It has been a rough few months for those of us who love to play live poker. While we are employing every strategy we can think of to hold off poker withdrawal, we thought it was time to show a little gratitude for the fact that we happen to reside in one of the five best places to live if you love poker.
The United States has so many great poker rooms that picking the best places to live and play may seem daunting. However, we found it fairly easy to identify five spots where there are both multiple strong poker rooms and a decent quality of life. Note that in the current conditions, many of the poker rooms we mention are not currently open. Our ratings assume that eventually the world will return to normal. Below we share the best places to live if you love poker and our reasons for each nomination.
Best Places to Live if You Love Poker: Las Vegas
Ok, we know, Las Vegas is a no brainer. First, Sin City has the greatest density of poker rooms in the country. Before 2020 at least, Vegas had no fewer than 25 cardrooms with ten or more tables within a ten-mile radius. Admittedly, several Las Vegas poker rooms have already shut down this year, and certainly, more will follow in the coming months. Nonetheless, nowhere else in the country even begins to rival the plethora of poker opportunities offered by Las Vegas. If you are contemplating becoming a poker pro, Las Vegas is one of the few places you should consider making your home.
Beyond the general poker abundance in Las Vegas, each summer the city presents an unrivaled variety of tournament poker opportunities. Not only does Vegas host the World Series of Poker, Planet Hollywood, the Golden Nugget, The Orleans, The Venetian, and many more rooms also offer incredible tournament series of their own. Each year from May through July, Las Vegas is the poker mecca.
And if that’s not enough, Las Vegas and its environs offer an abundance of natural beauty, attractions, shows, and excellent dining options. From Red Rocks to the Grand Canyon, nature lovers will find plenty of places to visit in Las Vegas and the vicinity. There are so many things to do and great places to eat in Las Vegas that we covered them in another post.
If Las Vegas is too hot and dry for you, you might consider Southern California instead. Southern California is definitely another one of the best places to live if you love poker.
While Southern California does not quite boast the 25 cardrooms of Las Vegas, you will find no fewer than 15 sizable poker rooms between Los Angeles and San Diego. If you settle down somewhere in between the two cities, say, San Clemente, you will be within an hour and a half of some of the biggest and most famous poker rooms in the world. Here you will find the Bicycle (185 tables), the Gardens Casino (110 tables), and the Commerce (210 tables). Even Vegas does not offer poker rooms this large.
Beyond poker, Southern California offers idyllic weather, incredible beaches, and world-class attractions. If you’re looking for endless summer and you love poker, Southern California is the place to live.The United States has so many great poker rooms that picking the best places to live and play may seem daunting.Click To Tweet
This one may surprise you. Ten years ago Maryland residents had to drive up to Atlantic City to feed their poker jones. Today, the state boasts two of the best poker rooms in the mid-atlantic: Maryland Live! and MGM National Harbor. There are two more large poker rooms in Baltimore and Charlestown Maryland. If you’re willing to travel a short distance, the rooms of Philadelphia, Delaware, and Atlantic City are close by. That’s over 10 solid poker rooms, including the Parx and the Borgata within striking distance of Baltimore.
Maryland also offers one of the highest densities of professional players on the East Coast. If you are interested in rubbing elbows with pros like Christian Harder, Phil Galfond, or Vanessa Selbst, Maryland Live! is a good place to find them.
Maryland boasts a liveable climate (for all of the months except July and August) and a relatively low cost of living in and around Baltimore. From the suburbs of Washington DC to the coastal DelMarVa peninsula, you have your pick of interesting places to visit and dine. All of these things add up to a pretty great place to live.
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If you can handle the climate, South Florida is another great place to live if you love poker. Whether you choose to settle on the East Coast of southern Florida or the West, poker abounds. The stretch of land from West Palm Beach to Miami offers no fewer than 11 poker rooms. Tampa and the surrounding area boasts another five (6 if you are willing to head down to Naples).
On our visits, we found the poker players and the conditions near Miami wilder than most. However, the Tampa area offered much more playable conditions. One thing to consider with Florida is that the tournament rakes are the worst we have ever seen. On the flip side, we have had great fun in Florida playing tournaments as well. The Crazy Pineapple tournament at the Seminole Coconut Creek was the second most fun we’ve ever had playing poker (for the record, the most fun we’ve ever had was the Goliath Tag Team Switch tournament in Las Vegas last summer).
While the South Florida lifestyle isn’t our personal cup of tea, 4 million senior citizens can’t all be wrong. If you’re looking for a place to retire where you can walk the beaches and play a lot of poker, South Florida may be for you.
Best Places to Live if You Love Poker: Eastern Massachusetts
Yep, you read that right. Eastern Massachusetts is a fabulous place to live if you love playing poker. Sure, everyone has heard of Foxwoods in Connecticut, which once had the largest poker room on the East Coast, and many know about its neighbor Mohegan Sun. Both are only about an hour and a half from the city of Boston. MGM Springfield, in western MA, is a similar distance, and Twin Rivers, right over the Rhode Island border, is even closer. Encore Boston Harbor was briefly the best game in town, but they appear to have placed poker on a permanent hiatus.
The biggest secret in New England’s poker scene are the New Hampshire charity card rooms. New Hampshire boasts 15 card rooms, eight of which are an easy drive from Eastern Massachusetts. These rooms fly under the radar because 1) they don’t report to the Hendon Mob, and 2) people think that “charity” means “not real poker”. Let me tell you, New Hampshire poker is as real as it gets. The only feature that distinguishes New Hampshire poker is that a set proportion of each room’s take is required to go to charity. Oh, and that the tournament rake is set at a maximum of 20%. We have played tournaments in Florida where the rake was almost double that!
While the climate in Massachusetts doesn’t rival Southern California, it is pleasant for much of the year. If you just get out of town for a couple of months after Christmas, you’re good. I wouldn’t want to spend the fall anywhere else. The state has a long seacoast, and the mountains are only a couple of hours away. The city of Boston offers numerous cultural resources, as does Worcester, believe it or not. There are also dozens of colleges, along with numerous jobs, and a thriving high tech industry. If you are looking to relocate and you love poker, Eastern Massachusetts should definitely be on your list.
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