While many businesses are feeling the downward force of the economic recession, the poker industry is continuing to rise. Ten years ago the biggest tournament in Central Florida was a $45 freezeout. Today, a high-stakes tournament occurs almost every day.
Derby Lane in St. Petersburg has made huge strides in giving customers action, and lots of it. Tournament enthusiasts are attracted to Derby Lane for its numerous high buy-in, large prize pool events, including the Money Maker tournament. Derby’s new event has caught the attention of many locals.
“The Money Maker was a great success,” Derby Lane’s Pam Buzzetto said. “The tournament has an $800 buy-in and drew 144 players in its debut.”
Among those in action were hometown pros such as World Series of Poker Main Event runner-up John Racener and WSOP bracelet-winner Don Baruch.
Despite its instant success, the Money Maker tournament will be put on hold until the beginning of next year.
“We will resume the Money Maker tournament in January 2012 after our WPT 12 Days of Poker,” Buzzetto said. “The regional WPT event is being held Dec. 9-20 (see ad on Page 29 for schedule) and we have promotions running to give away chips to enter these events.”
Derby Lane has signed an agreement with the World Poker Tour to host three upcoming events in the next calendar year. In addition to the WPT 12 Days of Poker, it also will host the WPT Poker Challenge (March 17-24) and the WPT Rebound Tournament (July 14-16).
Central Florida is finally getting the attention of largest poker corporations in the world as WPT and WSOP each have visited the heart of the Florida poker scene.
Derby Lane has many popular daily promotions, including high hands, Splash the Pot and frequent jackpots. The room also introduced Home Game Thursdays, where friends can take part in their own single-table tournament. Derby Lane even throws in free pizza and beer to sweeten the deal. Tournaments and promotions like these are what keep Derby Lane relevant in the eyes of the Florida grinder.
— Garrett Roth is the Ante Up Ambassador for Central Florida and the Where to Play editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GarrettRoth.