A big deal: 20 years of poker room action at Magic City

Magic City staff includes dealer Michael Romero, left, supervisor Daniel Quintana, cardroom manager Ileana Zamora, dealer Alejandra Pote and supervisor Joecir Tomasoni.
Magic City staff includes dealer Michael Romero, left, supervisor Daniel Quintana, cardroom manager Ileana Zamora, dealer Alejandra Pote and supervisor Joecir Tomasoni.

Ileana Zamora remembers opening the poker room at Flagler Dog Track back in 1997. Players bet quarters, the pot was capped at $10 and the game was 7-card stud.

To celebrate 20 years of poker at the dog track, now called Magic City Casino, management has raised those stakes exponentially. Poker room promotions for July will total about $400,000.

“Well, you don’t turn 20 every day,” said Zamora, the cardroom manager.

It starts Saturday, with $1,000 high hands every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. through 5 a.m. There’s also a “Quad Squad” promotion: The card room keeps track of the number of times a player hits four of a kind or better in July. The person with the most big hands gets $10,000, the second-most prolific player gets $8,000 on down to $2,000 to the No. 5 person.

There’s also a tournament on July 31 with a $25,000 prize pool and a $10,000 first prize, but you must be lucky to earn an entry. Only players who hit a royal flush using both hole cards qualify. Zamora estimates 12 to 15 royals will be hit in July.

The card room also reached a landmark in May, passing the Isle Casino in Pompano Beach as the most lucrative racetrack card room for “cash” games in Broward or Miami-Dade county. Magic City collected about $820,000 in May.

Magic City president Alex Havenick said the casino takes pride in that achievement, considering the poker room has space for only 19 tables and doesn’t use automatic shufflers, which speed up the game. (More hands = more revenue.) The Isle has 44 tables.

“It’s 100 percent customer service, and it’s 100 percent catering to the players,” Havenick says. “I’ll tell you, the last three months have been like we’ve been rocket-fueled. The players are great and the action is fantastic.”

A couple of caveats to that stat, though: Isle still had greater overall poker room revenue because it took in $92,500 via tournaments to Magic City’s $4,965. And Magic City does well with “designated player games” such as Ultimate Texas Hold ’em and Three-Card poker, which account for about 20 percent of the card room’s revenue, Havenick said.

Magic City also got a break about 18 months ago when many Hialeah poker room players defected following the revelation of an improperly run tournament and other ethical concerns. Hialeah officials never issued a public apology.

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Columnist Nick Sortal AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

SHRPO at Hard Rock

Details of this year’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open were released last week, and, like previous years, there are four big tournaments, which organizers call the Big Four. The overall series consists of 18 events and runs Aug. 3-15, with CBS Sports and Poker Night in America filming the four simultaneous final tables on Aug. 15 and live-streaming via SHRPO.com.

The four are: An $1,100 (re-entry) with a $500,000 guarantee that starts at 11 a.m. on Aug. 9; the $5,250 SHRPO Championship (single re-entry) with a $3 million guarantee that starts at 11 a.m. on Aug. 11; a $2,650 (freeze-out) with a $1 million guarantee at 2 p.m. Aug. 13 and a $25,500 High Roller (re-entry) $2 million guarantee at noon Aug. 14.

Maria Ho and Ali Nejad will emcee.

There also is a $50,000 buy-in $1 million guarantee Super High Roller Aug. 8, a $10,000 buy-in $500,000 guarantee Aug. 15, a $570 buy-in $1 million guarantee series opener Aug. 3 and $300 buy-in Charity Series of Poker presenting The Jeff Conine Celebrity Poker Classic Aug. 7.

Go to SHRPO.com.

Coming up

▪ Country singers Tracy Lawrence (“Alibis,” “Time Marches On”) and Deana Carter (“Did I Shave My Legs for This?”) will perform at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, at Miccosukee Resort & Gaming. General admission tickets cost $35, $75 for VIP seating, and meet-and-greet VIP package for $125. Fireworks follow the show.

▪ Cuban entertainer Alexis Valdés gives a free show at 9 p.m. Friday in the Paddock Garden at Hialeah Park. Valdés, whose repertoire includes singing, comedy, monologues, screenwriting and producing, is best known for TV comedy shows Seguro Que Yes on América Tevé and Ésta Es Tu Noche on Mega TV. The show is a makeup from the scheduled June 9, which was rained out.

▪ Calder Casino’s three-car giveaway climaxes with Volkswagen Jetta drawings Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Slot players can earn drawing entries daily with every 10 points.

▪ Mardi Gras Casino is host of Big 105.9’s Big Rock Band and fireworks July 4.

▪ There will be a $200,000 giveaway Saturday and Sunday at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. Four Yamaha AR195 Boats will be given away along with $70,000. Fireworks are booked for 9 p.m. Monday, July 3, with July 4 as the rain date.

▪ The Seminole Hard Rock gives away a Ninja Fit Blender from 2-6 p.m. Sunday to those who earn 10 comp dollars playing slots from midnight to 5 p.m. On Saturday, the poker room will have $1,000 high hands, with rollovers, every 30 minutes from 4 p.m. to midnight. But on top of that, the high hand winner at 6, 8, 10 p.m. and midnight will have a seat in the $5,250 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open main event added to their prize.

▪ Seminole Classic gives away a 2017 Lincoln Continental Giveaway at 11 p.m. Friday. The casino also gives away $10,000 total to 25 players. Players may earn entries all month.