Non-hold’em games popping up around Tampa Bay



No-limit hold’em took off with a fury years ago, supplanting games such as seven-card stud. However, while not to the same fervor as NLHE, Omaha is gaining popularity in the Tampa Bay area. Just about every day you can find a game at one of the area cardrooms.

DERBY LANE: Almost every morning when Derby Lane opens, a $4-$8 Omaha/8 game with a half-kill opens. The game fills with regulars who come with pad and pen in hand to start a list before the room opens (on weekdays since Derby is open 24 hours on weekends). The crowd is happy to play this game, but the ultimate goal is the spade royal. When the jackpot gets near $12K-$15K, everyone is gunning for the grand prize and the waiting list begins to grow.

TAMPA HARD ROCK: The Seminole property is the one room that gets limit and pot-limit Omaha going regularly. The $3-$6 game with a half-kill has been getting two tables almost daily, while $1-$2 and $2-$5 PLO has been spread almost every day, especially on weekends. Look for the games to grow, especially as more tournament series begin to come to the area.

LUCKY’S CARD ROOM: The greyhound track in Tampa could be considered the epicenter of the PLO movement in the area. A regular game that kicks off around 1 p.m. expands into the evening so much that a must-move second table is common. This $1-$2 game with a $5 button straddle plays big, and the wins can be tremendous. If an action game at the $1-$2 level is what you’re seeking, then Lucky’s should be your first stop.

SILKS POKER ROOM: The poker room at Tampa Bay Downs will try to get any game started. From H.O.R.S.E. to crazy pineapple, the room keeps trying to make games other than hold’em viable options. While nothing has concretely stuck, the room consistently gets a $2-$5 PLO game that finds many regulars looking to score big. The Silks boasts big games, and the $2-$5 PLO game is no exception. If you have the bankroll to sit in the game, it’s fun and exciting and can be profitable.

— Andrew Malowtiz is Ante Up’s Central Florida Ambassador. Email him at

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