Giardina’s HOF career hits stride in Jacksonville

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By Donovan Livingston

When looking to play poker in Florida, what better place to visit than a casino called bestbet? How can you go wrong? Head there and you’ll meet Deborah Giardina, vice president of poker operations.

“We have two properties, one in Orange Park with 39 tables and one in Jacksonville with 71 tables,” she said.

Certainly you’ll have no problem finding a game in these venues.
“We spread all levels of no-limit hold’em, seven-card stud, stud/8, Omaha/8 and mixed games. The action in our poker rooms is hot,” she said with a smile.

Prefer tournaments? She has you covered.

“We have varied daily tournaments. We also host the World Poker Tour twice a year. … Our tournament series are very popular. There is an event for every type of player.”

When it comes to promotions, bestbet really takes care of its players. “Our high hand of the hour and half-hour promotions are a big hit,” she said. “We frequently give $1K to the player with the highest hand of the hour. The players at the table each get a $500 table share. We have a variety of high-hand promotions throughout the week. We have given away cars, trucks and a variety of other prizes.”

Outside the poker room, there’s plenty to do at both venues.

“We are a parimutuel gaming facility,” she said. “We have a greyhound track at our Orange Park facility along with our poker room. We have a clubhouse dining room that looks out over the track. We run races all year long. The greyhounds are beautiful animals that love to run fast. Racing is fun for the entire family. We have facilities at each property for private parties. Our bestbet Jacksonville has a beautiful simulcast area. The sushi at both properties is second to none.”

When you’re done gambling, the fun doesn’t stop there.

“Jacksonville is on the Atlantic Coast,” said Giardina, who was just inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. “Within minutes you can be at some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The fishing is fabulous, too. Jacksonville is home to the golf courses at Sawgrass. The golf courses in Jacksonville are plentiful and are a golfer’s dream.”

She has been in the industry for almost 25 years. So how did she get into the business? “I was selling real estate in Colorado, but the market was in bad shape in the late ’80s. Gaming was coming to Colorado and I thought it would be a fun job. A friend of mine had taken a dealing class before the casino’s opened. He asked me to go with him to practice. I was hooked.”

When she’s not at work, she enjoys “spending time with my adult children and grandchildren. We ride bikes, go fishing, go to the beach, swim in our pools and often cook together. The girls love to bake cookies with Grandma. We enjoy life.”