Tampa Bay Vacation: Riverwalk

Our Tampa Bay Vacation

In 2018, Heather and I visited Atlantic Beach (Jacksonville area) and Northeast Florida. We gave it a resounding, and slightly unexpected, big thumbs up. In 2019, we took a highly anticipated extended vacation to South Florida. We came away mildly disappointed with Miami and the Keys. The only logical next step was to see what the other poker rich section of Florida – Tampa – had to offer. So in the last week of February, we combined a work and fun (and poker!) excursion to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area for a Tampa Bay vacation. While there were things we really liked and others, not so much, most of all we are glad we didn’t decide to vacation in March this year.

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One-Eyed Jacks Poker Room Review

The trip to One-Eyed Jacks poker room (housed in the Sarasota Kennel Club) took a bit of commitment on our Tampa trip. The room was about an hour outside the city, and like everything in Florida, getting there involved dodging aggressive drivers on the highway and impatiently sitting through traffic lights once off the highway. But that’s Florida. Nonetheless, the volume of cash games and diversity of tournaments intrigued us. So we took the second Saturday of our vacation to drive down to Sarasota for lunch, a beach view, and some poker.
NOTE: This visit to the One-Eyed Jacks poker room occurred at the end of February 2020. While now open again, the room has changed in the interim, for obvious reasons. Thus, your experience may vary.

Casino Setting 

One-Eyed Jacks is located about an hour south of Tampa, on the north side of Sarasota.  The room is right beside the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport.  It is accessible from major roads, but sits in a very congested area.

We drove down early from Tampa so we could check out the Sarasota beaches and grab a quick lunch. We ate lunch at The Dry Dock Grill in the Lido Beach area. The food was pretty good, and sitting outside on their patio was very pleasant. We walked along Lido Beach after lunch, which had some of the finest white sand we have ever seen.

If you visit Lido Beach, leave yourself plenty of time to get over to One-Eyed Jacks. Although only about 10 miles away, it took us over half an hour.  There was some construction that made parts challenging, but mostly, the Florida traffic and never ending traffic lights were our main nemeses once again.

Parking is free at One-Eyed Jacks. Read More

Legalize online poker

Legalize Online Poker: A Renewed Call to Action

Over its brief history as a nationwide activity, online poker fell into a legal grey zone. While arguably not strictly legal, for years federal and state regulators left this very visible industry alone. But on April 15, 2011, poker’s Black Friday, The U.S. Department of Justice provided clarity. On that day, the DOJ shut down the operations of all US poker sites. While online poker has resumed legal status for residents in a few states – Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware – online poker remains banned in most of the country. I believe that the current pandemic has brought clarity to this long neglected issue: it is time for the federal government to legalize online poker across the United States.

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Derby Lane Poker Room Review

The Derby Lane poker room is the primary St. Petersburg poker facility in the Tampa-St. Pete metro area.  Our final stop on our poker sojourn through West Florida, Derby Lane was a pleasant surprise. We had heard a couple of disparaging comments from a player at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Bay about Derby Lane. We, however, found Derby Lane much more appealing than the dingy, scary venue described to us. And it had nothing to do with the fact that I chopped the final 5 spots. Promise!
NOTE: This visit to the Debry Lane poker room occurred at the end of February 2020. While now open again, the room has changed in the interim, for obvious reasons. Thus, your experience may vary, as they say.

Casino Setting 

The Derby Lane poker room is located in St. Petersburg near Route 62 coming from Tampa Bay.  The surroundings are not the most scenic, but they are fairly convenient from both St. Petersburg and Tampa. According to advertisements, Derby Lane was established in 1925 and is the oldest dog racing track in the United States.

Parking is free at Derby Lane.

Derby Lane Poker Room

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Players with Masks Play Live Poker

Is It Time to Play Live Poker Again?

Perhaps the decision whether to return to play live poker seems frivolous given everything else happening right now. But with most states decreasing restrictions, we are faced with myriad decisions around leisure activities. Do we go back and eat at our favorite restaurant that just re-opened? Does the advent of summer draw us back to busy oceans and lakes? Do we golf, bowl, play pick-up basketball, or walk and bike on crowded rail trails?

For some people, the answers are simple.  At one end of the spectrum are people who want everything back to normal and see minimal risk. Others will continue to avoid any environment outside their home that is not critically life-sustaining. Most people, however, fall somewhere in the middle. The question whether to play live poker, or resume any activity, is dependent on the answers to a series of questions regarding conditions and risk factors.

As we approach the end of June 2020, most poker rooms in the United States remain closed. However, there are several rooms that have opened in the last couple of weeks. The areas with the greatest activity so far are Florida, Las Vegas, New Hampshire, and scattered sites around California. If you have been missing poker, and live in an area with open rooms: should you venture out?

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