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New Isle poker director comes from Borgata

The poker room at the Isle Casino and Racing in Pompano Beach already has the reputation as one of the state’s best, but Stan Strickland wants to make it even better.

 Mike Smith opened the Isle’s poker room in 2006 but left March 21 to open a new 55-table poker room at Maryland Live! Casino. Strickland, who opened the poker room at the Borgata in Atlantic City seven years ago, took over April 8 as the Isle’s director of poker operations.

“This is the right move in my career at the right time,” Strickland said. “Not many jobs like this open up, and it’s a great room.”

 The Isle ranks among the top three Florida pari-mutuels in card room revenues.

 Strickland would like to add games other than Texas Hold ‘em to the room and offer a wider range of tournaments, he said.

 “We want to appeal to all wallet sizes,” said Strickland, who is credited with opening a high-limit section at the Borgata, called The Boardroom. “And we really want to bring mixed games.”

 Strickland, 48, grew up in Alabama and worked as a Chinese translator in the Air Force before getting hired as a poker dealer in Mississippi and moved up the ladder with Boyd Gaming for 19 years to get to the Borgata.

 He said he is still evaluating the market, but has recognized that the $2-per-hand rake that card rooms for high hand jackpots pull is frustrating to some players who prefer that money be kept on the table.

 “Any time you take a dollar out of a hand you have basically demoralized the game of poker,” he said. “But is it a necessary evil? Yes. If everybody else is doing it, you have to compete.”

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