Casino Rama is a beautiful property and the poker action is also very solid, but it's far from the perfect poker room.
This article is part of my series 'Poker Culture, Strategy & Commentary'.
Being a serious poker player for the past seven years I've been around the block, playing in games from coast to coast in many of the cardrooms across North America. I really think some of the best rooms are right here in Canada, but so are some of the worst. This series of articles about the Canadian casinos that spread the game of poker. I'll run through some of the pros and cons for each casino and describe the action as accurately as I can.
The home of Casino Rama is Ramara township. It's a little off the beaten path, but only a short drive away from Orillia Ontario, which sits about an hour and fifteen minute drive north of Toronto on lake Simcoe.
How's The Action?
The limit holdem game used to be the staple game at Casino Rama, with a weekly $50-100 game and daily action up to $20-40. These days that action has mostly dried up, and the bulk of the players who now frequent this joint are playing no-limit Holdem. On the weekends they can get $5-5 and $5-10 games going, but the solid action is smaller. The $2-5 and $1-2 blind games are the staple games.
There's always action at the poker room in Casino Rama. They still spread both no-limit and limit Holdem, and they have more freedom in running their poker room than other spots in Ontario. This is in part due to this casino being run by First Nations, so they're not as heavily legislated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Comission.
The tables are custom made and quite comfortable, and the staff are approachable and courteous for the most part. The property is large and impressive, with restaurants, shops and a full scale hotel. It could accurately be described as a miniature Foxwoods. They have a massive gaming floor with all of the games and slots a gambler could desire.
Unlike the rest of the casino, the poker room at Rama can get very cramped. It gets really bad when it's busy on the weekends and you'll often have to wait well over an hour to get a seat. They have the room slotted into a tiny corner of the casino floor, enclosed by glass walls. This causes there to always be a bunch of people standing around blocking the small entrance while they're waiting for their seat. It's a bad design for a poker room. Things would be much better if they'd add 5 or 6 tables, and put only a small number of tables behind glass. This would preserve the private feel of the room for the higher stakes games, and make the rest of the room easy to navigate for the weekend masses.
The comps are nothing special, and the staff are not very knowledgeable. The dealers are average at best, and they'll often let their slowest and worst dealers deal the biggest games, causing a constant mild frustration among the players. Finally, I should mention that the hotel is prohibitively expensive, and that most poker players stay at the Days Inn just accross the street.
The action at Rama is definitely solid in no-limit Holdem, and there's always a chance a decent limit game could get started up. Watch out though, you just might have to wait an eternity to get a seat. The room itself, despite having nice tables, is lackluster, too small and too crowded. They need more space, more dealers, more tables and better comps to breed more action. As things stand today, Rama is a second rate Canadian poker room, but it has potential. The action alone, especially on weekends, is something worth checking out.