Before the area's two new rooms officially opened, I had heard from more than one source (and passed along here) that the poker room at Rivers was supposedly nicer than the one The Meadows had put together. Turns out, that's not the case. Now, to be clear, Rivers may be where the better action is. It may be where you'll find the most variety when it comes to what games are being spread. It may be the easier room to turn a profit in. But based solely on construction, presentation and layout, it is not the nicer room.
Which isn't to say that it's not a perfectly fine poker room. 'Cause it is.
Unlike at The Meadows, the Rivers poker room is easy to find. You get off the elevator from the parking garage, enter the casino and it's right there. The room is what I like to call a "big box" poker room: nothing elaborate ... just a big, spacious square filled with tables. Sign-in desk at the front. Cage on one side. There is no in-room waiting area or poker-specific bar like The Meadows has, though a small cafe does sit right outside the entrance.
The mood inside gives the impression that it's a more serious poker room than others in the area. There are TVs, but they're spread out and small. Unless you're sitting at a table right next to one and facing the wall, you can forget about watching the game. The room is on the dark side of the brightness spectrum but not ridiculously so.
I arrived at Rivers last Sunday at 8:40 a.m., and there were three full tables in action, two featuring $1/3 NL and one running $2/5 NL. We had a fourth running in less than 20 minutes. By the time I left around noon, that number had jumped to seven and included at least one limit game. (Not bad for early Sunday.) The tables seem a little smaller than at the other local poker rooms, but I'm willing to forgive it as they also include built-in drink holders, which should be mandatory in every poker room on the planet. The players on Sunday were definitely younger, looser and more aggressive than those I've played against so far at The Meadows.
The dealers at my table were pretty much terrible. Before continuing, let me reiterate that this is based on one less-then-four-hour session, so it may not be indicative of a room-wide, long-term problem. But the dealers I had definitely needed some work. A majority were slow and not terribly comfortable handling complex pots. There was a fair amount of improper table talk -- including players not in the hand commenting on the action -- that the dealers never made an attempt to curb. And, lastly, my table was subject to three misdeals, including one where a player received three hole cards. (How does that even happen?) It's certainly possible I just wound up getting some of the lesser-experienced newbies that morning. Let's hope they improve quickly. Drink service was fine; no problems there.
There has been some discussion about the lack of a betting line at Rivers, but having no line didn't create a single problem during my session. I did witness several players cut their chips in front of their cards when determining how much to bet or raise, something which was rumored to be a no-no, but none of the dealers at my table considered it a forward motion. As I've stated elsewhere, I won't have a problem with there being no line, as long as the dealers make consistent rulings on what constitutes a bet. So far, so good.
One last thing, there has been a bit of complaining at the 2+2 forums about the distance between the poker room and the nearest bathroom, which leads me to believe that serious poker players who post on the Net are really, really lazy. Honestly, it's not that far. You don't have to hike all the way to the other side of the casino. Just exit the poker room, make a right and take a short walk along the wall. I missed two hands when I went. And, really, if you're going to get that upset about missing two hands, you probably have bigger problems ... like just how easy it's going to be for me to put you on tilt.