If the rest of the world doesn’t know Florida has uncapped poker, they will very soon.
Not long after the Seminole Tribe announced a deal to bring a World Poker Tour event to its Hard Rock property in Hollywood (and a smaller regional event in November), the World Series of Poker awarded a circuit stop to Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach that will run Feb. 17-March 1. (schedule is below)
“This is a huge step. This is the first non-casino (to host a circuit event),” Noah Carbone, the room’s director of poker operations, said. “The racing adds a special twist to it.”
It’s also just the third circuit location that isn’t owned by the newly named Caesars Entertainment, no doubt an easy decision since the company doesn’t own a property in the poker-crazed state.
“We we’re up against a lot of other casinos, but the weather in Florida in February trumped it,” Carbone said.
And the credit for landing the event, which attracts large crowds everywhere it’s held, goes to advance planning by Carbone and his staff.
“Back in April and May, we said, ‘What do we need to do to take the bull by the horns before the limits change?’ ” Carbone said. “We wanted one of the big tours, so we put out some feelers.”
Jimmy Sommerfield, who runs many of the circuit events, will run Palm Beach’s, too, in conjunction with the kennel club’s tournament staff. The circuit schedule is consistent at every stop, with the exception of two events that the host location can choose. Palm Beach went with H.O.R.S.E. and Omaha/8, both ring events with $345 buy-ins.
Aside from the normal challenges with running an event of this scale for the first time, PBKC has some unique hurdles to clear. It’s the first circuit event with no hotel on site, so the staff has secured deals at three local hotels to give players a variety of lodging options. And the state doesn’t allow for temporary tournament tables, so the event will be contained to the fortunately generous 60 tables that Palm Beach has plus two to three that will be added permanently in a new final table area that will overlook the racing track.
That will give the room a capacity of 500 entries per day, plus alternates, and the larger events can have multiple Day 1s. The room is projecting 6,000 total tournament entries.
Single-table and multitable satellites begin Jan. 1 and run through the event, and all will award buy-in chips that can be used toward any event or future satellites.
“If anybody plays tournaments, this is going to be the place to be,” Carbone said. “There’s going to be nonstop tournament action.”
Double Bonus Hold’em
Before the limits changed in Florida, a handful of poker rooms found a creative way to deal a version of Three Card Poker, one of the most popular table games in most casinos. By using their jackpot fund to provide the big payouts common to the game, the game didn’t require the house to bank it and thereby was a legal, if not entirely exciting, version of the real thing.
The game never really caught on in most rooms, and with caps on poker in Florida lifted in July, there’s little reason to get that creative with game design these days, unless you’re in a hyper-competitive market that includes a behemoth Hard Rock, which can offer house-banked games.
Enter Double Bonus Hold’em, a new offering at Mardi Gras Casino in the poker pressure-cooker that is South Florida.
Played on a blackjack-like table, it has all the appearances of a traditional table game, but like the Three Card Poker variation, it uses the jackpot fund to provide payouts from everything from pairs to royal flushes. Players put up $5 a hand, with $4 of it going to the jackpot, and play out a traditional hand of Texas Hold’em against a maximum of six opponents.
The game, created by Titan Gaming, is exclusive to Mardi Gras in South Florida for six months and in Broward County for a year.
Another Big Game
As soon as July 1 hit, many Florida players wondered how big the games would get and what rooms would corner that nosebleed action. Very quickly, regular $10-$25 no-limit games broke out in the Tampa Bay and South Florida areas. Now, Daytona Beach Kennel Club in northwest Florida is in the big-game business, too.
In November, the room hosted a $25-$50 no-limit hold’em game with nine players, three of them new to the room. Minimum buy-in was $10,000, but most bought in for more. The game generated a five-player wait list, and they were expecting two tables for the December game. This kind of interest likely will spark DBKC to build a private poker room at the end of its existing room for $25-$50 and $10-$25 NLHE games.
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World Series of Poker circuit
PALM BEACH KENNEL CLUB
Feb. 17-March 1
Feb. 17-18: $300+$45 no-limit hold’em re-entry (two Day 1s)
Feb. 19: $500+$55 NLHE
Feb. 20: $300+$45 NLHE
Feb. 21: $300+$45 NLHE
Feb. 22: $300+$45 H.O.R.S.E
Feb. 23: $300+$45 Omaha/8
Feb. 24-25: $500+$55 No-Limit Hold’em (two Day 1s)
Feb. 26: $1,000+$80 No-Limit Hold’em
Feb. 27: $1,500+$100 Championship Event
Feb. 28: $300+$45 No-Limit Hold’em
• All events begin at 11 a.m., except the championship (4 p.m.)
$200+$35 non-ring NLHE events at 6 p.m. every day fromFeb. 17-27
Feb. 28: $100+$25 ladies event at 6 p.m. (non-ring event)
Feb. 26: $200+$35 mega satellite at 4 p.m.
Feb. 26: $300+$45 mega satellite at 7 p.m.