Imperial Palace Poker Room Review
Dec 15, 2005  
2005 Jason Kirk  

The Imperial Palace is among the many Las Vegas casinos that decided having a poker room wasn't a bad investment once they realized the magnitude of the poker boom. The room has been open since last summer, putting it ahead of some of the other newcomers in terms of the time the dealers and management have had to acclimate themselves to handling a steady flow of traffic. While it's far from the prettiest room in town, there is still a lot to recommend the Imperial Palace to anyone who isn't interested in high-stakes gambling.

In one sense the location of the IP's room is perfect, thanks to the casino being squarely in the middle of the Strip. There's really no long-established competition for low-stakes poker players nearby, so anyone in this area who has about $100 they want to blow on poker usually ends up in the IP. On the other hand, once you get inside the casino and see where the room is actually located you realize that the casino's management just threw the room into the first corner it could find. Located on the third floor of the casino, in between the Burger Palace and the Emperor's Buffet and across from the ballroom, is an area once filled with cheap slot machines and now occupied by about 10 tables. There is a rail around the poker area that serves to separate it from the rest of open space, and no smoking is allowed inside the rail.

The location of the room within the casino isn't ideal, but luckily there are plenty of other things going for it. For starters, there's the stakes. It's obviously not a room that's trying to compete with the Bellagio or Mirage, but anyone who doesn't want to play above $4-8 while they're in Las Vegas probably doesn't need to look much further than Imperial Palace. With 10 tables, there are plenty of low-stakes games running here all the time. You can find $2-4 nearly any time of day and there's usually at least one $4-8 game running. There's also a no-limit hold'em game with $1 and $2 blinds that can be very profitable. Be warned, though - it's all hold'em all the time at the IP. If you want Stud or Omaha this probably isn't your room.

The Imperial Palace poker room runs tournaments most days of the week. For a $55 buy-in you get $1300 in tournament chips. A $25 add-on gives you an extra $1000 in chips, and at least one rebuy is allowed in the first hour. Levels are only 15 minutes, so the structure moves very quickly. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays the tournaments run at 1 PM, while on Tuesdays and Thursdays they run at 7 PM. Registration for these tournaments begins 2 hours prior to the first hand, and you can expect upwards of 50 to 60 people to sign up along with you.

The dealers at the IP are a mixed bag. When the room first opened there wasn't much advance notice so the management got whomever it could. Now that they've been operating for a year things are much better. Those dealers who aren't very good don't tend to stick out much, but the best of them are friendly and very good at their jobs.

There are two really great things about playing at the Imperial Palace, and the first one is the competition. You're unlikely to find many long-term winning players in the IP room most of the time - it has a reputation for some of the loosest, softest games anywhere on the Strip. There's a lot of big-pair-cracking, river-flushing action going on here. Anyone who's prone to tilt would probably do well to stay away, but those who can handle a little variance in their game will have a shot at walking out with a lot of money any time they walk through the doors. The other great thing about the Imperial Palace poker room is the management. The people running the room have the attitude that looking out for the players is a good long-term investment. Besides the feeling of being welcome in the room anytime, one of the direct benefits is the $3 per hour comp rate given to all players. This is easily the most generous rate on the Strip, and it keeps players coming back over and over.

Anyone wanting to high-roll while in Vegas will probably head to the Bellagio, but those on smaller bankrolls will want to pay a visit to the Imperial Palace at least once. Between the comps and the soft competition, the chances of making money at the room are very good for anyone with a little patience.

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