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Nick Sortal's favorites

 

BEST PLACE TO MAKE MONEY PLAYING POKER

Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino

901 S. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach, GulfstreamPark.com

A good poker room has plenty of action and players who put in their money when the math dictates they shouldn't. This is the definition of the poker room at Gulfstream. The clientele includes the north Miami-Dade County crowd — impulsive types who have money to spare — and horse players who look at their cards with one eye and the racing program with the other. So when they're on a flush draw or straight draw — math dictates a player hits those hands only once every three tries after the flop — their money goes in the middle, and if you're ahead, it's a good call. Sure, you'll get wiped out now and then, but in the long run, there's money here.

BEST SINGER TO "OHHM" ALONG WITH

Jimmy Barkan

JimmyBarkan.com

At age 60, yogi Jimmy Barkan, with his trademarked Barkan Method and studios in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, has decided to return to his first love, which is singing. He finished second in auditions for the lead in a Broadway version of "Grease" and spent his 20s pursuing a career in Los Angeles before giving it up to become a yoga instructor. If you get a chance, hear him croon, a la Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr.

BEST BARBECUE/FAMILY DINING

Hickory Sticks BBQ

8320 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation, 954-368-4478, HickorySticksBBQ.com

This is a repeat winner for me, thanks to its raspberry wings, loaded potato (with pork or brisket on top to make it a meal), a varied menu with a full page of Tex-Mex items and inexpensive drinks. The spell of restaurant failures at 8320 W. Sunrise has been broken.

 

 

BEST YOUNG COUNTRY SINGER

Maggie Baugh

South Florida is flooded with talented teenage girls writing country songs, wearing boots and dying to get to Nashville. It's a crapshoot whether any of them will make it — the odds are very, very long — but you could argue that Maggie Baugh, a sophomore at Boca Raton High, is doing all the right things. She has a sponsor (Sawgrass Ford), a video ("Midnight Muddin'") and the requisite (very) supportive parents willing to push things along. And, oh, she plays violin, guitar, mandolin and anything else with strings. Download her album "Heck of a Story" on iTunes or at MaggieBaugh.com

BEST POKER ROOM FOOD

Hialeah Park, 2200 E. Fourth Ave., 305-885-8000, HialeahPark.com

Servers are in a no-win situation at most card rooms, where the tables and kitchen are barely in the same ZIP code. Hialeah Park had the foresight to set things up differently, and they enhance their offerings by offering quality food, not just chicken fingers. So you can have salmon and vegetables with your flops, turns and rivers.

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