By Scott Carlson, Rakeback.com Content Manager
Ever dreamt idly, or thought seriously of moving to Las Vegas and making poker a profession? Well you’re not alone.
Many thousands of serious amateur poker players around the world fantasize about ‘living the dream’, but few ever take the leap. With so many factors to consider, it’s no wonder more people won’t take that final step.
While many professional and serious amateurs see fit to stay where they are and play from their basement or office, truly ‘living the life’ entails packing up and moving to Vegas, even if to play mostly online.
Nothing can replace the camaraderie of performing the same activity with other human beings (even if you’re trying to break them in the long run). This guide will give you tips on everything from what factors to consider before moving away from mom’s basement, housing recommendations and resources to get setup in your new place, plus where to play once you get there.
Your eyes open. You wake up in a buzz. You decide that moving to Vegas is a real option. You’ve never felt so alive, but there are a few ways to see if this gigantic leap of faith is right for you before you go.
Pro Tip #1: Spend at least two weeks in the City of Sin, and live like the locals live.
Although you might not be able to rent an apartment for two weeks to get the true feel of Las Vegas, you can pick a low cost casino or motel near where you plan to live and call it home. By picking a place near where you plan to live, you can see the types of potential neighbors you will have, find places to eat and even check out the local grocery store. You can also determine if you need a vehicle to get around or if mass transportation is an option for you.
The most important reason to take an extended trip is to decide if you can handle the day-in day-out grind of playing poker for a living. Playing for an extended weekend in Vegas is totally different from playing every single day for a fortnight. Make sure you have what it takes to make poker your living live as well as online.
There are plenty of things to consider once you move to Las Vegas. The top of the list will be your biggest expense: where to live. If you plan to live near the strip be prepared to pay for that luxury. Apartments and condos within walking distance can be quite pricey. If you opt for the lower cost apartments near the strip, prepare to bring a gun.
If you do plan to live near the strip you will be able to walk to all of your games. One drawback to walking is dealing with the summer heat which can reach 120F (49C). Another drawback is you will be quite a ways away from super stores like Wal-Mart and Target where walking just isn’t that good of an option.
A second option is living in Henderson. This city has a suburban feel and you are just a short 15 minute drive to the strip. The location is very safe and you have access to all amenities like grocery stores just a short distance from your house. The one downside is that vehicle ownership is a must this far from the strip.
A third option is living downtown. You can be within walking distance to two of the better poker rooms in town, the Golden Nugget and Binion’s. Housing in the downtown area is generally cheap so you can save some of your bankroll. Safety can be a major concern when choosing to live downtown however. There are a number of homeless people that like to make Freemont Street their “home”
Pro Tip #2: Check out the food options at Mermaid’s which is right across the street from Binion’s. They offer everything from deep fried Twinkies to foot long hotdogs all for just few bucks.
A fourth option is to find a room to rent in a “poker house”. Many players pool their resources and rent a house. This option provides two distinct advantages. The first is renting a more expensive place than you could afford on your own with an additional benefit of splitting utilities. The second is talking and learning poker from your housemates. Discussing session and types of players can prove to be invaluable.
“Yeah, but I’m moving to play mostly online – distance to the strip doesn’t bother me that much.”
The options for players in the United States have been dwindling over the last several years, but fear not, online poker is making a comeback in Nevada. The Nevada Gaming Commission has approved online poker in Las Vegas and the first approved site is now online. Ultimate Poker, owned by Stations Casinos, was welcomed with some fanfare but the software was a few steps back when compared to the software of other online companies.
Las Vegas is comparable to a lot of medium sized cities in the United States. Housing costs are cheaper than the average American city, but all other costs including food and transportation run higher especially if you spend any amount of time on the Strip.
Spending money in Las Vegas is very individual. You can live on the cheap or you can live the high life with hookers and blow. The choice is up to you (and your bankroll).
With over 40 live poker rooms to choose from throughout Las Vegas, you are sure to find a game to suit whatever you want to play. Following is a list of games and where you will be able to find them.
Virtually every room in Las Vegas offers 1-2 and 2-5 No Limit Hold’em. Game selection can be had at the low limits since there is such a wide selection. The bigger rooms will offer more games to choose from, but smaller rooms like Excalibur and The Quad attract the less experienced tourists and easier games can be found.
High Stakes poker can break out at any casino at any time, provided a “heads-up for rolls” challenge is laid down. However, most high stakes games stay around a few select casinos. The biggest name in the high stakes game used to be the Bellagio. Although plenty of high stakes games are available each day, the newest name on the high stakes map is Aria. Ivey’s room is home to the biggest games in Las Vegas. Other casinos offering regular high stakes action include the Wynn and Venetian.
Limit Hold’em is a dying game in Las Vegas. Only low stakes games are generally available in a variety of rooms around town, including some of the smaller locals casinos that offer $3/$6. There are a few casinos offering higher stakes limit action, including the Venetian and Bellagio.
Omaha can be found in a number of casinos in Vegas, but mostly in the Limit O/8 variety. O/8 can be found at the Venetian, Bellagio, Orleans and Aria. The only regular Pot Limit Omaha game that goes is at Aria, although some $1/$2 PLO games can be found around town on the weekends.
Mixed games generally only run at the nosebleed levels at Aria and Bellagio. Occasional lower stakes mixed games can be found on the weekends in places like Caesars and Venetian.
Open Faced Chinese Poker is now being found in a few casinos. The main action is taking place at Aria and Venetian. The Venetian game is playing at low stakes while the games at Aria can be much higher. It remains to be seen if these games will stick around in Las Vegas due to the high rake.
|Casino||Low Stakes NLHE||High Stakes NLHE||Limit Hold'em||Omaha||Mixed Games||Open-Faced Chinese Poker|
Now that we have given you some things to think about and suggestions on making it happen, get to Vegas and start playing. We would love to hear about your adventures of becoming a professional poker player. Head over to our forum and let us know how it's going and if you have tips for your fellow professionals.
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