Playing poker online is good for practice, and playing with buddies is good times, but neither should be mistaken for the real deal. However, Torontonians looking for a serious, live game of Texas hold ’em need to head out of town. Here, the best places to play poker within a couple hours of Toronto.
Everyone will find a game at Canada’s largest First Nations casino, where the poker room is open 24/7, and learn-to-play classes are offered. The floor offers ample table games, including Caribbean Stud and Pai Gow. 5897 Rama Rd., Orillia. 1-800-832-7529.
Brantford Charity Casino
For west end poker fiends, Brantford is the closest hold ’em destination. The well-organized room houses 17 tables, and offers a wide range of stakes. 40 Icomm Dr., Brantford. 1-888-694-6946.
Great Blue Heron Charity Casino
Tournament players flock here for 100-player-plus sit-‘n-go tourneys; buy-ins range from $100 (Wednesdays) to $500 and beyond. Once you get knocked out, head to the 12-table poker pit. 21777 Island Rd., Port Perry. 1-888-294-3766.
Niagara Fallsview Casino
The former host of the World Poker Tour Canadian Open attracts Toronto’s top players. The elegant poker room is open around the clock, with stakes from $1 to $1000. 6380 Fallsview Blvd., Niagara Falls. 1-888-325-5788.
Sharpen your skills at Niagara’s 12 tables; on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the casino offers a hold ’em tourney with a meagre $35 buy-in, which makes it very, very easy to say “all-in.” 5705 Falls Ave., Niagara Falls. 1-888-325-5788.
Image courtesy of Insight Imaging: John A Ryan Photography.