cash. We repeat, about $69,000. Because we are 14, apparently.

Poker players (and poker room employees) have definitely been going through a rough patch in 2020 as the number of poker rooms has continued to shrink, but die-hards are finding new places to play and some predict poker rooms could rebound once the pandemic is behind us.

The good news about shrinkage is it’s often temporary.

Not that we’d know anything about that. At all.

8 thoughts on “Three Strip Poker Rooms Appear Down for the Count

  1. William Wingo

    We were in Las Vegas in July and played at South Point. Orleans’ poker room was also open. Then to Laughlin in October and played at Harrah’s: a very nice Covid-conscious setup with lots of plexiglass and lots of cleaning. Heard Riverside was also open, but we’ve never liked it there.
    If it weren’t for the poker rooms, we probably would have stayed home both trips.
    With the decline of blackjack, poker is the new Vegas loss-leader. Between poker tournaments, I played a lot of marginal video poker for the comp points–but wouldn’t have made either trip for that alone.
    Let’s hope poker rebounds as conditions return to normal, whenever (and whatever) that is. If it doesn’t, I can live with it.

    1. Mike Alexakis

      Orleans has good games and good people, I just don’t like playing in the dark basement. South Point is good also. Red Rock is a great place to play poker, Sams Town has good poker promotions like giving you a hundred dollars if you lose with pocket aces… I long for the good old days when establishments competed against each other to entice players…

  2. Mike Alexakis

    The loss of The Mirage poker room is a big 2020 blow, the others mentioned were tiny operations. The Strip used to be the epicenter of poker in the world, during the poker heyday it was teeming with bad playing tourists who all thought they were Phil Ivey, a decently patient seasoned player could have a huge advantage, there are still fish to fry, but you have to hunt to find them. The Bellagio was and still is a very good choice, during the World Series of Poker its a mecca, on any given day during that time you will see Doyle Brunson and other legends playing with us little people… The Strip has almost no limit poker tables, the no limit game has taken over, you have to go downtown or to a locals casino to play limit poker, which I invariably end up doing. I like Green Valley during the day, there are so many old people I feel like the young buck at age 60, but at night the games disappear as the oldsters go to bed at nine. The Golden Nugget is my go-to, they treat poker players very well, there is good action at all times. Several of my Los Angeles friends get free room offers from Golden Nugget all the time for just playing poker, which is way better than any other casino…

  3. Vegas Regular

    If that’s a fact post covid it’ll mean many less trips to Vegas for me as we usually stay at Mirage and Mandalay and we’re all poker players. Many of our group end up at the craps tables and Blackjack after poker sessions so those casinos will be losing revenue more than they anticipate from their non-earning poker rooms. This reminds me of right after Black Friday – the poker shutdown not the big shopping day – when poker rooms started closing up overnight. They all came back with bigger and plusher rooms eventually, so hopefully that’ll be the case in time.


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