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Top 10 attributes of a great poker room

5 November 2018

Finding a place to play live poker can be quite challenging, depending on where you live. Many people are restricted to playing online, simply because there isn't a land-based poker room anywhere near them. Some are luckier than others in that regard and have a poker room or two within a reasonable distance.

But the mere existence of a poker room isn't always enough to provide players with what they really want and expect. Often, these venues lack some of the most important aspects of a truly great poker room.

Here are 10 attributes every great land-based poker room.

10. Friendly staff that understand the game
First and foremost, a quality land-based room needs to have a staff that is friendly and knowledgeable about the game. If the people running the operation don’t know how to implement the rules (or aren’t even sure about what the rules are), it leads to conflicts and tense situations that are hard to resolve because there is no one to really take charge.

So, a great poker room needs experienced floors and dealers willing to learn and take charge when necessary, instead of letting players come up with their own decisions and conclusions, which can lead to real chaos.

9. Isolated from the casino floor
Ideally, a poker room should be as far away from the casino floor as possible. The temptation of slots and table games has been the downfall of many otherwise great poker players, and while it is fully their responsibility, it could have been avoided by keeping the poker room separate. Of course, this isn’t always a realistic requirement, as a poker room and casino often supplement each other, but it is definitely nice when you find a setup like that. With online gambling being so omnipresent these days, we don’t really need it in or around land based poker venues as well.

Great poker rooms have many players involved in the games so there is never a lack of action.

Great poker rooms have many players involved in the games so there is never a lack of action. (photo by World Poker Tour)

8. Good player traffic
For any poker room to operate, it needs player traffic. A great poker room has many players involved in the games so there is never a lack of action. It can be very frustrating to drive over to your local room only to discover there are just three other players hanging around, hoping there might be a game.

7. Decent number of recreational players
While it is fun to play poker against good players, it is most certainly not profitable. So, a good land-based venue needs to have a good balance between solid and recreational players to keep things going. In an ideal scenario, you’ll have a couple of players at every table whose knowledge of the game reaches as far as understanding poker hand rankings and not much else.

6. Reasonable rake
Running a live poker room can be a costly endeavor, so it is understandable if there is rake in live games. However, some rooms take things to the extreme, almost making the games unbeatable due to very high rake. The rake structure needs to be such that it makes it profitable for the room but also for the players. There are some cases where higher rake works if games are extremely loose and crazy, but in general, some middle-ground solution is required.

5. Free or reasonably priced food and drinks
Ideally, a poker room will offer free drinks and snacks. When this isn’t possible, they should at least price them in a reasonable way and not force the players to pay the kind of price they’d pay in a restaurant. Poker games should be the primary source of income of a great land-based poker room, while everything else should be secondary.

4. Good variety of options
From a player’s point of view, it is always good to have options. So, a quality land based venue should be able to offer a mix of Hold’em cash games and tournaments, at the very least, with an option to play Pot Limit Omaha if there are enough players.

It would be too ambitious to expect a smaller room would have dealers capable of dealing mixed games, for example, but these basic options should definitely be provided in this day and age.

Every good poker room should invest some money in buying solid chips.

Every good poker room should invest some money in buying solid chips. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

3. Quality cards and chips
Although this may seem like something that goes without saying, I’ve seen many poker rooms that appear to believe that the quality of cards and chips are irrelevant. Many people come to have fun and enjoy their time, and if the cards are of bad quality and hard to read, this really takes away from the experience.

The same goes for chips. The price difference isn’t really that big, and every good poker room should invest some money in buying solid chips. It is a one-time investment that really pays off in the long run.

2. Incentives for regular players
A great land-based poker room should offer some incentives for their regular players that go beyond free drinks. Monthly leaderboards, tournaments and similar things can go a long way toward maintaining the traffic and keeping players engaged. Although it may cost the room a bit of money, it is likely to actually improve their overall bottom line thanks to more traffic, better tips, etc.

1. A "poker" atmosphere
Many rooms have most of the above items covered, but still don’t give you the feel of a great poker venue. This is because they might be lacking in some other aspects that they just didn’t pay attention to, such as lighting and chairs.

Since most people spend quite a few hours inside a poker room, it needs to be a place that provides a comfortable and enjoyable environment. So, investing a bit of money into comfortable chairs, good lighting solutions, and other such general, non-poker-specific things is definitely worthwhile.
Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com
Tadas Peckaitis
Tadas Peckaitis has been a professional poker player, coach and author for almost a decade. He is a manager and head coach at mypokercoaching.com where he shares his experience, and poker strategy tips.
Tadas plays poker, mostly online, but also manages to play live events while travelling through Europe and the U.S.
He is a big fan of personal effectiveness and always trying to do more. Tadas regularly shares his knowledge about both of these topics with his students, and deeply enjoys it.
Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or visit www.mypokercoaching.com