After playing the small, in-the-middle of-nowhere, scantly attended Mount Airy poker room the Maryland Live! poker room was bound to provide a substantial contrast. Long touted as one of the elite poker rooms on the East Coast, Maryland Live! does not disappoint. We had not been back since a short visit to play cash years ago before we started this website. We thoroughly enjoyed our return visit and are very excited about a return to play a Tag Team Switch tournament later this month. Long time readers will know how much we love a Tag Team Switch!
Maryland Live! is just off Route 100 in Glenn Burnie Maryland. It sports a massive adjacent Mall (Arundel Mills) and is a mere five minutes from BWI airport. It’s 15 minutes from Baltimore and about 40 from Washington DC. So if you have any business in the Baltimore-Washington Region, a visit to Maryland Live! will be shockingly convenient.
Setting and Non-Poker Amenities
Maryland Live! is a full-service casino with slots, table games, and a massive sportsbook that sits in the center of the casino floor. The casino is basically one large room with all the primary gaming in middle. The outside ring contains dining options, High Limit table game and slots rooms, the poker room, and a convention facility. Maryland Live! is non-smoking, but offers smoking patios for those that need them. While Maryland Live! is certainly smaller than some larger East Coast casinos like Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, it contains all of the amenities a casino-goer might be looking for.
It’s probably striking that we rarely ever identify the non-poker room staff as exceptional in our reviews. But every employee at Maryland Live! – from those patrolling the parking garage, to security at the door, to waitstaff throughout – was as friendly and accommodating as any employees we have seen in any business anywhere. It’s perhaps a sad commentary that Maryland Live! is such an outlier. But we were constantly bowled over by the cordial and warm nature of the staff. Kudos all around for the management obviously emphasizing this behavior and the front-line staff executing so well.
Maryland Live! Poker Room Comfort
The 52-table Maryland Live! poker room sits in a two-floor space separate from the casino floor. Typically, the cash games happen on the main (bottom) floor, and the tournaments are upstairs. On our first visit, this was the case. When we came back to play a Thursday morning tournament, the downstairs was shut down for renovation and everyone was moved upstairs.
The tables feature auto-shufflers, padded rails, and drink cups, but no USB ports. The room is quite clean and the felts are in good shape. The felts, chips, and cards are all branded. All are also extremely clean. However, the room is showing its age a bit. Some of the rails and some of the chairs sport cracks in the leather. The room is fairly packed with tables and players, but the ceiling is high, so the overall feel is not too crowded.
The chairs were extremely comfortable. Although they did not have arms, they were adjustable and well-padded with wheels. The tables seemed long but narrow. The tournament played out eight-handed, so there was plenty of space between players. While the room overall was dark, spotlights over the table meant that we had no difficulty seeing our cards or the board. Unfortunately, the mostly full room was loud. That, along with the length of the tables meant that it was difficult to hear a conversation from one end of the table to the other.
Poker Room Staff
The poker staff continued the tradition of Maryland Live!’s clear dedication to customer experience. The dealers were easily the best we have ever experienced (sorry Turning Stone!). Of the many dealers the two of us experienced across several hours of tournament play, there was exactly one minor error made. The dealers were fast, accurate, nice, and friendly. They made an effort to note and use players’ names as a matter of course.
In fact, the dealers were so good, that we are unable to accurately assess the floor staff, because none of them needed to be called! We can say, however, that the floor broke tables in a timely manner, and stood alertly in the aisle waiting to be summoned should there be a problem. They did not (as we have seen in other rooms) disappear halfway through the tournament or get so busy chatting that they did not respond to requests.
The waitstaff was similarly excellent. Waitresses circulated frequently and were friendly and accurate in their orders. At one point, a waitress came to our table with the most heavily loaded tray I have ever seen. Yet she balanced it perfectly and somehow had no difficulty taking off cups, accepting tips, or making change. Just incredible.
Players at the Maryland Live! Poker Room
Unsurprisingly, the player quality of Maryland Live! is much higher than most poker rooms we have experienced. Many East Coast pros have been regulars here through the years. Players like Vanessa Selbst, Greg Merson, and Phil Galfond have all spent significant time in this room. Even in the small buy-in ($140) tournament that we played, the tables were not soft. Many players were solid aggressive, a few were loose aggressive and very bluffy, and even the worst of the players were not making the mistakes characteristic of the bad players in most poker rooms.
Players represented a range of ages and ethnicities, and women were well-represented in the room. A number of players in our tournament knew each other (and the staff). However, the room did not feel insular. Players were extremely friendly to these newcomers and made us feel right at home.
Cash Play Activity
Maryland Live! is a hotbed of cash games basically all of the time In fact, it is one of the busiest cash rooms in the country. There were about 12 cash tables in action when we arrived on a late Thursday morning. On weekday evenings, the Maryland Live! poker room generally gets 10 to 15 tables of $1/$2, and three to four $2/$5 tables. There will also often be 4 to 6 tables of other games like Big O, 5-card PLO, and $3/$6 Hold’em limit games on weeknights. The weekend volume increases to 15 to 21 tables of $1/$2, 4 to 7 tables of $2/$5, and 7 to 11 tables of other games. If you are interested in cash poker play in the region, be sure to check out our Poker Room Cash Activity Map.Maryland Live! lived up to its estimable reputation. This is a first-class poker room with the best dealers we have ever seen.Click To Tweet
Maryland Live! typically has two to three daily tournaments. Buy-ins range from $50 to $320 with most being under $200. There are generally 15 to 20-minute blinds, except for the $320 event with has 20/30 minute blinds (changes in mid-session). Rakes for daily tournaments are a respectable 17% to 23%. All allow re-entry, but add-ons are not typical. The blind levels are fairly gradual, and with fairly deep starting stacks (25K to 40K) the overall structures are solid. During weekdays you can expect between 40 and 60 runners. The Thursday morning tournament we played had 49 entries. Many tournaments rotate on Sunday mornings, but a $100 tournament happening as we write this post garnered 133 entries.
Larger events, those with buy-ins like $1,100, do rotate through the schedule a few times during most months and those carry 30 to 60-minute blinds and deep stacks. A recent such multi-day PSPC event garnered over 1,300 runners. The Maryland Live! poker room will also host multi-week series throughout the year, so be on the watch for those.
Overall Assessment of Maryland Live! Poker Room
Maryland Live! lived up to its estimable reputation. Although the rooms are a bit narrow and dark, the dealers are the best we have ever seen, the action is good, and the whole operation is very professionally run. If you are in the Mid-Atlantic region, make the Maryland Live! poker room a priority stop.
The Maryland Live! poker room lived up to its estimable reputation. Although the rooms are a bit narrow and dark, the dealers are the best we have ever seen, the action is good, and the whole operation is very professionally run.