Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is a large full-service casinos that sit on Native American land. The Hard Rock is the premiere gambling venue of Florida’s west coast. While Tampa has several other poker rooms, the Seminole Hard Rock is the only full casino serving the area. Having visited its east coast sister, Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, last year, we were eager to see how Tampa measured up.
NOTE: This visit to the Seminole Hard Rock 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.
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa lies on the east side of Tampa near the interchange of Routes 4, 92, and 301. The setting is pretty urban, not much in the way of scenic surroundings, but very convenient to the city. One location drawback for the casino is that it is nowhere near the beaches, thus limiting beach-goer spillover.
Parking is free and there are several large garages to choose from.
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa is a full-service casino complete with slots and table games, an array of dining options, and an adjacent hotel. Dining choices include a few upscale restaurants including the appealing looking Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, a number of mid-range venues, all the way down to a food court for a quick bite. The casual fare includes the casino staple buffet, a noodle bar, a sushi bar, and a deli. Additionally, there are various bars and lounges scattered about.The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room is the area's largest, most active, and most professionally run room. Click To Tweet
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Room Comfort
The 46 table Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room is located right next to the Draper Place garage entrance. If you park at a garage at the other end of the casino, you’ll have a long and winding hike to the poker room. The room is as distinct from the main casino as almost any poker room we’ve seen. That distinction offers advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, the ambient noise and smoke is non-existent. However, popping out during a tournament break for a quick gambling fix requires some walking.
The poker room itself has a small cafe in the back left corner of the room that offers a variety of options such as quesadillas, burgers, and a variety of sweets/quick bites. We grabbed a quick snack during one of our breaks. The food was good, if over-priced. There is also a small bar in the room.
The poker room is large with high ceilings and good spacing between tables. Air circulation was very good and the temperature cool but comfortable. The room itself feels a bit dark, although there is good lighting on the tables. TVs ring the room and are posted on center columns, so a sporting event of some kind is likely visible from your seat. There is a small high stakes cash room to the side featuring two tables.
The tables are very modern with new and very clean felts. Each table has a shuffler, cup holders, and USB ports. Chairs are adjustable, with wheels. They are well-padded and very comfortable overall.
The only minor drawbacks to this otherwise well-constructed setting is that the chips looked old and the cards felt surprisingly flimsy.
Poker Room Staff
The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room dealers were are very skilled. They were as fast as any dealers we have seen. We got in as many hands per level in the tournament as any we have played in a while. They also referred to players by name, aided by a screen built into the table. All handled themselves in a very professional manner.
Heather and I were seated at the same table to start the tournament. The floor did not honor our request to move one of us to another table, which is one of the rare times we have been denied that request. Maybe that is the technical best call, so not really complaining, but it added to the more serious tone of the venue. However, the floors ran the tournament well in general.
Wait staff did not seem to circulate much in the tournament area, but this was a late morning tournament start, so a bit difficult to tell what it would be like at a busier time of day. When we registered, the cage employee struggled with doing the registration correctly and did not seem very knowledgeable about the room when we asked a couple of questions.
Players at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Room
The players at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa were the strongest we encountered in the Tampa area. Tables were fairly quiet, with not nearly as much chatter as some of the other local rooms, but players were generally friendly when they did speak. There were very few women playing in the room overall.
Tournament Structures and Activity
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room’s standing tournaments have buy-ins that range from $125 to $160 typically with 20-25 minute blinds. Starting stacks are 12K-15K chips, and while blind level increase gradually from the opening 100-100 level, the big blind ante does kick in immediately. There are typically one or two tournaments each day. They range from 40-60 entrants to well over 100 for more popular weekend games.
There are frequent series held as well here, with larger buy-ins and fields, so check the schedule before you go.
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Cash Game Activity
Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room is by far the most active room in the Tampa area for cash games. In late 2019 and the first couple months of 2020, Bravo reported that the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room ran 10 to 14 $1-$2 cash tables on weekday evenings with 16-17 on Saturday nights. Most evenings offere 5-6 $2/$5 tables, with 7-8 on a Saturday night. Most evenings PLO plays a prominent role as well, with 2-4 tables. If you are looking for higher stakes cash games, or limit games, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room is likely your best bet in the area.
On the Friday morning we played, cash tables were very active, surprisingly so for late morning/early afternoon on a weekday.
Overall Assessment of the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Room
The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room is the area’s largest, most active, and most professionally run room. The room is spacious, tables have most modern amenities, and the chairs are quite comfortable. Perhaps the best feature is the skill of the dealers, who neared Turning Stone in upstate New York as the best group of dealers we have experienced. The players we encountered were also stronger at Hard Rock than in any other room we played in the Tampa area. The atmosphere was one of serious poker and not as loose socially compared to other Tampa rooms. If quality of play and professional environment are among your priorities, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room will be your top selection in Tampa.
- Tournament Structures
The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room is the area’s largest, most active, and most professionally run room. The room is spacious, tables have most modern amenities, and the chairs are quite comfortable. Perhaps the best feature is the skill of the dealers. The atmosphere was one of serious poker and not as loose socially compared to other Tampa rooms. If quality of play and professional environment are among your priorities, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa poker room will be your top selection in Tampa.