Magic City poker room

Magic City Poker Room Review

The Magic City poker room is one of the smallest card rooms in South Florida. Magic City carves out a specific niche in the southwest corner of Miami away from the larger rooms to the north like Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood and Isle Casino Pompano Park.  Its closest rival is the larger Hialeah Park (which we were unable to fit in on this trip). Magic City’s poker room has a diverse clientele (except in terms of gender).  The room’s proximity to Downtown Miami and Little Havana presents nice opportunities for a day of sightseeing, cultural immersion, dining, and poker.

Casino Setting 

The Magic City Casino lies on the west side of Miami, right outside the northwest edge of  Little Havana. It can be accessed via the Dolphin Expressway (route 836) to the north, route 968 to the south, and route 953 to the west. In other words, it’s conveniently accessed  from any direction – at least as convenient as possible considering South Florida traffic and stop lights!

If you have the time, walk around and definitely eat in Little Havana.  The Calle Ocho is a great area to stroll around and grab lunch or dinner. Ice cream fans might enjoy Azucar.  They had some creative flavors like Burn in Hell Fidel, a chocolate spiced with cayenne, Guava, and Mango. Poker players will enjoy checking out the intensive domino action at Maximo Gomez Park. The day we visited, there were some heated chess matches going on as well.  If you head west down 8th Street toward Magic City, you’ll come across Versailles Cuban Bakery, offering a range of goodies from pastries and cakes to sandwiches and meals.

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play poker in New England

Where to Play Poker in New England: A Guide to Popular Games

The vibrant New England poker scene offers a wide variety of options in a very small geographic footprint. In less than 3 hours you could drive from the room (with 10 or more tables) furthest north, Lakes Region Casino, to the one furthest south, Foxwoods. The region’s largest city, Boston, sits dead center of the poker action.  Drive a little more than 90 minutes north and you are at the Lakes Region Casino, 90 minutes south to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, and then 90 minutes due west to the newest venue, MGM Springfield. Five poker rooms in southern New Hampshire are within about 45 minutes of Boston as well. In short, there are a lot of options for the New England poker player. So how does one decide where to play poker in New England?

Some of it comes down to personal taste.   You may just select your favorite rooms, as we did recently. But if you have specific criteria for your preferred game, there’s data available that can help guide your decision.

We have long had a decent idea which venues have the most active cash games, and which tournaments draw the largest fields. But, as data analysts by trade, we decided to take a more statistical approach to our investigation. During the month of January 2019 we used  PokerAtlas and Bravo Poker to track cash and tournament activity for all New England sites which provide live data on either site. On weekdays, we collected numbers at 8pm each night for cash play, and tracked tournaments after the registration period closed. On weekends, we tracked cash both at 2pm and 8pm and the number of entries for all tournaments.

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Single Day in Toronto - Casa Loma

A Single Day in Toronto

Spending a single day in a major city is the speed dating of travel. What can you report other than the city is “kind of attractive, and seems to have a decent personality”? However, after our day in Toronto, we had a love at first sight reaction. All four of our children liked it as well, with one of them coming away so enamored it instantly became her favorite city.

If you only have a single day in Toronto, here’s a quick game plan. If you have a more civil multi-day visit, these guidelines can give you a start as well. We visited Toronto in the middle of a week in Niagara falls with the kids (ages 12-20). For the poker players, Niagara has casino options on the American side, the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, and Canadian side, Casino Niagara. But take a break from the tables for a day and head up to Toronto for some culture, food, and fun. It’s a mere two hour drive up the road, and definitely worth a day visit.

The Toronto Metro System

Like everything in Toronto, the subway system is very clean, modern and convenient. The entire metro system is called the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and includes bus and streetcars along with the subway.  If in Toronto for a frantic day, grab a day pass, and, if you are traveling as a family, you can get group weekend day discounts.  Basically, park your car near your first landmark, and leave it for the day. In my visit to Chicago, I discovered SpotHero which allows you to reserve a parking garage spot ahead of time, usually at discount prices. Toronto offers a SpotHero subsidiary, Parking Panda.  We’d give that a shot. Or park at a TTC lot in the outskirts for $7 per day.

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Mohegan Sun Poker Room

5 Best Poker Rooms in New England

The New England poker rooms are our home turf. We’ve played at all of the major ones (10 tables or more), and several small rooms as well. Our go-to rooms have changed over the years, depending on budget, whether we were into cash or tournaments at the time, and staffing. Our very first go-to room, Rockingham, near Salem New Hampshire, no longer exists.

Nationally, the New England poker room scene has a lower profile than Florida, California, or Las Vegas. However, with 13 rooms less than a 2 hour drive from Boston, this region offers one of the most vibrant and diverse poker environments in the country. In southern New Hampshire alone there are seven decent to very good poker rooms within a 20 mile radius. With the Encore slated to open in Boston later this year, the  poker climate is only going to get richer in New England.

We have developed an approach to evaluating rooms, and written reviews of most of the New England poker rooms.  With dozens, if not hundreds, of New England poker room visits under our belts in the past few years, the time has come to name our favorites. We present them in no particular order, as some are favored over others for very different reasons.

The Poker Room at Hampton Falls

Why Top 5 in New England Poker Rooms?: The number of weekly tournaments, some with very good structures (see below). In fact, the best low-cost tournament structures in New England can be found not at Foxwoods or Mohegan sun, but right here in Hampton Falls. Hampton Falls has two levels, so the bigger tournaments have their own space downstairs apart from the cash and table games. The room is wood paneled, bright and airy and offers a nice atmosphere for tournament players. Finally, the floor managers at Hampton Falls are fabulous. We have not seen more professional, knowledgeable floors outside of a major casino.

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Long-term poker travel

4 Keys to Preparing for Long-Term Poker Travel

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In a couple of years we plan to spend at least a year traveling the United States playing poker.  That goal is still more than 2 years away, but the planning has definitely begun. Constructing a lifestyle based on poker travel requires significant preparation. Creating the plan and communicating our discoveries is one reason that we started this blog.

We should define what we mean by long-term poker travel. We are hoping to play poker several times per week while maintaining financial viability and travelling around the country.  For poker players who have reached a comfortable retirement or are independently wealthy, the financial implications may be minor. For the rest of us, such a plan requires a delicate balance between freedom and flexibility and working to maintain economic stability. Our intended nationwide trip is still at least 3 years out. Yet sometimes it feels like we don’t have sufficient prep time.

There are four critical areas to address if you want to forge a successful poker travel lifestyle.

1. Improve at Poker

Even if you’re a solid recreational poker player, it can be a challenge to break even. The impact of rake and tipping in small stakes cash and tournament games is substantial.  On top of that, it seems like every year the average poker player gets better. A decade ago, there were very few good, solid players in low stakes games.  Today at any given table, half the players may be pretty good.

Show me 10 low stakes players who claim they are lifetime profitable, and I’ll show you 9.7 liars.

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