Entering an unfamiliar poker room for the very first time can be a hit or miss experience.
Some poker rooms are located in hard to find parts of the casino; some use confusing procedures; and many are gloomy and give off an unfriendly vibe.
The Aria Poker Room in Las Vegas is none of these things.
I recently visited the Aria Poker Room on four consecutive days and played for a total of 8 hours.
It was a small sample size, but my week at the Aria was an extremely pleasant experience and instilled in me the notion that the demise of live poker has been greatly exaggerated.
The layout and aesthetics of the poker room
The room itself is easy to find, situated just outside the entrance of the Aria’s sports book. While it’s located towards the back of the casino, it’s still in a very high-trafficked area, as the Aria has both a front and back entrance – you can’t miss the open half-wall separating the poker room from the main casino floor with ornately sculpted playing cards and the words Poker Room.
The Aria Poker Room boasts 24 tables, which makes it a small poker room compared to behemoths like Commerce, The Bike, Foxwoods, or Borgata, but a good-sized poker room in Las Vegas.
Most of the tables are located on the main floor, with a handful located in a slightly elevated area at the back of the room. There is also the main attraction, “Ivey’s Room,” a single high limit table visible from the floor, but in its own private room.
You can watch the proceedings in Ivey’s Room from afar, but won’t be able to get close to the action.
Overall the layout is really nice, with plenty of space in between tables.
Game options at Aria
Like most poker rooms in 2014, the Aria spreads mainly No Limit Holdem, with $1/$3 and $2/$5 NLHE dominating the cash game options. However, the room also regularly runs $1/$3 and sometimes $2/$5 PLO games as well.
Aria will also create interest lists for Omaha 8, Limit Holdem, and just about any other poker game players ask for, including larger NLHE and PLO games.
The Aria also has a very unique game for players looking for something a little bit different, as there is a $9/$18 12-Game Mix that runs virtually every evening. And of course the Aria spreads whatever the game du jour is in Ivey’s Room.
The room is full during the evening, but pretty slow in the early morning hours with less than a handful of tables running. The first signs of life start in the early afternoon when the Aria hosts a popular 1 PM tournament.
The Aria’s 1 PM No Limit Holdem tournament features a $100+$25 buy-in and routinely gets well over 100 entrants (the days I was there the tournament attracted around 125 players creating a prize pool of about $12,000) while the Aria’s 7 PM tournament (also a $100+$25 NLHE event) attracts somewhere between 50-75 entrants.
The Aria has a Players Club, and offers a pretty decent reward rate.
The standard rate for poker players (regardless of stakes) is $2/hour, but from 5AM to 10 AM poker players at the Aria earn $3/hour in rewards.
These rewards are redeemable at several of the eateries at Aria by asking the floor for a voucher: Jean Phillippe, Lemongrass, 50/50, and the Aria Café.
Discounted room rates are available after five hours of poker play:
- Sunday through Thursday the Poker Room Rate at Aria is $119
- Friday and Saturday the Poker Room rate is $159
Players are also able to combine their play to receive the Poker Room rate. For example, two friends, or a husband and wife, can both play 2.5 hours and receive a single room at the discounted poker rate.
I spent my time playing in the $9/$18 Mixed Game and found the regulars very friendly and the atmosphere at the table very relaxed. As someone used to the misery and complaints of Foxwoods players, the attitudes on display at the Aria was a welcomed relief.
One thing you’ll notice right away are the pro players scattered throughout the room – all things considered it’s a pretty small room and they are hard to miss. In my short time at Aria I sat in games with Karina Jett and Jimmy Fricke, and saw plenty of other “known” players milling around, mostly coming in and out of Ivey’s Room: Eli Elezra, Jean Robert Bellande, and Orel Hershesier (whom I was told is a regular at the Aria) were just some of the recognizable faces I saw.
Another pleasant surprise was how rarely disputes occurred. The usual calls of “FLOOR” were virtually nonexistent, the dealers were extremely good (and remember, I’m playing a 12-Game Mix with games like Pineapple RazzDeucy) and the floor people were courteous and helpful. Hell, even the people at the poker cashier cage were upbeat and happy.
Another thing you’ll notice are the power supplies under the table for charging your phone, an excellent tableside dining menu complete with desserts, and by far the most comfortable chairs I’ve ever found in a poker room. Like a computer chair, the Aria’s poker room chairs go up and down and recline back.
Overall the Aria is a terrific poker room. It has a solid assortment of games and is a cheerful place as far as poker rooms go.