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Cincinnati Poker Scene

by Ashley Adams

I had a family reunion in DePauw, Indiana—in the southern part of that state, across the river from Louisville, Kentucky. For poker action and convenience, nothing would seem to beat the enormous, action-packed poker room at Caesar’s in nearby Elizabeth, Indiana. But I’d played there half a dozen times. So though I loved the room, I decided to try out the three poker rooms within an hour of Cincinnati, where my flight from Boston arrived.

 My first stop was on Saturday evening at the Belterra Casino in Florence, Indiana (www.belterracasino.com, 888-235- 8377). It is just about an hour from the Cincinnati airport. It’s a small, modestly appointed poker room, in the back of the enormous and beautiful casino resort, with daily tournaments. Unfortunately, from my experiences both on Saturday and Sunday night, the cash game scene is rather hit or miss. As it was, they got a short-handed $1/$2 no limit hold’em game together by about 6:00 PM on Saturday. I was not as fortunate the following evening, when they failed to get any game, and suggested they wouldn’t get a game later in the evening, even though players were being knocked out of the tournament. This was disappointing, in light of the fact that the rest of the casino resort was luxurious, extensive (including a highly rated spa and golf course) and had a top quality steak house and terrific sports bar that I sampled. Perhaps some major tournaments scheduled for the property will jump-start the cash games going forward. But for now, I’d suggest that cash game players call first to insure a productive trip.

 My next port of call was the spacious Hollywood Casino poker room in Lawrenceburg, Indiana (www.hollywoodindiana.com, 888-274-6797).

 There were five cash games going when I arrived at about 7:00 PM Saturday night. Three were $1/$2 no limit, the other two were low limit hold’em. The $1/$2 no limit game that I sat in was fairly lively, with a few big stacks. I was told that the poker room normally had at least three or four more tables going at this hour on Saturday night, but that the World Series of Poker Circuit event in the new Horseshoe room in downtown Cincinnati was drawing off much of their typical crowd.

 I stayed for about an hour then followed the rumored action to the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati (www.horseshoecincinnati.com, 877-955-3436). It was about 45 minutes away, in a spanking brand new building right in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. I was eager to see what this new property was like, having been impressed by Caesar’s new Cleveland room on a trip through Ohio a few month’s earlier.

 The Cincinnati room did not disappoint. It was hopping, with 25 tables going with cash games, as well as a full-scale major tournament going in a separate banquet room. The cash games consisted of some low limit hold’em as well as nine or so $1/$2 no limit games and a half dozen or so $2/$5 no limit games. The rake of $6 plus $1 for the bad beat made the $1/$2 game much less appealing to me than the $2/5 game with the same rake. So, armed with some improved no limit skills learned from Doug Hull’s recent no limit book, Poker Plays You Can Use, I sat down in the $2/$5 game. His tutelage proved useful against the TAGs, LAGs, and nits in the game. I applied a few of the aggressive plays he described in his book and managed to win a few hundred dollars in the two hours or so that I competed. Thank you Doug Hull! Though my sample size was quite small in all three rooms, from what I observed there’s no question in my mind that tournament players would enjoy all three rooms. But cash game players would probably enjoy the Horseshoe the most, followed by Hollywood and then the Belterra. And, for those who like variety, I can recommend doing as I did and making a tour of all three rooms!

 Ashley Adams is the author of Winning No Limit Hold’em and Winning 7-card Stud, both available at Amazon.com. He is also the host of the popular poker radio show, House of Cards. For listening times and stations, to get a podcast of the show, or to check out the blog, go to www.houseofcardsradio.com. You can email Ashley at asha34@aol.com.

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