Harrah’s Cherokee is located in the Smokey Mountain foothills. The area is a popular tourist attraction for nature lovers and the Blue Ridge Parkway begins in Cherokee. The casino has a geographical monopoly. No state that borders North Carolina has legalized casinos. The closest are located in West Virginia. Harrah’s Cherokee clearly uses this to their advantage.
Harrah’s Cherokee is not owned by Caesars Entertainment. They simply manage the property. The casino is owned by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. There are over 4,000 slot machines and dozens of table games on the casino floor. Harrah’s received approval to offer real cards so their blackjack, Three Card Poker, Let it Ride and baccarat tables all use real cards. Unfortunately, the poker room has yet to dump electronic tables.
Floormen, Managers, and Dealers
The lack of caring about their job, their poker room or their players gets the floormen and managers the lowest possible grade. Harrah’s Cherokee is working in live dealers but at this time the tables are all electronic.
Popular Games and Limits
The standard games are 1/2 and 2/5 No Limit Texas Hold’em, 1/2 Pot Limit Omaha and 3/6 Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em.
There are tournaments daily. Each weekday at 7pm there is a $60 No Limit Texas Hold’em tournament. There is a $120 No Limit Texas Hold’em tournament on weekends and on Wednesday there is a $60 Pot Limit Omaha tournament.
There are no player rewards or promotions.
Atmosphere and Amenities
The Harrah’s Cherokee poker room uses Pokertek’s Pokerpro tables. These are 10-seat tables with electronic screens at each player station. There is also a video display in the center showing the cards and action. The tables have seen better days. The screens are full of scratches and damaged from players using their player’s card to enter their action onto the touchscreens as the displays do not work well with fingers. The Pokerpro tables seem like they should come with stylus pens, but since they do not, they are damaged.
There are many other annoyances in the Harrah’s Cherokee poker room. One major issue is poorly trained staff. For example, I was waiting in line with about 10 other people and the first person in line was trying to rebuy into a tournament. The person behind the counter, who was alone, had no idea how to do it. He had to pick up the phone and have a lengthy discussion with someone trying to train him. In the meantime, many players left.
One major annoyance is the lack of a 24 hour cashier in the poker room. This would not be a major issue if the Pokerpro machines did not require a player to add money to their player’s card. If a player wishes to join a game and the cashier is closed they must go downstairs and walk across the casino to the main cage to make a deposit. Then walk back to the poker room. This process takes 20-30 minutes. The poker room cage is open less than half of the time.
Harrah’s Cherokee poker tables take a $5 rake. Players receive virtually nothing for this. There are no promotions and players do not even receive free alcoholic drinks. If a player orders an alcoholic drink they must pay full price and the server must go downstairs to the casino floor to get it.
Harrah’s Cherokee is a stop on the World Series of Poker Circuit. For this event, there will be live dealers. The casino sets up 80 tables in their convention center and brings live dealers with them. Live dealers may soon be available for higher limit cash games, though the number of live tables will be limited.
There is a food court with Johnny Rocket’s, Dunkin Donuts, a deli and a pizza place. There is also a café, Ruth Chris Steakhouse and Paula Dean’s. The buffet is only open for dinner except on weekends when there is a brunch.
Harrah’s Cherokee has three hotel towers that are often booked. The rooms are above average quality. One issue I noticed is that the hotel’s TV checkout says noon but the front desk says 11am. The room I stayed in also had a lot of burned out light bulbs.
In this reviewer’s opinion, Harrah’s Cherokee is the worst casino that I have ever played poker. It was not just the electronic tables that hurt the impression. The overall attitude of the staff and annoyances like the high rake and long walks to buy in and cash out of games makes it obvious that Harrah’s Cherokee does not care about poker.