The Encore Boston Harbor opened with a splash this June. Predictions about the new casino’s impact on the New England poker scene swirled. The Encore would drain players from all of the New Hampshire poker rooms. The Encore would take the best dealers. Twin Rivers would shut down. Foxwoods would go bankrupt. Chasers would lose all its business. And on, and on.
Planet Hollywood sits on the Las Vegas Strip surrounded by a variety of notable poker venues. To the north on the East side lies the Venetian, while to the north on the West side is Caesars Palace. Across the street are the Bellagio and Aria. Planet Hollywood is right in the midst of the Strip action. In June we got a chance to drop in for the Goliath poker series Tag Team Switch tournament. While we did not have the full Planet Hollywood poker room experience, we were able to assess the casino overall.
Planet Hollywood sits on the strip right next to Paris and across from the Aria. It is relatively close to McCarran airport as well. Planet Hollywood initially opened as the Aladdin, and fully renovated in 2000. But when the Aladdin fell on hard times in 2007, it was purchased by the Planet Hollywood Corporation (in conjunction with Starwood Hotels & Resorts) and renamed Planet Hollywood. Today the Planet Hollywood casino is one of the many Las Vegas properties (including the Rio, the Linq, The Flamingo, and Paris) owned by Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation.
Planet Hollywood’s central location is ideal as a base to walk to most of the other Strip casinos. Walk north and in about 20-30 minutes you can reach the top of the Strip (Wynn, Palazzo, and Venetian). Go south and you can reach the Luxor and Mandalay Bay. Also, as of this writing, Planet Hollywood’s self-parking remains blessedly free. Free parking is a dying breed on the Strip.
For the past three years, Paul and I have been lucky enough to attend the World Series of Poker. We, of course, haven’t been able to be there for the entire (almost two month) extravaganza. But in the past few years we’ve attended the WSOP for a few days, topping out at a whole week in 2019. As a poker player, there is nothing like visiting Vegas during the WSOP. It is, to steal our own words, the pilgrimage all poker players should make at least once in their lives.
Why We Love Attending the World Series of Poker
The energy level at the Rio during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is off the charts. There is at least one bracelet event every day and multiple other events (daily deepstacks, satellites, cash games) that keep the Rio’s extensive convention center humming. On opening days of large events (e.g., Big 50, Colossus or Main Event) tournament tables spill into the Rio’s poker room, hallways, and even the old bowling alley! There is generally a final table being recorded for ESPN or PokerGo in the Amazon Room. Anyone can grab a seat and sweat the action, and possibly end up on TV!
This weekend we made our annual pilgrimage to the Williamstown Theater Festival (WTF) in Western Massachusetts. Every summer we make sure to fit in a play at WTF and spend the weekend in the Berkshires, enjoying some of the great things that the mountains of Western Massachusetts have to offer. Last weekend we also snuck in a quick visit to The Rivers a mere hour and a half away for another poker survivor tournament. We thought this was a perfect time to share our thoughts on the best things to do in the Berkshires.
Best Things To Do in the Berkshires
There is an amazing variety of museums in the Berkshires. You can find cutting edge modern art at MASS MoCA, a world class collection of impressionists at The Clark Art Institute, and a combination of art, science, and natural history at the Berkshire Museum. Whatever type of museum tickles your fancy, you can find it in the Berkshires.
While the Strip draws the vast majority of poker players in Las Vegas, there are several poker rooms off the Strip. One of our favorites is the Orleans, which we have visited multiple times. The Golden Nugget poker room provides another option right in the center of Downtown Vegas. Offering smaller, more intimate atmosphere than many poker rooms on the Strip, the Golden Nugget presents a nice respite from the wild action along Fremont Street.
The Golden Nugget resides in Old Vegas, sited downtown between the famed Fremont Street and East Carson Avenue. It’s right across from Binion’s, the original home of the World Series of Poker. For those who have not been, Fremont Street is a scene. The locale features street performers, a zip line, vendors selling all manner of wares, and people in all sorts of costumes (some minimal). Perhaps not necessarily where you would take your 8-year-old, but a fascinating melting pot of Vegas decadence that is worth at least one visit.
The Golden Nugget’s parking is not free for the public, but if you play in the casino they will validate your ticket. We got our ticket validated at the tournament registration desk and our parking was indeed free.