Hurricane Matthew, the Cat 4 or 5 storm barreling towards the eastern seaboard of Florida and South Carolina today, is a sobering reminder that Mother Nature may be the greatest terrorist of all.
And as we learned the hard way back in 2005 with Katrina and again with Sandy in 2012, the casino industry is just as subject to being affected as anyone else when these massive squalls hit. And that includes poker tournaments.
Hurricane Could Blow Tournament Off Course
Take, for example, the Seminole Hard Rock Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open (RRPO), set to get underway on November 16 in Hollywood, Florida. Nestled between Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Broward County, the Seminole Hard Rock sits squarely in the eye of exactly where this intimidating storm is expected to hit, with winds as powerful as 145 mph or even more.
And if Hurricane Matthew does reach land, it could have a devastating effect on an event like this, even though it’s still a month away. That’s because the aftermath could affect the turnout in many ways. If players’ homes get damaged or highways become partially blocked, it could take time to clean up the mess, which may force some players to stay at home.
And damage costs and cleanup expenses could make something like poker tournament bankroll for any given player so far down on their priority list that expected attendance could drop drastically.
But that’s not all, of course: the casino itself could take a whipping from the storm, as those along the Gulf Coast did with Katrina and as Atlantic City’s did with Sandy.
Given the potentially devastating effect of weather heading for Florida, there’s even a chance the tournament might not happen at all. In the past, the poker community has had to battle through a number of man-made disasters, such as an armed robbery at EPT Berlin, but rarely has a hurricane threatened to stop play. But neither has the East Coast of the United States seen a storm of this magnitude in the past 25 years, at least.
As Florida Governor Rick Scott warns residents to get out of whatever town they’re in to avoid almost certain death, experts believe Hurricane Matthew could make landfall by October 7. If that happens, it will likely make its way across Florida within 24 hours and, given its current severity, leave a trail of massive destruction in its wake.
What’s at Stake
Should it take place as planned, the 15-day Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open series will not only give low and mid-stakes poker players the chance to play for some impressive prizes, but will be the first time a $1 million guaranteed event will take place in the state of Florida.
The $360 tournament will serve as the opener for the 14-tournament festival, which will see players of all skill levels ante-up inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.
As well as offering a high-stakes prize pool for a low buy-in, the SHRP RRPO will also feature a $2 million guaranteed event, Poker Night in America’s high roller cash game, and a $50,000 Super High Roller. This combination of events, as well as a TV broadcast deal with the CBS Sports network, means the event should be a huge success.
But first, Matthew has to have his say. Hopefully, he will speak more softly than expected.
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open at a Glance
Should Hurricane Matthew not cause substantial devastation, players who want to ante-up in Hollywood, Florida can do so on the following dates:
Sunday Nov, 20: $1,000,000 guarantee feature table/final table
Monday, Nov. 21: $1,000,000 guaranteed final table (if applicable)
Tuesday, Nov. 22: $50,000 High Roller feature table/final table
Wednesday, Nov. 23: $250,000 guarantee feature table/final table
Friday, Nov. 25: Poker Night in America high roller cash game
Saturday, Nov. 26: Poker Night in America ladies night cash game
Sunday, Nov. 27: $2,000,000 guaranteed Championship feature table
Monday, Nov. 28: $2,000,000 guaranteed Championship featured table
Tuesday, Nov. 29: $2,000,000 guaranteed Championship featured table
Wednesday, Nov. 30: $2,000,000 guaranteed Championship final table