So I cruise up in my rented Malibu, some classic rock thing with lots of guitars blaring through the factory stereo, thinking “this isn’t too bad a way to pull up to a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino” and I valet the car, thinking it’s complimentary, like so many things in casinos are, just inducements to lose more money gambooooling. But that was not my plan, no sir. I was going to sit tight and wait for my premium hands and make the agro-monkeys pay me off. Yes sir, that’s the plan right there. So which way to the poker room?
“Turn left, straight ahead, look for the line.”
Line? That doesn’t sound good. Okay, let’s see what’s up. Sweet Baby Jebus he wasn’t kidding, there’s a serious line! Oh, there’s a line that says Tournament Sign Ups, maybe this BS is for some big tournament.
Nope. That is indeed the wait for cash games. There are 20 people on the list for $1-$2 Hold ‘Em. My name is far enough down on the list to not even be on the screen yet. I’m less than impressed. The whole setup is silly, with one small woman with heavily accented English calling out names on the list as seats come open, names that can in no way be heard over the din of the slot machines that are only 4’ away from the line. Not helping is the fact that the list is only displayed on one plasma screen that flashes to the list, then 2 seconds later flashes to the announcement of their high hand spade jackpot ($34K for a royal). So I got back in line and signed up for Omaha Hi/Lo with immediate seating in the $2-$2 game.
Apparently Florida law prohibits wagers over $2, so limit is all you get and the big game is $2. This is as bad as you think it might be.
So I get into the room itself, and it’s BIG. Not quite the size of MGM’s room, but about the size of the Excalibur room. About 100 tables, with room for probably 90. So it’s cramped. And it’s a smoking room. And it’s $2 limit. I think this might be about to suck. I was right, it sucked. I sat at the O8 for a few minutes until my name was called for the $2 Hold ‘Em and the Omaha was fine, if crazy loose. I didn’t catch anything, so I didn’t lose much. It was all about to change at Hold ‘Em, though.
I got the seat next to the chatty drunk Tammy, obviously a regular since she knew all the dealers, and since nobody who doesn’t bleed through a pile of money every week would be allowed to be that friggin’ annoying at the table. Her only benefit was that she always wanted to tell me when she had a good hand, so her nudging me under the table saved me a couple of bets. Don’t know why she decided my meager stack needed saving, probably because I was one of the few people not bitching about her antics. I saw pots raked by such stellar hands as 8 4, 10 2, Q 8 (actually one of the better hands I watched people play) and A 7 (my only winning hand rivered a 7 for 2nd pair and it was g00t). Not that I was card dead, but in four hours I won one hand, and never really saw any premium hands. But that wasn’t what made the game bad.
What made the game bad was the players, these guys are awful, and mostly too stupid to fold. It was donkey poker at its finest, and the dealers weren’t helping. Frequently too interested in chatting with drunken Tammy to deal the cards, or too interested in making neat card tricks to deal low enough that folks couldn’t see under the cards, the capper for me was when I was told I couldn’t ask for a new setup “because it was a shufflemaster table.” I had a card that was obviously bent, and I wanted the deck replaced, because there had been several face cards marked with fingernail marks along the back, and now the corner of a deuce was heavily bent. So when I asked for a new setup, and was told that was against the house rules, instead of acceding to my request to call the floor, the dealer took my bent card, shuffled it with two other cards and asked a player at the other end of the table to pick the deuce. He missed, the cards went back into the shufflemaster.
It’s not so much that I think anyone was seriously marking cards at a $2 table, but when I think a card is marked, I want a new setup, and the dealer was able to look at the card and see the mark, but didn’t think it was “bent enough” to do anything about it. So I didn’t care for the way my concerns were handled, but the deck got bounced a few hands later when a guy at the other end of the table found his 8h torn almost completely in half.
So in summary, if you’re looking for a huge but still cramped, smoky poker room with a 10% rake ($5 max + $1 drop for high hand jackpot), massive donkey poker, unhelpful staff and drinks that are not only NOT COMPED but are strip-club expensive to boot, the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa is for you. If you’re looking for a fine gambling experience, look elsewhere.