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Tropicana Poker Room Review 2021: AC Poker Contender?

New Jersey Outline Map

Although we and our readers most appreciate poker as spread by various online poker sites, there's hardly a one of us who doesn't also enjoy stacking fish at a live poker table on occasion. Apart from Las Vegas, Atlantic City is probably the best hotspot for live poker in the United States.

For live card games in Atlantic City, the Tropicana poker hall is equipped with 18 tables staffed by friendly dealers. With the closure of the Trump Taj Mahal in 2016 and the discontinuation of poker at Ocean Casino Resort in early 2020, Tropicana and Bally's were the only two Atlantic City poker venues remaining on the Boardwalk.

All New Jersey casinos had to close in March 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions, but every one of them has since reopened. However, the reemergence of poker on the scene has been a lot slower. For several months leading up to May 2021, the Borgata and Harrah's were the only places in town for poker. They are in the Marina district, though, far from the relaxed vibe and fun atmosphere of the Boardwalk.

We were excited to hear that the Tropicana AC was re-opening its poker room on Friday, May 21, 2021, bringing the card game we love back to the Boardwalk where it had been sorely missed. We decided to head over there and check out the action. Keep reading for a rundown of the games available, the size and layout of the space, promotions currently being run, and more details about the Tropicana poker room in Atlantic City.

Tropicana AC Poker Review

Website: https://www.tropicana.net/gaming/atlantic-city-poker
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tropicanaac/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tropicanaac
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tropicanaac
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TropicanaAC/featured
Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey, on the Boardwalk
Hours: Mon – Thurs, 11 a.m. to 6 a.m., Weekends, 24 hours
Promos: Bad Beat Jackpot, Hourly High Hands, Caesars Rewards comps
Tables: 18
Rake: 10% up to $5 and up to $2 for the bad beat jackpot drop
Miscellaneous: Restrooms across from the poker room. 11 televisions inside the room.
Food/Beverage: Free drink service in poker room, many dining venues within the resort
Pros: Convenient Boardwalk location, friendly and recreational players
Cons: Little action in non-Hold'em variants, few games running at non-peak times

Tropicana Poker Room: Where Is It?

The Tropicana Atlantic City Casino is the southernmost casino on the Boardwalk. It's about a 10 – 15 minute walk away from its nearest neighbors, Caesars and Bally's. The casinos northernmost on the Boardwalk – Ocean, Hard Rock, and Resorts – are perhaps half an hour distant on foot from the Tropicana.

The Marina District casinos, Borgata, Harrah's, and the Golden Nugget, are not really accessible to pedestrians from the Tropicana. They are about a 10-minute drive away.

Management has turned this Atlantic City casino into a sprawling dining, entertainment, and gaming complex with three separate levels of attractions and amenities. Therefore, it can be hard to locate the Tropicana poker room, which is housed in an obscure corner of the casino and isn't prominently advertised on the gaming floor.

The Tropicana poker area is on the second floor near the Boogie Nights club and the South Tower elevators. There's an escalator down to the hotel lobby nearby too.

Tropicana ACThe Tropicana AC Lies Along the Boardwalk

Tropicana AC Poker Cash Games

The commonest game at the Tropicana Atlantic City Poker room is $1/$2 No Limit Texas Hold'em with a maximum buyin of $300. During slow periods, there was almost always at least one of these tables running, and during peak hours, we generally saw three or four of them active simultaneously.

Usually after a couple of $1/$2 ring games start, a $1/$3 game tends to emerge although there are seldom more than two of them going at once. This game allows buyins up to $500.

At both stakes, the play is generally loose-passive. Single preflop raises tend to get two to four callers most of the time, and there are also frequent multi-way, limped pots.

The rake is 10% up to $5. Bad Beat eligible tables also take an additional rake of up to $2 per hand to fund this promotion.

The only other format that ran semi-regularly during our time at the Tropicana poker room was $3/$6 Limit Hold'em. This type of game was usually confined to a single table and was absent from the roster during less-busy times. Sadly, the famous Tropicana “pink chip” ($7.50/$15) fixed-limit game of yore appears to have been relegated to the pages of history.

Though the Tropicana poker room boasts 18 tables, social distancing rules mean that no more than 10 of them can be used at once. This doesn't really have any impact on day-to-day operations because there are rarely, if ever, more than 10 tables running simultaneously. Tables seat eight, and there are Plexiglass dividers between each player position.

Tropicana Poker Tournaments

Since the reopening of the Tropicana poker room, no daily, weekly, or one-off tournaments have been announced. Given the limited cash game participation and occupancy restrictions in effect, the casino has probably decided that offering MTTs would be more trouble than it's worth at present.

In the past, there was a low-buyin Tropicana poker tournament every day. As COVID-related rules are relaxed in the coming months, we may see a few tourneys appear and the Atlantic City poker schedule return to normal.

Tropicana Poker Room Promotions

People thinking of hitting a big Atlantic City jackpot don't necessarily have multi-player poker on their minds, but nevertheless, you can make a lucky score at the card game tables. The Bad Beat Jackpot at the Tropicana poker room stands at more than $60,000 as of May 30, 2021.

In order to qualify, quad 8888 or better needs to go to showdown and lose. Both players must use both hole cards in constructing their final hands, and for quads, the corresponding starting hand must be a pocket pair. The pot needs to also be a minimum of $30 (before rake is taken out) for the jackpot to trigger.

There's also an hourly high hand bonus running from noon till 5:59 p.m. and then again from 8 p.m. until 1:59 a.m. every day. The highest hand achieved during each hour earns its holder $150.

The minimum hand to qualify for the high hand is Aces full of Kings, and the pot must be at least $30. In the event that no hand wins one of the hourly payouts, then the next prize is increased by $50 up to a maximum value of $250.

The Tropicana Atlantic City Casino is part of the Caesars Entertainment conglomerate, and therefore, players receive Tier Credits and Reward Credits as part of the Caesars Rewards loyalty program. If you're wondering how many points you earn at the Tropicana playing poker, we're afraid that the answer is not clear-cut.

Unlike with the slot machines, there's no set formula dictating how many rewards you earn based upon the amount of poker you play. Anecdotal reports across the internet lead us to believe that you can earn up to $2/hour in comps at the Tropicana AC poker games. Some have reported glitches in the rewards system whereby poker players are not credited their due, so it would be wise to check a promotions kiosk before and after each session and then bring up any discrepancies with the floorperson.

Tropicana Evansville poker room in Indiana is also a part of Caesars Rewards, so if you play poker there, your points will combine with what you have earned at the Trop AC. However, due to the many mergers, acquisitions, sell-offs, and re-brandings in the industry, there's no guarantee that any other entity named Tropicana is connected in any way with the Atlantic City casino. Notably, the Tropicana Las Vegas is run by Penn National Gaming and is not associated with the Tropicana Atlantic City or Caesars Entertainment.

Tropicana Poker Room Ambiance

We've seen poker spaces arranged as magnificent, open arenas and others that aim for a friendly, home-game vibe. However, the Trop doesn't fit into either of these categories.

The color scheme is muted, and the room has just a basic, rectangular shape. The atmosphere reminds us of nothing so much as a hotel conference room circa 1990. The quasi-Caribbean character of the rest of the resort is entirely absent here.

Tropicana Poker RoomThe Tropicana Poker Room

This uninspired setting is livened up somewhat by the camaraderie between the patrons and staff. Despite the fact that the room had been closed for more than a year when we paid it a visit, many of the dealers and players greeted each other like old pals, discussing mutual acquaintances and other Atlantic City poker rooms. We surmise that the Tropicana poker room draws in a regular crowd of customers who are mostly friends with each other.

However, this is not the most professionally run poker parlor we have encountered. Once, when we were seated at a new table for a game that was just starting up, no dealer appeared for about 15 minutes. Indeed, several guests got tired of waiting and left, and it looked for a minute like this new game was going to break before it even began.

During our first few sessions, we heard from other players of frequent dealer mistakes, calls for the floor that went unheeded, incorrect information given in response to customer queries, and other general displays of ineptness. We did note that such incidents seemed to happen less often on subsequent days, so we're ready to attribute this phenomenon to the long hiatus experienced by employees while the poker room was closed, which probably dulled their skills somewhat.

Food and Drink

You can order all manner of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages from the cocktail waitresses, and they will be delivered right to your seat for free (although a tip is expected). However, food is not provided, and in fact, outside food products are not permitted in the Tropicana poker room.

Yet, the Tropicana Atlantic City is a comprehensive destination resort with all the dining options you would expect. Just down the escalator from the poker room are numerous restaurants, from the quick snacks of Marketplace Express to the sandwiches of A Dam Good Deli along with Italian fare from Carmine's and P.F. Chang's Chinese menu. For more upscale options, Italian eatery Il Verdi, the Palm Restaurant steakhouse, and Cuba Libre beckon. There are more than two dozen places to eat without leaving the property.

Additional Info

There's a cashier a few steps away from the Tropicana poker space, catering to players who want to buy chips or redeem them for cash. However, at some hours of the day, there are no cashiers available at this cage, and you then need to buy in directly at the table. To cash out when the poker cage is closed, you need to walk almost the length of the entire casino floor to get to the main cage, which is kind of annoying.

Similarly, there are restrooms just outside the poker room. Fortunately, these are always open, so you needn't try to hold it in when nature calls.

There's no smoking allowed in the poker room at the Tropicana AC. Smokers can walk through a short corridor to get to the casino garage and have a cigarette out there.

Tables are equipped with automatic shuffling machines, increasing hands per hour. There are no cell phone chargers, though, perhaps decreasing your entertainment quotient per hour.

History of the Tropicana Atlantic City Casino

The Tropicana sits atop real estate that used to be the Ambassador Hotel, which is known for hosting the notorious Atlantic City Conference during which Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, and various other gangsters met to discuss their worldwide business affairs. The Ambassador Hotel closed permanently in the '70s.

Ramada purchased the abandoned property and launched the Tropicana Atlantic City in 1981. In 1989, Ramada spun off its gaming division as Aztar, which was then acquired by Columbia Sussex in 2006. Embarrassingly, Columbia Sussex's 2007 bid to renew their gaming license was declined by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, which found that key executives demonstrated “a lack of good character, honesty, and integrity.”

A trustee was appointed to oversee the Tropicana until it could be sold, which occurred in 2009 when a Carl Icahn-led group agreed to buy it. However, the resort had become run-down and decrepit by this time. Over the next decade, major renovations were undertaken, which greatly enhanced the financial performance of the casino resort.

Tropicana Atlantic CityTropicana Hotel, Resort & Casino in Atlantic City

In 2018, Tropicana AC became part of the Eldorado Resorts family of casinos. Eldorado and Caesars merged in 2020, and this casino thus became part of the Caesars portfolio and participates in the Caesars Rewards program.

What's neat about Caesars Rewards is that your gaming at any particular property will net you offers from other locations. When you grind out major volume at the Tropicana Atlantic City poker room and log into your Caesars Rewards account, you might find that you have earned discounted or even comp rooms at Caesars Palace or the Rio in Las Vegas, sister AC casinos Harrah's and Caesars, the Horseshoe in Tunica, or any of dozens of other gaming destinations.

Tropicana Poker Bottom Line

The Tropicana poker room's reopening brings a welcome addition to the Atlantic City poker scene. We recommend this venue heartily if you are staying on the Boardwalk and wish to play a little bit of poker along with your time at the slot games, enjoying the Trop's fine dining, and lounging around on the beach.

However, for anyone primarily attracted to juicy poker action, we can't help but put the Tropicana poker room in the second tier of AC poker destinations. The regular, round-the-clock traffic that you would like to see simply isn't present for Tropicana poker. If you want to grind hours-long sessions with many different games and formats to choose from, then the Borgata remains the Atlantic City casino where you'll most likely find what you seek.

Other Players' Opinions

We think it's always wise to check for other comments about live poker rooms before delivering our verdict. To that end, we searched the internet to see what players have to say about the Tropicana poker room. Most reviews are mixed, acknowledging the room's friendly community feel while pointing out flaws that tend not to be present at competing poker establishments.

Look below for a representative sample of players' opinions. Bear in mind that some of these may have been written before the coronavirus outbreak, and a few details might have changed since then.

PokerAtlas Comment About Tropicana Poker
Post on 2+2 About Tropicana Poker Room
Review of the Tropicana Atlantic City on TripAdvisor

Plenty of Games Online

The biggest problem we saw with Tropicana AC poker was the small number of games taking place at any one time. This is something that tends to affect all but the largest venues for live poker games, but it's much less of an issue online. At most internet poker sites, you can log on at any time of day and view lobbies with multiple games running even in formats other than NL Hold'em.

The Tropicana does have a New Jersey-licensed online casino, but it has not yet dipped its toe in the licensed internet poker market. In any case, the regulated New Jersey poker sites are only able to transact within their own state's borders and so are not a viable solution for most U.S. residents.

To learn more about offshore poker platforms and the advantages they present to you as an American poker player, check out this guide to USA online poker.

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Photo of Jake Rake

Jake Rake is the head poker writer at ProfessionalRakeback.com.

He eats, sleeps and breathes poker and online gaming. This is a man who reads every online poker forum morning, noon, and night, for the last 17 years, trying to find fun and interesting information to share with our readers.

Jake has become an ardent student of crypto-currency since it was first introduced in the online poker world in 2013 and he thus has eight years experience covering this field!