Las Vegas is undergoing some huge development mainly in the City Centre area. We decided to find out exactly what’s been changing

Las Vegas has seen a lot of change, but with the latest development – the $11bn CityCenter – the Strip has undergone a very different facelift

Long before cards were in the air, the casino cage was loaded up with stacks of Benjamins and the high-roller suites were pimped out for big players, CityCenter was evident on the Las Vegas skyline.

Butting up against the Strip, it is MGM Mirage’s complex of hotels, restaurants, clubs, luxe shopping, and one gorgeous casino that you just couldn’t miss. The architecture is bold and distinctive, resembling something you’d see in Gotham City and worlds away from any structures that old Benny Binion could possibly have envisioned.

In short, whether you’re visiting Vegas to play the Main Event this year or just hitting the town to gamble it up, CityCenter is a good place to be. For my purposes – that is, wanting to leave Las Vegas with more money than I brought – the centrepiece of CityCenter is its single hotel-casino-resort: Aria.

It is a seductive place, looking and feeling different from any other joint in town. If the Wynn evokes California cool, then Aria has the harder edges you associate with New York City. The accommodations are lush and sophisticated, coloured in earth tones and offering some of the best views in town.

Yeah, that’s nice for the times when you’re munching room service or playing online. But nobody goes to Vegas so they can hang out in a nice hotel room. Even the Phil Iveys of the world, set up in 6,000 square-foot penthouse suites, feel a magnetic pull that draws them from their private saunas to the head of the high stakes craps table. Just about everyone, for good or ill, visits Las Vegas in order to gamble too much, party too hard, and snooze as little as possible.

As one high-gambling CityCenter executive told me, ‘The only reason anyone here goes to sleep is because they’re too drunk, too tired or too broke.’

Room With A View

First stop then, for anyone of our ilk, is the poker room. If you happen to be among the rarefied handful who play live nosebleed stakes, you will be very happy here, inside a private Big Game enclave that takes the Bobby’s Room concept to a whole new level, creating the kind of handsome, subdued, leather and wood-toned room that would be the poker digs of your dreams – accented by a bevy of flat-screens and a private cage for discreetly cashing out your cool million in cranberry chips.

It’s simple, elegant and has already hosted at least one marathon session instigated by a rich whale who wanted to mix it up with the pros. Naturally they were only too happy to accommodate.

For the rest of us, Aria’s standard poker room is excellent as well. It’s outfitted with comfy chairs, good dealers, big tables and brand new chips that have not yet been gummed up by a bunch of sticky-fingered yobs. While the cash games are good, the daily tournaments are even better.

On the afternoon that I buy in for $120, my result is not the desired one, but I love the 10,000-chip starting stacks and the structure that has blinds rising every 30 minutes. There was plenty of play in a tournament that ran for six hours or so.

Spending Money

That said, even the most diehard among us cannot live on poker alone. Stroll through the high stakes precincts of the Aria’s gambling pit and you’ll see the likes of dice-tossing Ivey, dapper Sammy Farha and pint-sized Chau Giang firing it up for ungodly sums.

No doubt they’ll be eating at fabulous restaurants like sushi-intensive Bar Massa, where the fish gets shipped in daily from Japan, and Julian Serrano, where the namesake chef cooks the best paella you’ll ever eat.

The nightclubs Eve and Haze offer table service on relatively intimate scales (though, if you must party much past 2am, you’ll still have to hit the den of debauchery called Drai’s), and the adjacent Crystals shopping mall boasts the largest Louis Vuitton outlet in America, a two-storey branch of Tiffany, and hot sunglasses shop Ilori.

They serve as the perfect spots for putting casino winnings to good use. After all, we are going to win, right? Right?

If you want 24 pages of expert poker strategy for free then you should grab a digital copy of PokerPlayer magazine HERE

Pin It

Comments are closed.