Review of Poker in Aruba
My wife and I just spent 8 days in Aruba and on my flight home decided to write a review of poker in Aruba for any other travelers wishing to soak in some great sun, white sand, blue water and poker. The article is broken down into various sections:
- Scheduling & Casinos
- Games & Stakes
- Eccentricities of Aruban Poker
- Star Wars Cantina
- Bad Taste
- Never Again
- There’s No Sleeping in Poker
- The Best Room in the Caribbean
- Summary of getting the most from your Aruban Poker Experience
Scheduling & Casinos
Several hotels have Texas Hold em in Aruba, but from the reports I received from the locals. Only the Holiday Inn Aruba has any real action. As with all Caribbean poker rooms, they are closed until evening. At 6pm, the H.I’s. Excelsior Casino hosts a $4-8 limit game. The Occidental is trying to keep A (emphasis on the singular) game running and the same for the Radisson. Wednesday through Saturday, the Radisson is supposed to be hosting a tournament. I am not a tournament player so I didn’t attend, but you could see it impact attendance at the H.I. for a few hours. The Hyatt is offering $20 to the first 5 people in on their 9pm tournament. (You may be picking up just a whiff of desperation there.) All in all, the Holiday Inn is the place to play poker. They have the most active tables and it’s even possible to switch tables if there is an issue with yours… and there will be. (More on that later.)
Games & Stakes
The majority of the tables (as is the case in almost all of the Caribbean) is $2/5 No Limit Hold’em. The game at the H.I. starts between 8-9pm. If you are not there by 7:45-8:00pm, be prepared to wait for the second table. With another game starting about a 1/2 hour later or so. The room can do much more but usually got up to about four to five 2/5 N.L. Hold em games, one 4/8 Limit and maybe a 5/5 Omaha High. This makes this the biggest and most active poker room in all of the Caribbean. The minimum buy-in on the 2/5 NL game is $200, with most players buying in for $200-$300 with a very few buying in as much as $1000. Through out the night, there will be at least three 2/5 NL games which by 1am condense down to one table, maybe two. They also spread a 5/5 Omaha Pot Limit High game. Almost unheard of in the islands. One night it was a full table, but may be about 5-6 players for the most part… but big stacks. One guy was towering $100 chips. And these guys know their Omaha. I wanted to play, but realized I was out of my depth and wisely stayed in the main fishing pond, away from the four carded sharks.
The NL tables will run to about 4-4:30am depending on the players and the action, but can go as late as 6am according to the casino. This also makes it the longest stretch of hours of any casino in the Caribbean. Most, like Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and St. Croix, open at 9pm and close either promptly at 3am, or before, if the players crash and burn. This longer stretch works in favor of the Skilled Player. You get to wait for better hands. Plus, my goal is to pay for my trip via my winnings, and these extra hours give me 14-16 additional hours of play in the course of a week to do that if I chose.