Tampa Bay has all the poker action you need

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Poker players have three basic needs when it comes to tournaments and promotions: variety, large payouts and a great structure. Finding rooms with these conditions is easy when you live in the Tampa Bay area. Hard Rock Tampa, Derby Lane, Tampa Bay Downs and Tampa Greyhound all have their own advantage and are great at attracting not only tournament players, but cash-game players, too.

Here’s a preview of some of the best that each room has to offer:

• Hard Rock Tampa has more than 50 tables of live action running daily. If you like high-stakes tournaments, check out its deepstack events on Oct. 12 and 26 at ($550, 7 p.m.). If you’re a cash-game grinder, HRT is always a great spot to try to hit a bad-beat jackpot as it usually reaches into the six-figure payday range. Right at press time, HRT’s bad-beat jackpot was hit for more than $500K.

• Derby Lane is littered with great promotions for live-action players. One of its most popular promotions is the Monte Carlo. The payouts for $1-$3 no-limit hold’em are quad deuces-10s ($75), quad jacks-aces ($150), straight flushes ($300) and royals ($500). Derby Lane offers a good bang for your buck. See for yourself on Oct. 14 in its Super Stack event ($330, 1 p.m., 30-minute levels, 15K units), and don’t miss its three-day Halloween tournament Oct. 26-28 where you win an Ante Up Poker Cruise.

• Tampa Bay Downs has become a premier spot for tournament and cash-game variation. The Silks has a great range of buy-ins for tournaments, but your best bet is its reduced rake event on Sundays ($200, 1 p.m.). The Halloween tournament (Oct. 26-28) is the room’s biggest event of the year. For the cash-gamers, the room has its $599-$299 high-hand promotion, paying quads, straight flushes and royals.

• Lucky’s Card Room at Tampa Greyhound is a great spot to test your skills in hold’em and Omaha as these cash games run regularly. Lucky’s has numerous promotions, including itsr new Rise ’n Shine payout. This promo runs 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and pays aces full of queens or better and starts at $500. If you’re looking for a great-structured tournament to play, the Sunday Challenge is a must on Oct. 28 ($115, 1 p.m.).

GOING NUTZ AT SILKS: The Nutz Poker League recently held its third Silk’s Poker Showdown at Tampa Bay Downs, attracting more than 50 players. Roy Danford, Julio Jimenez, Rita Palouian and Laurie O’Donnell chopped for almost $400 apiece.

— Garrett Roth is the Ante Up Ambassador for Central Florida and the Where to Play editor. Email him at roth@anteupmagazine.com and follow him on Twitter @GarrettRoth.