by Ashley Adams
I often fantasize about having superpowers at the poker table. I like to think about whether it would be better to know with certainty what cards were going to come on the flop, turn, and river; or whether it would be better to know my opponents’ down cards. I’ve concluded that it’s better to know my opponents’ down cards, and that either special power would render me unbeatable.
It’s an absurd mind game because, of course, it can never happen. But still, it’s a nice fantasy.
There’s another fantasy, however, that can and does happen— though not very often. Imagine, if you well, that there’s an area that has long had lots of interest in poker, but has never had a poker room. Then, one day, a large, well managed poker room opens. All of the home game players from the area, and everyone nearby who ever thought he might want to play poker in a casino comes to the new room. Since it’s new, everyone comes with a lot of money, not having lost it yet in the casino’s poker games. Since it’s new, everyone thinks he might be a winner if he gets lucky. Since it’s new, the games are great, as the bad players haven’t yet been picked clean by the good players; and the mediocre players haven’t yet learned the skills at the table that they might eventually learn through trial and error. This is a fantasy that does happen—though only rarely. And it’s happening now just south of Baltimore, Maryland at the great, new, huge, busy, rocking and rolling Maryland Live Casino poker room! I had the opportunity of experiencing this rare poker fantasy. I flew down from Boston to Baltimore on a trip to see my daughter who lives in Washington, DC. As it happens, the best deal I could get on a motel was $39 a night at the lovely Red Roof Inn about one mile from Maryland Live in the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Maryland. During the day and evening I got to visit with my daughter, her boyfriend, and my cousins in the DC area. But by night, I was left to play poker at Maryland Live. This I did with alacrity.
The room is amazing—with 54 tables on two floors. There’s no smoking, but the action is hot—with over 20 $1/$2 action-filled no limit games, a dozen $2/$5 games, a few $5/$10 games, and a $10/$25 game. The nights before I arrived, on Thursday and Friday, they had a rocking $100/200 blind no limit game. They rounded out the tables with a $4 - $8 limit game, a $25 - $50 limit game, a $2/$2 Pot Limit Omaha game, a $2/$5 pot limit Omaha8 game and a $8/$16 limit Omaha8 game. There were lists for bigger games and mixed games—but there were absolutely no available tables—as they were all taken.
There were waiting lists for every game except $10/$25 no limit hold’em, averaging from 40 minutes to two hours. Even so, everyone I spoke with, both staff and players, agreed that this Saturday night was quite slow compared to the typical two to three hour waits that they had on previous weekends.
I spent a good hour just watching the $1/$2 and $2/$5 games—getting a feel for the play. And then I played for about three hours. From what I saw, on the five or so tables that I watched, and from what I experienced during my relatively brief playing session, there were a lot of players who are there more to have fun than to win money. The action tended toward the aggressive and loose—though of course there’s considerable variation table to table. But the expression, “the game plays bigger than the structure” applies here. So expect larger variance than in your typical game.
I can’t comment directly on the restaurants—because I didn’t spend any time outside of the poker room. (But the third-person reviews were all very positive). I’ll have to save my sampling of the local restaurants for my next trip—which considering how great this room is, I hope wouldn’t be very long from now. It’s also worth pointing out that Maryland Live is only about a five minute drive from Baltimore-Washington International Airport—making extremely easy and convenient visits from other cities.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.