Cash is No Longer King and Poker Will Never Be The Same

You know it's a virus, right?

Starting today, April 1st, cash will no longer be in play in the nine poker rooms in Las Vegas operated by MGM Resort.

The Aria and Bellagio are the two that will be affected on a daily basis.

The Bank Secrecy Act was introduced in 1970 because the American government realized it was very easy to launder money in Vegas.

The Act required casinos to report all winnings in excess of $10,000.

The Town Will Never Be the Same

It's not 1995 (or 1975) anymore.

Martin Scorsese's Casino is probably one of your all time favorite films, just like it's one of mine.

Also like me you probably dreamed more of living the life of Ace Rothstein, masterfully played by Robert DeNiro, than doing Sharon Stone.

That I know you fantasied about, just like me.

But times move on. It's not 1995 and maybe you don't want to do Sharon Stone anymore.

Ace Rothstein summed up Vegas' feelings about the Bank Secrecy Act:

”The town will never be the same ... Today, it's all gone.

"You get a whale show up with four million in a suitcase, and some 25-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number.”

Poker Players are a Creative Bunch

The Bank Secrecy Act was not a great attack on American Freedom if you consider how much $10k was back then.

In recent years they've tightened the screws a little more.

Whenever you want to cash out more than $4k the person in the cage discreetly suggests that you cash out less -- no potential trouble for you and less paperwork for them.

Poker players are a creative bunch. It didn't take them long to realize that if they played with cash on the table they could still live their lives properly outside the system, like they always had.

Even more importantly the fish didn't want to report where their cash came from, or even themselves. Besides, cash had always been accepted at the poker table.

Doyle Brunson
Brunson: Prob. wouldn't have been cool with it.

The Clock Only Folded

When cash is in play it's only $100 bills that count in the poker rooms of Vegas.

This is a fact that English player Mike “The Clock” Cook was very aware of when he sat down in the big game with Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese back in the '80s.

But he had a hundred wrapped around the other bills, and nobody asked him to take off the rubber band and show the money.

That would have been very bad etiquette and The Clock only folded for a round as a PR-stunt so in the end it was really just a good story.

Usually cash is custom in the bigger Pot-Limit and No-Limit games, but the virus has spread to lower limits over the years.

It's even seaped into Limit games. I have played 100-200 where over half the players sit with cash in front of them.

It makes more sense in Limit poker -- if you're deep that is. Otherwise it makes no sense at all.

0017a Phil Ivey
If Ivey throws a brick in the middle, sure. It might work.

The Fish are Fish for a Reason

You know it's a virus, right?

Cash is dirty. I mean really sickening dirty.

Fill up a sink with hot water and soap, wash your cash - bills and coins - and see the color of the water turn into a Mississippi mud pit.

You don't want to know how many colds you've received from your cash through the years.

The fish are fish for a reason; they smoke and they don't wash their hands in the restroom.

Most importantly cash slows down the game. I freaking hate when morons count up 30 bills thinking I will be intimidated to fold.

I would probably be a bit intimidated if Phil Ivey tossed a brick in the middle, but then again I don't play with him and if you're intimidated by cash you're in a game too big for you.

If you think you can bluff more efficiently with cash, you're in the wrong game. You want to be called; that's the game you want to be in.

Kate The Dealer
Cash slows down the game, too.

There's No Buyer's Remorse in Poker

It has never happened to me, but what if you have a big win and back at your hotel room you find out that the $5k bundle is only $4.8k?

There is no buyer's remorse in poker. I guess that's why the dealer counts the cash after the pot.

First she counts the winner's bundles, 87 bills, and then the loser's to match, 87 more bills.

It takes forever and is almost as bad for poker as what the notorious, selfish and obnoxious tankers are doing.

Another reason to not allow it is because it's difficult to estimate your opponent's stack.

The difference is huge if your hundreds are packed together firm or loose. It is also easier to miss a big chip when you only see the cash.

Heck, it's even hard to estimate your own stack.

Best Thing to Happen to Poker Since Smoking Ban

Most players take their cash with them while leaving the table. They should, as the casino doesn't guarantee the money like it does with chips.

It's very easy for that to go south; nobody can argue that you had 47 hundred-dollar bills and not 35 when you come back.

There is absolutely no reason to allow cash in cash games. Period.

Hoisting the Cash
In 10 years we'll laugh at cash like we do smoking.

MGM Resorts, I salute you for your decision. Other casinos and poker rooms will follow.

Just like what happened when poker rooms in California by law had to ban smoking in 1999.

A bunch of morons actually thought that it would be a bad thing for poker, like a step backward or something.

Now everybody knows it was a big success and actually one of the greatest things in poker history.

Today everybody agrees that it was uncivilized to let people blow poison in other people's faces. In 10 years time people will know the same thing about cash at the poker table.

Time Moves On

Listen, I love cash; absolutely love cash.

What a life wandering around in Vegas with an inch or two of high society wrapped in your pocket.

I actually feel like I'm in a scientific film about the future when, on the few occasions, I pay for a meal with a plastic card and it works.

But time moves on and so must we.

About Ken Lennaárd:

Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of

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