The Horseshoe Baltimore poker room is not as highly publicized as its neighbor 15 minutes south, Maryland Live! and it doesn’t have the buzz of the newer MGM Grand National Harbor. But Horseshoe’s status as a “downtown” casino, with access to other activities of a major city, was intriguing. Given the good value tournaments scheduled twice a day (much more on that later!), we decided to duck in midweek to give Horseshoe Baltimore a whirl.
Setting and Non-Poker Amenities
The Horseshoe Baltimore casino is located on the south edge of downtown Baltimore. Basically, Interstate 95 takes you right by the casino, jump off at the exit and you are in the parking garage in a couple of minutes. The area immediately around the casino is a bit run down and not the most attractive.
The casino itself is a large rectangular building that takes up a couple of city blocks. The casino has two floors of gambling, with slot machines and table games on both floors. There is a high-limit room for both slots and table games. There is also a Caesar’s sports book on each floor and an off-track betting area. On a third floor, separate from the casino was a Topgolf facility for anyone looking to work on their golf game in indoor comfort.
The casino was quite clean and attractive, and nicely laid out for easy access to everything. On the Wednesday morning/early afternoon we visited, it was fairly quiet but the crowd was clearly building during the time we were there. The music played at higher volume than we’d prefer, but maybe that’s just our 50-something year old selves talking.
Although the Horseshoe Baltimore does not have its own hotel, it lists several partner hotels in the area, including a Holiday Inn Express which is right next door. There are several dining options in the casino including a Gordon Ramsey steakhouse, a sandwich place, a pizzeria, a noodle house, and a brew pub. Downstairs you will find Poe’s Nest, a Baltimore Ravens-themed bar for sports lovers.
Horseshoe Baltimore Poker Room Comfort
The Horseshoe Baltimore poker room is located on the main floor toward the back of the casino from the main entrance. Although it has its own space, the entrance consists of a large opening to the main casino. Fortunately, since this is a non-smoking casino and the tables are set back a bit from the entrance, the poker room air quality is pretty good. The room is a bit noisy with the sound of slot machines, but certainly not the worst we’ve seen.
The room itself has 22 well-spaced tables, is very bright overall, and the tables are well-lit. While the room was a simple square design, high ceilings, attractive design elements, and the use of brown/beige hues give it a modern yet warm feel. Perhaps not the most exciting-looking room ever, but it does no harm to the senses.
The tables feature auto-shufflers, padded rails, drink cups, and USB ports. The felts, chips, and cards are all branded. The chips are very clean, and the cards are a nice size and easy to see. Although they do not have arms, the chairs are extremely well-padded, adjustable, wheeled, and quite comfortable.
Play for the cash games was 8-handed which provided plenty of room around the table.
Poker Room Staff
The front desk and floor staff at the Horseshoe Baltimore poker room were polite, although it would have been nice to get more detail about the tournament potential (more to come). Wait staff showed up immediately after I sat down and brought people’s orders quickly. Our streak of great dealers in Maryland continued. All the dealers I had were very fast and professional. If anything, they may have been a bit too serious – not as engaging as the dealers at Maryland Live! or Hollywood Casino at Charles Town.
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Players at Horseshoe Baltimore Poker Room
The players at the Horseshoe Baltimore poker room on this Wednesday morning were quiet, serious, and tended to be older. There were few women in the room. None of which is surprising midday, midweek at a casino. There was one table of players who were a bit more dynamic, laughing, and bantering with one another. There was a substantial mix of the quality and style of play. While there were some very aggressive and focused players, there was also some highly passive play. The guy immediately to my right was in most hands and called nearly every raise and c-bet. Needless to say, pots built fast and there were a number of all-ins during my time at the table. Straight forward, solid play was most likely going to be profitable over time against most of these players.
Cash Play Activity
There were four cash tables running on the Wednesday morning that we visited Horseshoe Baltimore. According to Bravo, on weekday evenings, Horseshoe Baltimore generally gets 6-7 tables of $1/$2 and sometimes a table of $2/$5 (but not often). They’ll also have 2-3 tables of “other” games (usually limit hold’em) going on weekdays as well. On the weekend, volume increases to 8-10 tables of $1/$2, again sometimes a $2/$5 tables, and sometimes a PLO table, with some “other” tables mixed in.
If you are interested in cash poker play in the Mid-Atlantic region, be sure to check out our Poker Room Cash Activity Map.The Horseshoe Baltimore poker room provides a solid cash game experience with a tournament schedule that seems to be fiction.Click To Tweet
Tournament Structures and Activity
It is hard to know what to say here. We showed up for an 11am tournament, the guy chuckled when we asked to be put on different tables. What we did not know was “yeah, there’ll only be one” was more a wish than promise. We were the only two players who ever signed up for the 11am, so we withdrew and I played cash instead. It’s clear that these posted weekday morning tournaments either never go off or have at most a table. Hard to know what happens at other times because Bravo never posts Horseshoe Baltimore tournament numbers.
According to the schedule, Horseshoe offers the same tournament at 11:15am and 7:15pm every day: $160 (including $10 dealer add-on), 30k in chips, 20-minute blinds, and unlimited re-entries until the start of level 7. The structure quality is similar to similarly priced tournaments at Maryland Live!, but slightly worse than that at MGM National Harbor. However, this is assuming these tournaments aren’t a complete fantasy. The “guarantee” is a lowly $1,500 and you get an additional 3,000 chips if you sign up at 10am to 11am or 6pm to 7pm respectively. Both of these are not good signs for tournaments held at a major casino. It appears that most tournament players head 15 minutes south to Maryland Live!
In short, don’t plan your Mid-Atlantic tournament experiences around the Horseshoe Baltimore.
Overall Assessment of Horseshoe Baltimore Poker Room
The Horseshoe Baltimore poker room proved to be a disappointment to us tournament players with the event not going off. However, it redeemed itself a bit by having excellent dealers and providing a nice space to play. Certainly, if you are around downtown Baltimore and looking for a cash game, stop by. However, this room’s greatest problem is its competitive landscape. If you have a car, why would you not head 15 minutes south to Maryland Live!? Both the casino in general and the poker room specifically are among the best in the country. Or head a bit further down the road to the active poker scene of the majestic MGM National Harbor. Horseshoe Baltimore is a decent venue, but pales in comparison to its local competitors.
The Horseshoe Baltimore poker room proved to be a disappointment to us tournament players with the event not going off. However, it redeemed itself a bit by having excellent dealers and providing a nice space to play. Certainly, if you are around downtown Baltimore and looking for a cash game, stop by. Horseshoe Baltimore is a decent venue, but pales in comparison to its local competitors.