The BestBet Jacksonville poker room is one of largest and best known of the Florida card rooms. It is also one of the best rooms you’ll ever enter. Spacious, nicely appointed and replete with amenities that are generally only part of a large casino setting, Bestbet sets itself apart from other freestanding poker rooms. While there were a few areas BestBet fell short, overall it is a top flight room.
Setting and Non-Poker Amenities
BestBet Jacksonville is on the east side of the city, half way between the city center and the Atlantic shore. As an aside, when we visited we stayed in Atlantic Beach/Neptune beach area and it was great. Neptune Beach has fantastic restaurants in a very small walkable footprint. Atlantic beach sports gorgeous, endless beaches and a laid-back vibe. At 15-20 minutes from BestBet, a visit to Atlantic Beach offers a great poker/beach combo vacation.
BestBet itself is in a heavily trafficked area, directly across the street from the Regency Square Mall. From the outside, you know immediately that this is going to be a large venue. But when you enter, the space is even larger than it looked from the outside. The expansive room has high ceilings and a sleek, modern look. Likely due to the high ceilings and good ventilation system, the air seemed fresher and cleaner than any poker room we have experienced.
A reception desk and bar/restaurant area dissect the room. On the right sits a large area with table games lined by huge TV screens. Also on the right is a large simulcast offtrack betting area. The simulcast area is very state-of-the-art with a comfortable seating area. For coffee lovers, there is a small Starbucks right outside the OTB area. The food options looked good, and several people at Heather’s table raved about the fried rice plate special. The menu has a lot of options, with appetizers, sandwiches/burgers, and salads as well as a sushi bar. Several beer options are on offer, as well as your typical 4 to 5 house wine options.
Poker Room Comfort
To the left of the space sit about 70 poker tables stretching from the front to the back of the room. Tables are well spread out with plenty of room to walk around. The tables themselves are very nice and clean with seemingly new felts. Chairs are padded and very comfortable. However, they are slightly too wide, so you lose some spacing around the table. It was a bit hard to move on and off a full 10-person table without banging into your neighbor. But this was not as bad as we experienced at the Playground Poker Club a few months ago.
A couple dozen cash tables were going on this Saturday night. Cash games are clearly BestBet Jacksonville’s bread-and-butter. The room featured an elevated area with a dividing rail and a few tables likely used for high stakes cash games or final tables in larger tournaments. The cage to buy chips and register for tournaments is in the back of the room, and the walls to the left are lined with signed photos of pro players who have played BestBet.
One odd drawback in the otherwise upscale BestBet Jacksonville experience was that the chips were sticky and fairly dirty. They could definitely use a wash.
BestBet Jacksonville Staff
The dealers at BestBet were very friendly, with a wide range in skill. My first dealer gave me the wrong size starting stack, a situation which I had to draw his attention to multiple times before he corrected. He proceeded to make a couple of minor mistakes making change during the first level. However, once there was a dealer change, a series of very skilled, fast and competent dealers rotated through. I did have one dealer later who became very confused trying to figure out a main and side pot. A couple of players had to help her through it.
The floors were readily available and kept the tournament moving well. Wait staff circulated at what seemed to be an average rate for such a large room. I did hear some players, however, grousing about how long they had to wait for their drink order.The BestBet Jacksonville poker room is one of the most spacious and comfortable poker rooms around.Click To Tweet
Players at the BestBet Jacksonville Poker Room
The room hosted a fairly typical range of players. There were plenty of good, solid players and a few pretty skilled ones. There were also some calling stations who would chase you down with any draw. Perhaps I am just bitter, having been the victim of slim draws calling my sizable flop bets. Players also ranged as to the degree of cordial and friendly demeanor. There were several affable and social players, but also a few that were pretty irritated at the play of others and unafraid to verbalize their disaffection. Overall, the field was filled with solid regulars who knew each others’ style of play pretty well and could adjust accordingly.
Poker Tournament Structures
BestBet Jacksonville is certainly a frequent host of large tournament events. There was a $1,500 WPT event that drew 372 entries with a first prize of $100K the previous weekend. A guy at my table in the $155 buy-in I entered, placed 4th in that event and took home 30K. Next month (April 2018), there is an 11-day Card Player Poker Tour series with 13 events. Most of those events offer between $240 to $360 buy-ins, with 20,000 chip starting stacks and 30 minute blinds. The main event is an $1,100 buy-in with a $200,000 guarantee. So BestBet has no shortage of big tournaments.
However, the standing weekly tournaments are another matter. Buy-ins tend to be moderate, $100 to $155, but the starting stacks and blind levels are only average. For example, a weekly $100 tournament has a starting stack of just 6,000 chips and 20 minute blinds with antes kicking in at level 4. Their “deep stack” starts with 10,000 chips, with 30 minute blinds. The $155 “Iron Man” tournament we played in did have a great starting stack, 25,000, but only 20 minute blinds. The “iron man” part meant that there were no breaks (other than a 5 minute color up): 18 levels played without pause. I actually liked that quirk more than I thought I would.
BestBet Jacksonville’s regular tournaments do not draw large fields. When we asked how many would likely sign up for the “Iron Man,” we were told “It is pretty big for our tournaments, like 30 or 40 players.” Given that we are used to playing in fields of 80 to 150 at our favorite home site, this left us a little cold. Indeed there ended up to be 39 entries.
Overall Assessment of BestBet Jacksonville
BestBet Jacksonville’s interior is gorgeous and comfortable. It is probably the most visually appealing and spacious room we have played in. And it definitely had the freshest air we have experienced in a poker room. The atmosphere on the Saturday night we were there was vibrant, and had the feel of a destination for the serious poker player. While there may be a few rough spots in dealer skill, mostly the staff befits the setting. If you are in the Southeast looking to play poker, definitely swing by BestBet Jacksonville if you get the chance.
- Tournament Structures
The BestBet Jacksonville poker room is one of the most spacious and comfortable poker rooms around. Not only does it boast 70 modern poker tables with plenty of room between them, but it also has a state-of-the-art simulcast OTB area and a table game area with some of the largest TV screens you’ll every see. Professional staff and comfortable chairs enhance the experience. Although the standing tournaments do not feature particularly great structures, there are enough tournament series that rotate through to make up for the weaker standard offerings.