As a professional poker player over the past 11 years, I have been fortunate enough to travel all over to play poker. Every poker player tends to have their favorite places and least favorite places that they travel to play live tournaments or cash. In this article I am going to highlight a few of my favorite places to play poker over the past few years. Some of the characteristics that are a big deal for me include the staff, venue, city, tournament schedule and value presented.
Hard Rock Hollywood / Ft Lauderdale
I think this is consistently the best venue for live tournaments in America right now. They have a great set up in terms of their tournament schedule. They have four major series each year and typically have roughly the same schedule every time. This is great because it makes scheduling travel easy since we have a great idea when the tournaments will be before the schedule is released. Tony Burns and his staff do a fantastic job offering a wide array of events throughout the series. There is a good mix of 1-day events and multi-flight big guarantee events that I like. As for the hotel, it is hard to beat, especially once the new tower is complete in October. I think Hard Rock sets the standard for American tournaments.
A short fight from Vegas, I love that I can fly in the morning of a tournament to save a day of travel. Thunder Valley is one of the nicest poker room that I have played in. Only the Wynn / Encore can compete. Their new poker room is beautiful and has everything you need including tons of TV’s and a bar dedicated to the poker room for fast drink service. The value their tournaments present is unprecedent, as they are some of the softest tournaments I play during the year. The hotel is top notch and Ben Erwin normally provides very reasonable poker rates. Speaking of Ben, he is a man of the players. He is the poker room manager and I feel he is one of the best player liaisons in the business. He takes pride in enhancing player experience in his events through player parties, special events etc. The WPT and WSOP circuit events here are always on my schedule.
I first went to Australia three years ago and Melbourne quickly became my favorite city in the world. From the food to the weather and some of the nicest people you will meet, Melbourne is just amazing. The staff at the Crowne Casino provide the highest quality tournaments in the world. The Aussie Millions remains the best value $10,000 tournament in the world outside the WSOP Main Event. They had around 900 players last year for the main and 600 or so were satellite winners! That is the best value you will find. This event takes place in January which is the heart of the Australian Summer and a pleasant break from winter in the States. The Australian Open tennis tournament goes on throughout the tournament schedule, which is great fun. Every poker player needs to make it to Melbourne at least once for this series, as it is the best in the world.
Online Poker / Home
Nothing beats online poker at home. Being able to put in a full schedule of tournaments or cash games from my office on a daily basis is an amazing option. The biggest advantage of online tournaments is being able to control variance. I can play 30 tournaments totaling around $2,000 in total buy-ins in a single day online, versus playing just one $2,000 buy-in live. This leads to more consistent income and less stress. After playing online exclusively for the first few years of my career, I have rediscovered my passion for online poker since black Friday in the past two years, and it is a huge part of my volume.
Where are your favorite places to play?