Derby Lane Poker Room

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

Non-Poker Amenities

Derby Lane poker room is an active greyhound track. However, dog racing will be illegal in Florida after 2020. There is a small restaurant on-site called the Prohibition. The food area near the poker room seemed to have a decent array of food, with a lot of specials listed on the board. Derby Lane does not have an adjacent hotel.

Derby Lane Poker Room Comfort

The 51 table Derby Lane poker room has a very interesting layout.  There are three distinct rooms that flow into one another through curved walls and an open middle hallway. The outside rooms are the poker table areas (tournament to the right, cash to the left) and the middle area features faux poker table games. There is also a bar facing the track area. The room has natural light from the windows overlooking the track. Those features, paired with the high ceilings, give the space a very open feel.

The chairs are plush, adjustable, wheeled, and very comfortable.  There are no drink cups in the tables. There are chargers at some of the seats, but not all. Tables did not have automatic shuffles. The felts were a bit faded and worn, but had an interesting design with an old newspaper theme. The chips were clean. Interestingly the cards were the same Copag deck we use at home (these were a bit worn). The tournament clock continuously updated the number of players remaining – a rarity in the rooms we visited in the Tampa area.
Derby Lane Table

Poker Room Staff

The Derby Lane poker room dealers were generally good, although there were a couple of weak spots.  The floors seemed very good, and the tournament that we played was well run. The wait staff were generally active, although there were stretches in which other players noted that they had not seen a waitress in a while. The female wait staff were more conservatively dressed than you see in most casinos or poker rooms. which was kind of a refreshing change. A masseuse rotated throughout the tournament.

Players at the Derby Lane Poker Room

The players at the Derby Lane poker room were among the most diverse we have seen in the Tampa area. There was a mix of ages and cultural backgrounds, and a decent number of women playing. Players were very sociable and relaxed. The style of play reflected the social atmosphere – very loose with many players busting and rebuying. There were a few strong players, but several very bad players as well. Also, when we got down to two tables, the drunkest player I have played with was to my left.  He was not unpleasant, but his focus was as you might imagine, inconsistent.

The Derby Lane poker room is bright and comfortable. The players are very sociable with enough loose play to be profitable.Click To Tweet

Tournament Structure

Derby Lane poker room’s standing tournaments generally run between $55 and $150, with 20 to 30-minute blinds. Like most of the rooms in the Tampa area, they also offer cheap add-ons ($10) for extra chips (usually $10K), as well as dealer add-ons. So your starting stack can easily go from 15K to 30K for a few dollars above the original buy-in.

Our tournament ($55 entry for 15K chips and 20-minute blinds) carried a hefty 31% rake. That did include a $5 dealer tip and $2 “jackpot” entry fee. When including the $10 add-on  (10K additional chips), and calculating total payouts, the rake seemed much higher (perhaps as much as 38%, but a bit difficult to determine exactly).  Rake was much lower in their $125 tournament, more in the 14% range not including add-on.

According to PokerAtlas, weeknight tournaments draw between 30 and 60 players, with fields getting into the 40-80 range on weekends. For some special events they get well over 100 entries.

Note that a player’s card is required for entry into a tournament.


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Cash Game Activity

PokerAtlas reporting indicates that the Derby Lane poker room runs five to six $1/$2 cash tables on weekday evenings, which expands to 7-9 on Friday night and Saturday afternoon/evenings.  In terms of $1/$2 games, Derby Lane is the second most active in the immediate Tampa area other than Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Bay. There is usually a maximum of one $2/$5 table.  Fellow players also told us that the room had recently started $1/$2 PLO which is getting a table or two most days. Derby Lane does not seem to lay out many higher stakes cash games. Those are generally reserved for the Seminole Hard Rock Tamp Bay room.




Overall Assessment of the Derby Lane Poker Room

The Derby Lane poker room was an enjoyable wrap up to our Tampa poker trip. It proved a good bookend to our first venue, Silks, a room at the Tampa Bay Downs thoroughbred track. The room is bright and comfortable, and the players are very sociable, with enough loose play to be profitable. Our tournament was well run, although the rake was astronomical. It would be tough for a tournament player to stay ahead of the rake at Derby Lane’s smaller buy-in tournaments. However, the larger buy-in tournaments have more reasonable rakes it appears. And the $1/$2 NLH cash activity remains solid throughout the week. Overall, the Derby Lane poker room is well worth your time if you’re in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

  • Comfort
  • Tournament Structures
  • Personnel

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