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Poker is popular in the United States. Americans love to play poker, whether in their home games or at casinos and cardrooms around the country.

With that said, Black Friday did some damage. When the majority of the world’s online poker sites were forcibly removed from the American market in 2011, the poker boom officially came to a grueling end. Many professional poker players left the US or found other ways to make a living, as online poker was the bread and butter of many of them, as well as the force behind some who took that money to the live tables. When online poker left the US, the entire poker industry suffered.

As for gambling destinations like Las Vegas, the majority of poker rooms remained solvent, however. Some smaller casinos with few poker tables closed their poker rooms, and some of the larger rooms removed some tables to make room for slot games. But the majority of poker players could still find places to play in profitable games, and plenty of casinos continued to host tournament series.

Closings on Las Vegas Horizon

In early 2017, two poker rooms in Las Vegas are preparing to close. They were relatively small and hosted no major tournament series, but some players will miss them nonetheless.

At the beginning of February, the Monte Carlo announced that its poker room will close on April 25. The room is next to the sports book, which may allow that area to expand or install a food option for those patrons. The nearby Street of Dreams also recently closed, though, to make way for an overall transformation by parent company MGM, so it is unclear if the poker room space is associated.

And as February came to a close, the Hard Rock announced its closing as well. There were no reasons given or plans publicized for the space, but the closure was to happen soon. A running bad bat jackpot had built up to nearly $30K, so the room needed to award that money to players before an official closure of the room could happen. In order to do that, they immediately began awarding $200 per hour in a high-hand contest, which is set to run until the money is gone, likely before the middle of March.

The Monte Carlo poker room was set off in the back corner of the casino, nearly on the sports book and a few slot machines. It had a somewhat loyal customer base, but all of them played at fairly low stakes. As for the Hard Rock poker room, the casino’s location off the Strip made it less than ideal for many players to make it a regular spot to visit. The little business it garnered was hardly noticeable.

Bad Sign of the Times?

The closing of the two poker rooms is a result of the tough times for the poker industry as a whole, but it by no means indicates an ominous trend or the impending loss of major live poker options in Las Vegas.

According to a recent article on US Poker, there are still 20 of the 65 Nevada poker rooms open in highly-trafficked areas of Las Vegas, and eight of them have 20 tables or more. The Venetian and Bellagio top the list with 37 tables each, with the Orleans close behind with 35 tables. The Wynn has 28, Aria 24, South Point and Green Valley Ranch with 22 each, and Red Rock with 20.

In other cities around America, most casinos will continue to keep poker rooms open, as most cities don’t boast of the kinds of options of a place like Las Vegas. There are still people who want to play poker, and that will not change.

That’s not to say that poker doesn’t need a boost. Whether it is more legislation in the US to allow the growth of online poker or something that drastically improves the popularity of live poker, as the Global Poker League is attempting to do, a significant event will need to draw more people to the tables. Any growth of poker on television or in some type of impressive format will drive more players to the live tables and prompt a reversal of the slow but noticeable decline of poker since Black Friday.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.

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