SARASOTA -- For the first time, the poker room for Sarasota and Bradenton will now be open on Sundays.
One-Eyed Jacks, the poker room at the Sarasota Kennel Club, will be open from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. on Sundays starting this weekend.
"I think One-Eyed Jacks is the only poker room in the country, and certainly the only one in Florida, that hasn't been open on Sunday," said Jack Collins Jr., the general manager of Sarasota Kennel Club.
A lot of poker players in the area assumed that because One-Eyed Jacks was never open on Sunday, there was some municipal or county law that prohibited it. But it was a family decision.
The Collins family has owned the track since 1944, when Jack Collins Jr.'s grandfather bought it.
"We bought the track in 1944. That's almost 70 years ago now. And at that time it was illegal to be open on Sunday," Collins said. "The poker room has also been closed on Sunday ever since it opened around seven years ago."
Collins' father didn't want to open the poker room or the track on Sunday -- "unless we had to," Jack Collins Jr. said.
But recently the family -- Jack Collins Jr., his two siblings and their father -- had been extensively discussing whether it was time to start opening One-Eyed Jacks seven days a week. For one thing, being closed on Sunday made it difficult for One-Eyed Jacks to offer major tournaments, which can take several days. Many poker rooms structure such tournaments so that they start on Friday evening and end on Sunday.
Besides, he said, the regular players at One-Eyed Jacks were constantly asking when Sunday poker would begin. If they wanted to play on Sunday, they had to drive to St. Petersburg, Fort Myers or
one of three poker rooms in Hillsborough County.
Jack Collins Sr. passed away in early February. His son said the family didn't make a big announcement about the Sunday opening because it might have appeared that they were disrespecting their late father's wishes. Actually, he said, the Sunday opening had been contemplated for a long time, and his father was active in the discussions and the decision.
Hours are have expanded on other days, too. One-Eyed Jacks is now open every day at 10 a.m., and closes at 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
The room has 35 tables, and offers Omaha, seven-card stud and limit and no-limit Texas Hold 'Em games.
There are currently no plans to begin offering Sunday greyhound racing at Sarasota Kennel Club, Collins noted.
The Sarasota Kennel Club is at 5400 Bradenton Road. For information, call 941-355-7744, ext. 1054 or go to www.skcpoker.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7919. Follow Twitter/com/martinclear.