Casino Royale

Back in the early 1990s, novelist Jesse May was earning a living by playing poker while researching his book Shut Up and Deal (Anchor Books, 1998). Flying from casino to casino was May’s equivalent of a business trip. You may not support yourself at the card table, but there’s nothing wrong with sitting in for an evening of play after a hard day of work on the road. Here are May’s four favorite poker rooms.


Commerce Casino, Commerce, California

“The Commerce has the most dedicated poker tables of any poker room in the world. It’s where rich Hollywood types hang out, because the stakes are so high.”

Coordinates: Commerce Casino (25 minutes from downtown LA), 800-824-2582

Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Connecticut

“Unlike those at most East Coast casinos, the Sun’s dealers keep their tips instead of pooling them — so the Sun gets the best. They do a good job of controlling the game.”

Coordinates: Mohegan Sun (2.5 hours from New York City), 888-226-7711

Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, New Jersey

“The Taj has some of the biggest action on the East Coast, it cuts room rates for casino players, and it has a good spa and an Olympic-size pool.”

Coordinates: Trump Taj Mahal (1 hour from Philadelphia), 800-825-8888

The Stardust, Las Vegas, Nevada

“My personal favorite. It’s where all the big games used to be played. Many of the dealers have been there for 10 years or more, and they know all of the great stories.”

Coordinates: The Stardust Hotel/Casino, 800-634-6757