You all know I love the Venetian but they’ve shot themselves in the foot and wounded me in the process. Since I was in town in December they’ve raised the poker rake from $4 to $5. No big deal you say. Not so. As they’re going one way the competition is going the other. Caesar’s Palace poker room relocated in June 2014 to an open area just beyond the sports book. At the same time they did away with their jackpots and reduced the cash game rake to $4.

Add to this that the Venetian are starting a refurbishment reducing the size of the poker room from 59 to 39 tables. Apparently the bean counters say the poker room isn’t paying its way so it’s time to make room for something that does. I’ve heard plans for more slots and a stadium blackjack set up. Why anyone would want to come to Vegas to play blackjack on a machine is beyond me but let’s see.

Trouble is it says the Venetian is no longer representing itself as a flagship poker room. I’m not done with the place yet but I thought I’d check out Caesars to see how they’re doing. My decision was made easier by an incident the previous evening.

Courtesy of the good old IRS we’re no longer allowed to play with cash on the table in a cash game. I don’t like the way the Venetian is dealing with this. I lost several big pots in a row and was down to $15 so I pulled out two more $100 bills and put them on the table before the next hand was dealt. The dealer is supposed to change them for chips or call a chip runner. He started dealing. I pointed out the bills but they were not allowed to play. You guessed it – I finally won a pot with a four way all in and was limited to $15. It cost me $600.

So, it’s the next day and for the first time in years I’m not playing at the Venetian but at Caesars instead. There are three $1 $2 no limit Holdem games in progress. The action is moderate so I’m writing this from the table. The dealers are fine, in fact I recognise a couple from across the road. The room is clean and modern although the cocktail waitresses are still elderly. I’m saving myself a Dollar a hand in rake. The free wifi evidently works fine.

Am I going to jump ship for good? No, there’s no variety of games here, the risk for the Venetian is that I defect to Aria instead at the other end of the Strip where there is a choice of games. That would mean staying down that end as many others have done. We’ll see. I would mention that the guy next to me just said that he used to play at the Venetian but left when the rake went up. When he queried the decision he was allegedly told by management that they wanted tourist custom more than local custom so he left. I couldn’t verify this but he was adamant and very anti Venetian.

Im going to play out this trip then reevaluate the position.

Written by Ian Foster