Last week I was on the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. I couldn’t find hardly anything online searching for ‘St. Thomas poker’. A lot of people said that there was no place to play cards on St. Thomas; that you had to go to St. Croix to find a poker game at the casinos there. But I did find, on a nightlife-themed website, a small mention of one place advertising a “high-stakes poker night”; the place was called Sharky’s Bar and Grill. It didn’t have a website that I could find, or a phone number, but it had directions to it. It was not far from the main market area of the Charlotte Amalie bay, where the cruise ships dock. I asked several bartenders if they knew about the place, and most people had never heard of it, and also were under the impression that there was nowhere to play poker on the island.
All of this mystery definitely got me curious. I figured it couldn’t have been a very tourist-y place if I couldn’t find anything online. So it made me wonder if I had stumbled across a semi-private high-stakes game. The building’s sign definitely got my interest, with its depiction of a shark sitting across the table from a donkey (see the picture at top). The sign said it opened at 6 pm, and was closed on Tuesdays, so I had to return later that night.
I made my way there on a Wednesday, at 8pm or so. I was the only one there besides the owner. The place was pretty small, with two tables, with maybe room for four. It had a nicely appointed bar, and several big screen tv channels going.
I introduced myself to the owner, whose name was Saed, and he told me the games didn’t get started until usually 9 or 10pm. He said they would usually get a $1-$2 no-limit hold’em game going, and a few times a week they’d get a $2-$5 game. They’d also occasionally get a $50-or-so tournament going.
The owner seemed interested in how I’d found about the place. It seems it is pretty small, and known primarily to a regular handful of locals. It seemed he wasn’t too interested in making it very tourist-oriented, which I can completely understand. He said he occasionally rented out the place for up to a week at a time for high-stakes private games (like $5,000 buy-in cash games and the like). Sometimes those games would include some very big-name celebrities. He told me the names of some of the celebrities, but he asked me to not mention their names.
The interesting thing about the place was that it served free drinks and food. The bar was very nice, and they had a good selection of food. I don’t think I mentioned that it is located in a very old historic-registry building that had a lot of character. All in all, a very classy place to play. I could see why people would rent it out for private games.
On the Wednesday I was in there, it was pretty slow, at least up until when I left at midnight. I played heads-up $1-2 NLHE with Saed for a while, and then we were joined by a couple more players. We dealt for ourselves, but when things are busier they have a dedicated dealer. I got outplayed by Saed several times, and then got a lucky hand against a regular to make it a break-even night for me. I drank a few free beers, and had a good time. Everyone was very friendly and polite. The guy whose $100 I took even gave me a ride home.
If you want to play there, or are curious about what games are going, you can give the owner a call at (340) 643-799-one. To all you people who wouldn’t be able to find a poker game on St. Thomas without this blog post, you’re welcome!