Ocala Gainesville Poker Room Review
The Ocala Gainseville Poker room is one of several central Florida options for poker. Sited in an old Jai Alai facility that still offers simulcasting, the poker room is easily the most appealing feature of the building. Ocala Gainesville’s nearest neighbor is Oxford Downs, and there is clearly a lot of overlap in players across the two facilities.
Setting and Non-Poker Amenities
The Ocala Gainesville poker room is located right on Highway 318 in Reddick Florida. It’s about halfway between, you guessed it, Ocala and Gainesville. As with Ebro and Creek Entertainment Gretna, Ocala Gainesville is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There is a cow field on one side and a bunch of trees on the other.
This is not a full-service casino. It has no slot machines or table games except for a few tables of faux poker. However, it does host simulcast dog and horse racing. The day we were there, we saw a number of people in the simulcast area, which looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1972. Large swaths of the building are also just blocked off, as they are no longer in use.
There is a small bar on site that offers drinks and a few appetizer and dinner options. There is not a sit down restaurant of any sort. The only bathroom which appears to be functional is, fortunately, adjacent to the poker room.
Ocala Gainesville Poker Room Comfort
The Ocala Gainesville poker room has 11 poker tables and 2 faux poker gaming tables. Let us take a moment to note that, post-COVID, we are finding Poker Atlas to be very optimistic in many of its table counts. If you search Ocala Gainesville on Poker Atlas, the site will tell you that the facility features 28 tables. No. There are 11.
The tables feature auto-shufflers and padded rails, but no drink cups or USB ports. The room is quite clean, as are the tables. The chips are very clean but quite worn. Fortunately, the dealer pointed out a difference in striping on the side of the 100 chips, as otherwise, they are indistinguishable from the 1,000s. The cards are not branded and have small faces.
The chairs are not adjustable and, while padded, are not terribly comfortable. The room (unlike the rest of the facility) is attractive, with a gold metal ceiling and wood floors with a nicely patterned carpet. The room is relatively quiet, but dim. However, there is a spotlight on each table which helps with visibility. There is no smoking in the poker room. As is standard, large TVs circle the room.
Poker Room Staff
The staff at the Ocala Gainesville poker room is a bit of a mixed bag. First let me say that the dealers are excellent. They are both fast and accurate. Additionally, most of the dealers are quite personable and friendly. The tournament we played was largely filled with regulars, who clearly had warm relationships with many of the dealers.
The floor, on the other hand, seemed a bit lost and confused. He had difficulty making rule decisions, allowed re-buys to leave the table and then re-buy before a string of alternates could buy in. He also was unable to post the payouts on the monitor when the time came, and did not bother to write them on a whiteboard or even a piece of paper stuck to the wall. Finally, there were points in the tournament that he could not be found when needed. Fortunately, the highly competent dealers were able to generally take over his duties when necessary.
The single waitress was fast and circulated frequently. She also filled in for the floor when a table needed to be balanced, and handled the payout when Paul made the money at the end of the tournament.
Players at Ocala Gainesville Poker Room
Players in our tournament at the Ocala Gainesville poker room were largely regulars. There was a wide age range and a significant number of women, both in the tournament and at the cash tables. Generally, the play was to the tight end of solid, with a couple of wild players thrown in. We were also gifted by a group of 5 college-age students (the legal age to play poker in Florida is 18) who absolutely did not know what they were doing. Always a great source of extra chips, these players dropped out one by one relatively early in the tournament. To be fair, one of them did make it to the final table, even outlasting Paul.The Ocala Gainesville poker room is a comfortable place to spend a Sunday afternoon. The dealers are excellent and the tournaments offer a playable structure, if not the best value around.Click To Tweet
Cash Play Activity
There was one $1/$2 table running on a Sunday afternoon as the tournament started. This increased to two before the evening was over. Ocala Gainesville does not report numbers to either Poker Atlas or Bravo. We are thus unable to determine their cash activity beyond the time we were there.
Ocala Gainesville poker room is currently holding three tournaments a week. We played the Sunday 3pm tournament with a supposed buy-in of $65. Of course, $65 gets you 10k chips and another $10 on top gets you another 10k. So everyone bought in for $75 and 20,000 chips. That calculates to a 33% rake, my friends. Pretty much the Florida standard. Entries are unlimited and there is a $1,000 guarantee for first place. Blind levels are 20 minutes long and start at 100/100. They increase fairly gradually with no antes. So, despite the 20 minute levels, this does not feel like an unsustainably fast tournament. The day we were there, the tournament featured 36 runners, many of which re-bought after busting.
The Wednesday tournament is a bounty tournament with an $80 buy (with $25 of that being the bounty) with 20 minutes blinds. The Friday tournament is a favorite NLH variant of ours – Crazy Pineapple tournament – for a $65 buy-in and 15-minute blinds. Each of these tournaments appear (according to Poker Atlas) to start with 10,000 chips (with no dealer add on), have no ante, and share a similar blind structure to Sunday. However, as with the table counts above, your results may vary. We recommend checking in with the poker room for further details.
Overall Assessment of the Ocala Gainesville Poker Room
The Ocala Gainesville poker room is a comfortable place to spend a Sunday afternoon. The dealers are excellent and the tournaments offer a playable structure, if not the best value around. Additionally, if you are looking for some Crazy Pineapple action, you will find it here on Friday nights.