Poker rooms Poker

A room with a view

Written by Ben Blaschke

Bobby’s Room. Casual players might never have heard of it. The more seasoned up-and-comers aspire to it. And many are just too damned terrified to risk it.

Unlike any other poker room in the world, Bobby’s Room – located just off the main poker room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas – is a specially designed private poker room featuring just two tables which has played host to some of the biggest cash games ever seen.

Lavishly fitted out, it is named after legendary poker player Bobby Baldwin, who after winning four WSOP bracelets by 1979, ventured into gaming management and was appointed to oversee the Bellagio when it opened in 1998.

With a minimum buy-in of $20,000 just to sit down at the tables, Bobby’s Room quickly became the home of the world’s top pros – the likes of Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harman, Chip Reese and Johnny Chan among others – and some of the incredibly huge games that have been played there over the years are things of legend.

The most famous is the story of billionaire banker Andy Beal, who first turned up to try his luck in early 2001 and became embroiled over the next few years in a series of heads-up battles with the best in the world. More than capable of holding his own and with a bankroll far exceeding the opposition, the games carried on for five years before, having pooled their money, the pros finally got the best of him thanks in 2006 to Ivey who managed to win US$16.6 million over the course of three clinical days. Beal never returned after that.

Other casinos in Las Vegas have since opened similarly opulent VIP poker rooms and some have even lured the top players away, but none will ever match the glittering history and famous tales that hold their secrets in the walls of Bobby’s Room.