Oxford Downs Poker Room

Oxford Downs Poker Room Review

Oxford Downs poker room sits in a fairly remote area of central Florida, away from immediate competitors. However, on our visit to the Tampa area, we decided to venture north following dual draws of meeting up with a poker-playing friend from Gainseville and a Saturday evening Crazy Pineapple tournament. We love ourselves some Crazy Pineapple!

Casino Setting 

Oxford Downs lies in Summerfield FL, about an hour and a half north of Tampa, an hour northwest of Orlando, and an hour south of Gainesville. It is at once not near much, but a relatively easy drive from several major Florida cities. The drive up from Tampa was mostly on Route 75, followed by some very rural roads complete with cow pastures. In general, the ride was easy and pleasant.

When you initially turn into the main entrance, you will think “I must have done something wrong.” Have faith and follow the road to the end and Oxford Downs will appear. While the card room consists of a modest-sized building, it fronts an attractive horse track that hosts infrequent special events. From what we understand, horse racing allows the room to exist, but unlike Tampa venues such as Silks, the track exists to check that box rather than be a revenue/entertainment stream.

Parking is free at Oxford Downs. Note that Oxford Downs is open nearly 24 hours (10am to 4am) Friday and Saturday, with slightly restricted hours Sunday through Thursday (10am to 2am).

 

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Silks Poker Room Review

Silks Poker Room Review

Silks Poker Room @ Tampa Bay Downs competes in a rather busy Tampa poker scene, with immediate rivals Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, Derby Lane, and TGT Poker. Silks is an active horse racing venue and is a short drive from some beautiful Gulf beaches, downtown Tampa, and St. Petersburg. Well, as short as any drive is on the hectic “Waze says: 4 miles 26 minutes” Florida roadways. Silks poker room is in a great spot with a lot of inherent advantages for the vacationing poker player looking for other leisure activities.

Casino Setting 

Tampa Bay Downs is in the northeast section of Tampa, about a half an hour from downtown. It is about the same distance from the beautiful Clearwater Beach. After winding through the busy Florida intersections, you drift down the long, sparse road on which TB Downs resides. The venue’s surrounding area is very attractive, as is its main attraction: the active horse racing track. The grounds are very well-maintained, serving as a respectable opposite coast bookend to the also beautiful north-of-Miami Gulfstream Park.

Parking is free at Silks. On race days, as we discovered, it’s a bit of a challenge to find a space anywhere near the front door. Read More

The Playground Poker Club is a great cardroom outside of Montreal

Playground Poker Club Room Review

The Playground Poker Club outside of Montreal is one of our favorite card rooms. We first visited three years ago after seeing a major televised tournament held there and expected grand things. While our initial approach to the card room elicited a ‘”this can’t be right” reaction, upon entry all was revealed. We returned last month (December 2019) and were excited to see further evolution. The Playground Poker Club is truly an elite North American venue for poker.

Playground Poker Club Setting 

The Playground Poker Club is located in Kahnawake, Quebec. It is about a twenty minute drive from Montreal. However, the drive can vary substantially – dependant more on construction status than the amount of traffic. Returning to Montreal around midnight after one tournament took well over an hour, with bridge repairs narrowing many stretches to one lane. As we discussed in our travel post about Montreal, road conditions are a fearsome obstacle to contend with.  If you’re staying in downtown Montreal, this is one of the Playground’s biggest drawbacks. Taking a bus or a short car ride to the Casino de Montreal becomes an attractive alternative in the winter when the weather is bad or you’re not feeling adventurous.

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play poker in New England

The New England Poker Revolution

Massachusetts first legalized casinos all the way back in 2011. Poker in New England started to feel the effects of the new law in May 2018 with the opening of the MGM Springfield. However, it was the opening of Encore Boston Harbor this summer that really revolutionized New England poker. Encore took the New England poker cash scene by storm over the summer, and is now impacting New England tournament numbers as well. Speculation has run rampant over the past few years about how the new Massachusetts sites would impact existing poker rooms in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Some expected a poker room apocalypse. Others believed the impact would be minimal, as few players would hassle with Boston traffic or make the long haul to Springfield. As interested parties, we thought we would review recent changes in the New England poker scene.

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Rio Poker Room Review

This summer, when playing in a World Series of Poker Daily Deepstack event, we got a chance to experience the Rio poker room. While the WSOP is certainly not the time to get a perfect read on the day-to-day operations of the Rio poker room, it did give us some sense of the atmosphere. To round out our review, we did a bit of research to determine the flow of cash and tournament action.

Casino Setting 

The Rio is about a mile west of the Strip on Flamingo Road.  It is part of a small constellation of casinos in the immediate area. The Flamingo is slightly west of the Rio, as is the Palms. The Gold Coast lies right across South Valley View Boulevard. So there are a couple of options within easy walking distance if you want to check out other casinos. The Strip is also theoretically walkable in 20-25 minutes, but beware, it’s a lot longer than it looks.

Parking is free at the Rio. A garage and multiple outdoor lots lie around back near the Conference Center (where most of the WSOP events are held).

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