Mandalay Bay Poker Room – What’s The Deal?

Mandalay Bay Hotel

Playing Poker in Las Vegas – Your Guide to the Mandalay Bay Poker Room

Mandalay Bay Poker Hotel

There aren’t many bigger buzz’s than going to Vegas and joining a table full of strangers to play some Poker. Today I talk you through my very first Vegas experience at the Mandalay Bay Poker Room and tell you what to expect.

It took just over 30 years but I’d finally made it to Vegas – one of my lifelong dreams (after watching my beloved England at a World Cup, which I also ticked off in Russia 2018).

I’ve been an avid Poker fan throughout my 20’s but never had a whole lot of experience playing live at tables in official tournaments, bar a number of Casino experiences in Bristol (the nearest Casino to where I grew up in Cheltenham) and a few further in Beijing and Taipei.

The buzz of hitting the tables at Vegas was strong and I went to Vegas quietly confident… if I could just scrap a tourney win, that was the jackpot.

SPOILER ALERT – I managed just that, but more on that later.

The trip consisted of Bianca and myself plus Bianca’s sister and her husband – a chance to re-unite with family on the other side of the world and enjoy some of the sights of this incredible place… but today we mainly focus on the Mandalay Bay Poker Room.

WORTH NOTING – This guide is designer at first timers in Vegas (just as I was), if you are familiar with the Poker scene in Vegas, this post contains a lot of information you probably already know.

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Where Is It?

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – The Tourney’s

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – The Staff

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Other Bonuses

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Winning!

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Luxor and Excalibur

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – A Day Away from The Tables

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Should I Play There?

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Where Is It?

Mandalay Bay Hotel – of course… but let’s give that a bit more context if you are a Vegas newbie.

Mandalay Bay Hotel’s location is right at the south end of the strip – not ideal if you want to be in the thick of the action truth be told.

It’s super close to the airport, so better if that’s an important factor for you.

The strip is NOT small, do not underestimate it’s size! The map below paints of picture of where Mandalay Bay is compared to the airport and the convention centre, where many Vegas visitors spend a lot of time.

Here’s a quick list of some pro’s and con’s for the Mandalay Bay hotel location:

Near the AirportAlmost a mile to most Strip attractions
Linked to Luxor and Excalibur HotelsFair trek to Convention Centre
Quieter Poker rooms for beginnersFurther away from the bigger buy-in tourney’s

You can’t really go wrong anywhere in Vegas but do pick your location wisely.

I spent much of my time exploring the tables at Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur so for me it was fine. I made some journeys to other locations which, although a little bit of a pain, is never more than a few minutes in a taxi away.

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Mandalay Bay Poker Room – The Tourney’s

OK onto the good stuff.

What are the daily tournaments at the Mandalay Bay Poker Room?

Tourney TimeBuy In
11am65USD (10,000 chips)
3pm65USD (10,000 chips)
10pm65USD (10,000 chips)

I played the 11am and 3pm tourney’s myself which never drew a crowd of more than 20 players – a nice way to ease myself into the poker tables in Vegas.

Being a first-timer you never quite know how you’ll fare, but having done a lot of reading and chatting with friends in Beijing, I had nothing to fear, and so it showed.

I certainly don’t consider myself a poker master by any stretch, I really enjoy playing it, and I like to think I have a fair knowledge of the game – simple as that.

In these tourney’s I always fared well – the buy-in is reasonable so if you do bust, you aren’t leaving with your tail between your legs… and if you cash, there’s around 3-500USD to be won.

There are also cash games going on throughout the day which you can of course dive in and out of.

I also had a go with these and doubled my buy-in’s during my stay!

Mandalay Bay Poker Room - Tourney
19 players for the 11am (which I ended up winning)

Just one note and something that did disappoint me a little was the fee.

Buy in costs 65USD, but the fee charged is 20USD meaning actually only 45USD of each buy-in goes to the winning pot.

I’m no expert but this was remarkably high in my eyes.

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – The Staff

I must admit the staff at the Mandalay Bay Poker Room blew me away with their friendliness.

My memory is sketchy at the best of times but the fact I remember Dustin’s face, and name as clear as day, a year on, tells you everything you need to know.

What I really liked was they catered to beginners as well as experts. Dustin, along with many of the other dealers had dealt thousands of hands at thousands of locations, meeting thousands of different kinds of players – he knew exactly how to have the table in the palm of his hand.

He relaxed the visibly nervous players, played along with the cheeky ones, and humoured the (let’s say) not so sober ones (it’s never too early for a drink in Vegas).

It wasn’t just Dustin either, all the staff there were really quite lovely and made the experience that bit more memorable.

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Other Bonuses

As with all poker rooms in Vegas there are a number of promotions, giving you further chances to make some money which include:

  • 100USD for Quads
  • 200USD for a Straight Flush
  • 400USD for a Royal Flush

There are also high-hand payouts each hour so listen out for what’s going on and try and stay alert.

If you aren’t sure, as with anything in Vegas, ask. The staff will help you straight away and explain anything you are unsure about, do not be embarrassed.

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Winning!

Mandalay Bay Poker Room
Going Heads Up (vs a fellow Englishman ironically)

When boarding the mammoth flights from PEK (Beijing) to LAS (Vegas) via LA and San Francisco, I told Bianca my goal was to win a tourney.

The value or cost I didn’t care about, just the buzz of winning, in Vegas, was something I really wanted to feel – although I never quite expected it to happen.

Now of course, my win here is a drop in the ocean compared to some of the tourney’s that go on.

In fact the 427USD I took wouldn’t even buy me into a number of others going on around Vegas, but that wasn’t the point.

It was about the feeling of victory. Knowing I could beat the others.

My tourney, as pictured above featured 19 players, so not big at all, spread onto 3 tables.

I believe it lasted all of two hours in total so again, fairly short, also great for the first-timers in Vegas. Grinding for hours on end to bust before the bubble (last position before the payouts) can be a tad disheartening I’m sure.

The feeling was great though – getting a little winners chip which I carried home with pride was a great way to remember the experience.

I played in 4 tourney’s at Mandalay Bay overall and bust twice, cashed (3rd) once and won the other meaning I came away with a healthy profit when coupled with my cash winnings also.

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Luxor and Excalibur

As stated earlier the Luxor and Excalibur hotels are linked to Mandalay Bay.

This is significant because, generally, it’s excruciatingly hot outside meaning those air-conditioned corridors are a heavenly thing at the best of times.

In essence this means you can switch between the poker rooms at the 3 hotels and no see daylight.

Whilst this of course wasn’t for Bianca, it’s how I spent most of my week – and trust me, it doesn’t get boring if you enjoy playing poker!

I would jump between all three and get a feel for them – see which you prefer, it’s good to try out different places.

In the end Mandalay was my favourite, perhaps a combination of the fact it was the nearest to my hotel room, the staff, and the fact I ran pretty well there!

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – A Day Away from The Tables at Antelope Canyon

Now whilst I would’ve happily spent all 7 days sat firmly at the tables, a day away from poker with Bianca was a wise move.

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

Vegas is in the middle of the desert and a short poke (in US terms) to a number of world renowned sites, one of those is of course the Grand Canyon, but we decided to head to the less visited (but still very popular) Antelope Canyon for a day-trip with Ken’s Tours.

Let’s just say this – my word it’s worth it

The scenery almost defies belief, the bends, the corners, the formations – it’s something to behold and it was all put together very neatly by the tour group.

I do think a trip to Vegas to play poker warrants a day or two spent like this.

A day to clear the head, a day to forget about the numbers, a day to spend with a loved one, seeing something truly stunning.

We’ll dedicate a post to this in the near future and discuss more about it then.

For now, enjoy the singular picture attached to give you an idea of this remarkable place.

We booked the tour through this website, where there are plenty more amazing pictures to marvel at.

FUN FACT – you actually jump forward an hour to. anew time zone with this trip. Sometimes I forget quite how big America is!

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Mandalay Bay Poker Room – Should I Play There?

Mandalay Bay Poker Room - WINNER!

I think for a first-timer the Mandalay Bay Poker Room is an ideal way to get comfortable with poker in Vegas.

That doesn’t mean hardy pro’s should avoid it.

I just think the centre of the strip would be more suitable for this kind of player.

The tourist, the casual player, or the convention centre worker, are three great examples of people who’d love the Mandalay Bay Poker Room.

The location is not ideal.

If you are based towards the north of the strip you probably won’t be spending time on the road just to get here.

Bypassing all the other casino’s in Vegas makes no sense just to come here.

But I’d say if you are based at the Luxor, Excalibur or of course Mandalay Bay, then a visit here is a must.

AND ONE FINAL TIP – if you want to clear up, play the 10pm tourney, or late night cash games and sweep up from the drunkards!

Mandalay Bay Poker Room – FAQ’s

Does Mandalay Bay have a Poker Room?

Yes, there is a Poker Room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel which features 10 tables next to the equally popular Sportsbook.

How many daily tournaments run at the Mandalay Bay Poker Room?

There are three daily’s at Mandalay Bay which run at 11am, 3pm and 10pm.

What is the buy-in for Mandalay Bay tournaments?

65USD (45USD going to the pot and 20USD the fee to play).

Is Mandalay Bay near Vegas Airport?

Yes Mandalay Bay is the nearest hotel to LAS airport.

Is Mandalay Bay near the Strip?

Mandalay Bay is actually on Las Vegas strip but right at the southern point meaning to get to other casino’s you require a taxi ride or a bus journey.

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