Just weeks after the conclusion of the 20212 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, one of Caesars Entertainment’s most famous venues is closing its cardroom for good.

As of the end of November, the Flamingo is no longer offering poker on the Strip. This week saw its temporary closure during the WSOP as made permanent.

A Shut Down to Help the Rio

The Flamingo was one of two Caesars’ casinos to be closed temporarily during the 2021 World Series of Poker which took place at the Rio. This, of course, had the natural knock-on effect of driving more footfall traffic to the home of the WSOP. But while Bally’s has naturally been re-opened due to it being the venue for the WSOP from May 2022 along with Paris, the Flamingo’s poker room has remained closed. It will do so indefinitely.

Caesars Entertainment still retains two cardrooms in Sin City, but with Bally’s now only joined by Caesars Palace itself, the likelihood is that the business’ poker focus is now firmly behind Bally’s in a bid to push poker players towards calling it their favorite poker room ahead of the next World Series.

That begins in May of next year, meaning poker in Las Vegas is all about getting players back to the Strip. A long 16 summers and one Autumn have seen poker hopefuls pitch up at the Rio. Amateurs and professionals alike used to the off-Strip focus of the Rio Hotel & Casino will need to adjust. The landscape of poker in Las Vegas is changing.

Beyond Bally’s and Paris

Caesars’ focus is bound to be on Bally’s and Paris, with the twin venues for the 2022 World Series of Poker operating just a few hundred yards apart in Las Vegas Boulevard on the Strip. The Flamingo had 11 poker tables, so was never going to be anywhere near big enough to be of any use to the WSOP.

Big fields and a massive list of tournaments – the 2022 version of the WSOP is likely to feature anywhere up to 100 bracelet events including online tournaments – mean vast live venues space is needed. Any way you look at it, the Flamingo didn’t fit the needs of the World Series of Poker.

Beyond Bally’s and Paris, however, will the World Series of Poker returning to the famous Las Vegas Strip necessitate more poker rooms rather than less? If so, then doesn’t it make sense for Caesars to keep their poker rooms in other properties running rather than not? Sadly, the 2021 outlook for this is very different to how any poker franchise may have looked at the same proposition before the world began to fight COVID-19. Restrictions mean that less players can be accommodated, so closure of poker rooms, then the mushrooming of new ones as necessary may well become the norm.

Flamingo Joins List of Lost Poker Rooms

The Flamingo is by far from the only Las Vegas casino to close in recent times. This July, Planet Hollywood closed its popular poker room, adding to the list of defunct dealer hubs at casinos such as Binion’s, Palace Station and the Mirage, leading to a million Rounders memes about exactly how angry Mike McDermott and his pals might have been about that back in the day.

Still, despite other closures, the Flamingo shutting its doors to poker players feels like a big moment. Maybe it’s the memories of pink felt or the fact that former owner Bugsy Seigel’s business partner Billy Wilkerson – a compulsive gambler whose addiction cost him full ownership of the Flamingo would long ago have been found playing poker whatever the time of day or night. Wilkerson named his casino the Flamingo because he loved rare and exotic birds.

While players can still shuffle up and deal at locations such as the Wynn, the Bellagio, or the ever-popular ARIA  as well as Bally’s and Caesar’s Palace, a little of Las Vegas’ poker history went in recent days as the Flamingo had its wings clipped.

Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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