Sandia Poker Room

Sandia Poker Room Review

The Sandia Poker Room is part of a full-service casino in Albuquerque New Mexico that sits at the base of the Sandia Mountains. The casino’s locale maximizes both convenience and natural beauty, making a trip to the poker room a low-stress event. The poker room itself enhanced that relaxed feeling and offered some excellent perks.

Setting and Non-Poker Amenities

The Sandia Resort & Casino sits on the north edge of Albuquerque, right at the intersection of routes 25 and 556. It is convenient to reach from downtown Albuquerque and is less than an hour southwest of Santa Fe.  For those who have not been to New Mexico, we recommend that you take some time to visit both cities. Santa Fe, in particular, is one of the nicest low-key capital cities in the country. We spent a couple of nights there returning home from our month in Las Vegas. We enjoyed several great meals and spent time walking around the downtown area taking in the architecture, shopping, and museums.

Sandia also lies just a few miles from the Sandia Peak Tramway. If you don’t mind heights, the tramway is a great way to get an overview of Albuquerque and the surrounding desert and mountain ranges.

Sandia offers a full-service casino containing a sea of slots, a few table games, and a bingo hall in addition to poker room. It is a non-smoking casino and, in general, is very clean and easy to maneuver around.  Sandia contains a variety of bars and casual dining options as well, many of which were closed due to COVID protocols. Sandia, however, lacks the typical high-end steak house and other high-end options available at most large casinos. But that is a nitpick, as there are certainly plenty of dining options. There is a hotel right onsite with a luxury spa, a ballroom and amphitheater, and an adjoining golf course. The Sandia Resort & Casino certainly lives up to the resort part of the name.

Sandia Poker Room Comfort

The poker room is immediately on the right as you enter through the main doors of the casino. The poker room is fully self-contained and away from the bustle of the casino floor. The room has high ceilings, with good air flow, and is quiet and very well lit. The poker room is attractively designed and is large enough that the fourteen poker tables are very well spaced. Twenty TVs ring the room so there is literally no seat where you aren’t staring at 3-4 TVs.

The poker tables are large with clean felts, padded rails, auto-shufflers, and USB ports. The chips were clean, although a bit worn. The chairs are well-padded with wheels, adjustable, and overall very comfortable.

The room has a very pleasing, relaxing feel, and makes for a nice environment to play.

Poker Room Staff

The front desk staff was very polite and put me on the short waiting list. I only waited about 15 minutes before I got a seat at a $1/$3 table. There did not seem to be a lot of waitstaff circulating for drink orders. However, the stop-the-presses bonus was the excellent dealers. These were undoubtedly the best combination of friendly and fast I’ve seen in a long while, perhaps back to years ago when we played Turning Stone in New York. The dealers were able to pleasantly banter with players while keeping the hand moving and attending to all of the action. It was really quite remarkable to watch.



 

Players at the Sandia Poker Room

Play was 9-handed in the $1/$3 cash game. As my visit was mid-day and  midweek, the players skewed older, with many clearly over 65. There were only a couple of women playing in the entire room. Despite the age profile, play was surprisingly aggressive. The second hand I witnessed involved a pre-flop raise to $20 with a call, followed by a $50 c-bet and all-in shove and call. Things did not slow down much from there. There were also several button straddles.  Players seemed unafraid to get large portions of their stacks in the middle with marginal hands. Players were, however, very friendly and good-naturedly teased each other throughout.

The very comfortable Sandia Poker Room is set in a beautiful location and boasts some of the highest quality dealers we have seen.Click To Tweet

Cash Play Activity

Of the 14 tables, seven were active on this midweek afternoon, with several $1/$3 tables, at least one $2/$5 tables, and a $3-$6 limit game. There were short waiting lists for all 3 games.

Tournament Structures

The Sandia Poker Room was not running tournaments at the time we visited. Subsequently, it has added a Sunday 12pm, and Monday and Tuesday 7pm tournaments. All three cost between $40 (Monday) and $60 (Sunday) buy-ins.  The Sunday afternoon tournament offers a starting stack of 6,000 chips (with a $10 add-on for 3,000 more chips) and 20-minute blinds. It also rakes $20 from the $60 for a very high 33% rake. The Monday and Tuesday tournaments have 15-minute blind levels, a 4,000 starting stack on Monday, a 5,000 stack for Tuesday, and $5 add-ons for 2,000/2,500 more chips, respectively. All tournaments allow infinite rebuys and 4,000 chip add-ons through the first four levels.

If you are a fan of short-stack, highly variable, and likely multiple buy-in events, Sandia has you covered! Bingo poker at its best.

Overall Assessment of the Sandia Poker Room

The Sandia Poker Room offers one of the best combinations of setting, comfortable environment, and elite dealers you will find. Starting with a beautiful location and nicely designed resort and casino, Sandia’s management clearly has an eye to doing things professionally with a very relaxed and pleasant feel. This approach has filtered down to the poker room, which could not have been more pleasant to play in. But the greatest strength of the Sandia poker room is the dealers.

If there is a drawback to the Sandia poker room, it is the extremely shallow-stacked tournaments with aggressive structures. However, if you are in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area and want to get in a few hours of cash play, you will not be disappointed by the Sandia Poker Room.

 

  • Comfort
  • Personnel
  • Tournament Structures
3.8

Summary

The Sandia Poker Room offers one of the best combinations of setting, comfortable environment, and elite dealers you will find. Starting with a beautiful location and nicely designed resort and casino, Sandia’s management clearly has an eye to doing things professionally with a very relaxed and pleasant feel. This approach has filtered down to the poker room, which could not have been more pleasant to play in. But the greatest strength of the Sandia poker room is the dealers.

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