Much of the entertainment scene in Tampa is situated in the downtown area and near the bay itself. However, for those who may be eyeing neighborhoods in East Tampa, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is also likely to stand out.
This casino resort is technically on Seminole land, and is actually fairly well contained. As such, it doesn’t have a particularly large effect on living conditions in the surrounding neighborhoods (though it has donated to local charities!). For this reason, it shouldn’t be looked at as a particularly large influencer on area lifestyle. Because it does offer a fairly unique brand of entertainment and recreation for anyone taking up residence in the greater Tampa area though, we do want to take some time to review what you can expect there, and how to best enjoy it.
Full Array of Slots & Table Games
Different live casinos tend to focus on different priorities. In the case of the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa though, you can expect a pretty thorough, classic layout. That is to say, there’s a massive array of slot machines and table games spread out over a 245,000-square-foot space. This is where the bulk of the actual gaming activity will take place, and where you’ll find new, modern slot and video poker machines and table games like blackjack and roulette run by professional dealers.
Naturally this is where the majority of visitors will be likely to lose themselves for a while. To get the most enjoyment out of your visit though, we do recommend going prepared. If you’re going to play table games, ensure that you’re very clear on the rules and etiquette involved. And if you’re planning to go in with a gambling budget, be sure you know which games give you the best and worst odds of a win (hint: craps and blackjack are a little friendlier than slots!).
Top-of-the-Line Poker Room
While Seminole Hard Rock’s main gaming area is sprawling and impressive, its poker room also goes above and beyond what you find at the average casino. It consists of 46 tables hosting several varieties of poker — all in an elegant space, yet not one so uptight as to eschew televisions (or WiFi for that matter). It’s a place built to support amateur and serious poker players alike, as well as an occasional host site for regional World Poker Tour events.
Somewhat similar to slot and table games, our advice for getting the most out of the Hard Rock’s excellent poker room is simply to know your way around the game. Understand the differences in game varieties, study up on proper table etiquette, and above all else make sure your grasp of poker hand rankings is sharp (because this is the same no matter what variety you’re playing). This isn’t all as involved as it sounds. But the better you understand live poker, the more you’ll enjoy a facility like this.
Events & Entertainment
It’s important to recognize also that the Seminole Hard Rock — like many of the best casino resorts in the world — doubles as an entertainment venue. The facility hosts comedians, solo artists, bands, DJs, and a range of other acts. These events take place at various bars, restaurants, and lounges on site, as well as by the main pool deck of the hotel. That said, the biggest shows on the event calendar are typically reserved for the Hard Rock Event Center.
Whether or not you have any interest in casino activity, the events at Seminole Hard Rock are worth keeping an eye on if you live in (or visit) the Tampa area.
This casino resort is also home to a number of excellent bars that go well beyond padded stools on the perimeter of the gaming floor. If you’re looking to be caught up in the casino floor buzz while having a few drinks out, Center Bar serves the purpose. However, additional facilities such as L Bar, the Council Oak Lounge, and the Rez Grill Bar make for terrific stops in and of themselves. The Rez Grill Bar in particularly has been written up for mixing up some of the best cocktails in the city, and it’s tough to disagree. It’s an elegant but fun space, and the mixologists know what they’re doing.
We’d lean slightly toward the bars as noteworthy attractions, but Seminole Hard Rock does have some dining spots worth checking out as well. Cipresso is a somewhat decadent Italian restaurant that’s fun for any night out with that special someone. Council Oak Steaks & Seafood is the upscale steakhouse you may hope to find at a casino resort. And the Rez Grill, for that matter, has an American fare menu that can be almost as satisfying as the cocktails at its best.
There are also some casual eateries on site, which are perhaps better suited to guests of the hotel who just need a bite. That said, Rock ’N Raw is a pretty excellent sushi bar (even if it didn’t quite make our best Tampa sushi ranks!).
Beyond all of this, the Seminole Hard Rock also has classy accommodations for those staying over. This isn’t of much use to Tampa residents, but if you happen to have friends or family visiting it may be worth filing away in your mind.
All in all, the casino is a pretty impressive entertainment and recreation venue that’s there when you want it, but still relatively unobtrusive to surrounding neighborhoods.