Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dominick Muzio And the State of Poker Today

This is going to be a totally different kind of blog post.  

I recently had a long chat with Dominick Muzio.  Dominick is a dealer/floor/shift supervisor at the Treasure Island poker room.  He was a regular contributor to the AVP forums (Dmuz75)  which was where I first “met” him.  An assignment I had for Ante Up brought us together.  A very short profile of Dominick will appear in a future issue.  But he had a lot more to say than could fit into a short profile for Ante Up.  And he was eager to have his thoughts about the current state of poker shared publically.  He is not shy about voicing his opinion, as you know if you follow him on Twitter (here) or Facebook (here), which I recommend you do.

Dominick has been dealing in Vegas since 2009, first at Harrah’s then at TI.  Before that he used to visit Vegas frequently from Florida, first to play blackjack, then poker.  He’s been playing poker in brick and mortar venues since the late 1990’s.

We spoke while he was running the room at the TI on a late weekday afternoon.  The 2PM tournament was finishing up, and there was a cash game (1/2) going too, and Dominick was happy that all the players in that cash game were tourists, not a single local.

R: So, what’s wrong with the state of poker today?

D:  Why poker sucks right now?

R: Yeah, why poker sucks.

D:  OK, there’s three things that killed poker.  Number 1:  Math killed poker.  I have actually seen people make calls because it’s mathematically correct where everything in the world is telling them they’re beat.  There’s four hearts on the board, and a guy throws in $40 into a pot that has 350 bucks in it and the guy’s like, “Well, I’m getting 8 to 1 odds.”  It doesn’t matter. You lose.  That’s an extreme case but nobody plays with feel anymore.  Everything is math.  Look, I understand you need to know the math.  You’re talking to an old blackjack guy.  You need to know the math.  The problem is that when you throw feel out the window, you become a robot, and that’s what caused the steady decline.  All these math kids that figured out online, with their HUD trackers and all this and that,  now they had to play live once internet poker died, they don’t know how to react to people. They can’t talk to people.  They can’t pick up on tells.  Tells are still huge, nobody realizes that any more.  It’s not the typical, “oh I saw his neck pop….”

You know what I look for?  I look for the guy who fiddles with his thumbs when he’s playing with his chips.  I look for the guy that immediately grabs his cards when an Ace hits the board.  Those are still golden.  And you can still use those.  But nobody’s using that anymore.  It’s, “he has a timing tell.”  Really, why?  Because on PokerStars you only had 30 seconds to act?  There’s no such thing as timing tells live.  I’m sorry.  Maybe….the only timing tell I can tell you about live is that when you’re down to the final table and a guy looks at his cards and instantly shoves it all in, it’s usually Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  He has no idea how to get value.  If he looks and he hems and haws for an hour and a half and then goes all in, Aces every single time.  That’s really it for the timing tells. So the math killed it.

Number 2, the people killed it.  The local players killed it  What they complain about drives me absolutely batty.  Like rake.  You don’t realize what a good deal you’re getting when you get to play poker in a casino.   You have no idea what a good deal it is.  I’m gonna sit down at that table, I got a guy dealing my cards, I got a beautiful woman bringing me drinks for free. I don’t have to worry about, is this guy cheating. I don’t have to worry about, did this guy put enough money in the pot.  I don’t have to worry about any of that.  And for that privilege, you’re gonna take maybe $8 an hour from me. And, if I hit a certain hand, you’re gonna give me money back?  It’s the best deal in a casino.  Try that at a blackjack table.   They don’t realize it.  What they want to focus on is “Oh my god, the rake is so high, they’re taking $5 out of every pot.”  When was the last time you played at a poker table where, at the end of the day, all the money was gone because it went down the rake box?  Never happens.  And it never is going to happen.  Now, back in the  old limit days—when I started I started off playing 3/6, 4/6, 8/16, sometimes 10/20—yeah, the rake was high, cuz there was a static amount of bets you can get, you can’t get it all in, at least very rarely you can.  So, if I’m looking to make $22/hour, or three big bets, four big bets, and you’re taking one of those bets, yeah, it’s gonna eat into my bottom line.  But when I’m playing at a game where there’s, right now $1,400 on the table (as he looked over the game going at TI at the moment), I’m gonna complain you took $4 out of it?  No way, sir.  Because at least two of those guys when they go bust are going to reach back into their pocket.

Local players need to realize that the casino is your partner.  You have your own business?  They always say that.  “I’m a businessman, I have to control my costs.”  You’re absolutely right. Why don’t you go run the game at your house, see how much it costs you, when you have to buy beer for your friends, pizzas when they get hungry, and the one guy shorts the pot $10 when he palms two chips or whatever it is.  You don’t realize what a value you’re getting.  They want to make money off the casino, not the other players.  Your goal when you walk in here to play poker is not to make money from Treasure Island, it’s to make money off the other 8 guys.   

R: Yeah, because there’s no game in here where you make money off the casino.

D: Exactly. Why does the poker room have to give you stuff?  You’re gonna get $2/hour in comps, we’re only taking $4 & $1, which is pretty standard, and on top of that, we don’t have any real problem with giving you top shelf liquor.  Every now and then we’ll go, “Hey guys, let’s cool it with the Jaegerbombs cuz it cost us a fortune.”  But if you come in here and say, “Hey, I want an Absolut Vodka,” you’re gonna get it.  You know, you’ll pay $12 at the bar for that.   We don’t give you any problems for that and it’s like nothing…they see us as the enemy and we’re not.  We’re their partner.  And we’re actually a silent partner.  If you sit down at this table and make $1,800 in two hands, great.  We want five bucks. That’s basically what it is.  We’ll give you all the tools except the buy-in.

Number 3, was ESPN.  The only game that exists right now is No Limit Hold’em.  Nobody knows any other game.  Anyone who says they know another game, they’re full of shit.  I’ve played HORSE games in this town and I’ve watched how people play and I go, “You have no idea what you’re doing. You cannot possibly be three-betting with a 9 in the door in Stud 8/b and think you’re good,” but I see it all the time. ESPN, up until around 2006 was great.   They showed HORSE, they showed Stud.  What do they show now?  Hold’em, hold’em, hold’em.  Oh, there’s a HORSE tournament? Right, we’re only showing the final table, and it switches to hold’em at that point.  So now you’ve gotta stream Stud online or Razz online and it’s like sticking a fork in your eye because there’s no commentary.   No Limit hold’em is made to make people go broke.  It never should have been a cash game.  It should have always been a tournament game. What happened is that all the tourists came to town 5-6 years ago with $5,000 in their pocket thinking they were gonna be the next Daniel Negreanu and they all went broke.  And they went, “Oh shit, I can’t get this money back.”  

And what’s hurting it even worse is—you’ve played online—if I went broke out here, which happened a couple of times—don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m a great poker player, there were times when I came out with a bankroll and it was gone by the time I left—I knew I could go back home, log on for five bucks and play until I ran that thing up to $10,000 again, which I did a number of times.  And just come right out to Vegas.  Can’t do that anymore.  You don’t have 8-table capability. You gotta play at one table.  So the money’s not coming back in to the game anymore. I love what the WSOP is doing this year, where they’re paying the top 15%.  Best move they could ever make. I’ve been screaming about that for five years out here.    

Look at this, we had 22 players today, we paid three spots. Why? That doesn’t make any sense to me.  We should be paying at least four, maybe five. You know why?  The people, all they want to do is cash.  They want to go home and say, “I cashed in a tournament,” they don’t care how much it is.  They chop every time anyway. It used to be the tournaments were just there to start the games, we’d run a tournament at 9AM then everyone plays cash games.  Not anymore.  The tournament’s over, they’re all out the door.  Only two of those guys in the cash game were in my tournament today.  And the only reason they played the tournament was they were looking for a cash game and I didn’t have one. So everything’s changed as far as why you do what you do in a poker room.  And the poker rooms haven’t caught up to it. Which is amazing to me.

R: It’s interesting what you said about not paying enough players, obviously you can’t control that yet here.

D: Well I can scream about it.  Nobody listens to me.

R: I actually did a blog post about that, well not quite that.  Cuz I played at the Aria for like 7 hours and I cashed, but I didn’t even get double my buy-in. I got like $50.  I paid $125 and walked out with $175 after 7-1/2 hours (that blog post is here). I said, “that’s wrong.”   Ok, pay more players, I agree. But you don’t have to make it so top-heavy.  To me, if you’re gonna pay at least $100 to play in a tournament, and you cash, you should get at least double your buy-in back.

D: I don’t disagree with you.  It also think it depends on the size of the tournament. 

R: I said at least $100.  The Aria’s $125 it should be $250.

D: You’re right, they should give you $250.  But if you remember back in the early days of the Deepstacks at the Venetian, you could cash and lose money.  The first Deepstacks they ran was like a $350 buy-in and the min-cash was like $270.  Between the tournament prize pools and the tournament drops, these poker room managers believe it’s coming out of their pockets.  They freak out.  “We can’t pay 7 people in a tournament.”  Why not?  Because you know what?  Those seven people who cashed at the 7 O’clock, they’re coming back for the 10 O’clock, cuz they had a friggin’ ball. They sat here for 3-1/2 hours, they drank, and they walked out with money.  They’ll be back.

R: Yeah, and they’ve got the money they can buy into the next tournament.

D: Sure.  Three guys I just paid—well, we ended up paying four, cuz they agree to pay the bubble—all three of those guys said to me, “When’s the next tournament, 7PM?  I’ll be back.” They’re thrilled, because they actually played poker and won money.  Not only that, when they go home, they’ll tell their friends, “Hey, you going to Vegas? You gotta play the Treasure Island poker room, they have a $1,000 guarantee, 65 bucks I walked out with $450,” or whatever it was. That’s a big deal to them.

R:  Right and then, of course, they know, if they played in a cash game, they could lose that in a couple of hours—

D: In the first hand.  I freaking did it.

R: And then you buy in again and you lose two buy-ins. That’s the plus side of tournaments.

D: Right, I always tell people I once had a $3,500 cheeseburger at the MGM.  When they still had a 5/10 game, I had bought in for $1,500, I ran it up to almost $5,000, I ordered a cheeseburger, and within 10 minutes of it getting there, I was broke.  I ran into bad hand after bad hand. Nobody wants that.  I didn’t want it, either.  You know, $3,500 was a lot of money to me back then but I had it, I had a bankroll.  A guy comes in from Kenosha with $500 that’s all he’s got for the weekend, he doesn’t want to lose $200 in here.  But he can play five tournaments, he’s getting his moneys worth. And I get it, we don’t make money on tournaments. It’s a losing proposition, always has been. But it gets your name around, and maybe you’ll have people come back. 

R: Yeah, and then maybe some of them will play cash.

D: Yeah, some of them will.  Look, the guy that wins $500 and bought in for $65, he might say, “I’ll give it a shot for $120, I’m playing with house money. I bought in for $65, I walked out with $350, do I want to go out there and lose it in 15 minutes in a dollar slot machine?  Maybe I’ll try this.  But when you don’t give them their money back or when you make it harder for them to get their money back, you lose them, cuz they get frustrated.  How many times have you played 7, 8 tournaments in a row and said screw this, I’m never playing again.  And we live where there’s poker.  Imagine the guy coming from Texas where they don’t have poker, comes out here plays 4,5,6 tournaments in a row and doesn’t get anything back for it?  He ain’t coming back.

R: I know a room like this loses money on the tournaments, or doesn’t make money, but Venetian, Aria, they must make money?

D: They do it right. They found the formula. First of all you gotta remember this, Venetian and Aria both have sponsorship deals.  There’s underwriting going on.  That was Kathy Raymond’s idea and it was brilliant (note: Kathy Raymond is the manager of the Venetian poker room).  I don’t know why nobody ever thought of that. Their Deepstacks are underwritten by other companies.  When you go the Venetian to play the Deepstacks, there’s always logos on the felt, they paid money for that.  That was genius. The casinos themselves realized that the guys going to play poker, their wives gotta do something and they’re probably playing the slot machines. I’ve brought that up to casino marketers at Harrah’s and they look at me like I just farted in their grandmother’s face.  “It’s not true.” What do you mean it’s not true? A guy comes in plays for three hours, his wife’s gotta do something. So we didn’t make any money on this guy but his wife just lost $300.  “Well, we’d rather have both of them lose $300.”  Alright then, I guess it’s a perfect world.  

Let’s take TI for example, we charge $15 per person for the tournament, I think the house gets $12, the dealers get $3. So you bought into my tournament.  You’re a good player and you actually made it to the final table. You played for three hours.  You had three drinks.  Those drinks cost me $2 to $5 depending on what you order.  Let’s say you’re just having beer.  That’s $2.50. So half of what you just paid went to my alcohol cost. I have three dealers, one floorman, a waitress who’s charged against the room….where did I make any money? We just lost money. That’s what locals don’t understand. They say, “I’ve been here for six hours and all you’re gonna give me is a $12 comp?”   Yeah, you also had 19 Budweisers. And you stiffed the waitress every time too.

R: What could be done to improve things?

D: They need to find a way to get into bed with another way of promoting a different style of game. It can’t be No Limit anymore. It can’t be Pot Limit Omaha, cuz that’s just as stupid as NLH.  PLO is not even a game anymore.  I used to play it years ago and I loved it.  Now I can’t stand it.  PLO is now, how much money can we get in the middle of the table before any other cards come out.  Limit hold’em, Stud, 8 or better, anything, we need to find a way to promote those and make people want to play them, make them fun.  They’re not fun right now.  People say, “there’s no community cards.” Yeah, people don’t understand why that’s not a good thing.

We have to find away to make people realize it has to be a social game. You have to allow certain things.  In other words, if I ran this room, which I don’t, it’d be, “phones off the table.” And I do it to when I’m playing.  This is ridiculous. Because nobody talks anymore.  And that’s why they don’t have fun.  Or, you can have your phone on the table, but you can’t be watching a movie. Sunglasses, get rid of those, they’re stupid.  You look like an idiot. I tried it once, first of all, I’m color blind, I couldn’t see the damn cards. And I looked in the mirror and I’m like, “I’m not Ray Charles, why am I wearing sunglasses inside and it’s four in the afternoon?”  Promote the social aspect of it. 

We need online poker back. It exposed people to the game. That is completely out of our control and I don’t know if it’s ever coming back.  If it does, it’s not gonna be the same, because now you have casinos involved and once they get involved, that’s the end.  Whenever a corporation takes something over, just watch out.

I’d like to see more press given to the circuit events. It doesn’t always have to be the World Series of Poker. I get it, it’s the biggest one out there. I would love to see every circuit event act as feeder into the WSOP, almost like the playoffs in basketball. There’s 20 stops on the WSOP circuit this year, and the top 5 players are going to go to the WSOP and play in this event.  Why Harrah’s never did this when they have seven casinos on the strip….why isn’t every Harrah’s casino running satellites for the Rio?  Why does everything have to be at the Rio? I know why, because I worked there, the World Series of Poker is a separate entity, they make their own money. But if they had any common sense, it’d be like, they have three flights to the main event, day 1 is at Planet Hollywood, day 2 is at Caesars, day 3 is at Harrah’s, and then day 4 we go to the Rio.  The excitement that that would build would be ridiculous. Logistically it would be a nightmare, I get it, but there’s definitely ways you could do it.

I remember working at Harrah’s and we would have our meetings and it would be, “Well, we have $100K in our reserve what should we do?”  And I’d say, “Give away seats to the main event.”  “Well, we can’t do that.” “Why not, we’re Harrah’s, we own the damn thing.”  And they’d have a thousand reasons. “Well, it interferes with their marketing,” and so on.  Dumbest thing I ever heard in my life. Club Fortune gave away a seat to the World Series.  They didn’t call it that, they called it a $10K tournament seat, but do the math.  And they’re on Boulder Highway. If they could do it, we could do it. 

I’ve been in business, I’ve been in sales.  When you have tools, use them.  The biggest fight I had in this room was when Chris left, everyone was like, whatever we have in our jackpot reserve, let’s make sure we don’t give it away. I said why not?  What are we holding on to it for? We have two choices.  We can give it away now, and hope it draws people in, or we can give it away in a few months when they close us. If all your promotions equal $10K a month, you should have $20K in your reserve, no more.  It’s stupid to have $50-$60 thousand, you’re not giving enough away.  

People will tell you what they want, you just have to listen. You have to listen to the right ones.  We had local guys come in here after Chris left and offer their services as a prop. “You pay me $10 an hour, I’ll play here every day.”  Really?  So you can fold for 8 hours a day and make more money than I do? Nah, that’s not gonna happen.  It’s like, any excuse to be in the game without actually having to put their money at risk. I hope people listen.  It’s not dying, it’s just really spread out right now.  The WSOP is doing gangbusters every year. It’s bigger every year, it’s not dying. The problem is there’s a lot more competition, there’s poker all over the country now. We can turn it around, everyone just needs to think like me.  We’d all be better off if everyone just thought like me.

R: I feel the same way, if only everyone thought like me.

D: I get upset and I rant online because I really love the game, I really love what it used to be and I watched it be destroyed, and the people destroying don’t realize they’re doing it.  They blame everyone else.

Dominick had more to say (he’s not a shy person)—I could have continued and made this a two or three parter—but I hope I have given you the key things he wanted to get across. Also note, it was easiest for me to just quote him back to you, and this way, I think it comes out in his own voice.  Of course it doesn't come out polished like a written speech would, but this way, it's Dominick, as he speaks.  Maybe I should have just uploaded the audio recording?  I want to thank him so much for giving me his time and sharing his insights, and for helping me out on my Ante Up assignment.  Thank you, sir.


Note: I have a pic of Dominick that will appear in the Ante Up piece.  So, since he works at TI, where they have the famous Gilley’s Saloon, I thought I’d run a pic of some of the Gilley’s girls.  Just because they work in the same place as Dominick.  No other reason.


  1. Interesting perspective. Thanks for posting it.

  2. Great interview. Many great points.

  3. Thanks, Tino, Grange95 and abercheese70, but I give all the credit to Dominick.

  4. Very informative and interesting. I think that the government shutting down the online poker sites is a thing that has really hurt the game (that he didn't include in his list of three). We've lost that feeder group of players that was being introduced to the game, and Vegas has lost those who were qualifying to the WSOP (trips to Vegas) thru the sites...

    1. Thanks, Coach.....he did mention the death of online poker hurting the game, just not as one of his "big 3."

      Look at it this way, without online poker, we'd have never had Chris Moneymaker.

    2. I think that the death of online poker hurt the game more than any of his 'Big 3' - I also think that ESPN HELPED the game tremendously. Where was poker before it was online, that Moneymaker WSOP win (on ESPN), and the movie 'Rounders?' I'll save the ranting for the new blog though... ;)

    3. hmmmmmmm didnt Moneymaker win his entry on a super satellite online??

  5. Great post. Dominick like me, isnt afraid to speak his mind on things he strongly believes in. And i certainly dont like the policies of big corporations, this is why i feel more at home playing poker in reno than here. i am doing well here in florida, (in my win rate per hour) but i dont feel totally at home here like i did in Cathys woods room at the Peppermill. i didnt realize people who drink alcohol cost the room so much money. perhaps those who dont drink should get extra comps? its nice when rooms sit out the pop and coffee for u, because even the waitress dont appreciate ur $1 tip near as much as the tips from those who drink. its the damn corporations that instead on the $2 a minute massages too instead of the $1 a minute ones at the tracks, and thats why theyre constanly begging people if they want a massage. and is why the min BJ tables here are $25. its all about the bottom line.

    if sheldon adelson hates online poker so much, why does he allow people in the Venetian to play online poker on the Ipad while playing? makes no sense. people shouldnt be watching movies either, or using laptops although theres nothing wrong with me playing bejewled on my cell, keeps me from getting bored.

    make tables 9 handed instead of 10, helps create more action. Bring in PLO and especially PLO8. if u want stud to come back quit making it way too high like $20-40 or way too low such as $2/4 $3/6. $2-10 spread limit and make the low card put $2 out there, and FORCE the high card to raise it to $10. now that would be a fun game and force wild action, with $12 in forced betting.

    i 100% agree with paying more spots in a tourny. why cant he change that if he is now the one running the room?

    1. Thanks, Tony.

      Gee, I dunno why all of a sudden I'm not getting emails alerting me when you post a comment. Very strange. And then, when I approved your comment (in the middle of the night) I also did NOT get an email telling me that the comment posted, as I usually do. It only seems to be happening with your comments.

      Dominick is not running the room, unfortunately. A casino exec (I think in marketing?) is actually making all the decisions. But with heavy input from his staff and particular the supervisors. Dom only has a voice-- a big booming voice, to be sure--but not the final word.

  6. Such a great post. Dominick nailed so many good points on the current state of poker and some of its problems and failures.

    I love the part about how casinos refuse to acknowledge that poker brings in more income then just what happens in the poker room. Like Dominick said, the husband will come in and play and the wife has to do something, so she goes and loses 300 bucks playing slots while he plays poker. The casino wouldn't of had that revenue if the husband didn't choose that casino to play poker in. You also get all the poker players who like playing craps and blackjack that go and spend money after playing poker because they are already there. But none of that gets attributed to poker because the poker room can't really prove it even though anyone that works in a poker room knows that's what happens. It's tough to explain that to a bean counter when they look at poker revenue.

    The biggest fight for poker going forward in my opinion is how to balance the grinders against the social players to keep the player pools growing. Everyone that plays will play for one reason or another, either for entertainment or to make money but both of these kind of go against each other. The social players that want to play for the fun and enjoyment of it get turned off by the grinders that sit there with their hoodies on and headphones and just look miserable while they play while not saying a word. But you need them to keep any room going because they are the backbone of the poker game since they will be there to spend long hours and play while the social players will come play for 2-3 hours and then leave to go do something else. How the game balances both factions will determine how much live poker grows.

    1. Thanks, Micheal, great comments.

      You definitely need both--the grinders and the tourists--and you have to find a way to keep them both happy. Definitely the grinders can turn off the tourists,which is bad. Not just with their unfriendliness, but sometimes with outright hostility, which is not only bad, it's stupid.

  7. B+++++++ 420 friendly poker rooms #gamechanger and topless big titty poker dealers #problemsolved

    1. Well, dream on. Neither of those things will happen in your lifetime.

      But there's a chance for Deep Fried Twinkie delivery.

    2. 1 out of 3 isnt bad #halloffamebattingavg

  8. I think the part about the social aspect is really important. If the grinders chat with the tourists and show them a good time its a win for everyone....the tourists stay longer and lose more to the grinders.....the tourists wives are spending more on the casino floor or shopping....and the game doesnt break as quickly...I see too many grinders in a live venue with their phones/tablets paying no attention to newcomers to the table....they are your customers FFS! Thats where your income comes from...invest a little effort to keep them around! /rant

    1. Totally agree, bill. Then there's the worst....the guys who actually are hostile to the tourists, either because they make a bad call and hit, giving the grinder a bad beat, or because they are too friendly and don't want to be bothered. Or they like to give advice, which is not only counter-productive but usually manages to piss off the person getting the advice.

  9. I strongly disagree with some of his comments about the rake. Yeah, there is $1400 on the table, but the room isn't taking $4 out of it. The room is taking much more than that. If I play for a few hours, the room is taking hundreds of dollars out of the pots I see at the table. Also, in a 1-2 NL game, how often is the room taking a $4 rake out of a $1400 pot? How many pots are even over $100 in a 1-2 NL game? He almost makes it sound like players are constantly going all-in.

    He also mentions limit games and suggests it makes more sense to complain about the rake there. But he even mentioned 8-16 and 10-20 which are clearly bigger games (especially 10-20) than 1-2 and 1-3 NL. He mentions limit players possibly having a $22 an hour winrate but how many players at 1-2 NL can win $22 an hour? If you're making $10 a hour you're way ahead of almost everybody at that level. That's why the rake is so significant.

    Another problem I have is he doesn't mention that even great NL players will have a lot of losing days. They can hit that hand, get the chips in and find out that someone else hit a better hand. Or maybe they get sucked out on. Or maybe everybody folds and then win a tiny pot.

    He made a comment about making $1800 in two hands. I've never made $1800 in two hands in a 1-2 NL game, ever.

    In short, winning money at 1-2 NL is much harder than he suggests that it is.

    In spite of all this, I do agree with his larger point that players actually do have a great deal in the rooms in Vegas, including TI which comps players at $2 an hour, offers reasonable rake, offers free drinks, etc. As a result, when I do play at rooms like TI, I'm not going to complain about the rake.


  10. I do agree with most of what he says however. The part about having $100k and not being able to give away seats to the Main Event was interesting. If Harrah's was giving away 10 seats to the Main Event, that would have gotten my attention. I would absolutely love to play in the Main Event but I don't want to pay $10k to play in it.

    He was probably right to reject the offers from the guys who wanted to be props for $10 an hour. I think the old promotion at TI which offered $10 a day took extra money out of the pots to pay for the promotion, so the room would be worse off today if they hired props and didn't try to pay for it somehow.

    The part he mentions about how casino marketers don't understand that poker players can bring in more money for the casino is horrifying. I wouldn't even be in the casinos if it wasn't for poker, and I certainly wouldn't bring anybody with me or encourage anybody else to go if I wasn't in the casinos. I also wouldn't lose money in the video poker machines or spend money on food if it wasn't for poker.


    1. Thanks, Steve, some great counterpoint there.

      I think Dom was exaggerating a few times to make a point. Yes the rake is tricky. But the other thing he didn't say is this: Suppose you had a home game instead. Suppose you could do it with no rake. The problem is it would be all people you know, all regulars, probably all good players. You'd likely be just trading money back and forth every week. You need those tourists constantly coming in who hopefully don't know how to play well leaving their money behind. They are never going to find your home game.

      I dunno the economics of poker rooms but I don't see how they could get by with much less rake. And as pointed out, the rake in Vegas is a lot lower than almost anywhere else in the country. As I pointed out here on the blog, in LA., the Bike and most of the other rooms take $7 out of most pots now ($6 + $1) and they take most of that on the first $10 in the pot.

  11. Good interview and interesting stuff. I don't agree, however, that ESPN has ruined poker. On the contrary, it has made poker, Now that WPT isn't on the travel channel anymore, it is the biggie for keeping poker out there.

    1. Thanks, guys. I have to say, the change that Dominick noted in ESPN coverage of poker occured before I was paying attention at all to poker. I have no idea what it was like before that. And I have no idea of coverage of the non-hold'em events would increase popularity or nite.

  12. As an outsider that reads poker blogs, two points strike me.

    Firstly, the jackpot system is crud. I would be there to play poker, not bingo. Players are choosing to play a game of skill, but are having a game of chance thrust upon them. (I gather some of that money might be used to subsidise tournaments, but why should one have to put in time at one's inconvenience to try to get that cut back?)

    Secondly, the rake should include the money to pay the dealers a proper wage, with tipping abolished. I suspect a big reason dealers are often sloppy about properly enforcing the rules is because by doing so they will make themselves unpopular and lose out on tipping income.

    As for the free alcohol, casinos know full well that lubricated players are significantly more likely to buy back in than sober players.

    1. Thanks for the comments

      Your comments are all valid. But let me just say that in this day and age, I don't any of the medium to small rooms in Vegas are ever gong to get rid of jackpots (promos). People just expect them and plenty of folks choose rooms based on them. The tourists are used to promos in their local rooms back home and have always been stunned when they go to a room that doesn't have any promos in Vegas to find out that is the case.

      The locals rooms have to compete with each other via promos to get the local nits and retirees (is that redundant) to get that group of players. The retirees feel the game is unbeatable (and the way they play it it certainly is) so they go where they thing the can win the most via promos).

      Nice thought about tips, you could make the same argument for waiters/waitresses and cab drivers, etc....but I don't think there's any change coming in the near or even distant future. But you are absolutely right that tipping discourages dealers from being to heavy handed about enforcing the rules. In fact, I can believe I can make that point in a future post I am working on.

      Definitely true about the booze...but the casinos would much rather the players get drunk and lose that money in the pit or at the slots than in the poker room where you and I might get it instead of the house.

  13. great article from dealer perspective

    1. Thanks, Nick!

      I gather you're a dealer yourself?

    2. no but have many as friends, and see the crap they go thru

      dealt at home game, never want to do it at Casino.

    3. Wow, now THAT was a delayed response! Thanks for getting back to me!