Before you focus on the cards or the slots at Mardi Gras Casino, take a look at the poker-themed paintings in the entryway.
They're the creations of Robby Becker, one of the Hallandale Beach casino's dealers.
The Hollywood artist, 42, combines spraypaint with acrylic and varnish, creating a montage-ish look. One painting shows cards, a Mardi Gras napkin and the words, “Big Easy,” overwritten in white. The Big Easy is the name of Mardi Gras' poker room.
Another, titled “Good Flop,” is relevant to the serious poker player. It shows five players' hands after the three-card “flop” in Texas Hold 'em: One player has two pair, another three of a kind, one a straight, another a flush and the fifth is one card away from a straight flush.
“It's a point where everybody is liking their hand,” Becker said.
About six months ago, David Litvin, director of poker operations, encouraged Becker to paint works specifically for the casino.
“The more I look at them, the more I like them. I appreciate the details more,” said Litvin, adding that he would like to work out an arrangement to sell the paintings through the casino, so new work would rotate in and out.
Becker has painted as a hobby his entire life.
It wasn't until the Idaho native moved to South Florida from Las Vegas about three years ago, he said, that he began taking art more seriously.
Because he lives close to the water in Hollywood, he also has been painting “basic beach scenes” and selling them, often fetching about $300 per piece, he said.
Dealing poker and painting are very different, he said, but they complement each other.
“When you're dealing poker, you're concentrating on the players and what they're doing,” he said.
“With art, I am focused on what I am doing.”