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Golden Nugget Las Vegas: Live Poker Review - easy $$$


At, we specialize in information relating to online poker sites, but this doesn't mean we're unacquainted with the game as played live in hundreds of cardrooms across the nation. Indeed, we find it a relaxing change of pace to sit with a stack of chips at a physical poker table and increase that stack to a mountain by relieving our less-skilled adversaries of their hard-earned money.

We recently headed to downtown Las Vegas where we encountered the Golden Nugget poker room. After playing a couple of sessions, we composed a comprehensive Golden Nugget live poker review. Keep reading if you're curious what the games at this cardroom are like, the promotions that are available, and other details pertaining to Golden Nugget poker in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Golden Nugget hosts a 13-table poker room in Downtown Las Vegas

Location:Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada
Hours: 24/7
Promos: High Hand, Progressive Quads + Straight Flush, Bad Beat Jackpot, 24K Select Comps
Tables: 13
Rake: 10% to $5 + $2 promo drop
Miscellaneous: USB phone chargers at tables. No smoking. Eight-handed tables. Uncapped buyins
Food/Beverage: No tableside food service. Free beverages both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Pros: Multiple promotions, only poker room in Downtown LV, good tournament series
Cons: Little action besides $1/$2 NL and $3/6 LHE, no daily tournaments

Golden Nugget Poker Room Location

The Golden Nugget is located at the intersection of historic Fremont Street and S Casino Center Boulevard. During the mid-2010s, it used to be possible to stroll through the area and have your pick of poker games, like the automated electronic tables at the Plaza, cash games and tournaments at the iconic Binion's Gambling Hall, and the unusual spread-limit games offered by the El Cortez.

Sadly, this is no longer the case as the aforementioned cardrooms have closed down, one by one, with the latest being Binion's, which shuttered its room amid pandemic concerns and has not reopened it since. Although there are several cardrooms on The Strip, the Golden Nugget is now the lone locale in downtown Las Vegas for poker.

The Golden Nugget is on Fremont Street Between the Four Queens and the Golden GateGolden Nugget Las Vegas During the Day

Navigating to the Golden Nugget Casino poker room is easy from Fremont Street. While facing the casino, enter through the leftmost door. Then walk past Claude's Bar, and the cardroom is right there between the cage and a fenced-off high-limit slots area.

Golden Nugget Poker Games

Cash Games

It's expected and true that the most commonplace format of poker spread by Golden Nugget is NL Hold'em with blinds of $1/$2. There are typically at least two tables of NLHE running, and during peak periods, this can reach six or more.

In a departure from what's expected, though, this game has an uncapped buyin. There are usually one or two stacks in excess of $1,000, which can drive loose and crazy action at times.

The only other type of poker to see much exposure is $3/$6 Limit Hold'em. There's a table of LHE going more often than not, and during busier hours, you may see three or four of them active.

We've heard that $2/$5 No Limit Hold'em is sometimes spread, but we did not see any evidence of it after observing the cardroom for several days. Given that the uncapped $1/$2 game caters to low-rollers on limited budgets as well as properly bankrolled pros and rich recreational players, there's little demand for a standard-issue $2/$5 table most of the time.

The most popular cash game at the Golden Nugget is $1/$2 NLHE with uncapped buyinsThe Golden Nugget With a Few Cash Games Running

The dealers and staff here seemed particularly well-trained and experienced. The action moved smoothly, and any small disputes or foul-ups were handled quickly by the dealers without having to involve the floor. Some of the dealers have been practicing their profession for decades and were full of anecdotes from the early days of Vegas poker, including shady goings-on involving prominent poker pros.

The pattern of traffic at the Golden Nugget over time is fairly normal with only two or three tables populated during slower periods in the mornings and midafternoons. Action picks up in the evenings and on weekends when you may encounter around 10 games being dealt.

As the lone destination for live cards in Downtown LV, the Golden Nugget attracts patrons from nearby casinos, none of which offers poker. The closeness of the casinos in this neighborhood to each other and the walkability of Fremont Street in general contribute to this phenomenon.

The rake is 10% up to $5, and there's an extra $2 taken to fund promotions. This is neither appreciably better nor substantially worse than the rake at most U.S.A. offline poker rooms.


Pre-COVID, daily tournaments were a highlight of the Golden Nugget, with four low-buyin MTTs running almost every day, but they have since disappeared. There are now no regularly scheduled daily or weekly tourneys.

However, the casino does host occasional special events and series. Most of these take place in the Grand Ballroom rather than the main poker room.

These aren't just the paltry weekend-long shindigs for degenerate locals that you might be thinking of either. Rather, the special events at the Golden Nugget include the annual Grand Poker Series, which consists of dozens of events and culminates in a $500,000+ guaranteed tournament. You'll see poker besides NLHE during this series too, like Omaha/8 and HORSE. For a poker room of this size, being able to run events of this magnitude is an impressive feat.

Poker Promos

The extra drop of up to $2 is used to fund a number of promotions. They include longshot payouts, like the bad beat jackpot, as well as humbler awards that the everyday player has a decent chance to profit from, like the high hands.

Bad Beat Jackpot

The Bad Beat Jackpot starts at $10,000 and increases via promotional rake until it is hit. A payout is triggered by quad deuces or better going to showdown and losing. Both players must use both hole cards to compose their final five-card poker hands, and furthermore, any player making quads must have a pocket pair.

The Golden Nugget states that everyone at the table receives a share whenever the jackpot is triggered, but we were unable to find any details as to the prize breakdown.

As of Nov. 28, 2022, the Bad Beat Jackpot stood at $47,959.

Progressive Royals

Golden Nugget Poker has established progressive payouts for making royal flushes. There are four such awards: one for each suit of royal. The fund for each suit starts at $200 and increases every day that it is not won.

As of Nov. 28, 2022, the royal flush progressives were as follows:

  • Spades: $2,791
  • Hearts: $1,322
  • Diamonds: $421
  • Clubs: $340

Progressive Straight Flushes and Quads

There are also cash payments available for making straight flushes and quads. These aren't differentiated by suit but rather by rank. That is, each separate type of quads – like quad aces, quad deuces, quad sevens, and so on – has its own cash prize associated with it, and so does each rank of straight flush, like Q-high straight flush and 8-high straight flush.

These prizes start at $50 and top out at $599. However, any of them won between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. pay out double. Then from 2 p.m. to midnight, if you should flop one of these hands, as opposed to making it on the turn or river, then you will receive a $599 cash prize.

In order to qualify, an individual must use both hole cards to make their hands. In the case of quads, the player must have a pocket pair.

High Hand of the Hour

From midnight to 8 a.m., there's a high hand of the hour promo active. This pays out $200 every hour to the highest hand achieved in the poker room as long as it is aces full or better.

Should nobody make a hand strong enough to qualify during the hour-long timeframe, then the prize rolls over to the next hour. If, at 8 a.m., no one has won the last high hand of the day, then the amount will be added to the $200 prize to start off the promotional period the following day.

A minimum of four players must be dealt into the hand, and the pot must reach $10 in order for a high hand to be valid. Additionally, both hole cards must be used as part of the five-card high hand.

24K Select Club Rewards

Anyone who's logged into the system as playing poker under Golden Nugget's rewards program will get $2/hr in comps. This is tracked through the use of player's cards.

There are five Golden Nugget casinos across the United States where these comps are valid. In addition, restaurants operated by Landry's, the owner of the Golden Nugget, accept this form of payment. Among the restaurant brands under the Landry's umbrella are Morton's The Steakhouse, Rainforest Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and Houlihan's.

In theory, your play at Golden Nugget Las Vegas can unlock marketing offers not just for this one location but for all five of the co-branded casinos. However, our experience was that after visiting the Nevada casino, we received deals for only that one property. The freebies extended to us after a single eight-hour session – three free nights' accommodations, free entry into slot tournaments, and complimentary gifts – did seem rather generous for the amount of time we actually sat at the tables.

Poker Room Environment

The poker area of the Golden Nugget is a semi-enclosed space, but it's not really shielded enough from the rest of the casino to keep out ambient noises. The cardroom is a no-smoking area; yet, there is a designated smoking spot just a few feet outside it.

The poker room is near Claude's Bar and the casino cageView of the Poker Room From the Smoking Area

The tables, of which there are 13, have a gold-and-green theme, and there are phone chargers next to each seat. A bit unusually, there are only eight seats at a table, which undoubtedly drives the action a bit and leads to a greater number of hands per hour than a traditional nine- or ten-seat table.

Game quality is variable here but generally on the fishy side. The uncapped buyins mean that amateur players with more money than sense can really get rid of their cash quickly rather than having to lose it 100 bbs at a time. We saw countless instances where a preflop raise to 5 bbs got called in four or more places.

Beverages and Dining

Tableside drink service is provided by cocktail waitresses. They will bring you alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments without charge though it's customary to tip them. You cannot have food delivered to your seat though.

The Golden Nugget hearkens back to the feel of old-school Vegas, and therefore, the plethora of dining options that grace major Strip mega-resorts are not to be found here. Yet, there are a few eateries that cater to casino patrons, and we must remember that the parent company of the Golden Nugget is a well-established nationwide restaurant operator.

Chick-fil-A and Starbucks are fine if you're looking for just a quick bite. For more substantial fare, you can check out the moderately priced Grotto Italian Ristorante, The Grille, Cadillac Mexican Kitchen, Red Asian Cuisine, or CJ. Chart House serves up seafood specialties while Saltgrass Steakhouse is focused on – you guessed it – steaks. Vic & Anthony's is also a steakhouse although it's more upscale than Saltgrass and is perhaps the only dining venue at the Golden Nugget that will set you back more than $100 for a complete meal.

Miscellaneous Facts

Purchasing and redeeming chips is done right at the podium. However, if there's nobody present there, you can take your chips to the main casino cage just a few steps away. The Golden Nugget is one of the few cardrooms where you can keep cash in your stack and have it play, but the only denomination for which this is possible is $100 bills.

You can straddle from the UTG position. In the $1/$2 No Limit Texas Hold'em game, the straddle is $5. It's also possible to straddle from the button. No re-straddling is allowed, and if UTG and BTN both wish to straddle, then the player on the button has priority.

There are a few televisions scattered around the poker room. However, there are not enough of them for every seat to have a good view. This can be annoying especially when trying to ascertain the current high hand details.

There are no restrooms inside the poker room itself nor in the adjacent parts of the casino. Expect to have to walk a couple of minutes if you need to answer nature's call while playing.

Golden Nugget LV History

Early Years

The Golden Nugget is ancient by Las Vegas standards having opened its doors in 1946. From almost its earliest years, it featured a poker room. Once Texas Hold'em appeared in the '60s, the Golden Nugget was the first, and for some time the only, casino in Las Vegas to offer it.

The Golden Nugget was not only the first to debut Hold'em games but it was also where Robert “Chip Burner” Turner introduced Limit Omaha and Pot Limit Omaha to the casino scene in 1982. Spreading across the street to Binion's, PLO soon took off in cardrooms and among the public, becoming the second-most popular poker variant behind only Texas Hold'em.

Recent Years

As the poker boom got well underway following Chris Moneymaker's startling victory in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, the Golden Nugget was upstaged by newer and larger poker rooms on the Las Vegas Strip. Nevertheless, it garnered its share of attention during this period.

The Golden Nugget was host of major televised poker events, like “High Stakes Poker” and “Poker After Dark.” It also hosted special events, like the NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship in 2005. Despite these forays into television, Golden Nugget never forgot its roots as a place where ordinary players could gather for some everyday poker action. Perhaps this is why the Golden Nugget poker room survives while many of the Johnny-come-lately's have had to since shut their doors.

On March 18, 2020, the Golden Nugget closed down to comply with the governor's coronavirus mandate. On June 6 that same year, it reopened. However, tournaments were suspended, and they have not yet returned as daily or weekly events although tourney series have been hosted since the reopening.

The Golden Nugget gets busier at night when you might encounter 10 or more poker games simultaneously runningGolden Nugget at Night Amidst Crowd of Revelers

Ownership Changes

Ever since the Golden Nugget opened in Las Vegas in 1946 as the brainchild of crooked cop Guy McAfee, it has gone through a number of ownership changes. In the early '50s, McAfee set up the business as a corporation, so when he kicked the bucket in 1960, the casino was able to continue operating with no problems despite McAfee's death.

In the early '70s, the Golden Nugget attracted the attention of a young Steve Wynn. By 1973, he had purchased a controlling interest. Wynn brought the Golden Nugget to new heights with major expansions and renovations. In the early '80s, he even convinced Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson to perform in the property's new Theatre Ballroom.

In 2000, Wynn sold the Golden Nugget, along with several other casinos, to MGM Grand. However, as a downtown casino, it was never really central to MGM's Strip-focused plans, and so it was purchased by Poster Financial Group in 2003. The Golden Nugget under the stewardship of Poster Financial Group was the subject of the short-lived reality TV series “The Casino.”

In 2005, the Nugget was sold to Landry's, Inc and its founder Tilman Fertitta. They inaugurated a multi-phase improvement program centered around the addition of more restaurants and attractions. Landry's remains the current owner of the Golden Nugget to this day.

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Poker Conclusion

If you're a Downtown Vegas local or a visitor who enjoys the vibe of this iconic neighborhood, then you have basically no other choice for poker than the Golden Nugget. There are a number of factors that make the Golden Nugget a fine destination for LV poker, including its highly competent dealing staff and the often-juicy nature of the uncapped $1/$2 NL games.

However, those in search of daily tournaments or game varieties other than Texas Hold'em will be disappointed. One of the larger Strip cardrooms would perhaps serve you better if you fall into one of these categories.

Overall, we'd have to conclude that there's little reason for visiting the Golden Nugget especially if you would have to make a special trip and go out of your way. Its advantages are small and not really of earth-shattering importance while its drawbacks can be dealbreakers for a large portion of the poker-playing public.

Player Opinions of Golden Nugget Las Vegas Poker

Before finishing any of our live cardroom reviews, we like to browse the internet to see what others have to say. This helps us keep our opinions grounded in reality while allowing us to incorporate information that we may not have experienced firsthand. Check out below a few comments from real players who have visited the Golden Nugget:

Twoplustwoer swanny thinks that Golden Nugget poker is “great”
Yelp patron Thomas S. likes the Golden Nugget
PokerAtlas User malyshw is disappointed at the disappearance of tournaments at the Golden Nugget

Play Online Poker From Wherever You Happen to Be

The Golden Nugget Las Vegas really only caters to Downtown LV aficionados, but internet poker is available to players around the world. You can be at home, on vacation in Vegas or elsewhere, or even commuting to work and still enjoy the action online. There are more games running, including tournaments, and a broader range of stakes than you will find at the Nugget.

To learn more about the game as played online, including some of the top sites available to Americans, check out this USA online poker guide. There are no laws that prohibit you from engaging in this activity as you will realize if you read this overview of online poker and the law.

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Photo of Jake Rake

Jake Rake is the head poker writer at

He eats, sleeps and breathes poker and online gaming. This is a man who reads every online poker forum morning, noon, and night, for the last 17 years, trying to find fun and interesting information to share with our readers.

Jake has become an ardent student of crypto-currency since it was first introduced in the online poker world in 2013 and he thus has eight years experience covering this field!