When poker skyrocketed in popularity a few years ago, games sprouted around South Florida like mushrooms. Poker fans can pick up games anywhere from pubs to megacasinos. Amateur players delight at the large number of games around town, but old, salty poker dogs aren't so thrilled. Where to go for a more authentic experience? The forgotten halls of Dania Jai-Alai's Cardroom are as real as you can get around here. The tables are small and intimate, live simulcast betting is a glance away, and jai alai balls crack against concrete in the background all night. The players know the game all too well and keep a close eye on their cards. Every day but Monday, from noon to midnight, games of Texas Hold 'Em, Seven-card Stud, and Omaha Hi/Lo keep the cards turning. But there isn't the crush of the bigger gambling palaces, with a hundred waiting players queued up to take your place. As soon as a table fills, it's a mini-tournament. On the weekends after 5 p.m., no-limit Texas Hold'em cranks up. But the real night to play is Wednesday, when the beer flows for a buck a cup and $1 chicken wings fill paper bowls.
One of only two shuffleboard courts in Broward County used for official Senior Games play, Hollywood's shuffleboard facility is where the aging Québecois masters of the sport come to practice. And unlike most deserted shuffleboard venues in the area, Hollywood is both well-maintained and packed. With the aura of a temple, the 36 covered courts in the heart of downtown hum nonstop from morning to siesta with the soft swooshing of cues on concrete and gentle French bantering, just as they have for the past 75 years. But don't be intimidated -- the loyal snowbird clientele is eager for non-Francophone guests to slap down $2 for a day of play alongside them (all equipment included). There's plenty of space to go around, and they say it'd be nice to have more "English players." Just be sure to get your shuffleboard fix before summer -- the courts close when the players flock back to Canada in April and stay shut until September.
This might stun anyone who automatically associates Sistrunk with blight, but this park just east of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center has some of the nicest basketball facilities in Fort Lauderdale. The two well-surfaced courts are penned in by black chainlink, with plenty of space inside the cage for diving out of bounds. The backboards, breakaway rims, and canvas nets are in great shape and are held up by arching concrete supports that won't shake like the usual metal poles. Just outside the fence are playground equipment, bleachers, and a restroom with water fountains. Parking is about 20 yards north of the courts; to the south is a wide pond. This feels like the danged suburbs. Game on.

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