By Sean Chaffin
This week’s WPT Maryland Main Tour event marks the fourth season the World Poker Tour has made its way to Live! Casino & Hotel. Season XVII marks the unveiling of the casino’s most recent additions. Casino staff believes the new hotel and other facilities will greatly enhance the player experience – and is something that can help build its poker offerings for the future.
“We’re looking forward to what we can do,” Director of Poker Operations Mike Smith says about the future of poker and the WPT at the venue. “This was the first event we’ve had in the new Live! Event Center. I think the players like it a lot from everything we’ve heard. The banquet staff has been terrific, and my tournament staff has been terrific.”
As part of the property’s expansion, the casino added additional 350,000-square feet of space including:
17-story hotel tower with 310 guest rooms, including presidential suites and even a gambling suite for high rollers
New Live! Event Center and meeting spaces
New dining options
Day spa and salon
Located in between Baltimore and Washington D.C., the property is located in Arundel Mills Mall, the top tourist destination in Maryland, attracting more than 14 million visitors each year. The property is Maryland’s largest gaming facility.
Players in the Live! Event Center have enjoyed the first few days of action in the well-lit banquet room, the large room hardwood floors, and a spacious environment. The location greatly expands the casino’s ability to hold even bigger tournaments, which were previously held in the poker room and in Center Stage, a smaller event center.
“I think we could only hold about 17 tables in Center Stage,” Smith says. “I think this could hold 60 tables. We’re hoping that we can continue to grow the Main Event of the WPT. We would love to get a thousand players in here for an event or a 3,000-player opening event, things like that.”
What has been the reaction of players so far in the new tournament venue?
“Players have said they like the lighting, the space, the high ceilings, and it doesn’t feel cramped in here,” Smith says. “The tables are spaced out pretty well so they’re not bumping into each other as you’re walking around. I mean, I haven’t heard a complaint, which is always a good thing and doesn’t happen too often.”
Day 3 and 4 will be played on the second floor of the poker room, which offers players 50 tables of action and numerous amenities in a comfortable, non-smoking environment. The room was opened five years ago and has become a poker leader in the Northeast during that time.
Prior to and concurrent with the WPT championship, Live! Casino & Hotel Offered 21 events of numerous poker variants and buy-in levels.
“We’re always looking for opportunities,” Smith says, “I think first for us just to build this bigger.”
That has worked out well so far. The tournament attracted 337 runners in its first year and topped 550 for the third straight season. Poker at Live! Hotel & Casino, is trying to live up to the casino’s name.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and host of the True Gambling Stories podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @PokerTraditions.
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