A Guide to Atlantic City Best Poker Rooms

Atlantic City Best Poker Rooms image

📖 Published on: December 29th, 2023

✍️ Updated: December 29th, 2023

⏳ 10 mins read

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Since 1978, the premier gambling destination on the East Coast has been Atlantic City, New Jersey. The resort town may have been known for less regulated opportunities for casino-style games throughout the heydays of the 20th century, but the opening of Resorts casino brought formalized, legal betting to the Garden State 45 years ago.

 

Part of the decision to welcome casinos to the old resort town was to bring Atlantic City back to the halcyon days of decades past. Players can enjoy strolls on the world-famous boardwalk, visit the famous Steel Pier and other amusements, or venture into the ocean along the city’s free beaches. Even in the cold of winter, people like going to the beach town and enjoy the quiet of nature serving as backdrop for the excitement inside the resort that dot the boardwalk and marina areas.

 

While most games have been available to guests for over four decades across Atlantic City, a rather popular option celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023. The state formally allowed poker rooms in Atlantic City to open in 1993, the first being at Trump Taj Mahal. 50 tables welcomed professionals and hobbyists, as players from across the East Coast flocked to the boardwalk’s first space devoted to cards in the parimutuel setting, instead of the many offerings where visitors wagered against the house and set odds.

 

Atlantic City Poker Tournament image

 

If Trump Taj Mahal ruled the uptown poker scene, downbeach poker would belong to TropWorld Resort, then owned by the Ramada hotel chain. The old property went back to the original name of Tropicana a few years after dealers first worked the felt. Poker rooms in Atlantic City brought players by car and train to the casinos year round, many of whom would become household names as more folks watched the World Series of Poker and other poker tournaments, some of which would emanate from poker rooms in Atlantic City.


Borgata Changes the Game

 

Two noteworthy things happened in 2003 for the gaming industry, one in each of America’s two top gambling cities. In Las Vegas, an Internet poker player from Tennessee won the World Series of Poker’s main event. This unprecedented feat not only put Texas Hold’Em on the map to generations raised on five card draw and other iterations, it suggested to millions beginning to harness the capabilities of online to pursue fortunes and fame at online tables. In Atlantic City, the long-awaited new casino on the marina, the Borgata opened, and it blew our collective minds.

 

For those of us who grew up around AC, the new casino was a marvel and disruptor. Just going in there, either from the newness or all the lustrous decorating and design, felt different. In a town of gaming palaces, this was Versailles. For poker players, the new kid in town meant a new poker room in Atlantic City to enjoy.

 

35 tables welcomed players with the Borgata’s opening. However, that was merely an opening foray. After the commercial and critical success of initial offerings, a $200 million development included a new tower that points towards the ocean, along with a new poker room during the boom of online play and TV notoriety.

 

Atlantic City Borgata Casino image

 

With Trump Taj Mahal a distant memory, Borgata remains the highest regarded of the poker rooms in Atlantic City. There are currently 56 tables in the main room with an additional 18 in the High Limit Room. Players can try their luck with Hold’Em (limit or no limit), Omaha, and Seven Card Stud, which was the most popular game in AC when cards and chips were tossed in the 90s. Blinds run from $1/$2 all the way up to $200/$400. The no limit tables do carry minimum and maximum buy-ins, with ranges based upon blind/minimum bet levels. Borgata also offers a massive Bad Beat Jackpot, where a very high hand that somehow loses (say, quad 5s versus quad Jacks) wins a cash payout, which may also trigger payouts for others at the table at certain times. High hands over certain intervals also win additional money.

 

In addition to regular cash games, Borgata runs a multitude of tournaments on site every month. The poker room has a nine table area for late-stage tournament action, with bleacher-style seating for spectators. The casino itself came around during the online/TV poker boom, which gave MGM Resorts the impetus to create this specific infrastructure for the venue.

 

When Borgata opened in 2003, it wasn’t long before the cameras and marquee players would gather. The first World Poker Tour event, the Borgata Poker Open, took place in September 2003, and the casino has hosted three events before a winter event joined the autumn one. From 2006 to 2020, the Classic, changed to the Winter Poker Open, brought the world’s best to the marina jewel during the slower month, paying out seven-figure prizes to winners.

 

Since the pandemic, WPT has not visited Atlantic City, but the casino continues to hold the Winter Poker Open for players to win large cash prizes and opportunities at even bigger tournaments. The Winter Poker Open is one of the biggest in-person events at an East Coast Casino, paired with the Fall Mini Series in late September. These are considered the premier poker tournaments in Atlantic City.


Competition on the Marina

 

If the best poker room in Atlantic City is at the Borgata, many will argue that the second-best is right next door at Harrah’s. Borgata’s biggest rival in the city’s marina district trio of casinos has been around longer and was part of the early adopters to poker rooms in Atlantic City. Harrah’s is a fine venue, if not as glitzy, which means it’s usually less busy and often easier to find a seat at a game.

 

Players can find low blind games at Harrah’s poker room in Limit and No Limit Hold’Em and Seven Card Stud. The room features 28 tables, most with lower stakes and lower waits. It is a non-smoking room (which is still an issue in casinos in NJ), with a variety of amenities and opportunities to earn comps. Players can also earn bonuses for best hands for the hour (or other intervals), along with the bad beat jackpot. Harrah’s also hosts regular tournaments and hosted World Series of Poker circuit events from 2005 to 2021. Players can compete for opportunities to earn seats at WSOP events in Las Vegas, including the Main Event, throughout the year.

 

The room opens at 11 am every day, and closes at 6 am Friday to Tuesday, and at 4 am Wednesday and Thursday.

 

Atlantic City Harrah's Casino image


Top of the Boardwalk

 

The best poker room along the boardwalk is still at the Tropicana, where they have continued to shuffle up and deal for nearly three decades. 18 tables of action await players, mostly offering $1/$2 No Limit Hold’Em games or $3/$6 Limit Hold’Em. Games run from 11 am to 5 am Monday to Thursday. Weekends are 24 hours, with action going from 11 am Friday to 5 am Monday, making this the only major poker room in Atlantic City offering nonstop action regularly scheduled during the week.

 

Before the pandemic, Tropicana was known for having some of the best poker tournaments in Atlantic City, running events throughout the week and year. Cash games have been the focus at the downbeach casino since reopening the room in 2021. It’s possible the sale to Caesars could bring back the well-attended tournament events to bring players to the south end of the boardwalk.

 

Atlantic City Tropicana Casino image

 

While the poker room at Wild Wild West at Bally’s is situated right in the middle of the famous boardwalk, many players prefer the Tropicana’s location, where there are less casinos and more traditional fare, away from the Steel Pier and contingent at the north end. Through changes and different promotions, the Trop remains one of the most vibrant and exciting destinations in Atlantic City, matching the energy of Borgata with a chiller vibe and wider range of clientele.

 

As the casinos continue to consider ways to draw patrons year-round, poker rooms may reopen at other, dormant locations. The state has benefited from online poker running in New Jersey and now expanding. Players still consider AC a destination for live action, to test skills and strategies learned online, and it’s still a great place to go out, people watch, and have fun away from screens.

 

As always, we encourage those visiting the poker rooms to play responsibly and have fun. Poker can be a more grinding game in person, so make sure to take breaks, enjoy the fresh air, and don’t forget to bring home some taffy or fudge from the famous shops along the boardwalk.

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