Poker goes on the clock

Mike Sexton, left, and Vince Van Patten describe the play at World Poker Tour events, including the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.
Mike Sexton, left, and Vince Van Patten describe the play at World Poker Tour events, including the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown. Courtesy WPT

When the world’s top poker players battle this month in Hollywood, they’ll have a little added pressure: a time limit on their decisions.

The World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions, set for April 22 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, will require players to make their decisions within 30 seconds. The “action clock” is something WPT announcer Mike Sexton has been proposing for some time.

“In over 90 percent of the hands, you can make a decision within that time,” he said. “And it makes it more fun for players, the dealers and everybody watching.”

Players will be given five “extra time” buttons, each worth 30 seconds for those moments when, say, their tournament life is at risk.

The World Series of Poker final table, televised live in November, was almost unwatchable because so many players paused and pondered — called “Hollywooding” in poker parlance — over hands they knew they were folding. Sexton acknowledges some players might not like the action clock because it takes away a strategy of making an opponent uncomfortable by waiting.

Sexton, likely poker’s greatest ambassador, has been an announcer since the WPT launched in 2002, drawing 1 million viewers each Wednesday night on the Travel Channel.

“It was just terrific,” said Sexton, arguing that poker has continued to flourish since then, as evidenced by an increased number of tournaments and prize money.

“Even after 14 seasons I’m thrilled to watch the final table,” he says. “I know the drama and the meaning it has for the players and what’s at stake and that drama is just electric. Their lives can literally change with the turn of the card.

“As I always say, it’s reality TV at its finest.”

The WPT Hard Rock Poker Showdown series began March 31. The featured events are a $3,500 buy-in into the Showdown (the one you see on TV) that starts April 15. The $10,000 WPT Hard Rock Poker Finale starts April 17, and the $25,000 high roller tournament starts April 19.

The final tables of the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown, WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale and WPT Tournament of Champions will be live-streamed on Twitch.tv and Pluto.tv.

Jason Taylor event

Poker players and former athletes will play in a Seminole Hard Rock tournament benefiting the Jason Taylor Foundation Wednesday, April 13, and you can join them.

The event is part of the Showdown series. Half of each $300 buy-in will be donated to help Taylor’s nonprofit organization, which helps South Florida’s children.

The $300 includes a 5 p.m. party at the resort’s L Bar cocktail lounge, followed by the tournament.

More than $10,000 in prizes will be added to the event, including a $3,500 entry into the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Championship event, and a four-day Hard Rock Resort Package in Cancún, Mexico, plus $1,000.

Go to SHRPO.com for info on the Taylor event or the other tournaments.

Calder’s ‘makeover’

Calder Casino is giving away furniture, appliances and free play in April and May with its “$100,000 Drab to Fab Home Makeover.”

Drawing entries can be earned daily with every 10 points accrued playing slots, plus Calder is offering quintuple bonus entries every Thursday.

From 6-9 p.m. each Saturday, 28 patrons will qualify for the weekly grand prize — which could be a flat-screen TV, refrigerator or even an entire bedroom or living-room furniture set. All other winners get a share of up to $10,000 in free play. If the weekly grand prize is unclaimed, it will roll over into the next week’s drawing to build an even bigger grand prize package, with guaranteed rollover payouts on April 30 and May 28. Also on May 28, Calder will award two $5,000 shopping sprees valid at any Badcock Home Furniture store.

This weekend

▪ Cuban dance band Sonlokos performs for free at 9 p.m. Saturday at Hialeah’s Fountain Terrace. The group is known for preserving the music history of Cuba while revitalizing it with a modern touch. Upstairs at Champions Simulcast Center & Sports Bar, there will be a simulcast of the boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley from Las Vegas. On Sunday, Hialeah holds its monthly “Birthday Bash.” Players club members who have a birthday in April receive a free cupcake and are entered to win their share of $1,000 in drawings at 8 p.m.

▪ Casino Miami gives away a Chevy Impala at 11 p.m. Saturday, as it also did last week. Hourly free play drawings begin at 2 p.m. and the group Conjunto Progresso plays for free at 9 p.m.

▪ A variety show comparable to those in Havana nightclubs is set for 10 p.m. Saturday at Magic City Casino. Called Esta Noche Sí, the show includes dancing, comedy, magic and music acts Lucy Grau’s Band and Vocal Group Undivided.

▪ Hourly high hand winners at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming spin a wheel for cash from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays in April. Prizes range from $50 to $1,000.

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