Characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room

Twin River Casino Poker Room
Poker Room at Twin River Casino, Lincoln, RI.

What are the Characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room? Well, I’m not much of a poker player. My experience is limited to home games and two great tries at the Fargo Poker Tournament at Mohegan Sun. Today I present what I’ve found about best casino poker rooms.

Related Post – FARGO Poker at Mohegan Sun – Thoughts from the “Newbie”

Six New England casinos have poker rooms. Changes have taken place with a few as well. Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods have moved their poker rooms.  Encore BH has added its poker room to the casino landscape with its opening. For information about games, tournament, and general info, check out the following links:

Hollywood Poker Room, Bangor ME

Twin River Poker Room, Lincoln RI

Mohegan Sun Poker Room, Uncasville CT

Foxwoods Poker Room, Mashentucket CT

MGM Springfield Poker Room, Springfield MA

Encore  Boston Harbor Poker Room, Everett MA

“What makes a good poker room?”

Poker player preferences are as different as the casinos themselves. I found that a consensus on what makes a good poker room was not easily found. However, poker players do agree on the following Characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room.

A few basics did pop up often enough to be considered in today’s post. The room’s rules should be clear and the dealers should be pleasant. The ambiance, surroundings and chairs should be comfortable. That being said, without a lot of experience, I checked out poker forums and asked the question “what makes a good poker room?” To quote Paul Harvey, “here’s the rest of the story.”

Concerning the Rake

Poker Room Rake

The “rake” is the scaled commission fee taken by a card room operating a poker game. It is generally 2.5 to 10 percent of the pot in each poker hand, up to a predetermined maximum amount.  Obviously, most players prefer a lower rake %.  Low rake is sometimes switched with time charge, especially in the early mornings. Some players actually had decisive limits – 5 percent rake and a $3 maximum per hand, 10 percent with a $4 maximum is the highest that should be charged.

Also, a “Bad Beat Jackpot” is not preferred. What is a “bad beat jackpot”? It’s  when a poker room pays out an amount of money if a very good hand (usually Quad Eights or better) ends up losing to another hand. This “bad beat jackpot” is usually divvied up between all of the players at the table who participated in the hand that was played. In most circumstances, the loser of the hand will receive 50% of the bad beat jackpot, the winner of the hand will receive 25%. The remaining players will split the remaining 25%.  The “bad beat jackpot” accrues over time and grows based on how much rake the poker room is collecting.  The low rake combined with fewer BBJ’s are preferred.

Concerning Comfort

MGM Springfield Poker Room – most comfy in New England?

Most players like what everyone in a casino prefers – a comfortable place to play. One player said, “The poker room exists to generate rake and the best way to generate rake is to provide an atmosphere that people enjoy. If I ran a poker room, I wouldn’t be in the “Poker” business, I would be “hosting a party and a party atmosphere” Make the poker room fun. Hire and train competent staff. If the room more fun it increases your drop.”

In particular, quiet is most conducive to a comfy atmosphere. The room should be clean, good-looking, and well-lit, with nice chairs and cushions, and bathrooms. MGM Springfield is said to have most comfortable chairs in New England’s poker rooms. Many players admitted they prefer a poker room with space, especially at and between the tables.

When it comes to smoking, most players seem to be changing towards a non-smoking poker room. One forum member said “I’ve  played in rooms where smoking is allowed and it’s horrible.” Most poker rooms are moving to non-smoking.

Comfort can be a product of the way management enforces good etiquette and good behavior making players feel comfortable.  Consequently, our next consideration is the Management of the Room.

the Management of a Poker Room:

The first part of what management controls is getting to the table. An almost unanimous response was that it was important to quickly get from waiting list to seated at a table.

Foxwoods Resort Casino. Waiting for a game.

Every room needs someone on duty 24/7 who knows all the games who knows all the correct rulings. They must be accessible to the dealers and the players. Great managers are guys who know when to intervene and guys who know when to let the players handle their own situations.

The sign-up desk should be warm and friendly, not ignoring its patrons.  In the first place they need to welcome players. “Greeting people poorly is a very common problem in poker rooms,” said one player. “If you aren’t a people person, don’t work the sign-up desk.”

Floor people should also have some people skills instead of having an assertive, officer-like attitude. A friendly person who approaches situations professionally and makes informed decisions will please more people in the long term. Correctness is most important but you can make correct decisions and still be pleasant. The Poker Room Staff

Good dealers are a must,

Other support staff like cashiers, chip runners, wait staff are all very important. In particular , the vest poker rooms should have great dealers. Being a good dealer is not that easy. Some people think a great dealer tells jokes and gives his sports picks. Others think a great dealer never says a word except what has to be said to call the game.  Dealing a good poker  game includes keeping the bets inline, being sure the players are playing in turn and helping those keep up with the bets made. Accordingly, rude players really takes its toll – and poker players have many interesting quirks that make them seem rather eccentric.

Poker Room dealer

Here are “good dealer traits” that were mentioned mostly:

  • Most of the dealers have been here at least 4+ years.
  • Good dealers deal a decently paced game
  • Don’t talk too much
  • Know the game left and right
  • Very courteous especially to the losing players.
  • Provide a consistent experience as other dealers (which suggests better training by management)
  • Treats 1-2 (limit) players like 10-20 (limit) players. (i.e., treating all players like they’re important)

Wait staff should represent the positive aspect of the service industry. Visiting players, people on vacation and regulars expect polite and fast cocktail service with a smile.

Concerning the Games

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine
Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

The most important Characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room hover around a wide mix of games. Good games seem to be the most important factor, one that the house has little control. Players who make good games tend to flock to the best run rooms. So, the clientele ultimately plays the most important part of good games. What a revelation!!!

lower considerations and THE FINAL CONCLUSION

Can you believe that being treated well was more important in my findings than free food, drinks, and comps? Promotions, and all the amenities were important, but not if the place was a mess, run poorly, and made the players uncomfortable with the game. Heard this before?  Sure, SERVICE COUNTS. It’s the same old thing we have been saying for years, as we see casinos change to a business first model instead of the service / hospitality model we were used to in years past.  It’s the same for any part of the casino, not just the poker room. Happy players means repeat business of the best kind.

So, what are the most important characteristics of the Ultimate Poker Room?

  1. Efficient and caring Management which….
  2. will attract the best clientele, raising the interest and packing its poker room, which….. 
  3. makes the rake small, and provides tournaments and a variety of games.

It seems so simple. Too bad it’s more often a thing of the past….and that’s the rest of the story!