Back in 2009 I was approached by someone at Rounder magazine interested in having me supply a regular article on the local Florida poker room scene. I wrote 2 articles before Rounder went under. Neither were printed. Someone from this forum jogged my memory and I dug them up from my computer where they sat for the last 8 years. Poker has changed a lot since then, especially in Florida. Back then Florida had just modified their gaming laws. Previously, the maximum pot size was capped at $10. That's right -- $10. The chips in use were mainly 25Ę and 50Ę chips. Betting in limit games were frequently capped pre-flop once the pot reached $10 and betting ceased. Then Florida did away with limiting the pot size and, instead, set the maximum buy-in to $100. This applied across all games -- including the $5/$10 No-Limit Texas Hold'em games!

This article was written in 2009, so it's somewhat of a time capsule. Some of you may even recognize some of the references to TV and podcasts from back in those days. I left the article unedited. Enjoy!

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Local Rounder
4 April 2009

Iím a poker enthusiast. Like many of you Iíve got my DVR set to record the WPT, WSOP, Poker After Dark, and High Stakes Poker. I pick up all the magazines, surf the forums, and read the latest poker books. I just finished Barry Greensteinís Ace on the River and have Gus Hansenís Every Hand Revealed waiting in the wings.

Here in the Florida panhandle I make the 150 mile trip to Biloxi several times a year in addition to the annual trip to Vegas. Aside from the ďfriendlyĒ home games where else can one go for a live game? The answer is your local card room. Within the past 10 years hundreds of such places have popped up in Florida, Oklahoma, Washington, and California just to name a few. Only 65 miles to my east I find a typical Florida racino (greyhound park and card room). Ebro Greyhound Park is located at the intersection of highways 20 and 79 just north of Panama City.

Itís a cool and sunny Tuesday and Ebro is having one of their many Bonus Days. The high hand every 15 minutes gets $100. Not a bad extra. And on Super Bonus Days they kick in $100 for aces cracked too. Before hitting the road I load up my iPod with the latest podcast of Poker Road Radio and Tuesdays with Ivey. As Phil Laak was heard saying on High Stakes Poker, the only thing more exciting than playing in a poker game is driving to one. Iím sure youíd agree.

I make it to Ebro at 3pm and as I enter the card room Iím spotted by Chance standing behind the desk who asks the woman working the electronic waiting list to add Vic to the $1/$2 No Limit Holdíem list. This level of personal service is what you can expect at Ebro. Within 10 minutes they open a new $1/$2 game and weíre 9 handed with a max buy-in of $100.

If you havenít given your local card room a shot youíll find that players can be put into one of two groups: retirees who play straight forward ABC poker and younger inexperienced players who see the hole-card cams on TV, figure how hard can it be, and want to give poker a shot. My table is full of the later. After a few hands I pick up Kc-Tc and raise to $15 after 4 players limp into the pot. I get one caller and after a random flop I fire a standard $15 continuation bet to take down the pot. The same scenario happens a few hands later when I look down to see Ad-Js in the big blind. Play is so weak that on two separate occasions I witness players limping in with pocket kings only to lose big pots! What were they thinking? I continue to pick up small pots with multiple limpers and wait patiently for hands.

The guy on my left is your typical young guy in a hoodie who plays his cards straight up. After a few limpers I raise to $10 in the small blind with 2s-2c. Hoodie calls the additional $8 and everyone else folds. The flop comes Ac-2d-Th. Lovely. I take some time and bet another $10. He calls and the turn brings a 7s. With such a weak table I put Hoodie on a small ace. Again he calls a $10 bet. The river is a 9c. He perks up a bit and I decide to check hoping heíll bet. Hoodie obliges with a $10 bet of his own. I raise to $90. He comments that I probably have 8x-6x. I tell him I do not. He then guesses Ax-Tx. I tell him that I donít even have an ace and that we probably have the same hand. He thinks some more then calls, showing me Ah-9s. As I drag a nice pot he reloads.

The very next hand I pick up As-4d on the button. After 3 limpers I raise to $10 only to get called by Hoodie once more. The flop is 3c-4s-7h. I canít imagine Hoodies has any of that and after his check I bet $10. He calls and the turn brings a tasty 4h. Once again he checks and I think for a bit before tossing $20 into the pot. He looks like he wants to check-raise me, but decides to just call. The river brings a comforting Ad. If he had a 4, my kicker had him beat anyway, but just in case he was full the ace sealed the deal. He checks again and I bet $85 on the river. He quickly calls with his 4c-2h only to see the bad news. His only comment is, ďYou got me on the river.Ē Interesting.

Now that a couple hours have passed weíve lost some players and are 7 handed. Hoodie has left and one of the regulars, Iíll call him Big Dan, has taken his seat on my left. Iíve played with this guy before and have seen him push all-in with draws. After some more stealing I pick up Kh-6h in the big blind. After 5 limpers I decide to raise it to $20 and take down the pot but am called by Big Dan. He knows Iíve been stealing and wants to put a stop to it. Weíre heads-up to the flop which comes 3d-6s-3s. I put out $20 feeling that my 6 is best. I get a quick call. The turn is a dangerous 2s completing the spade flush and the 5x-4x draw. Again I lead for $20 and this time Big Dan moves all in for $100. Having seen him make this move before I put him on a draw and call the additional $80. He says ďgood callĒ and shows me As-9c. The river is a meaningless Jh and I add to my stack while he reloads.

In just under 3 hours Iím up $450. I have a bad habit of wanting to end the session up a nice even number and decide to play until Iím at $500.

Sometime during the next orbit Iím in the big blind with Kc-6c, another suited king-six. Big Dan opens the pot for $10 and miraculously gets 3 other callers! As players tend to do they remind me Iíve got pot-odds to call, and I reluctantly do. The flop comes 5h-7c-2s. I check only to see Big Dan lead for $20 and have the same 3 players call the bet! With $150 in the pot Iím getting 7.5 to 1 on my call. A perfect turn card might give me an open-ended straight draw plus a flush draw. I call. The turn brings a Kd. Not the greatest card, but I figure I might be best, so I lead out for $40. Iím shocked and delighted to see 4 hands hit the muck and the pot being pushed my way as I show the king. Iíve got $670 in my stack and reach for a couple racks to cash out. That made for a profitable 3 hours at my local card room.

I walk out the doors at 6pm and should make it home in time for dinner. On the ride home Joe Sebok, Gavin Smith, and Ali Nejad from Poker Road Radio keep me entertained Ė I love these guys! Maybe I can catch the latest WSOP Europe broadcast on ESPN this evening.