Atlantic City will celebrate the opening of two new casinos on Thursday, a sign that the city’s gaming industry is rebounding from the downward spiral that it seemed caught in earlier this decade. But while there will be plenty of curious visitors checking out these two new resorts, poker is hardly a blip for the new destinations.
Both new casinos are actually previous venues that are being reopened by new owners, with the Hard Rock opening in place of the former Trump Taj Mahal, and the former Revel being relaunched as Ocean Resort Casino.
Taj Tradition Won’t Continue
When the Taj Mahal closed in 2016, it took with it perhaps the most storied poker room on the East Coast. While it had since been surpassed by the Borgata as Atlantic City’s premier poker destination, the Taj had cache as the traditional hub for grinders, a reputation that was immortalized in the film Rounders.
Poker had already been in decline at the Taj even before the casino shut its doors: the room had been closed once in 2015, then reopened with fewer tables and a tepid response from the public.
But if players were hoping that the Hard Rock would carry on the poker tradition at the site, they were disappointed when the extensive renovations to the interior of the resort did not include a plan to retain the poker room. Instead, the Seminole Tribe-owned casino will focus on cramming in more than 2,100 slot machines and 120 table games over a sprawling 167,000 square foot gaming floor.
Ocean Reduces Poker Room Size
The situation is slightly better over at Ocean, where all indications are that a poker room will at least exist. That shouldn’t come as a huge shock, as the Revel itself also featured a lavish poker area, featuring 37 tables when the casino opened in 2012.
But it doesn’t look like the new room will be anything near that size. According to reports, the resort will only include eight poker tables, hardly a major investment for a casino that could easily have turned itself into a world-class poker destination if it wished to do so.
What’s happening to all the space that once hosted Texas Hold’em and Omaha games? According to a report at Bloomberg.com, much of the area has been remodeled to include pool tables, air hockey, and computers. The goal: to attract the elusive millennial, the white whale of the gaming industry. The casino will also launch with a sportsbook operated by William Hill.
While the lack of a serious poker presence might be disappointing, there are still plenty of opportunities to play in Atlantic City if you want to schedule a trip to check out the new resorts. Along with the Borgata – which remains the crown jewel of the city’s poker scene – Both Harrah’s Atlantic City and Bally’s host fairly large rooms with about 40 tables each, while the Tropicana and Golden Nugget offer more intimate poker experiences.