Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Tale of "--S" & "M"

This post really started out to be a comment on the blog, Life as a Poker Dealer, but as I wrote it in my head, I realized it was going to be way too long for a blog comment, and since I need a blog post anyway, I decided to make it a post on my own blog instead.  I’m sure some will say it’s too long to be a blog post too, but that’s their problem.

I’m sure most of you read --S’s blog (or should I call him “pkdlr”—his Twitter handle?—I never know).  If you don’t, you should read his latest post here, as that way you’ll know what I’m writing about.  Long story short, --S has a tough assignment on his hands: turning around a struggling poker room in Vegas.
That poker room is The M Resort.  It’s a room I have a lot of familiarity with and that’s why I’m dedicating a blog post to it.  As I mentioned in this post here , I have a certain fondness for this room.  When it opened I was strictly a 2/4 limit player and played there a lot.  When I started this blog, I was still playing 2/4 and still playing at M quite a bit.  I expected that I’d have more than a few blog posts about things that took place there.  But somehow I became a No Limit player, and sort of as a result, I found myself writing a poker blog more than a silly stories blog, as I originally intended (thought I still manage to squeeze in a few silly stories).
As I explained in that earlier post, I stopped playing at the M both because of the change in my game and the fact that the room took a sudden and dramatic hit in terms of its business.  And now it seems that the poker room manager who opened the room has moved on to bigger and better things, and --S has been tasked with trying to turn things around in the room.
--S and I became blogging buddies long before we ever met face to face.  When I was playing there, he was working graveyard, a shift I never played.  By the time he would come in to work, I was either at BSC or back in my room sleeping.  But when I got into blogging, his was one of the first I discovered.  It took me awhile before I figured out that he worked at a room I played in a lot.  He didn’t advertise the fact that he worked at M and I think originally he was working at more than one room, as is true of so many in the poker biz.  Can you imagine a blogger not being clear about the poker room he was talking about?  I just can’t relate to that.
The thing I wanted to respond to in his current post is his theories about why the room took a sudden nosedive. To be clear, they are not his theories, he is giving reasons other people told him.  There’s already a comment there from me giving my reason, which is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely a joke.  I mentioned that a certain super-hot waitress no longer works there, and therefore business in the room took a hit because of that.  As I mentioned in this post here, the waitresses at M (all through the casino, not just the poker room), are extremely attractive (so much so that for a couple of years they did a calendar featuring them), and this particular waitress was the most attractive of them all (which is really saying something).  She was also the best waitress I’ve ever seen in a poker room.
But --S gives a few theories he’s heard, and I’d like to comment on them from the perspective someone who played a fair amount of poker there.
The first theory is the “bad seed” theory.  Some toxic dealers and floor people ran off the customers. I’m sure that every business has some employees who keep some customers away. That said, I believe this theory centers around one particular person.  This person is a known entity in the Vegas poker community so I won’t even assign this person a gender to help protect this person’s identity.  Said person could be brusque with people, I saw that, but I never had a problem with this individual.  We got along fine, even when I would pepper this person with a lot of seemingly irrelevant questions.  I can honestly say I like this person, despite the demeanor.
The only time I saw this person really exhibit any behavior I found questionable was when the person on the receiving end totally deserved it.  There was a regular in the room who was rude, nasty and just plan mean with her fellow players and the dealers alike.  Was this rude regular some young punk?  No, not at all.  She was a bitter old woman.  Rumor has it that she was banned from many a Vegas poker room.  So when I saw the “bad seed” floor person be a little rough with the nasty old woman, I felt it was more than justified.
So did regular players really stop coming to the poker room at M because of this “bad seed” floor?  I suppose it’s possible. Most of the regs in this room, as with most local rooms, are older types; perhaps they demand kid gloves.  But I can tell you I heard some of the regs actually praise the person in question, and some commented that no one ran the tournaments as well as this person did.
The next theory has to do with collusion, collusion among players regarding the promos.  I never saw that myself.  And who would complain?  Wasn’t it the regulars who were colluding?  Did they get mad at themselves for colluding and stop coming in?
Now I can only speak for the 2/4 game, I had no idea what went on at the No Limit table.   But the idea that people were talking about their hands to see if they had jackpot-eligible hands is rather absurd.  Whenever someone did cross the line, or get close to it, by saying something about the hand that might give it away that they were qualified for a jackpot, the dealers would always warn them.  The closest thing to this I saw would be a player saying he wanted to play a hand or see a flop rather than chop the blinds if he had a pocket pair that could conceivably make quads.
I did see some players upset with people who raised a lot at the 2/4 game.  And that bothered me too—I mean people raising a lot.  Every now and then a 2/4 game gets ruined by some clown who raises every single pot preflop.  When I was playing 2/4, I hated that.  I had no problem with people raising when they had a decent hand, but when you see a person just raising every single time, trying to turn the game into a 4/8 game, you wonder why they just don’t find a  4/8 game instead.  People play 2/4 because they don’t want to risk a lot of money.  It ruins the game, and I saw people request a table change because of a constant raiser, but I never heard anyone complain that they didn’t like raising because they were all playing for promos.    
Another theory is that they didn’t like the promos always changing, and there might be something to that, but isn’t that always the case?  If you like a promo, you don’t want it ever to change.  If you don’t like it, you want it to be replaced right away.  Most rooms change their promos regularly, as they are constantly trying to compete with each other for the same business.
Personally, I’m not that big a fan of promos, mostly because I so seldom ever got one even when I was playing a lot of 2/4 in locals rooms that had them.  I liked them for the fact that they brought people in to play them and kept the room busy.  In a 2/4 game, I think the promos change the way people play only at the margin.  Most people call a one-bet raise anyway.  I suppose there were times I wouldn’t let go of a pocket pair on the flop if the jackpot for quads was big enough that I’d spend $2 hoping for runner-runner quads.  And I might not raise with Aces or the dreaded pocket Kings in early position if there was a quad bonus, I wanted to make sure there was a flop.  Otherwise, I played my game.
But most rooms have them, and they have to keep trying things to get people in.  It would be nice if the people would all just come in to play poker, and the rooms didn’t need promos.  Personally, I think if they banned promos in the entire city, and thus no one had the option to go to a room with a promo, the rooms would be just as busy as they are now.  But as long as one room has them, they all have to compete.  Truth is, even most of the tourist rooms on the Strip have promos. The Mirage, a pretty fancy casino, has tons of promos. Only a handful of rooms don’t have them.
But I think that the room—any room, really—should have been able to see which promos were popular and which weren’t.  If a promo is working, why not keep it until it stops working? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  When people get bored with it, they’ll know.
Another theory is that people hated management.  This was the same management that was there when the room opened and thrived, so what changed?
Anyway, it’s time to look forward.  I admit, I’d like to see every poker room thrive, but I am especially routing for this one. One, because I’ve always liked the room.  And two, because --S is a real nice guy and I wish him well.
And I think it can be done, and there’s a good example of it.  Until M opened its poker room, nearby Green Valley Ranch had a hugely popular poker room down the street.  One of the regular players there?  Yours truly.  It was actually the first place I ever played poker in a card room.  But when M took off, most of the business came from GVR.  It was a bummer for me, I would have been perfectly happy playing in both rooms, switching off for variety sake.
But GVR became a morgue.  There were times when no one was playing in the middle of the day.  Most of those players were now at M Resort (and later, at nearby South Point).
But GVR seems to be thriving again, as M is declining.  I suppose it may be just a case of M doing whatever it did to lose its players and those players going back to GVR. But I suspect there was more to it than that.  They kept trying different promo’s and different things to entice their players back.  And they did indeed comeback.  The room is quite busy now, just like the old days.

So M can turn it around.  If you have any ideas as to what they should try, go over to --S's blog and leave a suggestion.
I have only one idea, and it’s one I’ve had for a long time.  Sadly, I don’t think he has the authority to get it done.  But it’s always struck me as dumb that locals rooms that have a lot of promos, and change them frequently, don’t promote them better with the one group of people who really want to know about this—players who already play in the room.
All these regs log in with their player’s card.  So the computer knows who is playing poker, and how much they play.  How hard would it be for an email to be sent to everyone who’s played poker in the room in the past few months whenever they have a change in promos or perhaps an exciting promo for a special day?
I get lots of email because of my player’s cards.  But it’s always generic casino email, promoting an act coming to the showroom, the pool opening, a new restaurant, an offer on cheaper rooms, stuff like that.  I play a lot of poker around town and I’ve never gotten an email that was poker specific.  Why don’t I get an email when a poker room is about to offer a super progressive jackpot for flopping quads or whatever?  That would be one thing that could help.  Otherwise, they’re depending on people coming into the casino for some other reason—the slots, the buffets, whatever—and walking by a very quiet poker room to grab the newest flyer.
Anyway, that’s enough rambling.  I like the M poker room and I like --S, and I wish them both well.


  1. I don't know ~S, but I love his blog and wish him well.

    1. I hope you follow his Twitter feed as well, it's very entertaining.

      The guy seems to enjoy an occasional beer, I dare say.

  2. Very long comment, indeed ;)

    Thanks for the kind words and well wishes. We actually have some things up our sleeves, so to speak, that should show some immediate results. I will know for sure by the end of the week!

  3. Supervisory level employees stopped running the room, dealers stopped running the games. I don't know why they quit giving a shit, but they sure did. Bad behavior took over, cheating being one part of it. The cheating was widespread, it was open and impossible NOT to see, and there were multiple direct complaints about it, some of them from me, and some of them can be seen right where you just posted the link to get traffic to your blog. If you are not aware of it you are working pretty hard not to be. It has been stated publicly and in some detail by me and others, in addition to the chorus directly to the room's management staff and others.

    I wish them good luck building it back as an actual poker room. I hope it will once again be I nice place to play, and that the plan includes more attention to running the games than the hyping of the ever more creative promo crap that it choked on before.

    1. My plan is to get back to basics and focus on poker. Senior management has no desire to run big promos, and it seems the promos eventually started hurting the room instead of helping it.

      Of course, we're currently in a state of transition and there's no guarantee that I can sell senior management on my plan, or even that senior management intends for me to permanently take on responsibility for the room.

      Either way, it's a long and challenging road we face.

    2. Thanks, Anony, or should I say, "Local Rock"? I appreciate your thoughts.

      I swear I was neither joking nor lying when I said what I said about not seeing any of the things you reference here or on AVP, Honest. if I saw things like that, I wouldn't wonder what happened to the room. When I played there, usually late afternoon/early evening in the 2/4 game, I didn't see anything like it. Seriously.

      And as I mentioned in the post, I did indeed see dealers telling players NOT to talk about jackpots because it would void the bonus.

      Now, despite the fact that I felt I played in the room "a lot", the truth is,I am not a Vegas local and when I was playing there, I wasn't visiting Vegas as often--or for as long--as I am now. So perhaps by some fluke I just wasn't there when things like that happened.

      So maybe the type of things you are talking about happened when I was on a relatively long hiatus from Vegas, and by the time I returned, things had changed so much that I didn't play there because there wasn't a game going on????

      I don't know. But I've always respected your thoughtful posts on AVP so I have no reason to question your veracity.

      Thanks again for commenting.

    3. So as not to mislead anyone, I am the poker MGR at GVR. The chief reason the M took quite a bit of our business was when they opened they had unsustainable promotions and had to stop after a time. Unlike the gentleman writing this blog I never wished any poker room ill. My guests are back because we treat them with respect and I am available to anyone that has a question or complaint. I also changed my promotions to ones our guests enjoy. For anyone to say they could walk into this poker room in the last 7 years and say it was empty mid day is more than stretching the truth. Some of those dealers and floor people worked for me as did the manager and I have always wished them well. Unfortunately although I remain friends with Todd the ex manager I was very hurt by some of the underhanded things his team said and did to try to hurt our room. All's fair in this business but none of my staff will ever bad mouth another room to our guests on the floor, because I still care about some of those people that work there, and I have hired some back. Maybe you should try being honest with yourself and your readers instead of attacking my room and my team. Thank you, and your welcome to come into my room and speak to me anytime, I can prove what I say.


    4. Frank, thanks for your comment and for expressing your concerns. As I told you just now, it was not my intention at all to criticize your room--which I've always been a big fan off--but to illustrate how a struggling room can turn itself around, as you did with GVR.

      I think it might be semantics regarding the room being quiet in the middle of the day. The times I recall it was late afternoon, around 5-6 PM, perhaps I should have been more clear. It's pretty irrelevant now, as every time I've been in your room lately its been busy as heck! Congrats to you and your excellent team for turning things around.

      I edited out one comment that we discussed as it is really irrelevant to the point I was making in this post.

      But to you and everyone who reads this, I repeat what I said in the post....I want EVERY poker room to do well and thrive, yours most definitely included. I would love nothing more than to see every poker room in town doing so much business that they have to open new ones to accommodate all the players!

  4. if any room wants to take over all the business in vegas and have 20 full $1-2 NL games going all 24 hours a day, offer free hotel rooms to the poker players, (include fridays and saturdays) free massages while they play and $2 max rake, no jackpot drop. this will immediately fill up the room, and there will never be less than 200 players in the room.

    1. Tony, I dunno if what you say is true, but I'm fairly certain that no poker room could make money if they did all those things.

  5. I'm afraid I must disagree with Frank. I went to GVR twice a couple of years ago and found the room to be pretty dead for a room as big and nice as it is. Now maybe it was a slow week there and since my visits were around 6-7pm time frame they may not have been indicative of the optimum times for the poker room. But I was at least a little surprised it was not very busy there, maybe 2 tables of 1-2 NL and a couple of other tables going as well. I look forward to going back this summer and seeing this reinvigorated poker room.

    1. Thanks, Neo. The went thru a slow period a year or two ago, but what's important is, it is doing very well again now. And yes it is a beautiful room. It was built a few years back when the old room--which was also nice, turned out to be too small because it was so popular. That old room was the first place where I ever played poker in a card room.

      One really nice thing about the room is that is ROOMY. No tables jammed together, you can walk thru it easily.

      They also have a great staff there. I hope you check it out this summer and let us all know what you think.

      Hopefully, you'll be able to check out the M, too.