The Hialeah Park Casino is being accused of running a deceitful poker tournament to celebrate its two-year anniversary, with players alleging that the prize pool and chip count totals didn’t add up.
According to an investigation by the South Florida Poker Players Association (SFPPA), the first to break the news, and Bob Bernstein posting on the Two Plus Two forums, management let a number of players, presumably friends and regulars, freeroll into the $250 NLHE $200k guarantee event with the intent of splitting payouts should the freebie players cash.
“They claim that 26,667,000 chips were in play. If so, prize pool should be $237,810,” SFPPA posted on their Facebook page. “Actual prize pool $215,002. Where did the $30k go?”
$215 of the $250 buy-in went to the prize pool, with a $35 house rake.
Along with add-ons including a $20 option for an additional 5,000 chips to their original 15,000, and another $20 for 8,000 chips at the close of re-entry/registration after Level 9, players paid $231 to the pool and $59 to the house, or 25.5 percent.
Though the casino hasn’t released the official results of the tournament and is refusing to speak publicly on the concerns players have voiced, Daniel Sierra, shift manager for the poker room, has taken it upon himself to clear the air.
The SFPPA asserts that based on 996 official entries (per Sierra) and the add-ons offered directly from management, the total chips in play should be 24.9 million, but Hialeah claims 26,667,000 were on the felt.
Responding to the SFPPA post, Sierra explains that dead stacks are to blame for the discrepancies among total chips and total prize pool.
“If you take an avg of 20k per table for dead stacks (seat 4 and 10) and multiply that times 8 tables per flight, that gives you an addition 160k in chips per flight or 320k in chips per day tues-thurs. On Fri-sat that’s 240k in chips per flight or 480k in chips per day giving you an additional 1.9 mil chips in play,” Sierra asserted. “We also had 698 chip ups 8k for 5.584 mil.”
The SFPAA wasn’t buying it, nor was Bernstein who pointed out that for Sierra’s math to add up a staggering 698 of the 966 total entries, or 72 percent of the field, remained in the tournament through the end of Level 9 and all 698 decided to take the $20 8,000-chip offer.
This isn’t the first time the Hialeah Park Casino, located just minutes northwest of Miami, has been accused of taking advantage of its customers.
Many posters on Two Plus Two expressed concerns with tournaments and several conveyed a mutual sense of unease while in the room.
“Have played a few tournaments at Hialeah, each time bowing not to return because something just doesn’t feel right,” posts “mfriendl” on the boards.
One of the main complaints with Hialeah is that it fails to produce structure sheets for patrons in accessible manners.
During the two-year event, the sheet was only posted on a podium in the middle of the room where players paid their buy-ins; not at the cage but at a freestanding podium.
Players are now calling on the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to investigate the South Florida casino’s overall operations.