Dec. 1, which boasted 78-degree weather and sunny skies, was the opening day of horse racing at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla. And inside is one of the friendliest poker rooms in Florida, the Silks, which offers a great deal of options to casually play some hands while rooting for a trifecta box to come in. On this busy day, I had the opportunity to chat with Patrick Murphy, director of poker operations at the Silks.
You’ve been at the Silks since 2005 as a manager and operations manager since 2006. Where did you cut your teeth before that? I started dealing poker at 19 at Seminole Gaming Palace (now Seminole Hard Rock), dealt on several cruise lines, (World Series of Poker) and owned and operated a casino training school. Just prior to coming back to the Tampa area I spent several years in a corporate management position for a national restaurant chain.
What separates your room from the others in the area, or any other poker place in Florida? Service is key. Every room around has the same product of poker, so we had to differentiate ourselves. We were the first to offer massage, Bravo player tracking, most giveaways and promotions. We will honor almost all requests and if we don’t have an amenity that you like, just ask and we will do our best to offer it.
I’ve noticed an increase in charity events at the Silks. Do you see that as a mission of the room? We will continue to do our part to help our community any way we can, and have run charity and benefit events for many organizations and raised thousands of dollars for their causes.
Tampa Hard Rock and Derby Lane in St. Petersburg have started to offer poker series, including World Poker Tour events. Do you see the Silks hosting a series? We are a smaller room with fewer tables to run these events side-by-side with our daily cash games, but this is definitely something that we would like to attempt in the near future.
What do you see the direction of poker being at the Silks and in the Tampa area on the whole? The Tampa area is very competitive for poker. The players have many options on where and when to play. I only hope that every time someone walks in here for the first or 100th time that when they leave they feel like we did everything we could to make it an enjoyable visit. If anyone has any suggestions, we’re always listening to the players. That’s who we’re here for.
— Andrew Malowtiz is Ante Up’s Central Florida Ambassador. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.