Casino @ Dania Beach Poker Room Review
The Casino @ Dania Beach features one of the newest South Florida poker venues. The casino went through a complete renovation and reopened in its current incarnation in 2016. It has thus far retained the fresh and clean feel of a new casino. This fresh feel, along with a proximity to the Southeast Florida coast, provides an excellent start for the Dania Beach poker room.
The Dania Beach Poker Room is just a stone’s throw from the Fort Lauderdale airport. It sits at the northwest edge of the massive West Lake Park. Abutting the park and only a mile from the coast, Dania Beach offers great opportunities for strolling around before or after your poker game. Immediately south of the casino on the coast is Hollywood Beach. The town of Hollywood Beach features a long boardwalk with several casual dining options, and a lovely white sand beach. If you have time, explore the Dania and Hollywood Beach communities. If nothing else, the salt air will provide a great balance to sitting for hours in a poker room!
Conveniently, the Dania Beach Poker Room is also a brief walk to more than a dozen restaurants. As long as it is not oppressively hot and humid, you can use the casino as a base to get some exercise and find numerous dinner options.
The Dania Beach complex has about 750 slot machines. According to Florida law, as it is not on Native American grounds, Dania Beach cannot have live table games such as blackjack and craps. Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood and Seminole Coconut Creek are thus the only casinos in the area featuring live table games. The Casino @ Dania Beach also houses a jai alai fronton. Dining options are fairly minimal on-site, with Luxe, a gourmet buffet, being the primary offering. But as indicated above, there are innumerable dining options within walking distance or a short drive.
The casino has a large open air main room with two floors (the ceiling vaults above the second floor). Classic rock was playing throughout during the time we were there. The casino has a nice manageable feel: big and airy enough to give you a sense that you are in a real casino, but small enough to maneuver end-to-end in just a few minutes. This reminded us a bit of the Rivers Casino in Schenectady, NY. Also, like the Rivers, Dania Beach is completely smoke free.
Finally, the Casino @ Dania Beach hosts a performance venue that seems to specialize in tribute bands (Queen, Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam, Eagles), but also offers comedy shows and live entertainers like Howard Jones.
The Dania Beach Poker Room Comfort
The 24 table Dania Beach poker room is upstairs and open to the casino (i.e. no walls separating it), but positioned alone on the second level, so there are no slots blaring nearby. Inside, the room is also airy and open with lots of space between tables. There is a distinct color motif in the card room and casino, and that motif is bright orange. Surprisingly, the vibrant orange is more pleasant than it has any business being. The temperature was fairly ideal, cool but not freezing. A large bar holds down the back of the poker room, lined by a sitting area with comfortable couches and stuffed chairs. The sitting area is a very nice touch if you’re playing a tournament with a partner and might have some wait time.
On the downside, the lighting is dim and it is challenging at times to distinguish chip denominations. The chairs are low, not adjustable and not terribly comfortable.
Poker Room Staff
The Dania Beach poker room dealers were very good. Despite a lack of automatic shufflers, they kept the action moving swiftly. The floor was polite and ran this small tournament in a relaxed but professional manner. Despite the fact that we were there on a slow weekday afternoon, the cocktail waitresses circulated frequently and were very responsive and quickly delivered drinks and food.Unlike most poker rooms, Dania Beach appears to emphasize tournament action over cash games.Click To Tweet
Players at the Dania Beach Poker Room
The afternoon tournament we played at Dania Beach maxed out at two tables (by design). Before the under-the-wire registrations (see below) there were 13 players, with 9 going into the break. The tournament then ballooned to 20 players at the last minute with several late entries. In the early stages of the tournament most players played a generally loose-passive game. The other players seemed to all know each other, as we were the only tourist drop-ins. However, the players were very friendly, to us and each other, with some good-natured table talk. Heather was the only woman in the tournament.
Both play and table tone completely changed with the flood of buy-ins right before registration ended. The new players came in aggressive and with purpose. This was the biggest shift in table atmosphere and quality of play that we have ever seen in a tournament. Clearly, the serious regulars know that early play in this tournament is of minimal importance when the final add-on is 5x starting stack!
The Dania Beach poker room’s highlight tournaments are Friday ($20K guarantee) and Sunday ($10K guarantee). Friday generally gets 80 to 100 players and Sunday 60 to 80. There is a $100 buy-in on Friday ($120 on Sunday) for 15,000 chips. But what really drives the pool up is the unique $100 add-on at break for 50,000 chips. We have never before seen an add-on for over 3x the starting stack (5x in the 10K starting stack tourney we played). Structures for the Friday and Sunday games are not bad. There is some opportunity to play before shove or fold time sets in.
Weekdays there is generally one tournament in the afternoon and another in the evening. Most have guarantees between $2K and $6K, and all tend to have mildly to significantly more aggressive blind level structures. Almost all have the 50K add-on element, which some players will love and others may not. Tournament fields (other than Friday and Sunday evenings) tend to be modest, with between 20 and 40 players.
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In the Monday afternoon tournament we played, the original buy-in was $60 for 10,000 chips, and $20 rebuys for 5,000 chips. Any time you fell below 5,000 chips you could add on for 5,000 more. Several players busted and/or fell below 5,000 and re-bought multiple times. The tournament had a two table limit, and maxed out before the break at 13 players. At break we were playing two tables, with five players at one and four at the other. However, 11 players bought in at the break for $140 and 60,000 chips, taking us from 9 active players to 20.
Interestingly, the Dania Beach website does not describe the various add ons for these tournments and does not link to structure sheets. You can get the scoop on PokerAtlas if you click on each tournament in the calendar and read the details. Not sure why the casino itself is mum on the specifics. But for the unaware (as we were when we arrived), this can come as quite a jolt.
Cash Game Activity
The Dania Beach poker room has the lowest volume of cash tables in South Florida. On weekday evenings there are one to two $1/$2 tables, maybe one table of $2/$5, and sometimes one table of another game running. Unlike most other rooms, Friday and Saturday nights don’t do much better. Expect two $1/$2 tables and perhaps not much else. Cash clearly is not King at Dania Beach. When we arrived for our 2pm Monday tournament, there was no cash active, but one cash table did open up at 4pm.
Overall Assessment of the Dania Beach Poker Room
Unlike most poker rooms, Dania Beach appears to emphasize tournament action over cash games. They offer at least two tournaments every day. On Friday and Sunday evenings Dania’s tournaments get fairly large fields and have good guarantees. But be prepared, the unusual add-on structure will alter play mid-game like few tournaments you will ever experience. If you like wild tournament play, Dania Beach will slake that thirst. Happily, the room specifically, and casino generally, provides a nice, open setting for poker and slot play. The poker room could use some upgrades in seating and chip quality. However, the poker room staff was exemplary.
While not the biggest player in the South Florida poker scene, the Dania Beach poker room’s tournament focus creates a specific niche. But be prepared, that niche offers a wild ride!
Unlike most poker rooms, Dania Beach appears to emphasize tournament action over cash games. They offer at least two tournaments every day, and on Friday and Sunday evenings they get pretty large fields with good guarantees. But be prepared, their unusual add-on structure will alter mid-game play like few tournaments you will ever experience.