What Makes a Good Poker Room?

Twin River Casino Poker Room

Poker Room at Twin River Casino, Lincoln, RI.

I’m not much of a poker player.  I love home games, dealer’s choice, low limit games – just as long as the most I can lose would be equal to the cost of a McDonald’s Happy Meal. It’s the casino poker room that we write about today.

Five New England casinos have poker rooms. By the end of 2019, Encore Boston Harbor will be added to the mix. . 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

“What makes a good poker room?” It seems it takes a lot of little things and big things combined.  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.  A few basics did pop up often enough to be considered in the decision: the room’s rules should be clear, the dealers should be pleasant ,and the surroundings should be comfortable. The staff should be on the look out for cheating and collusion.

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:

First of all, 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.

Second, a “Bad Beat Jackpot” is also 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% and 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:

Mohegan Sun Poker Room, soon to be moved to the Earth Casino

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” (business)…..Make the poker room fun. Hire/train competent staff because it makes the room more fun and increases your drop.”

But to most, 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. Can’t get away from it. Your clothes smell terrible afterwards. A smoker in a no-smoking room can always take a walk to indulge but a non-smoker basically doesn’t enjoy their time playing (especially when Mr. Chimney sits down right next to you).”

Foxwoods Poker Room – Still Best in New England??

Comfort can be a product of the way management enforces good etiquette and nice behavior so that everybody feels comfortable – which brings us to our next consideration, the Management of the Room.

Concerning the Management of a Poker Room:

The first part of what management controls is getting to the table.  almost unanimous was the preference for “…quick to 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, and is accessible to the dealers and the players. Great managers, or “floor-men,” 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 instead of ignoring its patrons, standing there politely waiting. “Greeting people poorly is a very common problem in poker rooms,” said one response. “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.”  Which brings us to part four.

The Poker Room Staff

Good dealers are a must, good floor people as well and other support staff like cashiers, chip runners, wait staff etc. Everybody agrees you should have great dealers. But some people think a great dealer tells jokes and gives his sports picks, while others think a great dealer never says a word except what has to be said to call the game. Being a good dealer is not that easy – just think back to your sessions. It must be hard being a dealer for years. Dealing with lots of rude customers really much take its toll. Maintaining a smile night after night of people accusing you of giving them bad cards, etc. has to be emotionally draining.

poker 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 and people on vacation expect polite and fast cocktail service.

Concerning the Games:

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

A lot of tables with a wide mix of games, including stud, seems to be best – games for high rollers, games for low-rollers (one player called them ‘degens‘ as in degenerates, but that’s kinda harsh!), games for hobbyists and games for the low limit players to introduce them to poker, let them learn on and move up in stakes. Good games seems to be the most imports factor, and yet 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

Service with a smile.

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.

So, my conclusion is this:

  1. Management must care and cater for its players
  2. This will attract the best clientele, raising the interest and packing it’s poker room.
  3. If the poker room is packed, then the rake will be small, with tournaments and a variety of games.

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. Treat players fairly, make them feel like valued customers, and they’ll come back for more.  Simple……….too bad it’s more often a thing of the past….and that’s the rest of the story!

 

Binbin

What Makes a Good Poker Room?

Twin River Casino Poker Room

Poker Room at Twin River Casino, Lincoln, RI.

I’m not much of a poker player.  I love home games, dealer’s choice, low limit games – just as long as the most I can lose would be equal to the cost of a McDonald’s Happy Meal. But it’s the casino poker room that we wondered about.

Four New England casinos have poker rooms. By 2019, poker rooms will most likely be offered at MGM Springfield & Wynn Boston Harbor. 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

“What makes a good poker room?” It seems it takes a lot of little things and big things combined.  Poker player preferences are as different as the casinos themselves.

One thing I found tis that a consensus on what makes a good poker room was not easily found.  A few basics did pop up often though: the room’s rules should be clear, the dealers should be pleasant. The staff should keep an eye out for cheats and colluders.  That being said, without a lot of experience, I checked out poker forums and asked the question “what makes a good poker room?” However, to quote Paul Harvey, now, “for the rest of the story.”

Concerning the Rake:

First of all, 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.

Second, a BBJ, “Bad Beat Jackpot” is also 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% and 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:

Mohegan Sun Poker Room

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” (business)…..Make the poker room fun. Hire/train competent staff because it makes the room more fun and increases your drop.”

But to most, 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.  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. “I ‘ve played in rooms where smoking is allowed and it’s horrible. Can’t get away from it. Your cloths smell terrible afterwards. A smoker in a no-smoking room can always take a walk to indulge but a non-smoker basically doesn’t enjoy their time playing (especially when Mr. Chimney sits down right next to you).”

Foxwoods Poker Room – Best in New England

Comfort can be a product of the way management enforces good etiquette and nice behavior so that everybody feels comfortable – which brings us to our next consideration, the Management of the Room.

Concerning the Management of a Poker Room:

The first part of what management controls is getting to the table.  almost unanimous was the preference for “…quick to 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, and is accessible to the dealers and the players. Great managers, or “floor-men,” 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 instead of ignoring its patrons, standing there politely waiting. “Greeting people poorly is a very common problem in poker rooms,” said one response. “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.”  Which brings us to part four.

The Poker Room Staff

Good dealers are a must, good floor people as well and other support staff like cashiers, chip runners, wait staff etc. Everybody agrees you should have great dealers. But some people think a great dealer tells jokes and gives his sports picks, while others think a great dealer never says a word except what has to be said to call the game. Being a good dealer is not that easy – just think back to your sessions. It must be hard being a dealer for years. Dealing with lots of rude customers really much take its toll. Maintaining a smile night after night of people accusing you of giving them bad cards, etc. has to be emotionally draining.

poker 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 and people on vacation expect polite and fast cocktail service.

Concerning the Games:

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

Poker Room at Hollywood Casino in Bangor, Maine

A lot of tables with a wide mix of games, including stud, seems to be best – games for high rollers, games for low-rollers (one player called them ‘degens‘ as in degenerates, but that’s kinda harsh!), games for hobbyists and games for the low limit players to introduce them to poker, let them learn on and move up in stakes. Good games seems to be the most imports factor, and yet 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!!!

What was lower in considerations and THE FINAL CONCLUSION

Service with a smile.

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.

So, my conclusion is this:

  1. Management must care and cater for its players
  2. This will attract the best clientele, raising the interest and packing it’s poker room.
  3. If the poker room is packed, then the rake will be small, with tournaments and a variety of games.

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. Treat players fairly, make them feel like valued customers, and they’ll come back for more.  Simple……….too bad it’s more often a thing of the past….and that’s the rest of the story!

 

Binbin

3 Card Poker – A Primer

Three Card Poker was invented in England in the mid 1990’s by Derek Webb. It was originally called Casino Brag, since it was inspired by 3-card Brag, adapted to create a casino game in which players bet against the house rather than against each other. The name Three Card Poker was adopted when this game was introduced to America.

3 Card Poker’s popularity has separated it from the other fringe “carnival” type games.  It seems you can find it in any casino with table games.  There are usually more than one table, second to blackjack in popularity.  Why? it’s  easy to play, is a lot of fun and is one of the least intimidating table game. Here’s a primer.

Play/Ante

thThe game is played with a single deck of 52 cards. Three cards are dealt to each player who has placed an ante bet and three cards to the dealer. After viewing his three cards the player must decide to either make a play bet, placing an additional amount equal to the ante bet, or fold, losing the ante bet.  Following this decision, the dealer’s hand is revealed and there is a showdown that depends on if the dealer’s hand “qualified” as follows:

    • If the dealer does not have Queen high or better, the ante bet is paid even money and the play bet is returned.
    • If the dealer does have Queen high or better and the player’s hand beats the dealer’s hand the ante bet and play bet are paid even money.
    • If the dealer does have Queen high or better and the player’s hand is equal to the dealer’s hand the player’s ante and play bets are returned.
    • If the dealer does have Queen high or better and the player’s hand is worse than the dealer’s hand the ante and play bet are lost.

    3-card Poker

    3-Card Poker Table

  1. An additional bonus is also payed on the ante bet irrespective of dealer’s hand or outcome of the hand if the player holds a strong hand 
  • Even money for a straight
  • 4 to 1 for three of a kind
  • 5 to 1 for a straight flush

Pair Plus Payout

There is also the Pair Plus wager, special side bet, is based on whether or not you will be dealt a pair or better.  The result of a Pair Plus® bet depends only on the three cards dealt to the player – the dealer’s cards are irrelevant. The Pair Plus® bet is lost if the player does not hold a pair or better. Winning hands are paid as follows:

  • Even money for a pair
  • 4 to 1 for a flush
  • 6 to 1 for a straight
  • 30 to 1 for three of a kind
  • 40 to 1 for a straight flush

A winning Pair Plus® hand is paid out even if the player folds, though in fact this situation rarely occurs, since with any such hand the correct strategy is to place a Play bet.

In most casinos you can bet on either of the games but some casinos require you to make an Ante Bet in order to bet the Pair Plus portion of the game.

Important things to know about 3 Card Poker

  • This is a fast-paced game
  • The strategy is simple for the Ante portion of Three Card Poker. You should fold if you have a hand lower than Queen – 6 -4 and you should continue and make the Play bet if you hand is higher. Yup, that’s all!
  • The hand rankings are not the same as the other poker games. Because only three cards can be dealt to any single player, the poker hands that they must create should be made up of three cards only, and thus have a slightly different hierarchy.  The main difference is the juxtaposition of the flush and straight. Here are common pay tables for the bonus “Pair Plus” ante – some better than others:
Common Pay Structures
Hand Type A B C D
Straight Flush 40-1 40-1 40-1 40-1
3 of –a kind 30-1 25-1 30-1 30-1
Straight 6-1 6-1 5-1 6-1
Flush 4-1 4-1 4-1 3-1
Pair 1-1 1-1 1-1 1-1
House Edge 2.32 3.49 5.90 7.28

For all of the mathematical breakdown, go to the Wizard of Odds website below, or click on the link to the right.

http://wizardofodds.com/games/three-card-poker/

3 card poker – 6 card bonus

Three Card Poker 6 Card Bonus (TCP) is a Three Card Poker game that utilizes a player-dealer position. As in other games featuring a player-dealer, the players play against another player who will collect all winnings and pay all losing wagers to the extent that their wagers covers. The 6 Card Bonus is an additional optional bonus bet for Three Card Poker. The rules are as follows:

1. A player shall only place a 6 Card Bonus wager if he/she has also placed an Ante wager prior to the initial deal.

2. 6 Card Bonus wagers must be placed prior to the initial deal.

3. See the collection rate schedule for restrictions on the amount that may be wagered on the 6 Card Bonus Bet and any collection fees that may be taken.

4. The 6 Card Bonus wager considers the three cards dealt to the player’s hand and the three cards dealt to the player-dealer’s hand. A player then uses any of those six cards, regardless of the number of cards used from their hand or the player-dealer’s hand, to make the best possible five card poker hand.

5. If the player’s hand qualifies for payouts, the player is paid according to the posted pay below by the player-dealer.

6. If the player’s hand does not qualify for payouts, the player-dealer collects the 6 Card Bonus wager.

7. The player-dealer will pay all winning 6 Card Bonus wagers and will collect all losing 6 Card Bonus wagers.

8. The 6 Card Bonus wager may win or lose regardless of the outcome of the Ante wager. The 6 Card Bonus wager shall not be forfeited if the player folds their hand and does not place a Play wager.

9. Once the player-dealer’s wager has been exhausted, the wagers not covered by the player-dealer will be returned to the players.

10. Winning 6 Card Bonus wagers pay as follows:

3 card poker 6 card bonus

For those poker players and enthusiasts who are in search for something new but still want the same exciting aspects and elements of the poker game, why not try three card poker?  Lowest limits in most casinos are $5 ($10 for both ante bets).

That’s all for now

Binbin