This weekend Hooters Casino opened in Las Vegas, and All Vegas Poker was at the scene. Check out the pictures of the brand new Hooters poker room, and read the opening weekend review.
My fiancée will not like to hear what I am about to tell you, but…
I love Hooters!
And I predict many visitors to Las Vegas will love Hooters too.
In a corporate world dominated by political correctness, Hooters is refreshing. The Hooters concept works so well because it is a brand the average Joe can identify with. That has to be the real winning recipe (because it’s definitely not the chicken wings).
Let’s face it - a lot of us can not afford to drop big bills at the door to the hottest nightclub of the week. We’re simply not cut out for sucking down $26 martinis, ordering $250 bottles of Grey Goose, and slipping obligatory five-spots into the open palm of the bathroom attendant. We can dry our own hands, thanks.
And that’s really what Hooters is all about - men who prefer to dry their own hands. Average Joes.
Over the past 15 years or so, Las Vegas has distanced itself from the average Joe. Each new multi-billion dollar mega-resort is pressured to outdo the one built before it. The inevitable consequence is increased costs to visitors, and the result is that average Joe is being priced out of the market.
But Hooters gives average Joe a home… and a decent little poker room.
Nobody will ever mistake the poker room at Hooters for a classy place like Wynn or Bellagio. This joint doesn’t have a hint of class. But what it does have is character.
The poker room at Hooters is a real poker room, but just barely. It is located in a tiny elevated corner of the casino, right between the sports book and the casino rewards desk.
The main entrance to the poker room is underwhelming. There is a single narrow door that looks like it belongs on Uncle Bob’s mobile home. It really does look like something you would see in a trailer park (or so I am told).
Inside the poker room you will find exactly one conventional wall covering – a painting of dogs playing poker. That’s it for style points. I guess they were going for a poor man’s Monte Carlo vibe.
You will however find several unconventional items hanging on the walls. For example, each wall has a metallic no smoking sign that reads as follows, “NO SMOKING: CALIFORNIA STATE LAW (I know we're not in California but you're still not allowed to smoke here." That is trademark Hooters humor for ya.
The floor of the poker room is wood, just like the most of the casino floor. There are two large plasma televisions, plus two considerably smaller standard televisions. Unfortunately none of the huge projection televisions in the sports book are easily visible from the poker room.
There is no computer list management system, but this poker room is so small I doubt one would ever be needed. However, it would be nice if there was at least an intercom system so poker players could mill around the casino while waiting for a seat. After all, there is a lot of scenery in this casino, and I’m not talking about wall decorations now.
An electronic player comp tracking system is on order and should be installed soon. As for comps, management is working on the exact structure, but you can expect around $1 per hour, which is about average in Vegas. A special hotel rate for poker players is also in the works, and it could require as few as four hours of play to qualify.
There are only three tables inside the poker room, but they are big and bold, dressed up in Hooters colors and logos. The poker tables do not have auto-shufflers, but they do have built-in drink holders. The poker room is definitely snug, but I wouldn’t call it cramped. Of course, I wasn’t there when all three tables were full.
When I visited there were only two tables going, and each was spreading $1/2 No Limit with $50 min / $200 max buy-ins. I’ve had my fill of No Limit cash games, so I didn’t play, but I did hang out inside the poker room long enough to get a good feel for the place.
I chatted with several of the dealers. Some were experienced, but others were dealing poker for the first time in their careers. I understand several of the staff members are from the relatively new poker room at Tuscany Las Vegas.
The cocktail waitresses wear the traditional Hooters outfit – tank-top, orange shorts, and sneakers. The women are mostly young and very attractive. They bring drinks, but they also bring food. In fact, table side food service is available from any of the Hooters Casino restaurants at regular menu prices.
One great point about the poker room is the relatively low rake. Right now, the rake is only $3 / 10% max. That is low by Vegas standards, where the rake at most strip-casinos (and those nearby) is $4 / 10% max. Also, no jackpot rake is withdrawn yet, but jackpots are eventually expected.
One potential problem is casino noise. The poker room is separated from the sports book by only a pony-wall, and the sports book at Hooters is really more like a sports bar. As such, the noise from the bar can filter through, and it can get quite loud inside the poker room. This really isn’t a deal breaker, unless you’re extra-sensitive to ambient noise.
I really believe that the poker room at Hooters, as well as the overall Hooters Casino Hotel, will be successful. The environment is mildly distasteful, but not offensive. It has a really energetic and playful vibe which works well in Vegas. It is also at the lower end of the Las Vegas market in terms of cost to visitors. I think a lot of people can appreciate a good value; and Hooters seems to be just that.
Not to mention the joint has some mighty nice scenery (but don't tell my fiancée).