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I left my money at Seminole Hard Rock

I love to talk poker, and because I play in all the South Florida rooms, I love to compare notes about where I can make the most money.

I invariably mention the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. It draws the most tourists, many of whom are novice players. And there's loose money there, as gamblers who push out $25 or even $100 per hand in blackjack come sit down and call bets of $15 or $20 with long shot hands, tilting the odds in my favor.

But my journal this year tells me something else: Of the 17 times I played this year at the Seminole Hard Rock, I was a loser 13 times. This is prompting me to assess my game.

I keep an annual gambling log for several reasons. First, is to see where I'm faring well and where I'm not. The second is to document losses in case I ever hit a big jackpot, and the third is just competitiveness. I want to win.

I was in the black again this year, by $301. That's 45 sessions of playing $1-$2 no-limit Hold 'em, a few tournaments and little bit of lottery, slots, video poker, jai-alai and horse racing. In 2013, I played only 38 sessions of poker (and lost $582).

Two big hands turned around my 2014. On Aug. 31, my pair of 8s met a flop of K-8-8, and my four of a kind yielded a high hand of $300 (my first in three years). And there was a $328 day at Magic City, where I flopped a straight, another player had a set and another had a flush draw (he missed!) giving me a huge triple-up and a $350 or so pot. That's how this game goes.

Back to the Seminole Hard Rock … in 2013 I lost $458 at poker there, and I've spent the past few days mulling why I keep leaving there a loser. My hunch is it comes down to patience – my overplaying an ace-10 out of the small blind, then betting twice out position when the ace hit comes to mind – or paying off too many guys I thought were bluffing. A $40 wager by the player in the final position with four cards to a straight on the board comes to mind. That's giving money away.

I'm toying with the idea of moving up from $1-$2 no-limit to $2-$5, thinking that because I'm a tight player who bets only with good cards, some of the flotsam and jetsam – such as guys playing queen-7 suited – will go away. I'd have to up my starting bankroll from $100 to $200, but looking at 2014, I lost my whole stack only three times. So I can afford it. It's a question of whether I could stomach it.

And I close my report on 2014, with what I often say. Gambling is entertainment for me, and thank goodness it's not how I make my living. That $301 won comes out to less than a dollar a day. Can't eat on that.

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