I recently went on a family vacation to Florida. The first half of this trip included staying with family in Oldsmar. If you’re not familiar with this area, that means I was about 30 minutes from the Tampa Hard Rock, which has a reputation for being one of the nicest poker rooms in the United States.
I had played there two times prior to this trip, and I was impressed with it both times. That’s despite losing with a straight-flush on one of those occasions. The Tampa Hard Rock Poker Room had recently been upgraded, and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. And, of course, I wanted to play in the Triple 30 poker tournament. I’ll give you my opinion of both below. I will also include my results.
Tampa Hard Rock Poker Room
I made the mistake of parking in the Lucky Street parking garage, which is where I had parked during my previous visits. I had no idea what kind of trek was ahead of me. Once I walked through the gas-fume-filled parking garage, I continued down a long hallway and made a left thanks to clear signage. I continued down that hallway, down a set of steps (I prefer steps over the escalator), zig-zagged my way around the regular casino for about 10 minutes (this is without getting lost), walked up another set of steps, maneuvered around a crowd of people on an upper level, listened to a woman announce that she had to pee and that nobody cared, then had to go back down an escalator (no stairs here) to get to the poker room. I later found out that there’s a parking garage right above the poker room.
The room is nice, but I don’t think it’s nicer than the old room, which was larger and felt more spacious. I also don’t love the idea of sitting in a room below a parking garage, but maybe that’s just me. The good news is that you will always find action, good dealers, and a fair rake; and you will almost always find a High Hand promotion.
The Triple 30 poker tournament stands for: 30,000 chips, 30-Minute Blinds, and a $30,000 guaranteed prize pool. This tournament will almost always go over the guarantee, which is good news for players.
On this particular day, which was in July, there was a $1,000 High Hand promotion beginning at 2 p.m., and the Tampa Hard Rock Poker Room was paying $500 for every 50 hours of play. This led to a packed house, which then led to an alternate list for the tournament. Fortunately, I arrived a little early and got in for the tournament on time.
My table was standard players. Nobody was bad or exceptional. I just played my cards and remained exceptionally patient. Looking back on it, I probably wasn’t at my peak aggressiveness, and I should have been. I only made one error, which was for 6,000 chips when I had 60,000 chips. I didn’t go on tilt, but I ran bad after that. When I was short-stacked, I tried to pick the right spot for a double-up, but the massive Big Blind was a approaching and I shoved with KT-off from UTG + 2. I got two callers and was up against AQ-off and 99. I lost to AQ with a Queen on the flop, and then I lost again to 99 with a nine on the river. I was out 93rd of 260. Overall, I played well, but not my best.
I would recommend the Tampa Hard Rock Poker Room. When you combine the atmosphere, dealers, fair rake, and promotions, it’s a good place to play. There is also a sandwich and snack counter in the back corner, so you don’t need to leave the poker room to eat. The Triple 30 has a great structure, and it’s ideal for a grinder. However, it should be noted that this $250 Buy-In tournament comes with 20% fees, which is high.