Once in awhile, a card room manager asks me what players want. I usually try not to let the shock show on my face and try to give them a straight answer. With Bluff sitting in card rooms all over the country, I have an opportunity to answer the question for any members of management or staff that flip through the magazine. So what do players really want from a card room?
lack of consistency is the most common complaint and it is often the
most valid. Players have a point when they complain about rules that
vary from one dealer or floor person to the next, but the most
frustrating lack of consistency is the non-standard rules that so many
card rooms implement. If you have a rule that is unique to your card
room, I can assure you that most players see it as unprofessional,
annoying, and a reason to avoid your room in the future.
Almost all of these non-standard rules come from management who think
their idea will allow their card room to reinvent the wheel. I’ve seen
four or five different views on betting lines, what is required if a
player makes a forward motion with chips, when you can listen to or text
on your electronic devices, and whether cash plays on the table. To
tell you what all the standard rules are would require a book rather
than an article, but if you visit a few large card rooms, it isn’t hard
to figure out what rule is the most common and the most common rule
should almost always be the standard.
Sometimes these non-standard rules pop up because floor people don’t
have the time or the initiative to police the games. Rather than make a
decision about whether a hand is dead or a player made a bet, they
institute a rule to try to avoid the situation in the future. This is
understandable, but it doesn’t work. You cannot legislate away
everything. Rule No. 1 must always be that the floor person must make
decisions in the interest of fairness and this supersedes all other
rules. It’s tough to shoot an angle with a smart and experienced floor
on the prowl.
2. Competent staff
Competence is also crucial to making players happy. From the poker
room manager to the dealer and the fry cook in the kitchen, having
reasonably competent staff isn’t tough. It may require a little bit of
paid training time, firing a few people who refuse to learn, or a change
in how your management handles the rest of the employees, but in
getting a license to run a poker room, you have a chance to make a pile
of money and the least you can do for your customers is to make sure the
people who represent your poker room are competent.
Your dealers and floor people should know the rules, be well trained,
and, most importantly, be willing to make the effort to get it right
when they don’t know the answer. A dealer who is wrong, but interested
in learning the right answer, is much better than a dealer who is right
and has an attitude about it.
If you want players to spend serious hours in your card room, then
you need to make them comfortable, too. A friendly and welcoming
environment is easy to foster in a place where people come for
entertainment, and they will find something else to do if they sit in an
uncomfortable chair, are made to feel out of place, or are
uncomfortable for any reason. A good chair and a quality poker table is
the least you can do, and a welcoming brush who can help out with any
problems shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the rule.
If those players in their comfortable chairs who are enjoying a
conversation with a friendly dealer are going to stick around all night,
they are going to need to eat. Card rooms aren’t known for great food,
something I have never understood. You have a captive audience with
money and a desire to stay where they are. If you can give them some
reasonable food options, they will not only buy the food, they will pay
hundreds of dollars in rake. Even a Subway franchise and a greasy spoon
diner would combine to make most players happy, but I have been to card
rooms all over the country that offer only sub-standard bar food when
the buffet closes.
I can tell you that when I am in Las Vegas, I often choose a card
room based on the food available, especially when I plan on playing a
long session. This makes The Wynn, with good food delivered and multiple
food choices nearby, one of my favorite places to play. Comfortable
chairs and good service help, too!
The players who pay the most rake are the grinders and local pros.
And those players won’t come to your room if they can’t make a profit.
We know you need to make money, but if you rake us to death, we can’t
come back. If you take too much of our money to build a bad beat
jackpot, we know we are being forced to play a lottery with a huge rake
attached to it and we won’t return. The promos you run are great, we
appreciate it, but if they mostly benefit the bonus whores and low-limit
players, we can’t afford to play in your room and will take our 50
hours a week somewhere else.
6. Attached hotels
We also really like poker rooms that have hotels attached to them. We
can stay later, have a few drinks, and not worry about getting a DUI or
having to sleep it off in the parking lot before we head home in the
morning. When we’re on the road, we will always pick the poker room with
a hotel attached rather than find a room, check-in, head out to the
poker room, and play for a while before we drive back to the hotel.
Safety is important to us as well. If I can’t get a box, and you
can’t write me a check for my winnings, you better be in a very good
neighborhood or have a hotel attached. If I have to walk out into a
rough neighborhood with $20,000 in my pocket, you can bet that I won’t
There are other small things we like. Can we put our iPod or
cellphone on the rail, or do you really think we’re hiding cards under
there? Can we get a shot and a beer, or are you worried that two drinks
at once will cause a riot? How about you provide a chip runner instead
of making me run up to the cashier to get chips so that I can start
paying rake? Are you really raking the pot in increments of 50 cents?
Seriously? Don’t you think that half dollar you just handed me points
out how much money you are taking out of the game and irritates your
Somehow, someway, poker rooms are closing. Not many of them yet, but
there are, in fact, people who have been unable to make money with a
license to rake poker games. How this happens I’m not sure, and it will
never happen in a place like Minnesota where the poker rooms are well
protected. In Vegas, where there is open competition, we may see more
rooms close in the next year or two. When a room closes, you can be sure
that they aren’t following the advice in this article, and they aren’t
asking their players what they can do to make them happy.
source : bluff