There’s a lot of poker going on this week at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.
The World Series of Poker Circuit Series has come to town again, and the opening event over the weekend drew 2,538 entries. The series of 14 tournaments runs through Feb. 25.
It’s the only Florida stop for the series, which has been coming to the kennel club since 2011.
Last year’s opening event drew 2,607 entries and sold out to the point that there was pushing and shoving to get a spot. While this year’s opening tournament didn’t reach the kennel club’s goal of beating the WSOP Circuit record of 3,001 entries set in November 2001 near Chicago, Poker Room Director Noah Carbone said he was happy, considering Palm Beach County has a smaller population base and there was a competing WSOP Circuit event in Las Vegas.
“The Las Vegas players might have put us over the top,” he said.
Meanwhile, the economic benefit of the poker tournament to the West Palm Beach area is evident, said Glenn Jergensen, senior vice president, operations, for the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau in West Palm Beach. The area hotel room nights totaled 1,903 last year.
“We wish everybody good luck, but if they lose, there are plenty of good restaurants around here,” he said.
Hotels in the area have full of poker players, staying an average of five days, according to the kennel club.
Dennis Grady, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, said the tournament is good overall for business because the hotel bed tax, poker pari-mutuel taxes and sales tax revenue that comes into the county and state helps the county and state's economies.
“The economic impact of the WSOP on Palm Beach County has exceeded our expectations,” he said.
While most Broward and Miami-Dade county horse tracks, dog tracks and jai-alai frontons have slots - and the Hard Rock and two other Seminole casinos also have blackjack - the kennel club offers only dog racing, simulcasts and poker.
Kennel club officials helped encourage voters to approve referendum on the Palm Beach County ballot in November. While it doesn’t clear the way for slot machines, they are asking the legislative to consider it as an indicator of how county residents feel about slots in Palm Beach County.
This year's WSOP circuit tour consists of 20 stops throughout the country from August to May and culminates with the championship, from May 21 to 23 in New Orleans. That championship winner gets a spot in the World Series of Poker main event that airs on ESPN. The kennel club is the only non-casino to host a WSOP Circuit series.
Entries range from $140 for a women’s-only tournament to $1,675 to the main event. Get results and entry information at WorldSeriesOfPoker.com.
The most famous entrant is Jerry Yang, who won $8.25 million and the World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas in 2007.
“If I lived in Florida, I’d play poker here every day,” Yang said.