The word "fold" is heard often in poker, but on Monday night, it will apply to the entire room at Calder Race Course.
Calder President Maureen Adams confirmed Sunday that the poker room, called Studz Poker Club, will close for good at 10 p.m. Monday. She declined further comment.
Calder officials said the closing is related to an agreement for Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach to take over more racing dates and said a more thorough explanation will come Monday.
Poker room staffers, who said they will be laid off, were told on Saturday. The closing was not noted on Calder's website, which offers a schedule of daily poker tournaments for July and their fees.
Like most horse tracks, dog tracks and jai-alai frontons Calder had been offering low-limit poker since about 2001 in a room at the grandstand. As poker boomed nationwide, Calder opened the roomy Studz in fall of 2009 on the grandstand's first floor. A separate building, constructed just for for slots, opened at Calder in January 2010.
But in January 2014, Calder management moved Studz opened inside the casino building and cut the number of tables in half. State records show Studz' poker revenues have been declining, from an average of about $400,000 per month to less than $200,000. The drop coincides with the August 2013 opening of poker at Hialeah Park, which took in $623,092 in May. Gulfstream garnered $476,330 and Calder $181,893.
Sunday afternoon, action was confined to four tables, then three as players left. Still, regulars such as Stu Israel, of Pembroke Pines, said they are disappointed to see it close.
"I like the people that work here and I like the people that play here," Israel said. "But I hate corporate management."
Gulfstream and Calder, the only two horse tracks in South Florida to offer thoroughbred racing, have negotiated and divided their opening closing dates for years. But Gulfstream has announced plans to expand racing, and this year the two went head-to-head on some days. Revenue figures show Gulfstream, owned by auto parts magnate Frank Stronach, has grown as Gulfstream has offered horsemen higher purses. Calder, part of Churchill Downs, Inc., has seen its racing revenues decline.
Studz was also home to three Jeff Conine Celebrity Poker Classic tournaments, which raise money for Conine's Clubhouse at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.
Poker players who still have chips will be able to redeem them at the casino and poker "comps" for frequent play will be honored through Dec. 31.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun