Figuring out a musical puzzle — at a casino


Players work their way through clues at The Puzzle Room at the Casino @ Dania Beach.
Players work their way through clues at The Puzzle Room at the Casino @ Dania Beach.

Reopened for just more than a year after a $64 million makeover, the Casino @ Dania Beach offers slots, poker, jai-alai, music and… The Puzzle Room.

Playing off of the current public interest in one-hour “escape” rooms, the casino has a similar challenge for those who can process clues and work through sequence of problems. This time, the goal is to solve mental challenges — many with a musical theme — to score imaginary front-row tickets to the imaginary band Cast Iron Squirrel. The Puzzle Room is set in the actual Stage 954 concert hall VIP lounge, on the second floor of the casino.

Puzzle Room creator Steve Kallens has costumes waiting for players, including a “Tina Turner” dress, “Cher” wig and Justin Bieber-type clothes. Beatles music fills the room for the 60 minutes, and modified posters adorn the room, including one touting a Beatles’ appearance at the casino on Aug. 15, 1965.

“Some people think that really happened,” Kallens says with a wink. A second poster tells of a 1978 comedy festival at Dania featuring Rodney Dangerfield, Steve Martin, Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld. (Another fib.)

Every 15 minutes, Kallens plays messages of encouragement, recorded by celebrity impersonators in the vein of Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Morgan Freeman and Sheldon Glass (Jim Parsons’ character on “The Big Bang Theory”).

Cost is $30 per person, but check the usual sources for discounts. Go to PuzzleRoomEscape.com or call 754-252-3477.

Familiar face

A former Isle Casino poker room manager, who suggested the name of the casino’s tournament series, scored a nice trophy Monday.

Tony Burns won $2,158 in the $75 buy-in Event No. 9 at the Battles at the Beach. Burns left the card room in 2015 to become tournament director at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

“It's always awesome to win, but to win there was sweet and ironic at the same time,” said Burns, who was working his way up to the Isle’s night tournament director when Mike Smith was the director and the series began about 10 years ago.

Burns had been in Los Angeles last week for the American Poker Awards, but the Seminole Hard Rock came up empty. He flew back Saturday and played Monday at the Isle.

“I wanted to get some hardware this week, but I didn’t think it would be for winning a tournament,” he said.

Habana Boys

A trio of classically trained singers from Cuba are coming to Hialeah Park this weekend, and they’re getting plenty of work.

The Habana Boys perform at 10 p.m. Friday, following the casino’s Girls Night Out party that runs from 8-10 p.m. and includes free specialty cocktails on the fountain terrace.

The group returns for a meet and greet at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Havana Café, followed by another 10 p.m. show at the fountain terrace. Then comes a “Family Day” concert at 4 p.m. Sunday.

The group’s set list covers operatic pieces such as “Una Furtiva Lágrima” and “O Sole Mio,” Broadway staples from “West Side Story” and “Les Miserables,” 1950s and ’60s standards by The Temptations, The Four Tops, and Jackie Wilson, Cuban standards from the Buena Vista Social Club, and contemporary hits by Gloria Estefan, Alejandro Sanz and Marc Anthony.

Coming up

▪ Calder Casino’s big promotion in March leads up to a Ford Mustang giveaway on April 1. From 5-9 p.m. each Saturday, the casino will give away up to $5,000 in free play, as well as pull names for finalists in the April 1 drawing. Slot players can earn drawing entries with each 10 points, and on Thursdays each entry earned will be worth five entries into the drawing.

▪ Gulfstream Park gives away up to $200,000 giveaway with drawings every day in March. The prizes are up to $1,000 from 6-10 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, up to $2,000 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and $3,000 on Fridays and Saturdays. Drawings are from 6-10 p.m., daily, but run until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

▪ Almost every item imaginable has been used as an incentive for slot players, but here’s one of the most useful I can remember: The Seminole Hard Rock gives away bottles of Jack Daniel’s from 2-6 p.m. Sunday. The booze goes to players who earn 10 comp dollars anytime before 5 p.m. Sunday.

▪ The Original Drifters and The Crystals perform at the Casino @ Dania Beach at 8 p.m. Saturday. The Drifters are known for “Under The Boardwalk,” “Save The Last Dance For Me” and “Up On The Roof.” The Crystals gave us “He's A Rebel,” “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me." Tickets start at $25. All ages welcome via casinodaniabeach.com.

▪ Seminole Casino Coconut Creek has $500 high hands every 20 minutes from 6:20 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and Monday.

Twitter: @NickSortal