With the state of Nevada and especially the Las Vegas Strip shedding poker tables, it is arguable that poker’s new destination spot could very well be Florida. With more than 400 tables and a plethora of big tournaments that seem to be going on monthly, Florida’s a shining star of the poker world as the 600-plus tables in Nevada continue to be cut. Due to that new distinction of “best state” for poker, the two power players in the poker market in the Sunshine State – the two Seminole Hard Rock poker locations in Hollywood and Tampa – have upgraded their rooms to provide more to the players.
At the Seminole Hard Rock property in Hollywood, you used to have to stroll to an outside building to reach the poker room, usually one of the busiest places (both the poker room and the surrounding area) on site. That has changed since the move by Seminole officials to move the poker room into an old ballroom inside the main casino property. This move will be permanent as the old poker room separate from the property has been demolished.
According to Nick Sortal at the Miami Herald, the new room is very comparable to the old building. “There are 36 tables, almost as many as there were in the old room,” Sortal comments, but now the players are actually made to feel like they are a part of the casino. That comes from the access to the casino through the Seminole Way parking garage covered and air-conditioned walkway instead of having to deal with the Florida humidity.
“In maintaining the quality experience of poker play that the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino poker room is known for, we’re excited about the new poker space and are committed to continuing to offer some of the region’s best promotions and tournaments,” noted Larry Frank, the general manager of gaming operations for Seminole Gaming. “The new room’s proximity to our major tournament venue is expected to help amplify our cash action during the upcoming Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open and all subsequent series.”
The changes in Hollywood follow the recent upgrades that the Tampa property underwent. In January, the Tampa Hard Rock opened its 46-table room to the public, with many other amenities making the property a jewel in the competitive Florida poker scene. For high stakes games, there are two special lounges set aside for those games.
The Tampa Hard Rock personnel didn’t just look at the playing of poker with its customers. 40 HDTVs surround the room and, along with complimentary Wi-Fi, a 15-seat bar, and a snack bar just for the poker room, even those having a bad run at the tables are comfortable. While the poker room is non-smoking, accommodations are made for those who do partake of tobacco products with a covered smoking patio nearby.
The revenues generated by the poker rooms in Florida outpace their counterparts in Nevada. For 2016, Nevada poker rooms – most of which are located in Las Vegas and Reno – generated $117 million in revenues (the Strip accounted for $78 million of that total). In Florida, revenues for the 24 poker rooms across the state totaled over $147 million. The Florida poker scene has also seen a 231.5% increase in revenues since 2006, while the lucrative horse and dog racing industry has declined by half in the same period. Nevada, on the other hand, has been hit with the closure of rooms in Las Vegas, most recently the closure of the poker room at the Monte Carlo in April.
Whether the Florida poker scene can continue to generate these types of numbers is unknown. What is known is that the poker rooms – especially those under the auspices of the Seminoles in the state – are going to cater to their players and strive to provide the best atmosphere possible for their customers.