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The Truth About Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room | Pros & Cons

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room is the closest poker room to where I live, so I play there more than anywhere else. The Harrah’s Cherokee property is located only a few minutes from Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s also close to white water rafting, gold mining, and the Appalachian Trail.

Wherever you look, you find mountains and rivers. If you put a little effort in, you will find waterfalls as well. The best waterfalls in the area are Mingo Falls and the three waterfalls at Deep Creek. You can also go tubing in Deep Creek (as you pass by one of the waterfalls).

There are two reasons I’m telling you this information. One, you might enjoy these activities and attractions if you take a day off from playing at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room. Two, if all these activities and attractions are so close to Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room, what do you think that means for the poker scene? It means you’re going to get a lot of tourists.

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room In The Past

On the tourist side, it used to be even better. Several years ago, Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room was downstairs right in the middle of the casino floor. The poker room wasn’t as nice at that time, but it sure did attract a lot of soft players. These people had no clue what they were doing. Some of them didn’t even know the poker rules for Texas Hold’em poker tournaments, which was great news for grinders.

You could choose any of the poker games being spread and expect to have a winning session. This was despite the game being played on PokerPro machines, which I loved. You saw more hands per hour, you never had to remind people to post their blinds, you didn’t have to tip a dealer, and you were able to see your own stats. But that’s in the past. Let’s live in the now.

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room Today

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room is now located upstairs in its own room. The staff is one of the friendliest I have ever seen, if not the friendliest. And the room is beautiful. It has comfortable WSOP chairs, nice tables with clean felts, televisions everywhere, and it’s relatively spacious.

I say relatively because it’s not spacious in one area, which is the center of the poker room. If you’re sitting at one of those tables, it can be annoying because people will consistently bump into your chair. It’s much better to be at the ends of the room, or at one of the tables toward the very front of the room.

The comps here are pathetic at $0.70 per hour. The reason for that is because there is no competition in the area. Harrah’s has another casino in Murphy, which is about one hour west, but there is no poker room, and it’s the same brand anyway.

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room is so in the middle of nowhere that I couldn’t even tell you where the nearest poker room is located, and I play all over the place. It might be Mardi Gras in West Virginia, but that’s a guess. Wherever the nearest poker room is, it’s very far away.

Another negative to Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room is no free WiFi. I don’t understand why Harrah’s Cherokee doesn’t have free WiFi. They are way behind the times. Other negatives include no RV parking and a $7 rake. In regards to the former, if you travel in an RV to play poker professionally, where are you supposed to park?

And if you find a place to park, do you Uber from that location to the casino? It’s definitely an inconvenience for some, and there is an enormous parking lot to accommodate RVs. As far as the $7 rake goes, it’s ludicrous, and it also relates to no competition in the area.

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room Cash Games

Below are the cash games spread at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room…

1/2 NL
Buy-in: $100-$200
Runs: Always

2/5 NL
Buy-in: $200-$1k (or you can match the biggest stack at the table)
Runs: Always

1/2 PLO
Buy-in: $100-$200
Runs: Evenings & Weekends

5/5 PLO
Buy-in: $200-$1k
Runs: Most Evenings

4/8 Fixed Limit
Buy-in: $40-No Max
Runs: Occasionally

The 1/2 game here is terrible. Never play in that game. With a $7 rake and a $200 max buy-in, you literally have no chance over the long haul. This is one of the best poker tips for Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room. If you tip the dealer, it’s going to be even more impossible. With a $200 max buy-in, you will not have any room for maneuverability.

Harrah's Cherokee Poker Room

In other words, if you’re trying to protect a made hand, you won’t have enough chips to move your opponent off a draw. It’s bingo. Only the house wins in this game, and that’s a lock.

The 2/5 game here, however, is one of the softest in the country. This relates to the tourists I mentioned above. I have played 2/5 here many times. I can tell you exactly what to expect.

If you play during the day, you will find half local pros and half Medium Players/tourists. If you play at night, you might find one local pro at your table, but it’s not likely because this is when the PLO game really gets running and that’s what they want to play. This is excellent news for you. If the local pros are playing different poker games, then you want to play in the poker games they vacated.

A 2/5 game at ight at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room is likely to have about half Medium Players and half tourists. If you can’t beat this game over the long haul, you shouldn’t be playing poker. I recently watched someone call a $900 bet on the river with 33 and all overs on the board. He lost.

The great thing about cash games at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room is that you can leave the table for up to one hour. If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, then you can go down to the Essence Lounge to listen to some music and watch people dance. You can also order a drink while there just to relax a little.

This is actually a good idea because the game will still be running when you get back, and the cash games at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room are softest in the middle of the night. This is when many of the players are tired, drunk, and ready and willing to make bad decisions.

Poker Tournaments at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room

Prior to getting to the Daily and Nightly Texas Hold’em poker tournaments at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room, it should first be noted that the WSOP Circuit stops here three times per year: April, August, and November. April is the busiest, November is moderately busy, and August is somewhat busy. However, attendance has started to decline in all three months because the WSOP Circuit has increased the rake on their poker tournaments. This is while competition is increasing.

Hiking the rake when competition is increasing is a very bad idea. Personally, I have started to slowly fade away from the WSOP Circuit for this reason. I’d rather find poker tournaments that offer good value than chase points and rings. Plus, other tournament series are going to have softer fields than the WSOP Circuit.

If you choose to play the WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Cherokee, then I recommend playing very few poker hands. When the competition is strong, you want to play fewer poker hands. When the competition is weak, you want to play more poker hands. That’s Poker Strategy 101.

If you want to play at the WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Cherokee without getting ripped off, then I recommend playing the Sit & Gos in the overflow area, which is the corridor outside the event center–where they sell snacks. Your poker strategy here should be to wait and watch others play too aggressively. When you’re down to half the field and you pick up a premium hand, you have to jam it. If you get the double-up, you can coast to a chop. If not, fire again in a different Sit & Go.

It really is that simple. And these poker tournaments are tax-free. One of the best poker tips I can give you is to always take advantage of tax-free poker tournaments.

Now let’s take a look at the Daily & Nightly poker tournaments at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room.

10 a.m.
Sunday
Buy-in: $80 (Entry Fee $60, Deductions $20)
Starting Chips: 4k
Starting Blinds: 25/50
Re-Entry: Unlimited until the start of Level 8
Blind Levels: 20 minutes
Break: 10 minutes after Levels 7, 12, and 18
GTD: N/A

11 a.m.
Saturday
Buy-in: $250 (Entry Fee $200, Deductions $50)
Starting Chips: 10k
Starting Blinds: 25/50
Re-Entry: Unlimited until the start of Level 8
Blind Levels: 20 minutes
Break: 10 minutes after Levels 7, 12, and 18
GTD: N/A

2 p.m.
Sunday
Buy-in: $250 (Entry Fee $200, Deductions $50)
Starting Chips: 10k
Starting Blinds: 25/50
Re-Entry: Unlimited until the start of Level 8
Blind Levels: 20 minutes
Break: 10 minutes after Levels 7, 12, and 18
GTD: N/A

7 p.m.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday
Buy-in: $80 (Entry Fee $60, Deductions $20)
Starting Chips: 4k
Starting Blinds: 25/50
Re-Entry: Unlimited until the start of Level 8
Blind Levels: 20 minutes
Break: 10 minutes after Levels 7, 12, and 18
GTD: N/A

7 p.m.
Friday
Buy-in: $135 (Entry Fee $100, Deductions $35)
Starting Chips: 6k
Starting Blinds: 25/50
Re-Entry: Unlimited until the start of Level 8
Blind Levels: 20 minutes
Break: 10 minutes after Levels 7, 12, and 18
GTD: N/A

10 p.m.
Friday
Buy-in: $80 (Entry Fee $60, Deductions $20)
Starting Chips: 4k
Starting Blinds: 25/50
Re-Entry: Unlimited until the start of Level 8
Blind Levels: 20 minutes
Break: 10 minutes after Levels 7, 12, and 18
GTD: N/A

10 p.m.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday
Buy-in: $45 (Entry Fee $30, Deductions $15)
Starting Chips: 4k
Starting Blinds: 25/50
Re-Entry: Unlimited until the start of Level 8
Blind Levels: 20 minutes
Break: 10 minutes after Levels 7, 12, and 18
GTD: N/A

The rake on the $80 poker tournaments at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room is 37%. This is outlandish and you should never play in these events. It’s -EV over the long haul. The $135 buy-in on Friday night has a 26% rake. That’s still too high but about average for a Nightly. If you’re playing for entertainment, go for it, but you’re not going to be profitable over the long haul. I have played in this event. I made the final table and still didn’t cash. That’s how slow this tournament can be. Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room is booming on Friday night, but everyone wants to play cash.

The big tournaments at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room, as well as the only ones you should play in, are the $250 buy-in events on Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The rake is 20%, which is still high for a poker tournament, but it’s not bad for a Daily. You’re also going to get a soft field, which means you could walk away with a few thousand dollars in one day.

When you’re done with your cash games or poker tournaments and you want a bite to eat, I would recommend Earl of Sandwich in the food court, Brio (right next to the poker room), or the Noodle Bar if it’s late (expensive).

Final Thoughts

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker room has a lot of pros and cons, but the pros outweigh the cons. You just need to know how to approach this situation. With the information provided here, you now know how to approach the situation. Stick with the 2/5 game and the $250 buy-in poker tournaments. If you play during the WSOP Circuit, play the Sit & Gos. Follow these poker rules for winning at Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room and you should be good to go.

♠ pokerjournal.org

Harrah’s Cherokee Poker Room – FAQs

Q: Does Harrah’s Cherokee have a poker room?

A: Yes. Harrah’s Cherokee has one of the nicer poker rooms on the East Coast. It’s not huge, but it’s comfortable and with a great staff.

Q: What kind of poker do they have at Harrah’s Cherokee?

A: Harrah’s Cherokee spreads more games than what you would expect for a place tucked away in the mountains. They spread 1/2 NL, 2/5 NL, 1/2 PLO Hi and 5/5 PLO Hi. They will also run a Fixed Limit game if there is enough demand, but it’s rare.

Q: How much money do you need to play poker at Harrah’s Cherokee?

A: At least $100 for 1/2 NL, but that’s a bad game at Cherokee due to a high rake and a low max buy-in of $200. You can buy-in to the 2/5 NL game for $200-$1,000. I usually buy-in for $300 and do fine (most of the time, not always).

Q: Does Harrah’s Cherokee have poker tournaments?

A: Yes, a lot of them. The bigger tournaments are on the weekend for $250. 1st Place will usually pay a few thousand. There are cheaper tournaments for $80 in the evening and there is a 10 p.m. tournament for $45 every night except Saturday (the 10 p.m. tournament is $80 on Friday night).