Hello everyone, I'd like to add some content to the poker community in the written form on an ongoing basis. I'm not a Vlogger and have no idea how Brad Owen, Doug Polk, or Dnegs do their videos with background music, graphics, and such (however, I am a huge fan of all of them), so for me, the best way to share content is in the written form with potentially a couple of pictures sprinkled within. Please let me know how I can improve my posts (and my game, lol!) for the future, and I hope you enjoy the read!submitted by jtex316 to poker [link] [comments]
This tournament review will essentially be my second one, as I sort of reviewed the Seminole Hard Rock Deep Stack Series Event #1 last month.
Background / Details:
Seemingly, every poker player and their mother is out in Las Vegas for the WSOP and having a great time. However, the "working man" like myself can't make it out there this year - fortunately, living in West Palm Beach, FL provides me the opportunity to compete in many well-structured and large-fielded tournaments throughout the year. For example, the Seminole Hard Rock series runs four times a year, whose Main Events have become legitimate "stops" in the professional poker circuit.
However, I'll have to wait until August to review one of those tournaments. Today's tournament review covers the Seminole Hard Rock June Big Stack Special.
Buy-in / Structure:
This NLHE tournament is a two-day, multi-flight event with a buy-in of $130. There are unlimited re-entries up until the start of Level 9. Players start with 15,000 in chips with blinds at 100/100 (Structure Sheet). Day 1 ends at Level 14 and the Day 2 restart is on Sunday.
There are 7 starting flight total - I played in Flight E.
I drop off my kids at Summer Camp and head down the Florida Turnpike. I'm a hard rock / heavy metal kind of guy, so today's playlist is all Metallica. The very first song that comes on via shuffle is "Master of Puppets" - that's got to be a good sign of things to come, right?
I arrive at the SHR and for those of you whom have played at the property before, I predict that you'll have a hard time recognizing it after the guitar-shaped hotel is 100% built. The property is being completely revamped, inside and out. Even the Hard Rock Store is now relegated to a temporary, uncomfortable corner of the hotel as this massive construction project continues. Nevertheless, everyone is very excited about the project, and I for one can't wait to see the end of the rebuilding phase of one of my favorite properties for playing poker.
When I get to an event early, I like to play a little cash, to further put me in a poker-like mindset and, hey, who knows, you can get lucky and hit a high hand or double-up. There aren't many tables running at this time as it's early, so I get seated at a $1/$2 NL table and buy-in for $300. There's only one hand in 90 minutes that's worth mentioning:
I have about $275 and I pick up two red Aces in UTG+2 and raise to $15 (there was a $5 Straddle on the button). The SB calls and has roughly $100 behind, and we're heads up to the flop. The flop comes A23, with two spades. I continue for $25 and he again calls. The turn is the 8s, and see that he has a little over $50 left that he's playing with in his hands. I put him all-in and he snap calls with Ks9s for a turned flush. The river bricks out for me, and he wins a nice pot. I take it on the chin, as this is about the fourth or fifth cash game session where I lose 1/2 a buy-in and then work the whole session to either even up or at least not go broke (I will detail this in another post sometime in the future).
It's now 20 minutes before the start of Day 1E, so I pick up my chips and cash out for about $200, which is salvageable. I buy-in for the tournament, and after taking a break, I make my way over to table 35, seat 3.
Levels 1 and 2:
The tournament starts and in seat 6 is a familiar face that I've played with a few times before. He's an older gentleman who is very friendly and has run hot in a few tournaments that I've also competed in. He immediately says hello to me, and we chat it up a little bit. I then begin to recall some hands that we played together and wonder if we'll get involved in some crazy situation at some point today (Spoiler Alert: It happens).
Only one hand of particular interest to report: In Level 2, blinds are 100/100/100 (That's the Small Blind, Big Blind, and the Big Blind Ante), and I'm in the SB with T8o. I check, and there are 4 of us to the flop. The flop comes J96 rainbow, and I decide to lead out for 300. I get called in two spots, and the pot is now ~1,300. The turn brings the Ks, so I have a double gut-shot straight draw. I bet again, this time I believe I bet 1,100, hoping to just take the pot down right here without having to sweat out a river card, and in the hopes that this board really connects with a hand that a player in the Small Blind (namely, myself) could have. I get called by the player in the CO, and there's now ~3,500 in the pot. The river is a big giant brick for me, but I continue with my story that this flop hit me and that I did fill my straight. I bet 2,800, and the CO immediately calls with QJo, but tells me "very nice bet". It's a small consolation, but does put the table on notice that I am not weak/tight and am willing to put my opponents to the test. Honestly, at this point, I am already thinking about firing bullet #2 as I'm down to about ~8,000 from my starting stack of 15,000.
Levels 3 and 4:
This is where the tournament really gets interesting for me. Remember the older, nicer gentleman that I said hello to earlier? Well, we're about to have one hell of a hour in these next two levels. The blinds are now 100/200/200, and my elderly friend raises to 500. The HJ and D both call, and I look down at Ah5d. I consider a 3-bet for a split second, but the table has been very loose/passive and I can't recall a 3-bet before the flop as of yet. So I pay the extra 400 chips and make the call, as does the BB. There are 5 players to the flop with 2,500 in the pot. The flop comes 2h3h3d. I really like this flop, but check to see what my friend will do. The BB checks and my friend bets something in the neighborhood of 1,200. Action folds around to me and I consider my options. Folding here is not an option for me for a couple of reasons. For one, it's very early in the tournament and if I do bust, I can go re-buy and start fresh (and at a $130 buy-in, it's not a big deal). Second, even though I'm most likely behind, I have a a backdoor flush draw and any 4 will do just fine for a wheel. After 20-30 seconds of deliberation, I move all in for ~6,500 more. I get snap-called by my friend whose name I should really know by now. He flips over KK. I say "That's a nice hand", and the dealer whose name is Brittney starts to burn & turn. The turn card is a 5d, to which I say "That's not that bad", or something to that effect. The river is the magical, miracle, improbable 4c, giving me the straight and boosting my short stack back up to ~18,000. The older gentleman and I laugh a bit about it, and we move on.
During Level 4 now, I win a few small hands and then, with about 15 minutes left to go in the level, I start to run super red hot. All of the following action happens within the last 15 minutes of Level 4, where blinds are 200/300/300:
i. I pick up 66 in mid-position and make it 700 to go. I get two callers and the flop comes K65, with two diamonds. A player (I think the BB in this hand) makes it 2,500. A bit scared of the flush and to protect my hand, I raise to 6,500. I showed a very small bluff to the table a few hands ago where I had complete air, but bet into 2 players on the button, so I am convinced this player in the BB is thinking about making a move. He ultimately sigh-folds, and I show my hand to the table.
ii. On the very next hand, I pick up KK. I raise again to 700. My friendly nemesis whom I doubled-up through calls, and it's heads up to the flop, which is 7-high with two hearts. I bet 1,200, he snap calls. The turn is an 8h, so we're looking at a super-connected board with three hearts now. I bet again to 2,200, and he instantly raises it up to ~8,000. Even though I have a big over-pair, this player knows what he's doing and would not be raising light in many spots. There is so much that can beat me, and I had just ran up my stack to a decent level again. I start to count my remaining chips behind after my 2,200 turn bet and I have about 22,000. I tell him "I just feel like this hand [as I show the table] is not good here", and muck it. My friend says "whoa!" and says "that's a really good fold - we were about 50/50 going to the river!". He didn't tell me exactly what I had, but by his statement he must have had 15+ outs (any heart, any straight-card, and possibly whatever lower-paired card he was also holding for 3 additional outs). We start discussing the hand and chat back and forth a bit about probabilities and if he could have made that lay down, when all of a sudden....
iii. ... I look down at 7c7s UTG. I again raise to 700, the player immediately to my left calls (he has a stack around 18k-20k). The CO calls and both the SB and BB complete, so we're five ways to the flop. To my amazement, the flop comes T97 with two diamonds, so I flopped bottom set and am loving life. The SB and BB both check and I decide to get cute and set the trap, with a plan of check-raising anyone who dared throw any chips in the middle of the table. That's exactly what winds up happening - the player to my immediate left throws out a bet of ~3,000. Action folds to me and I get a feeling that I may not want to play coy for too much longer, as the table, like I mention previously, has been very limpy and "call-ey". I look at the player, look at his remaining chips, and I move all-in. I can sense that the table is getting annoyed with my constant aggression, so all eyes are now on me and the player to my left. He asks me "Show if I fold?", to which I don't respond. He tanks for over a minute and finally grabs his stack, picks it up off the felt with one hand and drops it forward. I flip over my bottom set and he shows JJ. The board run-out is clean and honestly I don't even know what my chip count is, but I eliminated the player and I think I'm around 40,000. The dealer begins to shuffle the deck and the tournament clock is almost at zero for the first 15-minute break of the day. Players start to get up and fold and I'm in the BB on the next hand...
iv. ...My older friend makes it 800 from UTG+2, and action folds all the way back around to me in the BB and I look down at KsJs. I make the call and we're heads up to the flop. The dealer tells other players that if they're not in the hand, to please leave for the break, so there's a lot of commotion and movement around me, but I'm in a hand so none of this matters to me. The flop comes T95 - ALL SPADES. My eyes must have been as big as watermelons popping out of my skull at this point. I check and my buddy in seat 6 leads out for 3,500. He started the hand with around 30,000, and for some reason I'm thinking I'm drawing to one out, the Qs, because I somehow convince myself that he's had enough of me and has AsXs for the Ace-high flush. I think about it for a little while and I call. The turn is some brick and I ask him how many of the grey & yellow 5,000 chips he has behind. He sort of mumbles something unclear, and I don't know what possessed me to do this but I say "OK - I'm all in". I think I was running so hot and I was still all jazzed up about the previous hand that I just let it rip. He exclaims "Are you serious?!?!?", and makes the call. He flips over pocket 5's for a flopped set, and I turn over my hand to reveal my flopped King-high flush. He says "pair the board", and I say "no, please don't pair the board". The dealer burns and flips over a 8, which doesn't pair the board, winning me a monster pot and busting my older friend from the tournament. We get up, shake hands and shake our heads at my crazy run and wild turn of events. We kind of just stand there for a minute chatting about the last 10-15 minutes - he reveals to me that he saw me running so well that he thought there was no way I could have had it every time, otherwise he might have folded his bottom set.
I then sit back down and take a minute to get organized and count my chips. I took a picture of my stack, shown below - the count after level 4 was 78,200, with blinds in Level 5 going up to 200/400/400. In other words, 195 Big Blinds!
78,200 (195BB) after a wild Level 4.
Levels 5 through 8:
My remaining table-mates are shocked to find out I've busted another player during the break, and I'm obviously having a great time with the table talk. In the second hand of Level 5, I pick up TT from late position and raise to 1,200. The player on the button shoves for ~10k, and action folds back around to me. I call, and he flips over AJo. The board runs out without an Ace or a Jack, so I bust yet another player and run the stack up to nearly 90,000. The players are bursting out in laughter as this is a pretty insane run.
However, as many of you know, there can be large swings in poker, specifically in tournament poker and even more specifically at the lower buy-in tournaments like this one. So this moment winds up being the high point of the event for me, even though at the time I wasn't thinking about anything else other than the fucking Mirage (bad Rounders reference there) :)
Other than one spot where I called an all-in with my A4 vs. an AJ (the AJ held, so I lost about 11,000), nothing too consequential or significant really happens to me until the break, so we head into the break and through the end of the registration / re-buy period with 80,500. Although, the last hand of level 8 had a 4-way all in that many players of our table and about 10 players from other tables stopped to watch. Because of the crazy action, it took a few minutes to get all of the counts and side-pots going. After it was all said and done, a pair of pocket Kings held against a lower pocket pair and two other Broadway cards that I can't remember, and off we went to break.
Table #35, in the back row of the poker room, breaks. The dealer runs out an unnecessary high-card (I'm actually not sure why this is done as we're randomly given seat cards...but whatever), and I get moved to Table #28, seat #3. A player whom had bought in later and was at my original table was also moved to this table - I had raised pre-flop in level 8 with a KJo and he called with a raggy-Ace, hitting his Ace on the turn, to which I joked with him that he'll "play any Ace". This does become important later on.
In Level 9, blinds are 500/1,000/1,000 and about halfway into the level, I get into a hand that is my favorite of the tournament and I'm very proud of how I played it. I have about ~80,000, and the action folds around to me in the CO. I look down at Jh8d, and decide to raise it up to 2,500. At this point, I haven't been very active since my meteoric rise to nearly 200BB a few hours prior, and haven't opened a pot yet since being moved to this table, so I specifically went into this hand with a plan of applying pressure to my opponent if I thought that they were not very strong and if the board + player(s) involved favored such a strategy. The BB calls, and the flop comes T76 with two spades with 5,500 in the pot. The BB checks and I lead out 3,000. The BB thinks about it for a bit and calls, so the pot is now 11,500. The turn is a off-suit 5, giving me some additional outs. The BB checks again and I think he is in check-call mode with something like a pair of tens, some Broadway cards (over cards), or some suited-connector hand like 87 (but I do block some combos of 87, 98, or T8 with my J8 holding, and also take away some of what he could call a raise in the BB with - hands like KJ, QJ, or even JT). I think about what bet-sizing I want to use, knowing full well that, at this point, I am going to be triple-barreling no matter the river. I bet 5,500, and again he tank-calls. There is now 22,500 in the pot and the river is the 3s. So now, there is a flush on board and hands like 64 get there as well. The BB once again checks and I lead out for four grey & yellow 5k chips. This was a big, nearly pot-sized bet at this point in the tournament. The BB goes deep into the tank and I can see the pain on his face. I honestly thought he would eventually fold, but after well over 2 minutes of deliberation, he does pull the trigger and tosses out 20,000. I immediately say "Good call, you got it", and he turns over AT for top pair.
He lets out a huge sigh and complements my play, telling me how "polarized" my river bet was and he got very lucky in how we played the hand, that he almost nearly folded, etc.. While his compliments on my play were nice as the other players were hearing his comments, his hero call cuts my stack in roughly half, lower than the tournament average.
I definitely give the player a lot of credit for making the call - a call I did not think he was capable of making under the circumstances. Winning that pot would have put me up to over 100,000, which would have been very nice and on a good pace to make it to Day 2 with a nice stack. Unfortunately, I am now below average and the blinds are once again going up soon. However, I am very proud of the way I played this hand. In the past, I would have never considered anything other than a check/fold or possibly checking it down to see a cheap run-out. But I've been working on my game and am continuing to improve, finding spots just like these to put opponents to high levels of stress and decision-making. In the long run, I should continue to find these bluff spots as I do believe that they will work more times than not, in key situations against players likely to fold to high-pressure spots.
Blinds are now 500/1,500/1,500 and I'm roughly at ~35,000 chips at this point, when the player that "Plays any Ace" from my previous table raises it to 3,000 from UTG, with about ~10,000 left behind. The LJ (Low-Jack) calls and the action folds to me in the SB. I look down at AKo, and with my 25BB-ish stack, I have one and only one viable option - I shove. The player snap calls and almost flips his hand over, until he realizes that the LJ is still in the hand. He thinks about coming along for the ride, but ultimately decides to let it go. The Any-Ace aficionado flips up AJ, and is dominated. The board run out is very nice for me, as the dealer reveals the other two aces left in the deck and I knock out the player and build my stack back up to over 50,000. I start talking to the player on my left who is a nice younger guy with noise-cancelling headphones on, and we start talking about the tournament structure, that we're both going to make a comeback in this event, and other poker-related hopes and dreams.
The remaining tables are being broken, player stacks are getting much larger than mine, and we're now down to 4 tables in this flight. I'm once again in the SB, and the player in the CO who was recently moved to our table makes it 4,500 to go. I don't have any specific reads on this player and have never seen him before. The action folds around to me and I look down at AQ. I really want to play this hand and am not really in the mood to fold it at this point, given that I was once a monster stack in this tournament and I'm now trying to hang on and survive. I definitely don't want to call, even if I do decide to lay it down, so I'm left with two viable options: Fold, or Raise. In regards to a raise here, I also think my options are quite limited to a shove. I have exactly 52,500, so if I do three-bet, I can't really make a min-raise to something like 9,000 as I'll be out of position for the entire hand. So I start thinking about what amount to three-bet with in this spot, and I'm thinking that a bet of 16,000-17,000 might be good. The problem is then that I'll have like 35,000 left, which will really put me in a tough spot the rest of the way if I don't connect with this upcoming flop. I ultimately decide that if I shove, I can double-up if I get called and win, or I can take the pot down right here and be up to ~60,000. So I do decide to shove with about 35BB and the player in the CO does make the call with KK. The flop isn't very helpful, and neither is the turn. I'm down to a 3-outer...an Ace from Space as Tony G says...the river card had other plans, though, and it bricks off and I don't win the pot. We count up the chips and amazingly, we had the exact same chip stack at exactly 52,500. That actually made me laugh. I wished the table "GL", and that was that.
Due to family commitments and the fact that I do want to spend time with my wife and kids whenever possible, I am not able to play in any of other two Day 1 flights, so my Seminole Hard Rock June Big Stack Special is over and I'm off to the next one.
Final Thoughts / Up Next:
Obviously, I'm disappointed that I was not able to survive to Day 2. Looking back, I think I could have folded that AQ hand that I busted with and found a better spot - hopefully in a later position - to reclaim some lost chips. So for future tournaments I'll definitely want to try to avoid playing for stacks and out-of-position with hands exactly like AQ or lower pocket pairs, given that my opponent could have woken up with a big hand, which happened exactly as described.
However, I do think I played well overall, met a lot of nice people and had a great time. I'm also looking forward to having all of the regular tournament grinders back in town after the summer, as I'll be able to do some good name-dropping in future posts :)
Looking at the upcoming schedule, there's a really interesting Seminole Turnpike Series event, a $250 buy-in, $250,000 guaranteed, multi-day tournament where players can qualify at either the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood or the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino, as Day 1 flights will run simultaneously at both properties. Day 2 of this event will be at the Hard Rock (probably due to logistics - Coconut Creek's Poker Room can't handle the volume, unless they were to bring in tables and use the pavilion like they did for the WSOP-C series back in February.
There's also the Florida State Poker Championship event at the end of July at the Isle, in Pompano Beach, FL. I really hope to be able to play in the Main Event of that tournament, with a $300,000 guarantee and, I believe, a Day 3 final table (I've made Day 2's in tournaments but never a Day 3 - so that alone would be really cool).
Entered For: $130 (1 Bullet)Position: ~35th of 153 on Day 1ENet: -$130
TL;DR: Played in the event described above where, after running like Robert Varkonyi in the 2002 WSOP ME Final Table, I ultimately busted in Level 10 of Day 1E.
Edit: Fixed a couple of things.
The Walt Disney Company is one of the most successful media conglomerate companies in the world. Just about everyone has heard of the Disney theme parks stationed in Florida, California, and abroad. Just about everyone has seen classic Disney films like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Not everyone knows about Disney's relationship with the gambling industry, however, and it is a noteworthy one.
Over the years, Disney has acquired the rights to several major entertainment companies and their licensed characters. In 2009, Disney bought the Marvel Entertainment company, creator of the famed Marvel comic books and a slew of popular superhero characters. In 2012, it purchased all rights to LucasFilm, the parent company that created the Star Wars brand.
Disney announced its plans to phase out all Star Wars and Marvel-themed casino slot machines in the United States last fall. The multimillion dollar company has the power to do this, because it now owns all rights to these brands.
According to a Disney spokeswoman, the character-themed slot phase-out is not a new decision. As part of Marvel's “integration” with Disney, she said the decision was made several years ago to let the machines gradually fade out through attrition. Only a few Marvel license agreements remain at this point, and they are set to expire within the next several years. Star Wars-themed slots will also trickle away, but it will take a few more years for that process to complete.
[...] Disney wields a certain amount of power over casinos, both on land and online, because of these acquisitions. Instead of promoting Star Wars and Marvel characters via slot machines, the company prefers to use their likenesses in movies that serve to perpetuate the Disney brand.
As the owner of LucasFilm, Disney has another trilogy of Star Wars films currently in the works. [...] Fans can expect to see Disney continue to advance their brands through avenues other than the gaming industry.
Disney has made its opinion of the gambling industry known in Florida: It does not support the addition of more resort casinos to that area. Not only does Disney plan to phase out Marvel and Star Wars-themed slot machines, it also hopes to prevent the development of new casino resorts in the state.
As it stands today, Orlando's Walt Disney World is the top tourist attraction on the globe. Over 50 million people visit the entertainment resort every year and partake of theme parks like Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. From a business standpoint, it makes sense that Disney would not want another tourist draw infringing on its potential customer base in the Orlando area.
Disney denies that self-interest is its main motivation for opposing new casinos. Andrea Finger, a spokeswoman for the company, said the corporation opposes casino expansion for “many reasons.” One of the primary reasons is the fact that Florida is a “family friendly” vacation spot; adding more casinos to the landscape would tarnish that. Finger lauded Florida's efforts in “research, innovation, and entrepreneurship” and indicated that adding more casino resorts would create an “inconsistent” atmosphere in the state.
Finger made no statement suggesting that Disney is protecting its own interests by objecting to more casinos. This inference has been made, however, by critics based on the connection between Disney and its Marvel and Star Wars slot machines that recently came to light.
Critics also cite the fact that increased Florida casinos might steal valuable convention contracts from the Mickey Mouse company. At this point, Disney hosts approximately 700,000 square feet of convention space in its Florida resorts.
Disney's ownership of Marvel and LucasFilm slot machines was brought to the public's attention by New York Times reporters Lizette Alvarez and Michael Snyder. Critics immediately began shouting hypocrisy at the fact that Disney, a vocal gambling opponent, owns and profits from character-themed casino slot machines.
The Times reporters asked Disney whether its ownership of the slots “undercut” its casino gambling stance. A spokeswoman responded that the company's affiliation with the casinos was only temporary, and that it would take a few years for current slot machine contracts to expire.
[...] When Marvel and Star Wars-themed slots do eventually disappear from casinos, their absence will be a blow to the gaming industry. Casino patrons are drawn to the colorful games touting Spider Man, Darth Vader, and other exciting Hollywood characters. Until the machines are completely phased out, the characters will continue to entertain casino patrons both online and on land.
The online gaming industry will definitely be affected by Disney's prohibition. The Spider Man Slot game, for example, is an enticing game for online gamblers that was introduced in 2012. Other Marvel-themed online slots include Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Thor, and Wolverine Slots. The eventual loss of these games will leave a gaping hole in customers' palette of gaming choices.
[Possibly in response to Disney's decision], a group called the Associated Industries of Florida launched a new pro-casino campaign. This group is lobbying for more casinos in the area as a means of promoting jobs and stimulating the local economy. Analysts expect the battle between Disney and pro-casino lobbyists to become more heated as politicians compete for voter support in the upcoming election. (Source)
[However, Orlando isn't the only city that Disney is engaging in anti-casino efforts with.] The biggest challenger standing between [the city of] Miami and casinos is a mouse.
Walt Disney World, the giant resort near Orlando whose four theme parks draw more than 45 million visitors a year, has made preventing "destination" casinos a top priority. And few, if any, businesses carry as much weight in Florida as Disney, which employs more than 60,000 workers, generates nearly $600 million a year in tax revenue — and doled out more than $2 million to political candidates and causes during the past election cycle.
Some analysts say Disney — and, by extension, Orlando's entire tourism industry — has good reason to be wary of casinos. Though adult-oriented resorts in South Florida are unlikely to appeal to Disney's core audience of families with young children, they could siphon away travelers in narrower segments that are also important to the resort, from South Americans to conventions to weddings.
"Disney has lots of little pockets or niches that they're really good at getting market share in. And it adds up," said Duncan Dickson, a professor at the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management. "Disney doesn't want another Las Vegas anywhere close to them. Who needs the competition?"
[Case in point, Disney also has Disney Cruise Lines, based in both Miami and Port Canaveral (Orlando).] Disney Cruise Line has revealed it will extend its popular "Star Wars Day at Sea" program through 2019, with the addition of nine cruises -- each of which will include a Star Wars-themed sea day, complete with special programming and restaurant menus. Family-friendly activities include Star Wars character meet-and-greets, movie nights (featuring new releases), Star Wars trivia, and a Jedi training show, where kids can learn lightsaber skills and battle Darth Vader.
Throughout the day, restaurants and bars also will serve themed foods and cocktails. The sea day will end with a fireworks show and deck party, hosted by Star Wars heroes and villains. All cruises span seven nights and depart from Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida. (Source)
[...] Disney has always opposed efforts to expand gambling, [citing it as being againts its "family-friendly" image].
The Walt Disney Co., one of the most brand-protective companies on the planet, does not want to jeopardize its kid-friendly reputation by any association whatsoever with casinos and the taboo images they often conjure. The company's cruise line is the only major operator to sail ships without onboard casinos, which are typically one of the biggest generators of on-board spending.
"We've studied this issue carefully and remain opposed for many reasons," said Disney spokesman Mike Griffin, "including the fact that it is inconsistent with Florida's brand as a family-friendly destination, and with the efforts we've long supported to diversify Florida's economy through research, innovation, and entrepreneurship."
The legislation to be considered in Tallahassee would authorize three "destination" casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Each would boast a luxury hotel, shops, restaurants, convention space and casinos with every major game, from blackjack to roulette and craps. Any company awarded a casino license would have to spend at least $2 billion building the facility.
Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, both based in Las Vegas, and Genting, a Malaysian-based resort developer, are among the companies expected to seek licenses. Genting has already spent more than $300 million to buy bay-front property in downtown Miami and has announced plans for a $3.8 billion resort.
All have promised they will create thousands of jobs in South Florida, making the deal attractive to lawmakers hoping to lower the state's 10.6 percent unemployment rate.
Analysts say anyone that invests that much capital to build a resort also will have to spend lavishly to market the property. At a minimum, that will force Disney to ramp up its own spending on advertising, eroding its profit margins.
"Anytime you've got to fight and compete with more marketing dollars, which you know these folks have in abundance, it makes Disney's job that much harder to battle against," said Vicki Johnson, a tourism-marketing expert in Orlando.
More specifically, casinos could prove attractive draws in key markets for Disney. Executives at Genting, for instance, have said they would market heavily in Latin America.
Latin America — particularly Brazil, its biggest country — has become one of Disney World's most valuable markets in recent years. This summer, even as overall attendance at the resort was about flat with a year ago, Disney officials said traffic from Brazil was up by a double-digit percentage.
Though Disney doesn't disclose exact attendance numbers, national data show that visitation from Brazil is up 27% to more than 833,000 so far this year. And though Miami is the most popular destination for South American travelers, Orlando is growing more rapidly.
Disney says its business from Brazil is predominantly family-leisure travel, the group least likely to be swayed by casinos. But some industry followers say lavish resorts, when combined with the boutique shopping already in Miami, might be enough to peel away some of that business, especially Brazilians with older children or none at all.
"All of a sudden, it really cuts into their [Disney's] South American markets," Johnson said.
Group meetings and conventions business is also a growing profit center for Disney, which has nearly 470,000 square feet of meeting space spread among its hotels. It also routinely picks up lucrative private parties and other business tied to shows using Orange County's massive, publicly owned convention center.
Finally, allowing casinos in South Florida could lead to pressure to build more in other parts of the state. Already, some hoteliers in Orlando — led by Harris Rosen, owner of three major convention hotels — have made rumblings about bringing casinos to Central Florida. And officials at Port Canaveral — Disney Cruise Line's home port — are interested in casinos, too.
"Once they get their foot in the door, what's next? Orange County is going to say, 'Well, if it's legal in Dade County, why isn't it legal here?' " said Dickson, the UCF professor.
Disney has worked to enlist broader business groups to fight the casino legislation, most notably the Florida Chamber of Commerce, even though more than half of the businesses represented on the chamber's board of directors say they are neutral on the issue.
And the opposition from Disney has put casino boosters on the defensive during the past few days.
"Florida's identity cannot be changed because one casino or two destination resorts open in Miami-Dade County," said state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, who is sponsoring the casino legislation in the Florida House of Representatives.
"Florida will always be the Sunshine State," he added. "The dominant trademark of Florida will always be Disney World. I don't think they have anything to worry about when it comes to that." (Source)
There have been multiple attempts to garner support in the state legislature for non-Native American casinos and other forms of gambling expansion in the state. Currently, the Seminoles control the ability of Florida to expand full-fledged casinos per their current compact. And the power of the Seminoles in the state is substantial.
In order to change current law, there must be a constitutional amendment backed by the voters of Florida. There is one such opportunity on the ballot for the November 6, 2018 election.
The Casino Gambling Initiative, if approved, would give voters the exclusive right to authorize casinos going forward, casinos being comprised of card games, slot machines, and other casino-style games. All ballot measures in the future would then require a citizen-initiated process by which a number of signatures of registered voters must be obtained for ballot consideration.
Currently, however, the Seminoles reserve the exclusive right to offer blackjack, craps, and roulette in Florida, which would present a problem that would have to be addressed. The agreement with the Seminoles was signed by Governor Rick Scott in 2015, and is effective for 20 years.
While this may end up in a legal fight, poker rooms are not an exclusive right of the tribe, and would not be an issue.
If Amendment 3 passes in November by 60% or more of the popular vote, a new day may begin for casinos in Florida. This will also drastically increase the opportunity for poker rooms throughout the state. (Source)
The US Supreme Court repealed the longstanding federal sports betting ban known as PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). The landmark decision allows states to dictate their own sports wagering laws.
That means sports betting could be coming to Florida casinos, should the legislature pass market regulations. But Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam said this week that if he’s elected, he would oppose such legislation.
[Putnam also echoes Disney's reasoning.]
“I’ve always been one who has said we don’t need to expand the footprint of gambling in Florida,” Putnam declared at a campaign stop. “It’s not who we are as a state. We’re a family-friendly vacation destination. We’re a small business-oriented state.”
“If I lived in the middle of the desert in Nevada, [like Las Vegas], maybe I would grasp onto whatever straw or life raft somebody threw me,” he continued. “But we live in Florida, and we’ve got unlimited opportunities, and we don’t need to sell our state short.” (Source)
Earlier this year, Disney also gave $400,000 to Florida Grown, a committee supporting Putnam's gubernatorial bid.
[...] Disney officials would not agree to an interview, but in a statement, Jacquee Wahler, vice president of Walt Disney World Resorts, wrote, “We support candidates who understand issues important to our company, and demonstrate strong support for business and tourism in Florida.” (Source)
[Meanwhile, Disney is busy constructing what it hopes will be its next big moneymaker: Galaxy's Edge, a Star Wars-themed land in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Disney also plans to construct a Star Wars-themed hotel and resort adjacent to Galaxy's Edge.]
The ongoing success of high-profile films, like the Marvel and Star Wars franchises, can play a big role in the theme parks ability to tap into new characters and storylines for rides and shows.
Experts have said the success in theme park rides today are built on characters and properties that resonate with visitors outside the park. Thus new lands themed after popular franchises have proven to be a boon — like Disney's Star Wars and Frozen attractions, and Universal Orlando Resort's success with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
[So far this year], the theme parks division for the quarter saw a 13% increase in revenue to $4.87 billion, up from $4.29 billion for the same time last year. The division also saw a 13% increase in revenue for the first six months of the year to $10.03 billion, up from $8.85 billion for the year-ago period.
According to the earnings report:
"Results included a benefit from a shift in the timing of the Easter holiday relative to our fiscal periods. The current quarter included one week of the Easter holiday, whereas the entire Easter holiday fell in the third quarter of the prior year. Higher operating income at our domestic parks and resorts was primarily due to increased guest spending, attendance growth at Walt Disney World Resort and higher sponsorship revenue, partially offset by increased costs.
Guest spending growth was due to increases in average ticket prices, average daily hotel room rates and food, beverage and merchandise spending. The increase in costs was primarily due to labor and other cost inflation, an increase in depreciation associated with new attractions and higher technology spending." (Source)
[Driving this growth are Disney's planned new additions, including Galaxy's Edge, which is currently under construction ("labor costs").]
Disney’s new Star Wars land won’t open until next year, but it is not too early to declare that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be the most ambitious theme park land ever built.
The numbers alone might justify the claim. At 14 acres each, Disney’s twin Star Wars lands will be the largest the company has built at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts. Disney has not confirmed a budget for Galaxy’s Edge, but the project is believed widely within the industry to be costing at least one billion dollars. (Source)
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