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What to Learn from Tropicana Near-Disaster

19 March 2012, By:
The Tropicana in Las Vegas kicked off its March Mania poker tournament series this past week but a series of blunders almost killed the event before it got off the ground.
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A poor tournament location, no drink service and a dealer add-on nearly were among the more egregious mis-steps.

In today's op-ed, Poker Junkie blogger Compncards highlights what the Trop and other poker tournament directors can take away from this near-disaster.

Location, Location, Location ... and Drinks

Tropicana officials made one of the strangest moves ever in regards to its March Mania Mega Stack poker tournament series.

It decided to hold the opening events in its convention center - far away from the casino floor.

The result was the first event draw just 59 players. The second had fewer than 10. The Pot-Limit Omaha event didn't even happen as only three people showed up.

The casino also decided not to offer food or drink service to the tournament in the convention room. I wasn't there when this was announced, but I can see several people tilting on this issue alone.

Fortunately, officials decided to move the remaining events back to the poker room and comp drinks going forward, but the damage control may be too little too late.

If you're going to hold an event somewhere other than the poker room, you need to make this announcement well in advance.

Also, you need to provide the same services to the event as you would see in the poker room. Don't give players extra reasons to not attend the event.

The WSOP-C in Tunica has its event at the opposite end of the casino from the poker room. However, they also have a cage, full drink service and even a concessions stand open for players in the tournament.

How hard would it have been for the Trop to have provided similar services? Was it worth killing three events?

Dealer Add-Ons Clearly Must Go

Another huge complaint from players from the first few events was the practice of dealer add-ons.

In this case, the add-on was not advertised. One player showed up with only enough for the buy-in and so ended up starting shorter stacked than the other players at his table.

According to reports I've read, dealers were already getting 3% of the prize pool before the add-on. If there's already part of the prize pool being held for dealers, why are we doing an extra $10 for dealers?

This is extra rake that players do not want. The $130 events are actually $130 + $20. Then add another $10 and it becomes $160 with $30 taken out before you even sit down. Then another 3% of the prize pool is withheld after that.

These events are not supposed to be run-of-the-mill daily tourneys where you might get two tables and the $10 is what pays most of the dealer's salary for the event. It's supposed to be a large event to draw players.

Players are looking to pay less rake, not more. After paying anywhere from $20 to $150 in fees for an event, and then losing 3% of the prize pool, players don't need to be stuck for another $10 that is already supposed to be covered.

It's Still Customer Service

Trop officials did decide to finally discontinue this fee and remaining events will not have the $10 extra surcharge. Hopefully other events will take the same steps.

Something that seems to be lost my many poker rooms and tournament directors is the concept of customer service. While this is a poker tournament, the players are still your customers and still expect to be treated as such.

If you hold an event that is well run and provides all the creature comforts that players want, they will come back.

Overcharge them, make them uncomfortable and fail to inform them about what to expect and your numbers will suffer like the March Mania event has so far.

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