As mentioned in the previous post, I was at Imperial Palace for a few hours last night. I wanted to see if they had managed to get their new poker room open as scheduled. They had.
First, here's what the old room now looks like--kind of sad and deserted. The city's most absurdly oversized poker tables sit unused:
And now for the new, looking pretty much the same as it did a few days ago when I showed you the sneak-peek photos--except now there are people in it:
This post's title is kind of misleading, I guess, in that the implied next words do not pertain; that is, the room is neither a little bit louder nor a little bit worse.
Here's the rundown, item by item, as I see it.
- Dealers and floor: Same.
- Chairs: Same.
- Tables: Lovely two-tone tan felt, very nice. Normal size, for a change. Still playing ten-handed. But these are rickety folding tables, clearly not meant for permanent use. They wobble like crazy anytime somebody puts his elbows on the table, or removes them, or pushes away from the table, or whatever. That's annoying. No built-in cupholders. Shufflers in every table.
- Noise: I couldn't tell that it was meaningfully more or less noisy than before.
- Smoke: Last night it seemed less bad than the old spot. But if you look closely you might be able to see that the poker "room" is just roped off from the slot machines on two sides, and a couple of the tables are right next to the ropes. Some players had already figured out that they could just duck under the rope for a drag, come back to the table to play a hand, fold it, step back for another puff or two, repeat as needed. That occasionally transpired in the old room, but it required several more steps and was harder to coordinate, so it wasn't a frequent occurence, in my experience. I think it will be more common now. I don't think there is going to be much overall improvement, and it might be somewhat worse. When you can smoke literally three feet from the table, calling it a "non-smoking" room is laughable.
- Service: The check-in desk is now the same place from which to buy chips. This avoids having to walk to the back of the room for chips before being seated. However, it can also mean longer waits for everybody, because the list management functions are competing for a tiny space with the cashier. Last night I had the surliest cashier I've ever encountered in a poker room. I tipped her a buck when cashing out, as I usually do. Then when putting my money in my wallet, I noticed that I had a surfeit of 20s, and asked her to change ten of them for two Benjamins to reduce the wallet bulge. She had completely undisguised contempt for me daring to impose on her in that way--scowls, sighs, rolled eyes--even though the extra transaction cost her not more than 15 seconds, when she wasn't doing anything else anyway. That was the last time I will tip her for doing her job.
- TVs: With rare exceptions, I pay only minimal attention to the televisions in poker rooms anyway, but I did notice that there are only a couple present, and many seats have no view of any monitor at all.
- Lighting: This may be the best part of the upgrade. IP's old poker room had about the crappiest table lighting in the city. The new room has done a far, far better job of that. At least the table I was sitting at last night was perfectly illuminated for my taste: bright and even, with no glare.
- Temperature: I'm sure this will fluctuate from day to day and season to season, but if last night was any indication of a trend, you could use the extra space in the room for aging beef carcasses. It was about the coldest I've ever known a poker room to be. Ridiculous.
- Space: There is quite a bit more space between tables than before, but it was still a bit tight if two people back-to-back at adjacent tables were trying to enter or exit at the same time.
- Traffic: Unlikely to be any difference, since the two spaces are literally only about a dozen steps from each other.
- Reception: The old room was a perennial dead zone for my AT&T cell phone. I always had to step outside for a Twitter update or to send a text message. Even though the new room is only a short distance away, it seemed to have a meaningfully better signal. Not great, but about half of the time I could get a Twitter page update when I tried, with a "connection failure" the other half. That's an improvement.
- Restrooms: The same restrooms as before remain the closest ones, but now they are that much farther away. It's one of the longest restroom hikes among the city's poker rooms, and it's along a corridor that is chronically clogged with idiots obliviously blocking the path for no good reason.
I think the general effect is one of a minor upgrade.