Why Poker Cruises Are Hot

Posted by Davida Mintz, February 26, 2014

"Love exciting and new. Come aboard, we're expecting you."

That's the kitschy theme song from the old "Love Boat" sitcom. The cruise ship in that television show catered to passengers looking for adventure and romance, but it is highly unlikely that it would ever host an onboard poker tournament.

poker cruises


For poker players, fun on a cruise ship is a sailing stacked with chips. A cruise gives you a chance to get away from the routine of ordinary life. A poker cruise gives you all the time you want to play poker, eat, sleep and play more poker.

Passengers on poker cruises frequently catch up with friends from years before and start in as if they had just seen each other yesterday. For re-united poker buddies, a day spent playing and catching up is mandatory. When the ship is at sea, cash games and at least one tournament will run daily. Most ships close the poker room at 1 a.m. The poker room is also shut down when the ship is at port.


Friends for Life

WSOP bracelet winner Vince Burgio and wife Debbie have become friendly with many couples over the 14 poker cruises they’ve taken. Four couples in particular have become like family to them. Burgio remembers their adventures: "We had a group of four couples. I would say we went on seven, eight cruises together with that foursome. And then we got to the ports and we'd usually rent some kind of car or van and do what we wanted to do or see sights that we wanted to see, but truthfully Deb and I, we loved them. She would always be very sad the day we got back." The Burgios are talking about taking cruise number 15, a poker cruise to Alaska, but nothing's been settled.


Adventures Ashore and Onboard

Poker cruises are, by definition, also cruises. The ships visit ports of natural beauty and cultural significance as they ply the oceans. When the ships dock, most passengers venture out to explore the beautiful beaches, local shops, and outstanding architecture right outside the boat. An ideal cruising experience depends on choosing an exciting destination in the right season. February is high season for cruising on the Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean and to Australia, where it's summer through March.

Other passengers on the poker-themed cruises couldn't care less about what awaits onshore. No-limit Hold'em cash games are available at limits of $1/$2 up to $20/$40. For a change of pace, most poker cruises offer a range of games including $3/6 or $4/8 limit Hold'em, $4/8 limit Omaha/8, $1/$2 Pot limit Omaha and mixed games.

For many, it's the tournaments taking place that attracts them to the ships. Passengers are enthusiastic about tournament poker. Count on at least one tournament daily with buy-ins ranging from $80 to $250. Sit 'n Gos are another popular option on many ships. Smoking is not an option in any poker room onboard, making them friendly to all passengers.


Beginner Friendly

They say poker takes a lifetime to learn. Debbie Burgio was in the early stages of learning the game when she and her husband boarded their first poker cruise. That worked out well because poker cruises cater to recreational players, offering free beginner classes with highly qualified instructors. Debbie’s husband, an experienced player, led some training sessions for beginning students.

poker cruises


If you are considering taking the next poker cruise bound for sea, you'll need to pack your sunscreen, Dramamine and your lucky chip protector. But, don’t pack your bags before learning more about what the trip will cost. Poker cruises have a reputation for being a good value. They’re one of the best values to be found. When you're travelling on a budget, you can find seven-night cruises to the Mexican Riviera with room, food and most entertainment included for as little as $549 per person. The prices top out at about $1100 per person, and again all are seven nights.

Card Player Cruises have been the industry favorite for years. Now, Ante Up Poker Cruises is offering some interesting alternatives with shorter and longer vacations. Then there's the World Poker Tour Cruise, where your fellow passengers will include Hall of Famer Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten, Kimberly Lansing and the Royal Flush Girls. They put a lot of focus on activity, with a full schedule of organized poker events.

Choose a destination with warm weather and smooth sailing. Whether you'll spend your entire vacation at the tables or not, you'll have plenty to keep you busy, “because the Poker Cruise promises something for everyone," according to the ships' marketing slogan.

poker cruises


The images in this article are for illustrative purposes only. Pack your sunscreen and your wallet for poker cruises offered by leading operators.


Davida MintzDavida Mintz is a poker player and contributor to Titan Poker. A former television news reporter, Davida’s interviewed presidential candidates and celebrities, even one serial killer. As a poker writer, she’s thrilled to add a World Series of Poker Main Event champion to that list.



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