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Live poker returns to Excalibur just for me

It’s getting close enough to my next Las Vegas trip (T-20!) that I can start to get excited about stuff I hear about that’s changing over there that will might actually still be same when I arrive.

And, you never know, some of the new stuff might even still be there when I leave - five weeks later :)

I’m not even kidding.  You just can’t plan that far ahead with Vegas.  One of the highest profile examples is at Planet Hollywood, where in April they were getting ready to unveil a new show featuring Mel B off of the Spice Girls.  She came and did her turn, but she’ll be a distant memory by the time I arrive in town.

In other news, the impending demise and susbsequent reincarnation of the Excalibur Poker Room is definitely something I can get excited about.  Only days after I left last summer, they ripped apart the live poker room, fired most of the dealers and replaced them with Pokertek electronic tables.

Now, just days before I arrive, they’re going to be putting the humans back.

This story was broken last weekend by All Vegas Poker, and I couldn’t be more pleased about it.

The Excalibur was about the closest thing I had to being my local cardroom.  I use the term very loosely as I play a nomadic style of poker, often sitting in three or four different games in an evening.  However, last summer it was the easiest place to get to from our rented house and a perfect place to begin a poker crawl on the Strip.

Even though the journey straight along Hacienda Ave drops you virtually inside Mandalay Bay, I preferred to swing down one of the back roads to the Excalibur’s garage, which was right by the doors nearest to the poker room.  With loud enough music in the car, I could be there, parked and seated in less than ten minutes.

So I’d start at Excalibur, win a bit (of course – it’s impossible not to, isn’t it?) and move on.  Going South there’s Luxor and Mandalay Bay – either via the tram or using the indoor moving walkways.  Although, as so many people seem to think that the walkways are some kind of free ride (hold tight, this one goes up to 2mph) it’s often quicker to walk on the carpet instead.

Or you can head in the other direction.  Sadly, the Tropicana no longer has poker which takes away one possible stop (although not one I made very often) but there’s always plenty of action at the MGM Grand, and if you want to move on from there it’s not too far to Monte Carlo or Planet Hollywood.

Whichever route I decided on, the Excalibur was a crucial hub of the entire operation.  Taking it out of the picture makes dotting between games at that end of the Strip a much less attractive proposition.  The trek from Luxor to MGM Grand is probably going to take you 20 minutes, even if you get the travelators all to yourself.

I have to confess I never actually played on the Pokertek tables.  I walked past several times.  I stopped, stared and kept trying to convince myself they were really not that bad.  But even though they’d kept the “spin the wheel” promotion, which I love (it almost always pays $20 when you hit quads or better or have aces cracked, but there’s a bit of excitement, and the chance of $30 or more) I just wasn’t buying it.

Excalibur is actually  the only place I’ve ever limped in with pocket aces in a super-loose $2/$4 limit game, and it’s because of the wheel factor.  However, after 6 other players called and then one raised I had no reason to keep slowplaying.  I didn’t get to spin the wheel, but I took down a pretty nice pot!

The best thing about playing at Excalibur, though, is the Krispy Kreme upstairs, serving donuts 24 hours a day.  Because what I really need to help me wind down after an intense night of poker… is an extreme sugar rush.

This summer we’re staying in the same house as last year and the Excalibur’s triumpant return to live poker is extremely welcome.