The Riviera poker room is just a roped-off area, as is common with many Strip casinos. Despite some of the fixtures and fittings being a little worn, the area is clean and smells better than many similar facilities. It's also quiet, which is something of a mixed blessing since it reflects the fact the casino floor in general is not particularly busy. Overall it's comfortable.
The level of competition varies considerably with time of day and time of year. If you happen to turn up when locals are grinding freeroll hours you're unlikely to make a big score, but equally you have to play poorly to lose a lot to the regulars. Soft competition is mostly dependent on which conventions are either at the hotel or the convention center. Some of the least competent 1/2 players I've ever seen have been at the Riviera, but rather like good deals on Cuban heels at Overstock.com their appearance is sporadic.
Very friendly dealers to newbies and locals alike. Technically proficient, they keep the games moving.
To enjoy the cocktail service at the Riv it helps to have a sense of humor. The orange juice is gray, so avoid that. There is one cocktail waitress in particular who looks like she is about to clip the ear of anyone who gives her any back chat. (To be fair, I did once see her smile.) Equally there are a couple of servers who act like cocktail waitresses.
Friendly management, explained all the comps and deals clearly and keep a well-ordered room. It's apparent there is a real attempt underway to get the Riviera poker room hopping again. The inaugural 10k guarantee tournament on July 9th is one example of these efforts. Clearly the Riviera has suffered from the overall decline in action on the north end of the Strip, but casino management seems committed to improvements (the pepto pink paint is being covered with what I am told is "magnolia") and the poker room seems an important part of that overall plan.
The comps work great for me because I live nearby and it's easy to qualify for the weekly $2,500 freeroll. Obviously that is less attractive for tourists who won't be staying over a Sunday. Freeroll hours are made easier to obtain by double-hours periods throughout the day. There are other jackpots such as BBJP that are modified regularly and seem fine. Also a buck an hour for food. Those dollars can be used for the July 9th tournament too which I like.