The Lodge Card Club

The Lodge Poker Room Review

After more than two weeks in San Antonio, where we visited Rounders and Texas Card House San Antonio, we moved on to Austin. And the first poker room we visited in Austin was The Lodge Card Club. The Lodge is famous for its very existence. Doug Polk, Andrew Neeme, and Brad Owen founded The Lodge in early 2022 to great fanfare. This team has worked together to create an extremely successful player player-friendly and dealer-friendly room. As a result, the Lodge is one of the most active card houses in Texas.

Casino Setting 

The Lodge lies just north of Austin in the city of Round Rock. As with so many poker rooms in Texas it is set in the middle of a strip mall, but this one is quite nice. We stopped for some lunch at the Whataburger which sat in the middle of the expansive parking lot. Whataburger may be old hat to some of you, but we found the quality of fast food (ok, we admit to having just fries and chocolate shakes) and service quality a revelation. We highly recommend this particular Whataburger if you are feeling peckish at the Lodge.

The Lodge Card Club

Non-Poker Amenities

As a Texas card room, cards are the only thing on offer here. Well, cards, a small area to purchase snacks, and a small swag shop. Given the number of players we saw wearing Lodge clothing, I would say that the swag shop is quite successful.

The Lodge Poker Room Comfort

The 68-table poker room is extremely large and well-lit, and thankfully no smoking. The ceilings are high and there is plenty of square footage, even given all of those tables. The space is split into three areas. When you first walk in you will find an expansive cash area which was very busy each time we saw it. Behind that sits the tournament space. And around the corner is a small high-limit/ feature table space.

The Lodge Tournament Space

The chairs are extremely comfortable. They are well-padded, have wheels, and are adjustable. The tables are attractive, clean, and branded, and feature a nice padded rail and drink cups. However, they lack USB ports or auto-shufflers. The tables are also well-spaced with plenty of room to move around. I find it astonishing that The Lodge managed to install 68 tables in a strip mall space without ending up with a cramped mess.

The chips, cards, and felts are all very clean. Play is nine-handed, but the tables are large enough that everyone had plenty of elbow room. The obligatory large TVs ringed the walls. Notably, the acoustics are good, so that the sound level in the room is tolerable despite the number of players.

Poker Room Staff

The quality and attitude of the Lodge Card Club staff set it apart from any other poker room that we visited in Texas (or, really, anywhere). The dealers are accurate, fast, friendly, and keep the play smooth. More notably, the dealers appear quite happy. We encountered a dealer we knew from New England who told us how wonderful it was to work there, and what a superior experience the Lodge provided to dealers compared to other rooms.

The Lodge’s excellent tournament experience starts with the rules. Tournament rules are visibly posted with a link to the official TDA standards. The Lodge enforces these rules strictly, often with a hand or round penalty. Regular players understand the rules and accept penalties cheerfully. The floor is called as soon as an infraction occurs, explains the penalty to the player, and ensures it is enforced.

Our tournament floor was fabulous, keeping tables balanced, answering questions, and enforcing rules even-handedly. When I violated a rule, showing my pocket aces when there were players behind (oops!), and questioned the details of my one-round penalty (whether it was 9 hands versus a round which made a difference at a 7-handed table), he immediately contacted his supervisor to confirm. It turns out that my interpretation of the rule was correct, and he happily adjusted the penalty. Most importantly, the floor was there. He or a substitute was overseeing the tournament at all times.

While there is no food service at the Lodge, players can order drinks, and water and soda are free. Waitresses regularly circulated throughout the tournament. Despite several active cash tables, the tournament players were well cared for. This is a rare quality in a poker room, and it was much appreciated.

Players at The Lodge Poker Room

There was a range of players, both in age and ethnicity. The room skewed young compared with others. While women were definitely in the minority, there was better representation than in most other rooms in Texas. Players were very friendly and chatty, with a mix of regulars and out-of-towners. The playing style was very aggressive, but this was commensurate with the structure of this rebuy tournament.

Players were also quite experienced. No one seemed confused, and at one point I noticed that EVERY player on my table was shuffling chips. That tells you something right there. And of course, one of the features of the Lodge is the appearance of its celebrity owners. Toward the end of the tournament, Doug Polk was near my table chatting with the floor. Players took note. Particularly when we heard him ordering up $200,000 in chips for cash play!

Tournament Structure

The Lodge offers several daily tournaments from morning through evening. These tournaments range from $30 to $50 events with 15-minute blinds and fast structures to $250-$300 entry events with 30-minute blinds. They also frequently have special series. Tis feels like another example of the player-friendly philosophy of The Lodge. There are tournament price points and structures that fit the budgets and styles of play of a wide range of players. We have not seen this robust a tournament slate recently outside of Las Vegas.

The tournament we played was a $100 bounty tournament for a total of 25k chips and infinite $100 rebuys. The tournament ended up with 59 entries. Many were players who re-entered multiple times. The structure was relatively steep, with the tournament lasting only a few hours.

In our tracking of tournament activity, The Lodge gets small turnouts in the morning events (10 to 25 players), but gets 40 to 100 players in most evening events with occasional weekly tournaments getting well over 100 players. Of course, some of their special events will get hundreds of players.

In terms of Texas “membership” dues, The Lodge charged $15 for the week. A week was the minimum membership length, but proves a good value versus the daily rates other Texas rooms are charging which are typically $10-$15.



Cash Game Activity

On this afternoon, The Lodge poker room was running 13 active cash tables. Six of these were $1/$2 with bomb pots, three were $1/$3 with bomb pots, three were PLO, and one was a private game. The Lodge is one of the more active cash rooms in Texas and can run up to 20 tables on a Saturday night. To see how this compares to other local rooms, check out our Texas Cash Games Activity tables.

APT

Overall Assessment of The Lodge Poker Room

The Lodge may be our new favorite poker room. The room is comfortable, active, and offers some great tournaments. Everyone here seems happy and friendly, from the floors right on down to the players. This is a room that is doing a whole lot right. If you are anywhere near the Austin area, make sure you find your way to The Lodge.

  • Comfort
  • Tournament Structures
  • Personnel
4.7

Summary

The Lodge may be our new favorite poker room. The room is comfortable, active, and offers some great tournaments. Everyone here seems happy and friendly, from the floors right on down to the players. This is a room that is doing a whole lot right. If you are anywhere near the Austin area, make sure you find your way to The Lodge.

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