Monday, December 15, 2008

Poker News

Promos, Special Tournaments, Food & Drink Specials

December is shaping up to be a busy month with plenty of incentives to get you out to the card rooms. Let's look at some of the promotions and more notable tournaments, and we'll keep updating as the month progresses.

Big Slick Tournament (Seminole Hard Rock) - The monthly event is scheduled for December 27th at noon ($1100 buy-in). Satellites are available.

$10 Off Any Tournament Entry (Seminole Hard Rock) - Simply sign up for the Hard Rock's promotions and events email newsletter (click here), then print out the coupon you receive and take it to the poker room.

Holiday Cash (Dania) - Earn cash based on hours played at any non-tournament game throughout December. For example, 25 hours of play will get you $50 back, up to $400 for 200 hours of play.

Celebrity Poker Tournament & 55 Cent Night (Dania) - On Tuesday night, December 30th, play in the Dan LeBatard tournament. The entry fee is $50, with first prize expected to be approximately $5,000. But wait, there's more. In honor of Dania Jai Alai's 55th birthday, there will be 55 cent specials on beer, dogs, soda, and ice cream throughout the fronton.

Food and Drink Specials (Dania) - Dania offers complimentary house beverages while playing. $1 beer, dogs and sodas on Saturday. Happy hour 5-6PM daily. Complimentary sandwich from 1 to 3 PM Mon-Fri. Coffee and sweets served at 3PM to all players. 99 cents Wednesdays (hot dog & fries, 3 wings, 20 oz Coke fountain drinks, 16 oz draft beer, frozen drinks, and soft serve cone).

$500 High Hand Awards (Flagler) - The Magic City Poker Room awards $500 to the high hand every Friday and Saturday night from midnight until closing. Plus, every other player at the table wins $25.

$25,000 Giveaway (Flagler) - All high hand award winners for the month will be entered in a drawing for $5,000 on December 31st. There will be 5 winners.

2009 Isle Poker Classic (Pompano) - The annual tournament gets underway January 1st with a preliminary event ($550 buy-in) and then the multi-day Championship Event ($900). Satellites ($60) are available on Thursdays and Sundays at 1:00PM.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Free Slot Tournaments - December

Here's a quick look at the weekly free slot tournaments this month:

The Isle - Pompano
Everyone Wins, Play for Free Slot Play - This runs every Tuesday in December from noon to 8PM. To enter, swipe your IsleOne card at the kiosk. The top scorer wins $1,000 in IslePlay. But everyone else wins too. Your prize will be determined on the credits you score during the tournament. For example, 0-39,000 credits wins you $5 in IslePlay (on up to $100 for 100,000+ credits).
Click for more information.

Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
$50,000 King of the Rock Slot Tournament - This one runs on Mondays through December 22nd. Registration starts at 3PM, sessions start at 4:00. Weekly prizes up to $1,000 are awarded. And there are prizes for the top 25 scorers over the entire length of the tournament.
Click for more information.

Seminole Coconut Creek
Silver Star Slot Tournament - On Saturday December 20th. Registration is at 9AM. Action begins at 11AM. $5,000 in free play.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

$200 Travel Coupon


If you're flying to South Florida or anywhere else, Expedia.com has a great offer for the holiday season.

Here's how it works:

Simply book a flight or flight+hotel for travel now thru January 3rd, 2009. You will then receive a $200 coupon good towards a flight+hotel stay of 5 or more nights (coupon is valid for travel through March 30th, 2009).

Please click here for full details and to book your travel.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Slot Tournaments - September

Slot tournament fans will have even more action this month with both free and paid-entry events on the calendar:

Friday Free-For-All Slot Tournamets
Where? Gulfstream Park Casino
When? Friday noon to 4PM.
Cost? Free to Good Luck Players Club members
Prizes? 40 prizes each week including $1000 grand prize

Cash is King Slot Tournament
Where? Gulfstream Park Casino
When? Sunday September 28th
Cost? $100
Prizes? $25,000 grand prize

Wacky Wednesday Slot Tournaments
Where? The Isle Pompano
When? Wednesdays 12-3PM & 4-7PM
Prizes? Top 5 scorers, plus randomly selected entrants

The King of Rock Slot Tournaments
Where? Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
When? Mondays 4PM (registration opens at 3PM)
Cost? Free to Players Club members
Prizes? Prizes for top 3 each week ($1000 for 1st place), plus 25 grand prize winners at conclusion of 10-weeks.

Seniors Slot Tournaments
Where? Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
When? Tuesdays 9am to 2PM. (Registration starts at 8:30AM)
Cost? Free to Players Club members 55 and older
Prizes? Top five finishers win (cash and free machine play prizes).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Free Slot Tournaments in Miami & Broward

Slot tournaments are popular promotions in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. And now players can win locally with free weekly slot tournaments in July and August at the Gulfstream Park Casino and the isle Pompano.

The tournaments listed below are free to players club members (membership is free). To participate, players register and then have a designated amount of time (10 minutes) to spin the reels on specially designated machines. At the end of the day, prizes are awarded to those who accumulated the most credits.

Here are the details:

$50,000 Slot Tournament
Where? The Isle Pompano
When? Mondays in July & August, noon to 8PM
Entry Fee? Free
Prizes? $5,000 Weekly Prizes. $10,000 Championship on Sept 6th.
More Info: Click Here.

Free For All Slot Tournaments
Where? Gulfstream Park
When? Fridays in July & August, noon to 3PM.
Entry Fee? Free.
Prizes? $3,000 in Cash and Freeplay ($1,000 Grand Prize, $500 Second Place).
More Info: Click Here.

The Sun Sentinel's Action Blog (link) reports on Monday and VIP slot tournaments at the Seminole Cocnut Creek Casino.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Charity Poker Tournaments - July

The Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood will host a $3,000 buy-in tournament benefiting the Hollywood Police Athletic League (P.A.L.). Players have a choice of two first days (July 18th or July 19th, 10 AM start time for both days). Then the finale will be held on Sunday July 20th (beginning at 10AM also).

The prize pool is expected to top $500,000 (based on 250 entrants with 80% of the buy-in going to the pool). Players will receive 20,000 chips to start, and rounds last 60 minutes.

Registration opened on July 11th. Click here for the official details.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WSOP Seats Up For Grabs in Charity Poker Tournaments

Charity poker tournaments are a great way to give a little back to the community and have a good time doing it. Not only that, but these well-run local events offer up some outstanding prizes.

In June the charity poker scene is really heating up. Two tournaments are awarding WSOP entries to the winners (among other great prizes).

Benefiting: Boys & Girls Club of Broward County
When: June 28, 2008 at 7:00PM.
Where: BankAtlantic Center Chairman's Club.
Entry Fee: $200 Players (includes appetizers and 2 drinks). Rebuys & Add-ons available. $30 for spectators.
Prizes: Seat at WSOP. Other prizes for top 5 finishers.
For more information: please click here
Contact: Matt Organ or Lorraine Starr (954)537-1010.

Benefiting: Kids In Distress
When: Thursday June 19, 2008. Check in at 5:30PM.
Where: Ocean Manor Resort Hotel (The Penthouses), Ft Lauderdale.
Entry Fee: $200 Players (food & drink will be served). Re-entry & Add-on available.
Prizes: $10,000 WSOP entry. Other prizes for final table finishers.
More Info: Dos Bullets

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Live Blackjack to Debut at Seminole Hard Rock

According to the Sun Sentinel's gambling blog (link) and now confirmed on the Hard Rock's website (link), the Seminoles have hired 500 dealers, held training and orientation sessions, and are set to start dealing blackjack on June 22nd at the Hollywood Hard Rock (other Seminole properties will follow).

In related news (news link), The Isle at Pompano Park is suing to stop the Seminoles from offering banked card games (Blackjack and baccarat).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Local Poker Jackpots - Bad Beats, Royal Flushes, High Hand Awards

Our local poker rooms have some tempting jackpots up for grabs. They add a little more excitement to the table and, when the jackpots grow large, they make even the low-limit games quite lucrative (if you're very, very lucky).

The jackpots come in three flavors: bad beat jackpots (usually the largest prizes, but with the longest odds), royal flush jackpots, and high hand awards. Here we'll give a rundown of how the jackpots work, the odds of actually hitting the big score, and where to find each kind of jackpot.

Bad Beat Jackpots - To hit a bad beat jackpot you'll need to lose with a really great hand. In local card rooms, typically the jackpot is awarded when one player holds a full house (aces full of jacks, or a better hand) and another player wins the pot with at least four of a kind. The player with the losing hand would receive 50% of the jackpot, the winner gets 25%, and the other players at the table split the remaining 25%. The rules may vary for different poker rooms and for games other than Texas Hold'em. For example, at Mardi Gras Gaming, the Omaha bad beat jackpot requires quad jacks as the minimum qualifying hand.

Progressive jackpots are funded by an additional rake (typically $1 is taken and put into the jackpot pool when the pot reaches $10). Due to the long odds, under this system the jackpots can grow quite large (usually in the tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes over $100,000).

There are also non-progressive bad beat awards at some card rooms where the prize amount is fixed by the house and no extra rake is taken from the pot. These awards are much less than the player-contributed jackpots.

Bad Beat Jackpot Odds: According to a simulation run by the Wizard of Odds (website), the odds of hitting a progressive bad beat jackpot with typical rules would be, at best, 1 in 48,000 hands.

Royal Flush Jackpots - To win, all you need to do is hit a royal flush (using both of your hole cards). These jackpots also come in two varieties: progressive jackpots and non-progressive awards.

Odds of Hitting a Royal Flush: 1 in 649,740.

High Hand Awards - Whoever has the highest hand in the card room during a set time period wins a fixed amount. For example, Dania Jai-Alai awards $200 for the high hand during a two hour period twice daily, and the Seminole Hard Rock awards $1000 for the high hand during during one hour time slots (11AM-7PM) Sunday through Thursday.

High Hand Award Odds: largely determined by the number of players in the room.

Where to play for the jackpots:

Dania Jai-Alai
- Progressive Royal Flush Jackpots (Hearts RF Jackpot was $12,398 on May 8th).
- $200 High Hand awards (2 hours, twice daily).

Flagler Dog Track
- Royal Flush jackpots

The Isle at Pompano
- $100 Royal Flush awards.

Seminole Hard Rock
- Bad Beat Jackpots (Texas Hold'Em Jackpot was $52,377 on May 7th, 2008).
- $1000 High Hand awards (hourly Sunday through Thursday from 11AM to 7PM).

Seminole Hollywood Casino
- $1000 Royal Flush awards (monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday).
- $1000 Bad beat awards (aces full fo 8s beaten, Mon-Thurs).

Mardi Gras Gaming
- Bad Beat Jackpots (Texas Hold'Em Jackpot was $35,375 on May 8th, 2008).
- $599 Royal Flush Jackpot.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Scared to Play at the Seminole Hard Rock???

I'm not. But an editorial in The Northern Star could lead residents and tourist to question game fairness at area tribal casinos, and fear for their safety in the event that they win big.

The Northern Star ("The Magazine for Pari Mutuel Enthusiasts" link) is a free newspaper distributed at local tracks and frontons. Major advertisers include Gulfstream Park, The Isle at Pompano Park, Dania Jai-Alai, Miami Jai-Alai, and the Cheetah strip club.

The piece I am referring to is an opinion written by managing editor Saul Durst for the February issue. In it Mr Durst compares the operators of Indian Casinos to brutal Haitian dictator Fran├žois "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

Mr Durst recalls a trip to Haiti, where he and his friends hit it big playing Blackjack in a local casino. Upon leaving the casino, they were followed to their hotel by the police who escorted them to their room and instructed them that there would be a car waiting to take them back to the casino the next day. They did go back, and made sure they lost all their winnings because, as Mr Durst puts it: "People disappeared there". He goes on in the next sentence: "I find the same truth may be at the Indian Casinos. Maybe not so drastic but there was no way I would win there so why go?".

I think it's reprehensible to compare the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes to a brutal dictatorial regime. Both tribes have a rich history and culture that is respected and revered by most Floridians. Our state university's athletic programs proudly pay tribute to the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Besides that, South Florida has a large and vibrant Hatian community, many with first hand knowledge of the events during the Duvalier reign. It is totally inappropriate for The Northern Star to use this example to scare people.

Elsewhere in the article, Mr Durst says he would not play the machines or cards at Indian Casinos because he "wouldn't know if they have someone controlling the results" and that he was taught to stay away from the "shady places". I don't know what the house edge is for the slots at the Seminole Hard Rock, but the machines are manufactured by industry leaders like IGT and Bally. These companies produce many of the most popular slot machines found in heavily regulated gaming jurisdictions like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and elsewhere (even South Florida Pari-Mutuels). I seriously doubt either company would jeopardize it's worldwide market share by producing unfair games for use in a South Florida Indian Casino.

The tribal casinos and pari-mutuels are in a fierce competition for the local gambling market share. It's just business. But this article crosses the line, and I find its distribution at our local tracks and frontons shameful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Roulette and Blackjack Now Playing at Hard Rock

It will be some time before the Seminole Hard Rock installs the live table games (bj and baccarat) included in the compact signed by Governor Crist, but in the meantime gamblers can enjoy electronic versions of Roulette and Blackjack.

800 Class III Las Vegas style slots debuted in late January, replacing some of the existing Class II Electronic Bingo slots. Among those machines are electronic roulette, blackjack, and keno games.

But be forewarned: the house edge is inflated from the normal table versions of these games.

Electronic Roulette - These machines are manufactured by Bally, and have a long, vertical screen depicting a roulette wheel with 36 numbers and a single zero. However, unlike traditional roulette which pays 35 for a single number bet, these only pay 32 (31-1). According to The Wizard of Odds website (link), the difference in house edge is astronomical: 2.7% for the traditional single-zero live game, and over 13% for the electronic version.

Electronic Blackjack - These are Game King (IGT) Multi-Game machines with blackjack, 7/5 Jacks or Better video poker, and keno. The blackjack game has several disadvantages for the player: 1) blackjack pays even money, 2) splitting of pairs is not allowed, and 3) you cannot double down. I couldn't find out the house edge for this game, but paying even money rather than 3-2 for blackjack alone increases it by 2.27% over the traditional game (link).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Breaking News: Hard Rock to Roll Out Las Vegas Style Slots Monday

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will debut Class III slot machines beginning Monday January 28, 2008 at 11:30AM. The 1000 new Vegas-Style slots will replace existing Class II Electronic Bingo slot machine versions. The rollout will include such titles as Wheel of Fortune, Hot Shot, and Playboy slot machines.

We'll check it out and have a report next week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dania's $25 Multi-Table Poker Tournaments

A couple recent entries by David Anesta and Nick Sortal in the Sun Sentinel's gambling blog (link) got me interested in Dania's $25 multitable tournaments, so I decided to check it out last Saturday.

This would be my first ever live tournament, and I had never been to Dania's poker room before; so I was a bit nervous and had no idea what I would face in terms of atmosphere and competition as I arrived and headed up the escalator to the card room. Hopefully I wouldn't get knocked out too quickly after having made the drive up from North Miami.

The first thing that struck me was what a great looking room they've put together. The area, which has about 30 tables with a liquor bar and a snack bar, has decor that is warm and attractive without being too extravagant.

They have everything well-organized for the even too. You just walk up to a sign-up table, pay your fee, and receive a slip of paper indicating your table and position. When everyone gets seated you receive 4000 tournament chips plus a bounty chip You also have the option to buy 500 additional chips for $5, which goes to the dealers' tips.

And then the action begins...

The game is very friendly with people of varying levels of skill, and all ages. I wasn't the only tournament newbie, and the other players and the dealers are tolerant of novice questions and mistakes.

On this Saturday afternoon, there were about 60 entrants and it wasn't long before some big hands went up against each other. Players were eliminated at a steady clip right from the start (this is a $5 bounty tournament, so when a player knocks another out, he or she receives the loser's bounty chip, which is good for $5).

I played pretty tightly through the first hour, caught some breaks, and managed to accumulate a decent stack of about 9000 chips by the time they called a 15 minute break at the two hour mark. Following the break, there were 18 players left seated at two tables. The blinds and antes were growing and eating into everyone's stack, so the excitement built as one dramatic all-in raise followed another.

At this point I was choking, as I laid down two good hands (pocket 8s and AQ suited) to pre-flop raises. With a dwindling stack, I knew I had to shove my chips in soon and had blown two opportunities to double up. When the blinds came back around I was sweating it out with only 5000 chips. There were 15 players left and the final 10 would make the final table. I looked at Ace-Jack in the big blind, and called all-in to the loose-raising small blind. He turned up A9, so I had him dominated, but a 9 on the flop spelled the end of my first tournament.

I was mildly disappointed with the finish, but had a good time with the other players for almost 3 hours and gained some tournament experience. Not bad for $30!

I'll definitely be back to many more of these tournies. Besides a comfortable poker room, Dania has a top-notch staff. Everyone is friendly and approachable, from the floor manager and dealers, to the wait staff and snack bar servers.

If you're thinking about going, here are the $25 tournament details:

  • What? $25 Multi-Table No-Limit Texas Hold'Em Tournament
  • Where? Dania Jai-Alai
  • When? Sat @ 1:30PM, Fri @ 3PM, Mon & Wed @ 6:30PM
  • Cost? $25 plus $5 optional add-on for 500 chips (add-on funds go to dealer tips)
  • Rake? Entry includes $5 house fee and $3 to Bad Beat Jackpot fund.
  • Jackpot Eligibility? Players are eligible for the Bad Beat Jackpot but not for the $100 high-hand awards.
  • Tournament structure? 4000 starting chips, 20 minute blinds.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gulfstream's Free $50 Gas Card Promo No Great Shakes for Video Poker Players

Gulfstream Park Casino runs some decent promos for its Good Luck Players Club members including drawings and monthly credit voucher mailings, but the free $50 BP Gas Card giveaway is
not worth the time and gas money.

Here's how it works: The promotion runs every Friday in January, and you need to accumulate 100 players club points on the machines between the hours of 10AM and 8PM to
earn a $50 BP gas card.

This sounded great! Provided the casino offers respectable odds on its games and they aren't too tight with the players club points, a
$50 gift card could be a nice consolation in the (likely) event of a losing session.

I love video poker and Gulfstream issued a press release
(link) on January 2nd, stating that their new video poker section would be open "in plenty of time for the thoroughbred meeting", which began on January 3rd. Video poker offers the
best odds in the casino, and I fully expected to find some worthwhile machines to play.

Boy was I wrong :(

To begin with, workers were still installing the new casino on Friday, January 4th (the second day of the race meet). Only The Casino on the second floor was open and the video poker paytables there are
atrocious.

For example, they have 7/5 Jacks or Better (JOB) machines in denominations from 25-cents to 1-dollar (Note: The 7 refers to the number of coins paid out for a full house, and 5 refers to flush).
The theoretical payout on these machines is a measely 96.1% (for players using perfect strategy and with max-coins bet). For comparison, a full-pay 9/6 JOB machine has a payout of almost 99.55%. In other words, the house edge is 8X greater for 7/5 (3.9% house edge) compared to the 9/6 game (0.45% house edge).

Ouch!

With such stingy machines, I knew it was going to be tough earning a gas card unless the casino was generous with it players club points (a casino with tight games should make up for it with comp points). But here again, the casino was extremely tight. On 25-cent video poker, the casino awards players club points at a rate of 2 per $100 wagered. Therefore, to earn 100 points,
you will need to place wagers totaling $5,000.

Ouch again!!

Let's do some math now: $5,000 X 3.9% = $195.00. That's the player's expected losses playing $5,000 worth of 7/5 Jacks or Better.

Ouch a third time!!!

My last hope was the cashback / comp system. But here again the casino is too tight. According to the Gulfstream Park website (link), comps can be redeemed at a rate of $1 per $100 points and you need 500 points for your initial redemption. That means you would have to play $25,000 of video poker to earn $5 in comps.

So to review, we need to play $5,000 of video poker, which entails expected losses of $195 to earn one $50 gas card and $1 in comps.

How dumb do they think we are??

A brighter tomorrow? By Friday January 11th, the new video poker section was operational at Gulfstream. Jacks or Better is reportedly available with 8/5 (25 and 50 cent machines) and 9/5 (1 dollar) paytables. The
theoretical return on these machines are 97.3%and 98.4%, respectively, which leads to projected losses of $135 and $80 for $5,000 worth of play.

So things are getting a little bit better, but 25-cent players would be advised that Mardi Gras Casino has 9/5 JOB (even without a free gas card, players are better off at a 9/5 JOB machine rather than 8/5).

So anyways...No thanks Gulfstream, I'll buy my own gas.