New Ohio poker rooms off to tremendous start

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Ohio now has legal casino poker. Round one of casino openings here has brought the 30-table Horseshoe Casino poker room managed by Jeremy Smith and the 20-table Hollywood Casino room managed by Peter Lau into the regional poker economy.

The Horseshoe opened May 14 and most hours of the day sports a waiting list for $1-$2 no-limit hold’em. Unlike most regional casinos, we’re seeing lots of $2-$5 and some $5-$10 action, plus PLO at the same levels. The Shoe also spreads $3-$6 and $5-$10 limit and all games actually go off.

Many regional grinders flooded the market to experience the “Florida Effect” and have since left; Florida, it turns out, is Florida. (After having attended the Deep Stack Charity Classic in Daytona in May, I can assure you Florida is a special place for poker and all poker players should take a poker-cation there).

Ohio poker is what Ohioans have played in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana and Michigan for years, only now they’re playing closer to home. That said, higher stakes are consistently playing in Cleveland with waiting lists most times.

The Hollywood Casino near Toledo just opened as of this writing so there’s no real data yet. But Hollywood does poker well, so we expect Toledo to follow suit.

$50K Heads-Up PLO: Steve “Virus” Saris from Canton and Vinh Ho from Cincinnati recently tangled in a $50K heads-up pot-limit Omaha match at the Horseshoe. With blinds at $25-$50, the began at 7 p.m. and didn’t finish until 2 a.m. when the Virus prevailed, $50K healthier on his way to play the heads-up at the World Series in Las Vegas.

“Let me tell you something, Vinh can play some PLO,” Saris said afterward.

CHARITY EVENT: The second annual Cards to Cure Cancer event will be 10:30 a.m. Aug. 26 at the Blackwell Hotel on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus. Buy-in is $150, and players start with 6,000 units and get 1,000 more if they pre-register. Levels are 20 minutes, and a lunch buffet and snacks are included. The tournament benefits the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Cancer Research. For more info, visit cardstocurecancer.com.

— Dan Harkenrider is Ante Up’s Ohio Ambassador. Email him at anteupdan@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DivisionofPoker.