The poker room for the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles has been open for about two weeks now and I’ve played three sessions there so this report is based on limited observations. Nonetheless here is what I can tell you, and let me cover the stated features first:
Non-smoking: The poker room is non-smoking. However, like many poker rooms the non-smoking status is a bit of a misnomer since the room is not walled off and there may be smokers just a few feet away from you behind a railing that separates the poker room from the rest of the casino room floor. So, on busy nights, expect to be bothered by secondhand smoke.
Cocktail Service: There is cocktail service. The service has been rather slow. I’m not sure whether this slow service is due to the newness of the casino or a shortage of servers. Either way, some players were getting a bit annoyed at the slowness of the service. Drinks were free save for tipping. There is a caveat here, however. For those that don’t drink alcohol it appears that there is no self-serve station for soft drinks (unlike the Isle of Capri and L’Auberge), so you will have to tip for your soft drinks. Moreover, I have heard –but cannot confirm— that there is a charge for top shelf alcoholic drinks.
Discounted Hotel Rates: I don’t know whether a poker player rate is available or what it might be.
Valet Parking: Is available.
Televisions: There are plenty of televisions around to keep track of sports action.
Food Tableside: I haven’t seen anyone use tableside service. However, I know that menus for three of the restaurants were made available to players that asked for menus. However, there are no poker side tables in the poker room. So I don’t know how anyone might be able to eat and play at the same time. What is more, there seems to be no fast food (i.e., a slice of pizza or a quick burger) in the casino for a poker player to quickly scarf down and return to playing --just nice restaurants as one might expect given that the owner, Tilman Fertitta, is a restaurateur extraordinaire.
Comps Offered: The only comp of which I am directly aware of at the moment is a standard $1/hour of comps for each hour of play. Most players are familiar with a player’s card being swiped at the table to keep tabs on hours of play. Such is not the case at the Golden Nugget. Players are swiped in at the floor person’s station. There is a Bad Beat Jackpot; quad fives beaten, with all of the usual stipulations.
Auto Shufflers: Yes.
Currency Exchange: Unknown.
Cash Games: The games that I have seen in action are: 4/8 Limit Hold’em, 1/3 NL Hold’em, and 2/5 NL Hold’em. I would guess that a PLO game gets up and running on Friday and Saturday nights.
Cell Reception: Cell reception has been good whenever I have happened to check. What is very nice is that there is free wifi.
My General Impressions: The poker room has but 6 tables. So at prime times one might have to wait a considerable amount of time for a seat (e.g., an hour or more). They do accept call-ins to reserve a spot on the wait list so I strongly suggest doing so. The dealers and managers are very experienced. Regular players from the other local poker rooms (Isle of Capri, L’Auberge, and Coushatta) will recognize all of the faces as most all of the poker room staff seem to have come from one of these three competitors.
While the staff are good at what they do, the handling of the waiting players is a mess. First, the wait list is old-fashioned pen and paper. So unless you are going to hang out at the check-in desk to hear your name being called, leave your cell phone number. Bravo is not in place despite the pleas of the players. Apparently some automated system is coming, but word has gone back and forth regarding whether Bravo will be put in place. Something needs to be done quickly, I have seen an open seat at a table remain unfilled for over an hour when there was a long wait list for open seats.
I have only played 1/3 NL at the GN so far. I was actually surprised that the play was fairly reasonable –players actually respecting a 3 or 5 BB raise pre-flop. And stack sizes were not out of control, $1300 was the largest I’ve played against, but stacks usually range from $200 to $600 in my experience so a $300 buy-in is usually sufficiently big enough to not be pushed around. Most every player that takes a seat is competent so don’t expect an easy game.
I have no idea about what happens in the limit game.
I have watched the action in the 2/5 games; it is not for the faint of heart. Stacks range from $1000 to $5000 and pre-flop action can be expensive. The 2/5 game at the GN is similar to the 2/5 game at L’Auberge, in fact some of the regular faces from L’Auberge have simply slid over to the new casino on the block. The 2/5 games is for experienced players with deep pockets.
The casino itself is beautiful and I hear the restaurants are great!