Jackpots often drive the action in Black Hawk poker rooms

September 03, 2011  

If you want to find the action weekdays in Black Hawk, it could be a matter of answering a simple question: Where’s the largest bad-beat jackpot at that particular moment?

The action along this particular stretch of casinos depends significantly on whose jackpot is in the lead, said Eric Nelson. He’s a shift manager of the poker room at the Lodge Casino, one point of a triangle at Main and Richman streets that includes the Ameristar and the Golden Gates. You’ll see a lot of the same players circulating through this triangle, depending on the jackpot, Nelson said.

The Lodge was running its usual $1-$2-$100 game on two tables midday Tuesday; the jackpot for having quads beaten was $130,000. The casino has 14 tables, six fewer since it condensed the space two years ago.

Nelson, who has been working here since 2005, provided a bit of insight on the daily poker action in the area. He recalled when the law changed two years ago to raise the maximum bet from $5 to $100, which “took a lot of the tournament action out of the town.” Now you’ll see a fairly fixed number of players throughout the week, about 15 games going at any given time in all of Black Hawk, the action largely determined by the jackpot.

For the rooms on the corner, Golden Gates is known as a big destination for tournaments, Nelson said, while the Lodge and its newest neighbor, the Ameristar (14 tables), are known for higher-limit cash games. Nelson said the Lodge also is known for its welcoming, laid-back approach, a notion supported by players I spoke with recently.

“A lot of people are scared of playing poker in casinos, but we have a pretty friendly atmosphere here,” Nelson said. “Our place is a little more inviting than most. The floor people are really friendly, and the cops up here are nice, too.”

WPT AT ISLE: We’ll have more next month on the World Poker Tour running one of its regional tournaments at the Isle Casino Hotel Black Hawk, but Isle poker manager Matthew Dodd was kind enough to give us a quick rundown on the game plan.

The main event, the $1,600 no-limit hold’em regional, will run Oct. 14-16. It will be preceded by a series of single-table and multitable satellites Sept. 1-Oct. 13. The WPT event also will include several events Oct. 8-13, including Omaha/8 and OH (half PLO, half NLHE).
To make room for the action, Dodd said the Isle will be clearing out an area of the casino floor below the upper-level poker room to add 20 tables. “That will be our tournament space proper,” he said, noting the Isle will run daily satellites from noon to midnight.

“Obviously, we recognize that the World Poker Tour is an important national brand for poker players, and we hope to be able to capitalize on that popularity,” Dodd said. “I’m excited and overwhelmed all at the same time, which is the best way to be.”

— Rick Gershman is Ante Up’s Colorado Ambassador. You can email him at rickgershman@gmail.com.