Who’d Want to Run a Card Room?

Before I write about the main topic of this blog post I just wanted to mention Thomas French who like his brother Lee did rather well at the Ricoh during GUKPT week.
Thomas French
After finishing 5th for £1,060 in the £100 NL on the Saturday he then manages to chop the £100 NL Bounty tournament 4 way on the Monday but then played on to win the GUKPT tournament of champions seat. Well done mate.
Anyway Card Room Management.
So run a card room would you? It’s a tough job as lets be honest, 99% of poker players are not happy unless they’re moaning, me included. Get it right though and you will be turning them away, like the Gala Birmingham had to on Sunday.
The card room at the Gala can seat 90 players very comfortably, but Sunday they had 140 seated when the comp started and 65+ players on the alternates list and the list got longer and longer.
Every time someone busted they sat someone down on the seat before the guy had even left the card room. After 5x 25 min levels they managed to seat 188 and who knows what they could have seated with un-limited space and dealers, 250+ I reckon.

Gala B’ham
I actually had a bad seat draw as I was right by the desk and the whole time I had to listen to players on the list bleating. I had to laugh when one guy said “its shit I can’t get in, this card room will never do any good if they keep running it like this.” (He was being serious)
mmm. I wish I owned a retail outlet that was so busy people couldn’t get in it!
The Broadway must have benefitted from it as at least 20 players from the alternates list and several of the early bust outs also went up there to get a game. The Broadways afternoon comp only had 21 runners so I guess they were due a bit back in the evening.
The Gala casino added £5,000 to the prize pool to celebrate its “birthday” and I was one of 75 lucky people who won a seat into it for free. The other 113 paid £50 to enter and this was added to the pool for a total of £10,650. Awesome for a £50 comp.
Grand Prix Final
This is what low stakes recreational players want, an affordable buy in, a decent structure and with just a slim chance that they can luck box their way to a big payday.
This was supposedly a one off, though I’d bet good money that it will not actually be the case. At the Gala they traditionally run a £4k free-roll each month but it never ever generates the interest and buzz around the place that this did.

What about when they get it wrong?
Well it’s sad really as no one wants to see an empty card room, but sometimes they only have themselves to blame.
Too much of a Good Thing.
Card rooms make several mistakes and here is an example of the “too much of a good thing” mistake.
Take the Broadways Sunday afternoon £75 comp as an example. When it started it was a once a month comp and it quickly became successful. So what did they do? Obvious they started doing it every Sunday and immediately it died on its arse.
DTD always used to have the brilliantly successful £300 once a month comp and I won a satellite into it a few times and loved it. Then they had a great idea of the SUPER 50. A £50 equivalent of the £300, though just a 1 day thing.
Wow I thought I’ll definitely play that every month. It was a huge success initially so what did DTD do? They shoe horned a Super 50 into every available weekend day possible so they were jumbled up all over the place and you could never really be sure when they’d be on and soon it stopped being a big deal for me. If you can play an event every day there is always the thought “well I don’t feel like it today I play tomorrow instead.” So I ended up not going at all.
When its only one a month you really don’t want to miss it, and make a big effort to get there.

Garbage Structures and No Guarantees
15 minute blind structures, and piss poor prize pools are not going to encourage me to make the effort to have a shave and drive 30 miles to play.
I’ve often said on this blog how much I love the Ricoh (G Cov) but a lot of their comps are totally diabolical. Most of the normal comps have either 15 or 20 minute blind levels and no guarantee. For many reasons I prefer the Ricoh to the Gala Birmingham as a venue but I cannot in all reasonableness make an argument for not picking the Gala every time.
They have 4 x 30 minute levels at the start and the rest are 20 mins. They also have an un-conditional guarantee 7 nights a week. The blind levels could not be any longer as they get so many runners that mid-week comps finish way after 5.00am
I’ve been nagging Karl (Ricoh) for ages to raise the buy in on a Friday and Saturday to something meaningful. I love going there but when on a Friday night it gets 50 runners at £15 for a £750 pot. 1st prize is usually £220 and 7th gets about £20. It’s almost worse to min cash than it is to bubble.
To put that in perspective last night (Tues) the Gala’s £25 comp with a £1,500 guaranteed prize-pool collected £2,200 which equates to 88 runners. On a Tuesday!
So for ages I wanted it raised and I only meant to £20 or £25 then they could have put a £1k guarantee on it with dealers and I was confident that it would build up to the numbers it used to get in the Isle days. They used to get as many as 90 on a Friday then.
He’s finally done it and the new Friday night comp started last week. Crazily, I thought, they made it a £50 comp with a £2,500 guarantee!
I’ve got to be honest I thought he’d lost the plot. I turned up expecting 20 runners max and a £1,500 overlay but to my utter surprise they actually exceeded the guarantee.
The old excuse for not making it £25 was that “the locals can’t afford it”. My argument was, do you really want people in your casino who only come out on a Friday night with £15 in their pockets, drinking free soft drinks all night and making the place look untidy?
I think the turnout proved that if the comp has a good structure (it has a 30 min clock) and a guarantee players will support it.
Last Friday it was a really good tournament, fully dealer dealt with all of the better local players turning up for it. In fact I had a really tough seat draw surrounded by some right bandits. Comically though I manage to donate all my chips to one of the other players.
He limp/calls my raise 4 consecutive times. I lose them all, 99 < 44, then 88 < A8 then AK < K2. On the 4th occasion I was so short I just shoved in over his limp with 99 and he shows KK. (Running like a drain since 1976)
However I will be there this Friday for sure as it’s a really excellent comp. The play was just a little more “serious” than was usual for the £15 comp and the game was the better for it. The cash games looked busier afterwards as well; I’m guessing these players are generally more likely to sit at a cash table. So I hope it does well going forward.
The guarantee is a “progressive” one which means as they made the guarantee it will rise by £100 to £2,600 for this week.
When is a Guarantee Not a Guarantee?
The first joke I ever remember being told as a kid at school was “When is a door not a door? When it’s a jar.
Casinos offering guarantees that aren’t guarantees aren’t funny either. With the entire furore surrounding Partouche it’s been in the poker news quite a bit lately.
It’s not that long ago that DTD dropped there WSOP packages from 5 to 3 on the day of the tournament. I’m very surprised that they didn’t kop more flak from it than they did. I’m sure if it had been any other operator they’d have been flamed to death on various poker forums, especially Blonde. No one seems to dare speak ill of DTD for fear of getting banned but I doubt Surinder Sunar has too many kind words for them as he, so I was told, finished 4th.
Something else I’ve noticed recently is Guarantee’s being advertised with a * by them which says *Subject to 50 runners.
I don’t think this is right, it means if you turn up and they only have 20 runners then there is no guarantee at all?
For me the whole point of guarantees is to make sure that if I take the trouble to turn up there will be a decent amount of runners or the prize pool as if there was. I don’t expect ridiculously high guarantees as it serves no long term benefit to me as the comps just get cancelled.
However I’d be much happier with a reasonable amount say the equivalent of 30 – 40 runners.
Colin McTaggart has taken over the Star City poker room and is starting a £150 comp once a month with a £10,000 guarantee but it is subject to the 50 runner get out clause, so the worst case scenario for them has to add £2,500.
I think they would have been better off making it an unconditional guarantee of £5,000 and backing themselves to get at least 33 runners! 
Long term if they organise online and live satellites they should be able to generate seats for it in any case.  Personally I’d love to play it but with variance what it is I’m too tight to be stumping up £150 so it would only be via a satellite system.
The G Cov is running a monthly £100 comp stating from 26thOctober. Interestingly it runs over 2 evenings. 8.30 Fri night and re-starts 8.00pm Sat. It will have a 40 minute clock so it should be good and I hope they get some runners for it.

Taking Players For Granted.
I briefly mentioned the Broadway earlier in this post and that used to be my poker room of choice. (I still think it’s a fabulous casino) However I’ve played there once in the last 2 years I think. The title of this paragraph says it all really.
They have seen the Gala come along and take a lot of their regulars away and they just don’t seem to care. I doubt they’ve made more than few tweaks to their schedule in the last 5 years. Part of that is “if it isn’t broke” but a lot of it is complacency and a “don’t give a shit” attitude from the high up management team.”
I remember when Monday nights would get up to 150 runners. 150 on a Monday! All the other casinos in the Midlands added together wouldn’t have 150 punters in them on a Monday night.

A Rare PLO Tournament

For any Omaha players this is a rare chance to play a really good PLO tournament. Not sure if I can actually go myself but I am trying to arrange it so I can. It’s at the Gala this Sunday.


The first one of these was run in memory of “Chief” who sadly passed away. It was such a success that they are having another one.

Competition is Good For Players
I really hope that the Grosvenor take over of Gala fails as the reduction in competition is bad for punters like me. When card rooms have to fight to grab their share of the poker players looking for a game it results in better offerings.
Long may it continue.