I heard via Twitter that about a week ago Bill's moved its poker room, so this evening I put in a short session there to see what I might think about it.
What I think is this: They killed the three distractions that I most liked about the old room.
First, the old room had the best people-watching vantage point of any poker tables in the city, bar none. Particularly in the summer when they would leave the exterior doors wide open, it was almost like sitting on the sidewalk to play, but with air conditioning. Watching the freaks and tourists was the best part of playing at Bill's. Well, besides making money, that is.
Second, if you were there at the three showtimes a day, you could listen in on Big Elvis performing maybe 40 yards away. I doubt that you'll be able to hear him in the new location. I like Big Elvis. In fact, Big Elvis got married tonight, at Bill's. I was there and snapped the photo above. (That wasn't pure coincidence. I had read about the nuptials in the Las Vegas Sun, and picked today for my visit partly because of the chance to peek in on it.) The wedding took place in the same spot that he performs every day, though they dressed it up so differently you wouldn't be able to tell from the pictures. That guy is one hunka hunka burnin' love. (There is, however, a lot less of him than there used to be.)
Third, when Big Elvis wasn't performing, they had pop oldies playing in the casino--it's music I grew up listening to and gives me a pleasant rush of nostalgia. As far as I can tell, it doesn't play in the new location, probably because people in the immediately adjacent race/sports book want to be able to hear the game or race being called. (Pure speculation on my part there.)
So now playing there is just the poker. Less fun. I know, I know--I'm not supposed to be there for the people-watching or for Big Elvis or for the soundtrack of my youth. But one can't pay attention to the game all the time, and I enjoy having something else going on as a respite from studying for tells and calculating pot odds. They took those things away, and I don't like it.
The new location is also right next to a bar, and when I arrived the entire region was stinking to high heaven from some nasty dude's big fat cigar. The old room was pretty smoky, too, but they didn't improve the situation any, it appears to me.
Bill's poker room caters to beginning players, with the lowest stakes and buy-in of any NLHE game in town. (The MGM "beginners' game" may be an exception; I don't know its parameters offhand.) Many, many times I have seen people wandering by and deciding to play because of those factors--people who started their day with no intention of playing poker, and who had never played poker in a casino before. I think that the walk-by player factor will be meaningfully decreased in the new location, as it's a bit off the beaten path of the slots and table games. It's sort of hidden behind and roped off from the player's card service area and the $1 hot dog stand.
I'm not exactly a frequent flier at Bill's these days, but I'm afraid that my visits will become even fewer and farther between than they have been. I'm giving the room change a big thumbs down.
Random fact learned at the poker table tonight: Cicadas are the only insects that can sweat to cool down when it's hot. This came up because a young woman seated next to me had a cicada tattooed on her arm. Why? I have no idea. But she did. And seeing it prompted another player to volunteer to be Cliff Claven (he brought up that name himself) and tell us about cicada sweat. I didn't think he was pulling our legs, but I had no idea whether the information was reliable. When I got home, however, and Googled it, I became convinced. I found this paragraph here:
In perhaps its most novel defense, the desert cicada has developed an
extraordinary ability to remain active throughout mid-day, when most would-be
predators have to seek shelter from the desert heat. Notably, the cicada,
unlike any other known insect, can sweat, which helps it dissipate heat.
“When threatened with overheating,” said University of Arizona entomologist
Robert L. Smith in an article called “Keepin’ Cool and Dodgin’ Spines,” “desert
cicadas extract water from their blood and transport it through large ducts to
the surface of the thorax, where it evaporates. The cooling that results
permits a few desert cicada species to be active when temperatures are so high
that their enemies are incapacitated by the heat. No other insects have
been shown to have the ducts required for sweating."
So there ya go. Now I ask you--what other poker blog could you have read today that would have educated you about cicada sweat? NONE, I tell you!