Poker in Belize
For a country with a population of a little over 400,000 people, Belize is definitely punching above its weight in terms of the number of tourists visiting each year. What’s more, increasing numbers are being drawn to this part Central American, part Caribbean paradise as official figures show. In 2019 over half a million visitors headed for the country and the number of overnight cruise visitors reached double this number.
But it’s not surprising when you consider everything that the country has to offer, whatever the visitors’ tastes and interests. That it’s great for water sports is undeniable and the rich Mayan heritage means more than its fair share of ancient temples and other ruins to explore. Then there’s the most extensive cave network in South America which just adds to the appeal.
The country’s easy-going and relaxed atmosphere also makes it an appealing destination for visitors and this liberal approach also extends to the approach to gambling. There are a few casinos in the country, all of which feature poker in some form or another and which act as big draw for holidaymakers looking for some action, not to mention the possibility of some big winnings too.
The country’s poker profile was also greatly raised back in 2011 when native Belizean Badih “Bob” Bounahra made it through to the so-called November 9 in the World Series of Poker Main Event. He came seventh but still managed to bring home $1,314,097 making him something of a national hero.
So where can you try your luck at the tables today? Here are five great options.
The Placencia Casino Poker Room
Placencia, in southern Belize is famous for its beautiful sandy beaches and holiday resorts, and another big attraction is the Plancencia Casino and Sports Bar.
For poker fans, this is a great place to enjoy a regular game against like-minded players. As well as the poker cash games that are available every day, and where they can put their best poker moves and strategies into practice, every month the casino’s poker room also features a very competitive tournament that attracts quality players from quite far afield. Enjoyment is definitely enhanced by the stylish and comfortable location which also has plenty of bars and restaurants for players feeling the need for some refreshment.
Best of all, the hotel and casino are also so keen to help players to visit that there’s even a complimentary shuttle service that’s available to pick them up from anywhere on the peninsula. All it takes is a call to the hotel and they’ll be on their way.
Ramada Belize City Princess Hotel
It may be one of Belize City’s finest hotels, superbly located overlooking the Belize River and within easy reach of The Great Blue Hole and Altun Ha, but these are far from the only reasons to stay. Its casino is arguably the very best that Belize has to offer and it’s also only ten minutes from the airport, making it very convenient to reach.
The poker that’s played in the casino is a local variety called Caribbean Stud. This is unlike Texas Hold’em as it pits the player directly against the dealer, making it’s a sort of a cross between poker and blackjack and a game in which bluffing plays a smaller part in the overall game strategy.
For players who do want to play the world’s most popular poker variant (we’re talking about Texas Hold’em, of course), the good news is that there’s a two-day tournament held at the hotel each March with some very attractive cash prizes up for grabs.
For players who like their poker to be automated then this casino on the beautiful Ambergris Caye is the perfect choice. You’ll find it on the corner of Pescador Drive and Caribena Street in San Pedro and undoubtedly be impressed by the wide selection of video poker games on offer. These give you the best of both worlds with the excitement of a slots game with the judgement and anticipation of poker.
Captain Morgan’s Casino
Also in San Pedro, it’s well worth checking out the video poker machines at Captain Morgan’s Casino. Back in 2018 they also launched a tournament called Billionaire’s Poker lounge to great acclaim. Although the prizes weren’t quite as impressive as the title suggests, they were generous with six winners cashing in. And, while it’s yet to become an annual event, it’s well worth checking out if and when the next tournament is planned to take place.
Princess Hotel and Casino Free Zone
Located in the free zone between the Belize and Mexican borders, the Princess Hotel and Casino offers a warm welcome to players and has no less than four poker tables to enjoy. It’s said to be a favourite venue for serious players – and for those wanting a less intense experience there’s also a good choice of video poker games as well as the chance to try their luck at roulette, blackjack and slots.
While these are the main poker venues in Belize, the country’s relaxed attitude to gambling means that there are many more, if smaller, poker rooms in operation. Generally, they’ll just offer cash games, so if that’s what you’re looking for they could be a good option – ask around to discover where some might be taking place. And, whether you’re a fan of casinos or poker room, one thing’s for sure: anyone wanting to test their poker skills in Belize will never be short of options.