Canadian Poker Casino Review: Point Edward Casino (Sarnia ON)
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 Point Edward casino is located just outside of Sarnia, Ontario in the hamlet of Point Edward. It's part of the OLG's (Ontario Lottery and gaming) attempt to bring poker to Ontario resident's. By and large the OLG hasn't done a very respectable job building a casino industry, but this particular casino has a quaintness that may make it a bit of an exception to the rule. It's too bad this casino is located in a region of Ontario that is scarcely populated. This really kills the action.
How's The Action?
It used to be that the regular game here was $5-10 limit holdem and that on weekends a $10-20 would sometimes spark up. This small spritz of action although it wasn't much, was something of a poker boom for the region. They had biggish tournaments a few times a year that brought players in from around Ontario and the Detroit area. These major tournaments would attract enough players to start up a few $50-100 limit games and solid $20-40 action for the duration of the event, which was only a few days. But as soon as the short tournaments ended the action instantly dried up again.
The reason they used to play only limit holdem was some odd OLG rules which severly limit the freedom poker players have to select what types of games they can play. Actually, the only game legally available for over a decade was limit holdem. This, in spite of countless requests to start no-limit holdem, Omaha, and other types of games. At the Point Edward Casino, they finally did recently allow a few more games including Omaha, but the action is very small.
This casino is quaint, with a great location right by the water looking out at the blue water bridge that connects the Sarnie to Port Huron, Michigan. The grounds are nice, the casino is newly renovated and offers all the basic amenities you'd expect from a small property in a small city. The staff are more courteous than the average for Ontario, despite lacking fundemental knowledge about how to run a good poker room.
Ignorance and stubborness are like a plague throughout the Ontario Lottery and Gaming properties that offer poker. There's a general unwillingness to learn how poker is usually run throughout North America. They do little to emulate the operating procedures of the more succesful poker markets like Nevada, California and Alberta. They seem to be content with housing their games in these small towns where they can rake in a steady profit without being exposed as incompetent to the poker world in general. Truthfully, there's no reason to have poker in the small city of Sarnia. It's especially hypocritical when there isn't even a poker room in Toronto, Hamilton, Missasauga, London, Kitchener, or Ottawa. These are the only cities that have 200 000 or more residents, a requiste must to sustain a poker room of any significance at all.
The Sarnia casino is a fine little property with a rinky-dinky little poker room. This has come to be the norm for the Ontario Lottery Gaming corporations and their efforts to spread poker, they are the laughing stock of the Canadian poker scene. I don't really want to criticize the Point Edward Casino specifically, but I would say that you should avoid this room. Unless you happen to be travelling through the area and are looking to catch some small limit poker, or you have some inclination that an upcoming tournament will be drawing in a crowd.