Live Action Poker is the most adaptable of games: a pack of cards and at least one other player is basically all you need. Popular as a parlour game from the mid-19th century, the home is still a good place to learn the rules and hone your skills before hitting the highlights of a casino or risking your luck online, while the impact of television poker has hugely increased play over the domestic table.
Despite the enormous growth of online poker sites, the allure of the casino is undeniable. Only here can you get the feel of the action, smell the sweat, and taste the atmosphere (usually tinged with tobacco). Remember, a lot of casinos will not maintain poker rooms, so check before you go if poker is your game of choice.
A list of casinos in Russia alone, which mushroomed in the wake of perestroika, would fill the pages of this book and more, so our selection is necessarily very selective, and only includes the ones featuring poker rooms. A worldwide selection appears on page 232. The Top Ten Poker Rooms Although poker has become a global phenomenon, its heart and soul is still definitely rooted in the USA.
That’s why the majority of this list is comprised of American casinos, although we have managed to include some from other corners of the globe. Bellagio Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Made famous, or should we say more famous, by the recent Ocean’s 11 and Ocean’s 12 films, the Bellagio is pure glamour and glitz. It has a state-of the-art poker room that cost millions of dollars to build and is the obvious choice for first on this list. If you do happen to win big on any of the 30 tables, try not to blow it all in one of the many top-grade and very pricey restaurants in the complex.
Binion’s Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Binion’s is no longer the host of the WSOP, but as the Horseshoe it was the event’s home for so long that it would be simply wrong for this poker room to be any lower in the list. Play a game there and soak up the colourful history (which is described further on p.41).