Tuesday, July 03, 2007 

The Poker Room - Jacksonville, Fl - Review

I've talked about The Poker Room here in Jacksonville, Fl quite a few times now. Admittedly, I have not played there much in the last 2 years for a variety of reasons. Small limits, lack of amenities, location, whatever. The truth of the matter is, I've been so engrossed with online play, I've not had a reason to extend from my comfort zone. You're only going to be so successful at an establishment who's betting limit is $2.

As of July 1st, all bets are off...or on, in this case.

I walked in there yesterday evening just before 6pm. It was a madhouse. With increased tournament buy-ins and No-Limit games spread all over the place, everyone had to check it out.

I'll get into more detail here in a minute, but let me just sum things up like this:

I sat down at a table where the stacks were glorious and the play was idiotic. These people still think they're playing $2 limit, and it's simply AMAZING! I could spend a lot of time elaborating on this point, but it's simple. This is Jacksonville's first introduction to No Limit, live action gaming. The southeast has been watching it on TV for years now and is just chomping at the bit to get in on the action.

In Detail...

It is ripe and just waiting to be plucked. People have wads of cash in their pocket and have no clue how to play no-limit hold-em. Men are bringing their wives and giving them hundreds of dollars just to sit and play with them. This is not a knock against women at all, but the reality is, this Poker Room is predominately male.

People are not afraid to get in a pot. A quick comparison. Just came back from Vegas and played several $2 no limit games. Raise a pot to $12, you either force people to fold, or get mixed up with a true hand. Here in Jacksonville, you raise to $15 and get 7 way action. This is almost every hand. Pure insanity.

If you ride out the donkeys, you're going to make money here if you have some level of skill. Practice patience and trust me, you can do well.

I'm going to predict that the newness factor will be strong over the next 90 days. I'm thinking it will die down some after that new car smell wears off. But as the dust settles, I think the potential for steady, quality games will rise to the top.

I'm also going to predict that once they establish their Jackpot structure later this month, the potential for a constant stream of cash will be knocking at their door from open till close.

And speaking of the Jackpot, I spoke with a few different sources yesterday at The Poker Room. They are stating they will be contributing to the pot from every cash game they offer, NL, Limit, Pineapple, Omaha, etc. They are forecasting jackpots in excess of $150,000. That could be a HUGE marketing factor for this room. Actually, if they spend the advertising dollars, it's going to be HUGE any way you look at it.

The room itself is large. With 40+ tables, they are spread out rather well. The tables have all been re-felted just within the past few weeks. The chairs are somewhat comfortable, but really do not compare to the seating in most Vegas card rooms.

The air conditioning is not working properly. One end of the room is rather cool, while the other side is virtually a sauna and quite uncomfortable. You know it's bad when the dealers brow drips sweat on to the table. Rather disgusting. Fix the air!

The big screen televisions are nice. However, they are only aligned on one wall making it extremely difficult to view when you are not specifically in optimal position. In the future, it would be nice to invest some money in LCD's which are placed strategically throughout the room to benefit all patrons. Set them up for 360 degree viewing.

Also, I realize this room is part of a simulcast dog track. As a result, virtually every TV is set to horses or dogs running in circles. Believe it or not, not all poker players bet the races. If anything, I would say the majority of clientèle to this establishment are there purely for the poker and care far more about sports. Put the damn ball games on! Let the bettors concentrate on 2 or 3 televisions only or send them up the the 4th floor and let them do their thing there. It is EXTREMELY frustrating when your in a pot with a guy that's screaming for his dog to come in ignoring his action.

This is my biggest issue with The Poker Room. Let me just first say that for the most part, the dealers are great. Most are friendly, courteous, and funny. Granted, there are others that literally seem to have a stick up their ass. My gripe here though is management, runners and concessions. Everyone in these roles just has such a piss poor attitude every time I'm in there, it really makes me wonder what's going on.

Let's start with the wait staff. These people must be grossly underpaid and or tipped. They are incredibly rude and make you feel like a huge burden every time you make a request. I also believe it is a staffing issue at a higher level. They are never adequately staffed which puts too much stress on any one wait person. This has been the case now for 3 years. I'm really perplexed how this continues to be an issue here. You're wait staff is your ambassador. If they're not kind and personable, they should not be in that role.

Chip runners are responsible obviously for running chips, but they also act as the brush and run the board for seating. This does not work. When you have a line 20 people deep waiting to put their name on a list and you're sitting there on the phone, we may have an issue. Get the right people at the right stations, and make this smooth. Having that many people waiting in a line just to put a name on a list is a little ridiculous.

As for management, I've never really had any personal issues with anyone. When I worked there, I actually was quite friendly with several members of management. However, as time has worn on at this establishment, it seems the more jaded the management team has become. This does not apply to all, but there are several individuals I'm thinking of that are just unkind, bitter people. Everyone is busy. I get that, but c'mon. You really should have people that are eager to engage their patrons and offer assistance. If you stop to ask a floor person a question, they literally treat you with little respect and poor manners. When you compare to most better class poker rooms in Vegas, California, and even Foxwoods in Ct.; they are severely lacking. Improve your customer service.

To be honest, there really are none. Drinks and food are table side, but not cheap. Alcohol is severely overpriced. Food tastes good, but again, mostly overpriced. I hate to keep comparing to other card rooms, but The Poker Room in Jacksonville has a lot of room for growth on this front. Treat your players right. Comps, player points, freerolls, whatever. Do SOMETHING.

In Summary
At the end of the day, The Poker Room in Jacksonville, Fl is the only game in town. With the increase in limits and better tournament buy-ins, the popularity will gain a lot of momentum in the coming weeks. Without competition, I fear the above issues of concern will never be truly addressed. However, I have heard through various grapevines that a new poker room may be in the works for next year more central to main-stay Jacksonville (current room is on the very outskirts of town and can be a bitch of a ride to get to).

Fix your staff and your amenities and I think you have every chance of being hugely successful for years to come.

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