Make every weekend epic with our free Weekender newsletter. Sign up today!

The pots thicken: Poker tournaments yield big paydays


Monday, Nov. 21, was a huge day in South Florida poker.

Maurice Hawkins won $95,921 in the main event at the World Series of Poker Circuit's 12 Rings in 12 Days tournament at Palm Beach Kennel Club (1111 N. Congress Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-683-2222, The West Palm Beach resident also won a gold ring with diamonds and a berth in the WSOP Circuit Global Casino Championship at the end of the season. Over the main event's three days, he took down 260 players.

Matthew Wright of Perry, Fla., will join Hawkins at the global championship. Cashing four times during the 12-event tournament that lasted Nov. 10-21, Wright accumulated the most points, which pushed him forward.

Also on Nov. 21, but in the Seminole Hard Rock Rock 'N' Roll Poker Open, Rafael Reis won $155,642. Over several days of Event 1, the Washington state resident came in first out of a massive 5,017 entries in the deep-stack, no-limit hold 'em reentry. It had a $360 buy-in and a prize pool of $1,505,400.

The 14-tournament open, running through Nov. 30, is being held at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 800-937-0010, The championship will have $2 million in guaranteed payouts, after a $3,500 buy-in.

And they're off

The racing season at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino (901 S. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach, 954-454-7000, opens on Saturday, Dec. 3, with the $1.1 million Claiming Crown. It will have nine stakes, with the most lucrative being the $200,000 1 1/8-miler for horses 3 years and older. There also will be two races with purses of $125,000 each, and six for $110,000. Post time is noon.

Gulfstream Park West, on the other hand, is closing out its October to November season on Sunday, Nov. 27. The Miami Gardens track will have 10 races with a 12:35 p.m. post time. Because of ongoing construction, track officials recommend bettors watch simulcasts at Gulfstream Park instead of in person.

Light the way

Gulfstream Park's Symphony of Lights will run from Friday, Nov. 25, to Dec. 31. The holiday tradition's centerpiece is a 50-foot pine tree decorated with thousands of lights synced with festive music.

My wife and I took our now 11-year-old twin daughters to it last year, and we had a blast. Among the events being touted by organizers this year are "selfies with Santa and Mrs. Claus" and train rides. Plus, light shows every hour on the hour.

The opening night will also have a stilt walker, jugglers, face painters, tattoo artists and a coloring station.

Activities that first night are from 5 to 10 p.m. All other nights are from 6 to 11 p.m. There's no charge to walk around.

Copyright © 2018, South Florida