by Ashley Adams
I used to go up to Maine from time to time on vacation. I really like to fish – and my Dad had a house on a beautiful pond with a very healthy largemouth bass population. It was almost heaven. The only drawback was that there was no poker. I used to have to make do with penny ante family games or, a few times, small stake private games in the area.
That has finally changed, as the state of Maine joins the list of states with legal public poker. They have only one poker room in the state as of now, the Hollywood Casino (formerly Hollywood Slots) in the northern city of Bangor. Another one, to the south in Oxford County, between Portland and the White Mountains, may come online later this year, or in 2013.
I visited the new room in Hollywood Casino on a Sunday morning, arriving just as they opened. It filled immediately (there was a line of five of us waiting to be seated when the casino opened at 8:00 AM). While I was there, there was just one table of $1 - $2 no limit hold’em. It had a waiting list of six players by the time I left at 11:00 AM. When I checked back later in the day, I was told that they got a second table going right after my departure. They also occasionally get a bigger game. They rarely spread Omaha and have not yet spread a stud game.
The room was very comfortable, though only a few tables in size, sharing space with a race book that only got going in the afternoon. I was told that there would soon be a move to a larger space just for poker. But in the mean time, the accommodations were very nice, with huge TV screens in high definition, very comfortable chairs, excellent lighting, new top-of-the-line chips, fresh felt, and cards that were fine, though one small step down from Kems. There was also an ever-present floor person, eager to greet people and answer questions.
From my perspective, the most important ingredient for a good card game is the quality of the opposition. (The worse, the better!) According to my three-hour sampling of the $1 - $2 no limit hold’em game (with a 10% $6 max rake and a $1 take out for the bad beat jackpot) on this particular Sunday morning, this is a great room for a skilled player. My table had one pretty good, aggressive, only slightly tricky old guy, and two tight and somewhat aggressive and very predictable players. The rest of the players were quite weak – of the timed and passive variety. That was it. No tricky players; no very aggressive players; and surely no pros. From what I saw, any solid player would be able to do well against the opposition in this room. Of course, that was on a Sunday morning. Perhaps the better players come out at night.
There were a few relatively minor deficiencies from my perspective. Unlike nearly all poker rooms these days, poker players do not earn any hourly comps for buying food. (Though I was told that a poker player, playing all day might get a meal comp if the poker room manager asks for one on behalf of the player). Though non-alcoholic drinks are free, there are no soda or coffee dispensers in the room – and players must pay for their alcoholic beverages. This doesn’t matter to me as a drinker – since I never drink alcohol when I play. But the lack of free booze surely makes the games less loose than they might be. On the other hand, from what I saw, these games don’t need any lubrication.
In short, it’s a nice new local room, located in a full service casino, with a hotel and a racetrack that will surely make vacations in Maine more pleasant for poker players like me.
Hollywood Casino and Raceway
500 Main Street, Bangor, Maine
Ashley Adams is the author of Winning No Limit Hold’em and Winning 7-Card Stud. He hosts the radio show House of Cards, broadcast in markets throughout the US and on the Internet at http://www.houseofcardsradio. com. Contact Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org.