Those of you in the industry already knew this, but I'm a few days behind: Mike Smith has left the Isle Casino and Racing to open a new 55-table poker room at Maryland Live! Casino. He'll reunite with his friend Rob Norton, who is Maryland Live! president.
His final day at the Isle was Thursday.
Smith, a noted player and former poker room director at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, had been in charge of the Isle's poker room since shortly after it opened six years ago. The Isle has often been the best revenue-producer in the state, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who will complain about the way Mike ran the room -- not that he wanted the attention.
"If known one knows I run it, I've done a good job," he says, meaning that the boots-on-the-ground managers and staff are who the everyday player sees more of. If he has coached them up well, then they're able to handle things and problems don't escalate to the point that the director needs to be summoned.
Smith, who brought more structure and consistency to Florida poker, said, "I love it here, and I'd like to think I moved poker in the right direction in this state. It's the best place I ever worked, and we had a great team. But I've never opened a room before, so it's exciting."
The Maryland casino has been open about a year and hopes to add table games next month. Poker is set for Aug. 1.
Stan Strickland, Director of Poker Operations at Borgata in Atlantic City, is headed down here. Strickland has headed the poker room since 2006.
A story by Poker News is here: http://www.pokernews.com/news/2013/03/director-of-poker-operations-at-borgata-resigns-updated-14602.htmI'll catch up with him, I hope, when he's ready.