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Delaware Park ‘Thinking Outside The Box’ As It Continues To Be A Top Gaming Spot In Northeast

by Brian Pempus |  Published: May 13, 2015

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Opened in 1937, Delaware Park has the historic casino and racetrack vibe that everyone loves, but also tons of modern amenities and gaming offerings for customers looking for entertainment and a chance to win some money while having a great time.

Located just outside the city of Wilmington at 777 Delaware Park Boulevard, Delaware Park is just 30 minutes from Philadelphia, but also caters to a huge number of people across Eastern Maryland, Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and even customers located further away. The property is always busy.

The property’s poker room is one of its many attractions, and it continues to be great spot for card players of all skill levels and bankroll sizes. Delaware Park’s Poker Room Manager Kevin Castora gave Card Player a tour of the property and insight into what’s going on to grow poker at Delaware Park.

The Poker Room

With 45 tables, Delaware Park’s poker room is by far the largest of any in the state, and it is the second-largest among casinos in the region (Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware). Delaware Park regularly runs the following no-limit hold’em cash games: $1-$2, $1-$3, $2-$5 and $5-$5. Each game features very accommodating minimum and maximum buy-in amounts. The $5-$5 game is especially great for those looking to build a poker bankroll, as the maximum buy-in is $2,500. For those at the other end of the spectrum, the $1-$2 game has a very welcoming $60-$300 buy-in limit. If you fancy limit hold’em, there is a $2-$4-$6 game, and if you are a lover of other poker variants, the poker room will accommodate you and create a table for you, as long as there are others who also want to play that form of poker. According to Castora, Delaware gaming regulators give the poker room a lot of freedom in being able to cater to customers who want to play non-hold’em games.

“We have a very good working relationship with state regulators,” Castora said. “They provide us the opportunity to run almost any game, provided that we thoroughly explain the rules in our submissions”

In an effort to give thanks to those who play on a regular basis, the poker room often runs freerolls for those who log a certain number of hours. Up until May 2, those who play at least 15 hours of live poker between a Sunday-to-Saturday stretch will be awarded a seat into a $10,000 freeroll taking place on the following Thursday. The last of the “$40,000 in Freeroll Tournaments in Four Weeks Freerollapalooza” promotion is on May 7, so hurry and get your hours in! The freerolls are played as “survivors,” meaning once the field shrinks to a certain number, then everyone gets paid. A first-place finisher isn’t crowned in these freerolls, so everyone leaves a winner. In addition to the aforementioned weekly freeroll promotion, the poker room has had a $100,000 freeroll for those who logged 120 hours of live play in six weeks. The poker room has the motto that, “if you do something you will get something, rather than if you get lucky,” Castora said. For this event, as long as you qualified and showed up, you were guaranteed at least a $250 payout! There are always ways to be rewarded for being a true poker grinder.

The poker room also often gives its players tons of chips to work with in its non-freeroll tournaments. On Saturday, May 2 there will be a $200 buy-in tournament with a $25,000 guaranteed prize pool. The game begins at noon, and players will enjoy 40,000 in starting chips. Blinds will increase every 30 minutes. It is truly a “Mega Stack” tournament. Daily $1,000 guarantees at the poker room also feature generous starting stacks and structures, giving great value even to low-stakes players.

From May 22-25, the poker room is hosting a $100,000 “Mega Stack Weekend” for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, in which the flagship event of the series will have a $50,000 guarantee for just a $550 buy-in. The no-limit hold’em tournament begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 23 and will feature 40,000 in starting chips. Altogether, the series has four events, along with seven other satellites or smaller buy-in tournaments that allow players of all bankroll sizes a chance to compete.

Perhaps the clearest example of the creativity of Delaware Park’s poker room was the 2012 $600 buy-in Ironman tournament held there. That event set what was, at the time, the world record for longest continuous poker tournament. There were no breaks, and players grinded for more than 36 and a half hours straight. On the wall in the poker room is a plaque from the Guinness Book of World Records to honor the poker room with the historic achievement. The poker room’s record was eventually broken by the Asian Poker Tour—it currently stands at 48 hours, 55 minutes—but Castora said he wants to bring the record back to Delaware Park. According to Castora, they would need 400 players to make an attempt on the record and would need to make special accommodations for players to survive more than two days straight of poker. “There are a lot of logistics to work out,” Castora said. Castora’s amazing imagination and expertise as the Poker Room Manager for Delaware Park could make this a reality sometime in the near future.

As for one thing poker players often care a lot about—the walks to and from their cars—Delaware Park’s poker room is ideal. A parking lot, which includes a great valet service, is located just outside doors you can access just moments after leaving the poker room. Unlike many other poker rooms across the country, it’s easy to avoid long walks, and thus missing action, if you play at Delaware Park’s poker room. In addition, the poker room utilizes the popular Bravo Poker app, so that you can always see what games are running when deciding when exactly you want to begin your cash game session.

It’s no secret that there has been heavy casino construction in the northeast United States in recent years, but Delaware Park, and especially the poker room, has remained a perfect example of how to operate a successful gaming destination—and still have a lot of fun in the process. Castora said that volume in the poker room is up year-over-year, despite increased competition.

On the horizon is the Delaware Park Poker Classic, which will be held Sept. 23 to Oct. 5. Poker players should stay tuned to delawarepark.com/poker in the coming weeks for details.

Thoroughbred Racing

Delaware Park’s betting offerings for the live racing season begin in early May with the start of the Kentucky Derby and run until the season’s closing date on Oct. 17. In all, there are 81 days of live racing in which customers can bet. For those who want to bet during the off-season, Delaware Park has simulcast racing year-round. As for the Delaware Park 2015 Stakes Schedule, there are 19 races between May 20 and Sept. 12. There is racing on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from May 16 to Oct. 17. For more information on Delaware Park’s thoroughbred racing schedule, as well as how to enter Handicap tournaments, please visit delawarepark.com/racing.

Slots, Table Games and NFL Betting

While the poker room is on the upstairs level, the first floor of the property is the primary gaming floor. It has four popular craps tables that get flooded with action and excitement during the peak gambling times in the evenings, especially on the weekends. A total of 2,300 slot machines are situated throughout the property, but primarily on the first floor. Slot tournaments are held on the second floor.

As for table games, Delaware Park has many offerings, including blackjack, ultimate Texas hold‘em, three and four card poker, pai gow poker, and Mississippi stud. Keno and roulette are also offered.

Delaware is one of only four states in the nation with the legal authorization to offer sports betting. Delaware Park has betting on the National Football League, and there is a minimum three-team parlay under the rules. Many fans opt for big parlays that ramp up the excitement on game days. While Delaware has limited sports betting compared to Nevada, Delaware Park is able to cater to football fans in a way that other casinos in the Northeast simply cannot. Thanks to the poker room’s large array of TVs that make viewing a game easy from every seat in the house, NFL fans can place a bet downstairs and see how their teams are doing while playing poker upstairs. It’s really convenient.

Other Amenities

Located on the first floor of the property is a live entertainment venue called the Hops Bar that features shows several nights each week. Want to take a break from gaming and grab some food and a beverage and listen to some great music? It’s a short walk from wherever you are in the casino. The Hops Bar is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

As for food options, customers have fine dining with the Victorian-style Legends Restaurant and The Rail Wine Bar and Grille, more casual dining with the Del Cap Room and Rooney’s Deli, among others. If you want to grab a pastry and a coffee before starting your day of action at the casino, there is Kelso’s Coffee Shop. For those who want to dine and watch horseracing, there is the Terrace Dining Room, which is open on race days only. It has a comfortable dining room overlooking the racing action, and every seat has a perfect view of the track.

During the warm months, families can eat in the outdoor picnic grove next to the clubhouse, located in the most picturesque area of the park. You can bring your own picnic or take advantage of the seasonally-offered BBQ selections. The Grove provides a premium spot for viewing the horses in the landscaped Paddock, as well as the racetrack.

Last, but certainly not least, Delaware Park is the place to golf in the area. The course was voted one of Golfweek’s “Best Courses You Can Play in 2014”. For more details visit delawarepark.com/golf. Of course there is a cross over between poker and golf, as Delaware Park is hosting the Erik Williams Foundation’s Second Annual Celebrity-Am Golf Invitational in June. Williams, a former Dallas Cowboys star, will host a poker night as part of the charity festivities during the weekend. Expect some of your favorite sports stars to be playing in the poker room from June 10-11. ♠