Looking for Partners on Texas Poker Club (5 Viewers)

Honest question… What percentage of Americans really play poker — more than once in a while as a lark, and at stakes of 1/2 or higher?

I’ve seen stats saying that most American adults have *tried* the game. Also estimates that 10-15% play “regularly.”

— My take —

That latter number seems wildly inflated to me, even including online play.

In my rural area I have played in or at least heard about pretty much every home game and social hall game across two counties, which have a total population of about 100,000 people. I’ve looked hard to find games and cultivate relationships to keep my own table full. On the rare times that I find a “new” game, I recognize most of the regs.

The percentage of people in my area (the Hudson Valley) who would ever buy into a live game for $100 or more is extremely low. Let alone $300-$2,000. I would say less than 1/2 of 1% of the population, maybe 500 people in two counties.

There may now be lots of others playing microstakes online (on PokerBros or the like, since online poker is not legal in my state). I’d like to imagine this leads to more people trying live poker, but I don’t see it.

Maybe cities are different… But I would be surprised if the number of people who are even candidates to attend places like The Lodge and other rooms exceeds 10,000 people.
I (liberally) came up with a 20,000 number.... but it could easily be just 4,000.
 
The percentage of people in my area (the Hudson Valley) who would ever buy into a live game for $100 or more is extremely low. Let alone $300-$2,000. I would say less than 1/2 of 1% of the population, maybe 500 people in two counties.
Taking this at face value, I think that most new, recreational, $100 buy-in players that have to pay $50 or $60 after a long session for time, would likely play once, and walk away not willing to try again.

The more I read this thread, the more I question the viability of the concept extending beyond the existing rooms in Texas.
 
Taking this at face value, I think that most new, recreational, $100 buy-in players that have to pay $50 or $60 after a long session for time, would likely play once, and walk away not willing to try again.

The more I read this thread, the more I question the viability of the concept extending beyond the existing rooms in Texas.

I got a similar vibe. I also wonder how healthy the current player pool is at the existing rooms. Growing? Shrinking?
 
Card rooms are like restaurants. Sexy and good on paper. Very hard to manage in reality and the best ones make all the profit.

I spend summers in a beach town in Delaware and the restaurant turnover is really high. People pour their hopes and dreams into well thought out concepts that either don’t land or are not well executed. So many places are gone after one or two years.

Hiring is hard.

Fraud is rampant.

Location matters. A TON.

Successful spots get bought up by bigger chains that can leverage overhead and spend to drive profitability.

You can have fun or make money, but rarely both. Playing in a competitive market is like sitting down at a poker table full of pros. You might get lucky, but probably not. Usually best to choose a less competitive venture.

Unless your concept is right and can execute.

Case in point: watch galfonds documentary about how he lost $10 million trying to launch run it once poker site. And that guy is a genious who works hard and had a great concept.
 
I love many of your ideas. Just a couple of random thoughts.

You are trying to get bad recreational players to come play at your card house vs creating a home game. I see two main type of players that you want to attract. The first one is the player that is playing with friends, you are trying to replace golf league, bowling league, pool league etc. with poker. Variety of ways that you can get a group, through work like Dell's Tuesday Poker League etc. and also just a Friday night league. Make it a 4 - 6 month season with prizes, can even make it a team event. Prepaid fees, regular attendance, good drink sales and creating customers for other times.

Another type of player is the lotto player, just looking for the jackpot. As long as you have a jackpot they are interested, the bigger the jackpot, doesn't matter what type best hand, bad beat, quads etc, the more they will be there.

At least that's what would attract the players that I play with. Most just want to have a good time and they'd rather play cards than go out to dinner or a movie etc. If you can get that camaraderie going, the going to play poker with the fellas type vibe going. A league gets that mandated attendance, don't want to miss out on the season reward attitude. Also gets the social interaction going when you see the same group regularly.

A couple of people I play with are all about the jackpot. When they visit the casino or card room it's all about the high hand or bad beat, they think it's great, that's their goal and justification to play and they burn through the money hoping to hit. They live on the hope to hit a big jackpot.

I've been to the Lodge, hated it. Just not a fun place to play. Went there with my brother, who lives in Round Rock, like to play poker, but probably won't be back. He's pretty much what you say you are chasing for customers. He lost money then had to pay for time when we left, really turned him off, just rubbed salt in the wound. I know you don't want to talk about other ways to pay for time, but I sure would, because I know one player in your area that likes to play poker and would play poker that won't because of the current model of paying for time. Raking works because players don't see it, they are happy to win the pot and don't care if they win $190 or $200. Getting felted then being charged $50 when you leave, that just pisses a player off. Come up with something else and I think it will help with retaining the players you want. Maybe a mandatory drink requirement like a comedy club. I don't know, but smaller and more frequent is more palatable than a big bill at the beginning or end.

While I prefer cash games, I don't think that is the norm for casual players. Many folks like tournaments for the fact that they can't lose any more money. They look at it as entertainment expense. My weekly game is a tournament with about 24 folks followed by a cash game of about 8. Always ask everyone in the tournament if they want to play in the cash game, they say no with the usual reason that they think they'd lose more money. Most are terrible at the tournament, but they are there every week, pay the entrance and buy a round. I'd hit that market hard. Freeze outs, Sit-N-Gos, and regularly scheduled tournaments. Short tournaments, regular joe can play for 2-4 hours for a set buyin, but they aren't looking for a 12 hour marathon. Also a lot of tournament players end up trying and playing in the cash games.

Just some ideas I had, good luck to you.
 
I love many of your ideas. Just a couple of random thoughts.

You are trying to get bad recreational players to come play at your card house vs creating a home game. I see two main type of players that you want to attract. The first one is the player that is playing with friends, you are trying to replace golf league, bowling league, pool league etc. with poker. Variety of ways that you can get a group, through work like Dell's Tuesday Poker League etc. and also just a Friday night league. Make it a 4 - 6 month season with prizes, can even make it a team event. Prepaid fees, regular attendance, good drink sales and creating customers for other times.

Another type of player is the lotto player, just looking for the jackpot. As long as you have a jackpot they are interested, the bigger the jackpot, doesn't matter what type best hand, bad beat, quads etc, the more they will be there.

At least that's what would attract the players that I play with. Most just want to have a good time and they'd rather play cards than go out to dinner or a movie etc. If you can get that camaraderie going, the going to play poker with the fellas type vibe going. A league gets that mandated attendance, don't want to miss out on the season reward attitude. Also gets the social interaction going when you see the same group regularly.

A couple of people I play with are all about the jackpot. When they visit the casino or card room it's all about the high hand or bad beat, they think it's great, that's their goal and justification to play and they burn through the money hoping to hit. They live on the hope to hit a big jackpot.

I've been to the Lodge, hated it. Just not a fun place to play. Went there with my brother, who lives in Round Rock, like to play poker, but probably won't be back. He's pretty much what you say you are chasing for customers. He lost money then had to pay for time when we left, really turned him off, just rubbed salt in the wound. I know you don't want to talk about other ways to pay for time, but I sure would, because I know one player in your area that likes to play poker and would play poker that won't because of the current model of paying for time. Raking works because players don't see it, they are happy to win the pot and don't care if they win $190 or $200. Getting felted then being charged $50 when you leave, that just pisses a player off. Come up with something else and I think it will help with retaining the players you want. Maybe a mandatory drink requirement like a comedy club. I don't know, but smaller and more frequent is more palatable than a big bill at the beginning or end.

While I prefer cash games, I don't think that is the norm for casual players. Many folks like tournaments for the fact that they can't lose any more money. They look at it as entertainment expense. My weekly game is a tournament with about 24 folks followed by a cash game of about 8. Always ask everyone in the tournament if they want to play in the cash game, they say no with the usual reason that they think they'd lose more money. Most are terrible at the tournament, but they are there every week, pay the entrance and buy a round. I'd hit that market hard. Freeze outs, Sit-N-Gos, and regularly scheduled tournaments. Short tournaments, regular joe can play for 2-4 hours for a set buyin, but they aren't looking for a 12 hour marathon. Also a lot of tournament players end up trying and playing in the cash games.

Just some ideas I had, good luck to you.
These are all good ideas!

I’d have to run the numbers (it might not make sense), but maybe a monthly membership fee? It would change the economics of the model quite a bit, but the goal (like a gym) is having a large roster of people paying the monthly fee vs trying to fill seats on the hour. You’ll get some regs that greatly benefit, paying way less, but off-set by the folks who only play once a week or a couple times a month.

You could always tier the memberships, but that adds complexity. Maybe offer a “Founders” membership to early joiners that is good for x years, etc.

This allows you focus on events, atmosphere, etc.; without worrying about hourly seat utilization with a more stable and manageable revenue stream.
 
Getting felted then being charged $50 when you leave,
Maybe the dealer could toss the felted player a “$20 time chip” that gives him a discount when he leaves.

I’d think very nicely about a place that seemed like they were helping me a little when I’m down. Building reciprocity is always positive.
 
Honest question… What percentage of Americans really play poker — more than once in a while as a lark, and at stakes of 1/2 or higher?

I’ve seen stats saying that most American adults have *tried* the game. Also estimates that 10-15% play “regularly.”

— My take —

That latter number seems wildly inflated to me, even including online play.

In my rural area I have played in or at least heard about pretty much every home game and social hall game across two counties, which have a total population of about 100,000 people. I’ve looked hard to find games and cultivate relationships to keep my own table full. On the rare times that I find a “new” game, I recognize most of the regs.

The percentage of people in my area (the Hudson Valley) who would ever buy into a live game for $100 or more is extremely low. Let alone $300-$2,000. I would say less than 1/2 of 1% of the population, maybe 500 people in two counties.

There may now be lots of others playing microstakes online (on PokerBros or the like, since online poker is not legal in my state). I’d like to imagine this leads to more people trying live poker, but I don’t see it.

Maybe cities are different… But I would be surprised if the number of people who are even candidates to attend places like The Lodge and other rooms exceeds 10,000 people.

Sorry it took so long to respond, Texas got hammered with storms and Spectrum internet was down and mobile data was overwhelmed so I could barely view the forums let alone respond.

Doing a quick search:

From what I can find online, in 2009, there were 23 million people in the U.S. (more than 10% of the population) that played poker, source: https://www.rakeback.com/is-poker-the-most-popular-card-game-in-the-us/

According to this source there are 60 million U.S. residents that play poker online: https://www.pokervip.com/strategy-a...rrent Player Market,half of the global market!

A large city is more likely to have a population that can support a poker room than a rural one. Just because your neck of the wood doesn't have much interest doesn't mean there won't be a much larger concentration of interested players in other areas. There are regional differences, socio-economic differences, legal differences, etc. across the board in all the states and in sections of each state that can influence how worthwhile poker will be in any particular market.

Your statement of 10,000 people or less in the area to play at The Lodge represents half of 1 percent of the population of the Greater Austin area if we're going off a reduced number of just 2 million people. I'm confident this market has more than that interested. Within a 10 mile radius of that area there were over 16,000 people on interest lists for "gambling" or "casinos" and while not all of those will translate to poker, this area is larger than 10 miles in radius.

P.S. If I were trying to start a room in a big city, I would probably want to hire a market research firm or the like to develop lists of likely players to directly solicit, and secondarily to identify media outlets which cover that demographic…

I assume for example that local sports radio channels might be a good start, but that is just an assumption. And you can blow a lot of money on media like radio, TV and billboards for a very low percentage return.

I might also consider modest incentives for regs to refer new players once it’s up and running. A small bonus when someone first gets a card, and another if they “stick” (play more than 5-10 times). Poker players know the population.

When I ran a startup membership organization (non-gambling related) the #1 way we recruited was by getting existing members to work their contacts on our behalf. This led to growing our membership 400x over seven years.

As the group matured, I also started using the data we had on members (volunteered by them) to study who was joining, and identify more people of a similar profile to approach more generally.

I didn’t use a marketing firm, but obtained public info like voter rolls and property rolls to create a database of the target population and figure out who was worth direct mailing etc.

Point being that whatever the business or cause, building an audience is a grind. There is no automatic “build it and they will come” thing.

Some great ideas, thank you! I don't want to give away all my ideas out in the open but I'll shoot you a PM with some more in-depth concepts I'd utilize to target this market.

Some napkin math that could be wildly off - if @Anthony Martino wants to fill 30 tables with 9 people each for 12 hours a day, he would probably needed some multiple of 270 people a day. Let’s guesstimate the average session is 4 hours, so 810 people a day. Let’s say these people play an average of once a week, so 5670 people, which is 0.25% of 2.3M. Your estimates for your locale - 500/100k = 0.50%.

However, the above doesn’t take into account that regulars of the other card rooms may be less likely to switch (Is this true?) nor the fact that the existing cardrooms will likely compete hard for business.

So from what a former manager at The Lodge told me, generally speaking (when games were 10-handed) the rule of thumb was that to fill one table you'd need 100 customers in your database. At any time 10 of them will be available while the other 90 are at work, with family or otherwise not available.

So for a room of 30 tables you'd need 3,000 customers. Now granted it's extremely difficult to build a room that gets non-stop balls-to-the-wall action and is full constantly. I believe TCH-Dallas absolutely kills it out there, and I know the Tampa Hard Rock Casino's poker room with 46 tables was often slammed.

But overall with any room out here in Texas you don't need to operate at capacity all the time to turn a profit. As an example, a smaller 7-table room in the area regularly gets 1 game per day that doesn't even run all day and they're roughly break-even or a slight loss each month. Of course, they don't have the overhead of a larger room and a larger roster of employees and specialty/management employees either.

As far as getting regulars to switch rooms. Plenty of players in this market float between properties based on tournaments offered or cash games offered. Overall though, I still believe the local rooms have failed miserably to market themselves on a LOCAL level. I believe there's where I have an opportunity to shine and grow, without trying to target our competitions customers.

Some of those customers would naturally find their way to us anyway, and they will wind up marketed to in some of the local campaigns or digital ones as well. But I'm looking to tap customers that I feel were missed overall.

FWIW, there are still players in the market looking for an alternative to The Lodge, just no one has really done things in a way that worked to give them a feasible option.
 
Taking this at face value, I think that most new, recreational, $100 buy-in players that have to pay $50 or $60 after a long session for time, would likely play once, and walk away not willing to try again.

The more I read this thread, the more I question the viability of the concept extending beyond the existing rooms in Texas.

It's certainly not going to be for all of them. But, the median household income here in Austin is over 85K and there are some good paying jobs in this area, a significant tech corridor and new businesses making their way into Austin and people moving in from out of state, so we're in a pretty strong growth phase as far as population goes.

There are plenty of people in this market who can afford the entertainment budget to play some cash games or tournaments without having the fees to play being a deterrent.

I'd love to be able to do a traditional rake so it's not "felt" as much by the players (and it's more profitable from a room operator standpoint) but unfortunately the framework of the law is what it is and I don't want to do anything to circumvent that.

Btw, @Anthony Martino , are you still playing PLO professionally?

I'm still playing, but the game at the lodge is an interesting beast. It's 1/2 with a $5 bring-in and then unlimited restraddles from UTG (can get up to $320 and I've seen it) and match the stack (buyins begin at 200-1K but I've legit seen people sitting 20-30K deep in this thing).

So sometimes multiple games running will be full of grinders and the only way to profit is to cooler someone. Or, it's batshit insane with 6-way all-ins preflop for 1K+ stacks (players in Texas suffer from FOMO, big pot brewing, they can't stand to miss it so they're putting it in with Q653 suited to their 5 in clubs). Because equities run so close preflop in PLO, if you're getting stacks in pre, even with a premium holding, 6-ways is rough to win. While you may win some battles and the pots can be big, overall it's hard to win the war if you don't have the deepest pockets.

So I've been forced to short-buy more of those games and employ Rolf Slotbooms strategy to leverage larger stacks against one another. I've also started playing a bit at TCH where they have a game that's 1 round of NLH and two rounds of $5 bomb pots. I love bomb pots because EVERYONE sees the flop. So now the over-aggro players and the strong pros are handcuffed, it's hard to bluff into a full table that's seen the two boards come out. But there are still players that will stack off light and they're guaranteed to see the flops where they might get pushed out in a traditional blind game.

It's actually the hold em that's proven frustrating. Mostly because people are DESPERATELY trying to give me their fucking money but find miracles to get away from ruin.

KK vs TT all-in pre and we run twice and she spikes a two-outer to chop

Guy raises to 15, I make it 45 with red Queens, guy in the SB cold-calls both raises (so either trapping AA/KK or he's got a weaker hand that he just doesn't feel he can let go of), original raiser calls and we see a flop of 542 with two hearts and one diamond. SB donks like 15 bucks and I rip it in, he calls. I say "twice is nice" and he doesn't respond verbally, just holds up one finger to run it once. Turn T, river 6 and he turns over.................TT and two-outers me for stacks, le sigh

I raise KK UTG, multiple callers, kid in the BB shoves a short stack of $68 and I reraise to iso. We agree to run twice and thank fucking god because this knucklehead tells me he was "trying to go home" and turns over........95 offsuit...........and manages to make two pair on the first board.

Tonight there's a raise from the HJ to 10, button calls, I defend BB with A7 of spades. Flop A74 two diamonds. I check, original raiser bets 15, button folds, I fucking rip it for over $300 cause I know these idiots can't help themselves. He calls, we agree to run twice (again, thank fucking god) because he's called off over $300 into a pot that had $45 in it with AJ and spikes the three-outer on the first turn to chop it up.

These guys are just trying to hand me their money but get bailed out over and over.

Fortunately tonight I managed a pretty big cooler where I had KK vs QQ vs JJ all-in pre and ran twice and someone did not get fucked and managed to scoop, which felt pretty good. Lady with QQ was shorter-stacked unfortunately but I'll take the win.

I got a similar vibe. I also wonder how healthy the current player pool is at the existing rooms. Growing? Shrinking?

I'd say the Lodge is pretty steady at their 15-20 cash games/day plus their solid tournament scene. things are slower with the WSOP running right now and a lot of folks out of town.

TCH seems to have gotten a bit busier recently, but overall I haven't found their player pool all that profitable yet so I'm mostly back to the lodge.

Card rooms are like restaurants. Sexy and good on paper. Very hard to manage in reality and the best ones make all the profit.

I spend summers in a beach town in Delaware and the restaurant turnover is really high. People pour their hopes and dreams into well thought out concepts that either don’t land or are not well executed. So many places are gone after one or two years.

Hiring is hard.

Fraud is rampant.

Location matters. A TON.

Successful spots get bought up by bigger chains that can leverage overhead and spend to drive profitability.

You can have fun or make money, but rarely both. Playing in a competitive market is like sitting down at a poker table full of pros. You might get lucky, but probably not. Usually best to choose a less competitive venture.

Unless your concept is right and can execute.

Case in point: watch galfonds documentary about how he lost $10 million trying to launch run it once poker site. And that guy is a genious who works hard and had a great concept.

Fair points, I know the restaurant business is one of the hardest to find success in. I firmly believe there's a significant untapped local market that doesn't realize poker even exists out here, it's mostly the poker enthusiasts that are aware.

I agree that location is big as well. Some of these places have terrible parking situations (the lodge being one of them) and I don't believe any of them have road signage/frontage which is a significant weakness.

As far as Galfond, the run it once was a poker training site I believe? Poker is a niche with a specific audience to target, but then poker training sites are drilling down to a much smaller demographic within that niche.

It's kinda like trying to market to 100/200 NLH players when they're a much smaller demographic than 1/2 and they want special treatment, personal hosts, free food, etc. but they're paying you the same fees the low stakes players are. why bother with the headache of trying to reach those high-stakes players (which also makes your room a likelier target for players being robbed, which did happen outside the lodge) when you can cater to a larger, less-persnikity audience of recreational lower stakes players?)

I'll shoot you a PM with some of my ideas for growing this thing, just don't want to post it publicly.
 
I love many of your ideas. Just a couple of random thoughts.

You are trying to get bad recreational players to come play at your card house vs creating a home game. I see two main type of players that you want to attract. The first one is the player that is playing with friends, you are trying to replace golf league, bowling league, pool league etc. with poker. Variety of ways that you can get a group, through work like Dell's Tuesday Poker League etc. and also just a Friday night league. Make it a 4 - 6 month season with prizes, can even make it a team event. Prepaid fees, regular attendance, good drink sales and creating customers for other times.

Another type of player is the lotto player, just looking for the jackpot. As long as you have a jackpot they are interested, the bigger the jackpot, doesn't matter what type best hand, bad beat, quads etc, the more they will be there.

At least that's what would attract the players that I play with. Most just want to have a good time and they'd rather play cards than go out to dinner or a movie etc. If you can get that camaraderie going, the going to play poker with the fellas type vibe going. A league gets that mandated attendance, don't want to miss out on the season reward attitude. Also gets the social interaction going when you see the same group regularly.

A couple of people I play with are all about the jackpot. When they visit the casino or card room it's all about the high hand or bad beat, they think it's great, that's their goal and justification to play and they burn through the money hoping to hit. They live on the hope to hit a big jackpot.

I've been to the Lodge, hated it. Just not a fun place to play. Went there with my brother, who lives in Round Rock, like to play poker, but probably won't be back. He's pretty much what you say you are chasing for customers. He lost money then had to pay for time when we left, really turned him off, just rubbed salt in the wound. I know you don't want to talk about other ways to pay for time, but I sure would, because I know one player in your area that likes to play poker and would play poker that won't because of the current model of paying for time. Raking works because players don't see it, they are happy to win the pot and don't care if they win $190 or $200. Getting felted then being charged $50 when you leave, that just pisses a player off. Come up with something else and I think it will help with retaining the players you want. Maybe a mandatory drink requirement like a comedy club. I don't know, but smaller and more frequent is more palatable than a big bill at the beginning or end.

While I prefer cash games, I don't think that is the norm for casual players. Many folks like tournaments for the fact that they can't lose any more money. They look at it as entertainment expense. My weekly game is a tournament with about 24 folks followed by a cash game of about 8. Always ask everyone in the tournament if they want to play in the cash game, they say no with the usual reason that they think they'd lose more money. Most are terrible at the tournament, but they are there every week, pay the entrance and buy a round. I'd hit that market hard. Freeze outs, Sit-N-Gos, and regularly scheduled tournaments. Short tournaments, regular joe can play for 2-4 hours for a set buyin, but they aren't looking for a 12 hour marathon. Also a lot of tournament players end up trying and playing in the cash games.

Just some ideas I had, good luck to you.

Certainly leagues of some kinda with points earned and maybe some fun season-ending prizes can help develop a community of players and get them rooting each other on. I know out in Tampa there is a league that runs at Win Derby in St Pete where they wind up sending players from the league to the WSOP Main Event plus some players win entry into side events. I think they do a $200 tournament each week in the league, with some of it being paid out that night and some going to the season ending prizes.

And I believe league members also agree to give a percentage of anything they win back to the league members as well, so everyone is sweating the winners of the packages because they want to see them win for more than one reason.

Poker House has tried high hands, flush frenzies, bad beat jackpots, they're still struggling with 1-2 games/day and bleeding money.

At the Tampa Hard Rock the room would fill up on certain days because of specific promos that were juicy, but overall it tends to attract nitty players who'll just tie up seats all day, the games aren't that great/fun and it's just people chasing bonuses.

My focus presently is I really want to offer people good value compared to the rest of the market, and create a vibe that's fun and welcoming. Without having to resort to gimmicks. The Lodge gives nothing away but still gets the majority of the attendance, compared to other rooms with varying promotions that are well behind the market leader.

I agree that I hate that losers gotta pay that time toll just like the winners do, but it's the restrictions we have to operate under. If there was a better solution I would think over the last decade we would've seen it implemented already. But who knows, maybe there is a better way that doesn't violate the law that we're all missing.

I agree that tournaments are going to appeal to some players more than cash games. I hate that tournaments are structured in a way that makes it harder for those players to succeed because of top-heavy payouts, unlimited rebuys and multi-day/bag structures that penalize the players with limited time or funds. Tournaments were supposed to be the great equalizer, and that's changed for the worse imo, by overly greedy room operators and pros who want it that way because it benefits them. I hope to be able to change that, at least in a room that I want to create.

And by paying 15-20% of the field, more players are likely to exit the tournament and enter the cash games after.


These are all good ideas!

I’d have to run the numbers (it might not make sense), but maybe a monthly membership fee? It would change the economics of the model quite a bit, but the goal (like a gym) is having a large roster of people paying the monthly fee vs trying to fill seats on the hour. You’ll get some regs that greatly benefit, paying way less, but off-set by the folks who only play once a week or a couple times a month.

You could always tier the memberships, but that adds complexity. Maybe offer a “Founders” membership to early joiners that is good for x years, etc.

This allows you focus on events, atmosphere, etc.; without worrying about hourly seat utilization with a more stable and manageable revenue stream.

So the model here already requires you pay a membership fee to join the club, and then hourly seat rental fees (which is where the bulk of a rooms income derives from). Because we have to operate as private members-only social clubs.

Some rooms have tried offering a "grinders pass" or "play all day" pass with a flat-fee, but overall they haven't found much success with that model. And the rooms are already making less than a traditional card room does that can rake from pots as it is.

From what I was told by one of the previous owners of Poker House, the average hourly fee across the state of TX for card clubs was a bit over $14/hr. He was actually pissed he had to only charge $11 here in Austin because he was competing with The Lodge.


Maybe the dealer could toss the felted player a “$20 time chip” that gives him a discount when he leaves.

I’d think very nicely about a place that seemed like they were helping me a little when I’m down. Building reciprocity is always positive.

The problem there is that if you do it once, now you have to do it for EVERY player and it's expected. And what if that player only played 1 hour, compared with another who played 6 hours, etc?

Now you're cutting a bit too deeply into room profits I think.

I have a really hard time believing that nearly one in four US adults plays poker online.

That's just ZeeJustin multi-accounting.
 
According to this source there are 60 million U.S. residents that play poker online:

There are about 260 million American adults.

I just don’t find it plausible that 30% of them play online poker.

Even including free games.

If I stopped random people on the street and said, “I’ll give you $100 if you can tell me what hand beats quads in poker,” I would be surprised if 1 in 25 people could answer correctly.
 
There are about 260 million American adults.

I just don’t find it plausible that 30% of them play online poker.

Even including free games.

If I stopped random people on the street and said, “I’ll give you $100 if you can tell me what hand beats quads in poker,” I would be surprised if 1 in 25 people could answer correctly.

It's all the multi-accounters lol
 
I'm just excited to watch this happen!

It's hard to post something like this and not get slaughtered. Lol we all expect you to have your entire business plan in hand and providing it online because PCF.

It seems like behind the scenes you have a lot of thought and strategy going into it.

From a personal level, like if I was the one trying to do this, my biggest concerns after seeing more posts would be:

  • What am I bringing to the table and what am I getting in return? I'm sure that you or I would have ideas of what that looks like going into this, BUT would investors agree? Because it seems like the you in this scenario is bringing....knowledge, a subject matter expert in this topic, and relationships. Which are great, but if you're not bringing a large amount of the capital, product differentiator, etc., then unfortunately you're a bit left out in the cold and have to take whatever it is you get. Which, even if it's minute ownership, you're still looking at putting in hard hours either completely unpaid or extremely underpaid.

  • A large component of these ideas come from serving an underserved market. And when looking at TAM as large scale numbers, all investors know it's a bit meaningless unless someone has taken market share and penetrated before. Again, the downside here is if you and I haven't, but maybe we're bringing in people that have, again their value will then far overshadow our own. Because it's not US people are investing in, it's THEM. I don't know about you, but I'm old enough at this point I don't want to be low man on the totem pole. I'm wrapping 11-12 hour works days up every morning at work at 6, done at 5, and cleaning/cooking for kids immediately after for weeks on end and finally after years and years am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as we grow. But I don't want to go start another business after this somewhere unless I am part of the core team being invested in and have primary control on strategy, direction, and implementation. Not just from investment, but also the internal teams.

  • Lastly, all the thoughts on ideal customer profile are mostly thoughts. Going after a specific ICP as a large bulk of business that isn't typically covered in industry, while yes it's a strategy in going after an untapped market, is also going to behave in ways unknown since that data/icp focus doesn't exist today. Trying to Zig while everyone else Zag's, having a heavy loss upfront strategy, needing to work at this full time....I just don't quite see how it's done at 1 million unless that funding comes with something like optional loans on the back end, and even then it's going to be very difficult to get accredited investors who are in for the long haul. I've just seen it happen too many times where people slow development/growth/implementation/etc. because it's tight on funding and all that ends up being is a long, difficult, slow drag of a journey that hopefully ends in success.
I do wish you absolute best of luck, and maybe I'm simply weary from my own journeys and forays. But man, I feel like there could be other things to do that would be similarly rewarding work in the industry that hopefully would be lucrative as well. It seems you have our attention!
 
I'm just excited to watch this happen!

It's hard to post something like this and not get slaughtered. Lol we all expect you to have your entire business plan in hand and providing it online because PCF.

It seems like behind the scenes you have a lot of thought and strategy going into it.

From a personal level, like if I was the one trying to do this, my biggest concerns after seeing more posts would be:

  • What am I bringing to the table and what am I getting in return? I'm sure that you or I would have ideas of what that looks like going into this, BUT would investors agree? Because it seems like the you in this scenario is bringing....knowledge, a subject matter expert in this topic, and relationships. Which are great, but if you're not bringing a large amount of the capital, product differentiator, etc., then unfortunately you're a bit left out in the cold and have to take whatever it is you get. Which, even if it's minute ownership, you're still looking at putting in hard hours either completely unpaid or extremely underpaid.

  • A large component of these ideas come from serving an underserved market. And when looking at TAM as large scale numbers, all investors know it's a bit meaningless unless someone has taken market share and penetrated before. Again, the downside here is if you and I haven't, but maybe we're bringing in people that have, again their value will then far overshadow our own. Because it's not US people are investing in, it's THEM. I don't know about you, but I'm old enough at this point I don't want to be low man on the totem pole. I'm wrapping 11-12 hour works days up every morning at work at 6, done at 5, and cleaning/cooking for kids immediately after for weeks on end and finally after years and years am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as we grow. But I don't want to go start another business after this somewhere unless I am part of the core team being invested in and have primary control on strategy, direction, and implementation. Not just from investment, but also the internal teams.

  • Lastly, all the thoughts on ideal customer profile are mostly thoughts. Going after a specific ICP as a large bulk of business that isn't typically covered in industry, while yes it's a strategy in going after an untapped market, is also going to behave in ways unknown since that data/icp focus doesn't exist today. Trying to Zig while everyone else Zag's, having a heavy loss upfront strategy, needing to work at this full time....I just don't quite see how it's done at 1 million unless that funding comes with something like optional loans on the back end, and even then it's going to be very difficult to get accredited investors who are in for the long haul. I've just seen it happen too many times where people slow development/growth/implementation/etc. because it's tight on funding and all that ends up being is a long, difficult, slow drag of a journey that hopefully ends in success.
I do wish you absolute best of luck, and maybe I'm simply weary from my own journeys and forays. But man, I feel like there could be other things to do that would be similarly rewarding work in the industry that hopefully would be lucrative as well. It seems you have our attention!

I'm about to head to bed but will dhoot you a pm with stuff I don't want to share publicly
 
Man, first just want to say good luck, all day on your project. But, I don't think the 10,000 player pool is too far off and just throwing out internet survey numbers doesn't actually play to your argument. I'm a casino poker player since 2000 in Atlantic City and have played in 7 states. I've consistently played in non-PCF home games in multiple states. 95% of the players that I know that "play" poker have never and will never play casino poker. Many, or most of these players play online occasionally and have been to casinos for various engagements and have played blackjack, craps, other table games, or even slots, but never poker. So from my non-professional actuary position, I see 10,000 players as close to accurate. 2 million people, 10% "play" poker, and 5% of those will play casino poker. Just countering your counter with my real world experience. I hope I'm wrong and would love to see more engagement with average Joe's playing more live poker. Again, best of luck!
 
Man, first just want to say good luck, all day on your project. But, I don't think the 10,000 player pool is too far off and just throwing out internet survey numbers doesn't actually play to your argument. I'm a casino poker player since 2000 in Atlantic City and have played in 7 states. I've consistently played in non-PCF home games in multiple states. 95% of the players that I know that "play" poker have never and will never play casino poker. Many, or most of these players play online occasionally and have been to casinos for various engagements and have played blackjack, craps, other table games, or even slots, but never poker. So from my non-professional actuary position, I see 10,000 players as close to accurate. 2 million people, 10% "play" poker, and 5% of those will play casino poker. Just countering your counter with my real world experience. I hope I'm wrong and would love to see more engagement with average Joe's playing more live poker. Again, best of luck!

In a population of 2 million if 5% of them will play casino poker that's 100,000 in your potential player pool, not 10,000
 
So lets take a bird's eye view on this. Obviously there's plenty of improvement potential in the existing market, where noobs are insta-stacked off by a grinder/big wallet guy and the nits fights the rake while growling.
There's plenty of improvement to the rooms themselves both in player rewards, operation, offerings and general standard. If you can expand the market/pie instead of relying on fighting for a piece of the existing pie, that's obviously a great plus.

As for challenges, there are plenty to choose from. Apparently 5 pages worth, where the biggest question mark is how to make the pie bigger (and getting your fair slice of the now bigger pie) which is the core of this concept. If you get fish to regularly visit (obviously for entertainment reasons and the illusion of maybe winning some money as well), you're basically home free. First challenge is to get them in through the door, second is to have them come back. Anthony has a plan for this but none of us knows if it will actually work. If that doesn't work, is there a contingency plan? If new fish comes to the place and they have to hang around an hour to see if maybe a table starts, that's not great.
The greatest challenge is of course finding someone willing to put money down on Anthony's "theory", to be a bit brutal. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone here wants this to succeed and nothing would be better than a room that's isn't constantly angling you.

When it comes to the hourly rate, the more I think about it, the more I like the "time chips" idea that someone here proposed but I see several organizational challenges with it so I need to mull it over some more and try to come up with an idea that tens of thousands has already tried to crack unsuccessfully so I'm sure that will work out fine.

The great thing about it is that when players are a buying chips, e.g. $300 they get e.g. $200 and 10 time chips (assuming it's $10/hour for ease of math). If they bust after 6 hours they don't have to pay $60 on top of that, instead they get $40 back for the 4 unused time chips they got remaining, which is kind of like "oh well, at least I got some money back". My current system involves a lot of "free" hours though so I'm not sure it's financially feasible.
 
I’ve thought a bit myself about finding ann entrepreneurial angle to create an above ground poker room, the main hurdle being NYS laws. Which on paper seem to bar anything but rarely-sanctioned casinos… though there’s anomalies like this:

https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/legal-cardroom-in-new-york.114154/

In my area and state, I suspect it would be both easier and possibly even more profitable to run a small niche poker operation. One that is focused on higher-end games, providing a social club aspect plus maybe some other recreation (e.g. tennis, swimming, marksmanship, hiking, etc.) which could attract potential new players as well.

Running a place which needs to convince 100+ people to show up 24/7/365 would be an exhausting challenge (at my age). And would require a large buffer of cash at start up to survive.

Getting 18-24 people 2-3 times a week at higher stakes with other amenities which justify a substantial membership fee? I could see that.

The casinos within reach of me don’t really care much about their poker rooms, and are mainly running dismal 1/3 games, which are soft but still barely bearable because of rake. They’ll have one table of 2/5 maybe half the time, and maybe one 5/10 game a week if that.

Higher stakes games (and again, in my area, anything above 1/3 is higher stakes) in a pleasant, non-junky environment are a major rarity. So I can see an untapped potential for anything starting at 2/5 up to Molly’s game levels — because there are some very well-heeled people hiding out where I live.

It may sound elitist, I know. But the mass market seems pretty well covered in most metro areas where poker is legal.

So I guess what I’m suggesting to the OP (and others contemplating such ventures) is whether a new room needs to pretty radically differentiate itself from the competition in some way. Thst could be by providing more of a Monte Carlo atmosphere, or even going the opposite direction (say an outlaw vibe).
 
5 pages in, and nobody has asked the important question. Why Austin? Why not open up a card room in a state that GPI sells to?

So you vultures can scoop up all the $1 chips at face value when we'd be spending more than that to have them made and now my dealers aren't getting tips? I don't think so! :p
 
So lets take a bird's eye view on this. Obviously there's plenty of improvement potential in the existing market, where noobs are insta-stacked off by a grinder/big wallet guy and the nits fights the rake while growling.
There's plenty of improvement to the rooms themselves both in player rewards, operation, offerings and general standard. If you can expand the market/pie instead of relying on fighting for a piece of the existing pie, that's obviously a great plus.

As for challenges, there are plenty to choose from. Apparently 5 pages worth, where the biggest question mark is how to make the pie bigger (and getting your fair slice of the now bigger pie) which is the core of this concept. If you get fish to regularly visit (obviously for entertainment reasons and the illusion of maybe winning some money as well), you're basically home free. First challenge is to get them in through the door, second is to have them come back. Anthony has a plan for this but none of us knows if it will actually work. If that doesn't work, is there a contingency plan? If new fish comes to the place and they have to hang around an hour to see if maybe a table starts, that's not great.
The greatest challenge is of course finding someone willing to put money down on Anthony's "theory", to be a bit brutal. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone here wants this to succeed and nothing would be better than a room that's isn't constantly angling you.

When it comes to the hourly rate, the more I think about it, the more I like the "time chips" idea that someone here proposed but I see several organizational challenges with it so I need to mull it over some more and try to come up with an idea that tens of thousands has already tried to crack unsuccessfully so I'm sure that will work out fine.

The great thing about it is that when players are a buying chips, e.g. $300 they get e.g. $200 and 10 time chips (assuming it's $10/hour for ease of math). If they bust after 6 hours they don't have to pay $60 on top of that, instead they get $40 back for the 4 unused time chips they got remaining, which is kind of like "oh well, at least I got some money back". My current system involves a lot of "free" hours though so I'm not sure it's financially feasible.

I'll send you a PM outlining some of my ideas I don't want to put in a forum accessible to the public. I do like the idea of a player getting a refund when they leave in some ways, at least I'm getting some money back does have a certain appeal to it. But there's also the possibility they play beyond those time chips and still owe, you're still adding new chips we need to create, track, players might misplace, lose or have their time chips stolen and now they're upset because they paid for time they aren't receiving, etc. And they could still just prepay for time and have it on their account at the start of a session and have any remaining balance carry over to their next session, rather than adding a step of giving them time chips.

I’ve thought a bit myself about finding ann entrepreneurial angle to create an above ground poker room, the main hurdle being NYS laws. Which on paper seem to bar anything but rarely-sanctioned casinos… though there’s anomalies like this:

https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/legal-cardroom-in-new-york.114154/

In my area and state, I suspect it would be both easier and possibly even more profitable to run a small niche poker operation. One that is focused on higher-end games, providing a social club aspect plus maybe some other recreation (e.g. tennis, swimming, marksmanship, hiking, etc.) which could attract potential new players as well.

Running a place which needs to convince 100+ people to show up 24/7/365 would be an exhausting challenge (at my age). And would require a large buffer of cash at start up to survive.

Getting 18-24 people 2-3 times a week at higher stakes with other amenities which justify a substantial membership fee? I could see that.

The casinos within reach of me don’t really care much about their poker rooms, and are mainly running dismal 1/3 games, which are soft but still barely bearable because of rake. They’ll have one table of 2/5 maybe half the time, and maybe one 5/10 game a week if that.

Higher stakes games (and again, in my area, anything above 1/3 is higher stakes) in a pleasant, non-junky environment are a major rarity. So I can see an untapped potential for anything starting at 2/5 up to Molly’s game levels — because there are some very well-heeled people hiding out where I live.

It may sound elitist, I know. But the mass market seems pretty well covered in most metro areas where poker is legal.

So I guess what I’m suggesting to the OP (and others contemplating such ventures) is whether a new room needs to pretty radically differentiate itself from the competition in some way. Thst could be by providing more of a Monte Carlo atmosphere, or even going the opposite direction (say an outlaw vibe).

For poker rooms the absolute bread and butter money makers for the room are your lower stakes, entry-level games. You just can't survive in this business model catering to a much smaller, high-stakes crowd that is extremely fickle. A 50/100 PLO player is paying you the same fees as a 1/1 PLO player, but they're going to be much harder to attract and keep happy than the significantly larger masses of lower stakes players.

And a lot of times higher stakes players aren't all that great tippers (there are exceptions, but I've certainly noticed it myself and heard about it from people in the industry). So if you're catering to this higher stakes crowd you're going to be hurting your staffs morale and finances as well.

I remember back in the day I used to go to Foxwoods to play a 20/40 mixed game when the WPT would roll through in the spring and fall. They'd get a 75/150 O.E. game running and I always wanted to try it, so one day I plunked down 4 grand to give it a try.

The table was full of guys that owned their own businesses like construction companies, etc. They all knew each other, they're all sitting 5-15K deep each. The entire time all those guys did was swear at one another, berate the dealer, etc. And not one, NOT ONE, of them tipped. Not even a fucking dollar. They're raking in 4-figure pots and they're not tipping at all. It was the most disgusting display of cheapness and rudeness I've ever experienced at the table.
 
I'll send you a PM outlining some of my ideas I don't want to put in a forum accessible to the public. I do like the idea of a player getting a refund when they leave in some ways, at least I'm getting some money back does have a certain appeal to it. But there's also the possibility they play beyond those time chips and still owe, you're still adding new chips we need to create, track, players might misplace, lose or have their time chips stolen and now they're upset because they paid for time they aren't receiving, etc. And they could still just prepay for time and have it on their account at the start of a session and have any remaining balance carry over to their next session, rather than adding a step of giving them time chips.



For poker rooms the absolute bread and butter money makers for the room are your lower stakes, entry-level games. You just can't survive in this business model catering to a much smaller, high-stakes crowd that is extremely fickle. A 50/100 PLO player is paying you the same fees as a 1/1 PLO player, but they're going to be much harder to attract and keep happy than the significantly larger masses of lower stakes players.

And a lot of times higher stakes players aren't all that great tippers (there are exceptions, but I've certainly noticed it myself and heard about it from people in the industry). So if you're catering to this higher stakes crowd you're going to be hurting your staffs morale and finances as well.

I remember back in the day I used to go to Foxwoods to play a 20/40 mixed game when the WPT would roll through in the spring and fall. They'd get a 75/150 O.E. game running and I always wanted to try it, so one day I plunked down 4 grand to give it a try.

The table was full of guys that owned their own businesses like construction companies, etc. They all knew each other, they're all sitting 5-15K deep each. The entire time all those guys did was swear at one another, berate the dealer, etc. And not one, NOT ONE, of them tipped. Not even a fucking dollar. They're raking in 4-figure pots and they're not tipping at all. It was the most disgusting display of cheapness and rudeness I've ever experienced at the table.

I’m thinking more of a private club model not a traditional casino/poker room one.

For example, there are “hunt” clubs in my area (where little if anything ever gets hunted except clay pigeons) where the initiation and annual fees are in the 5-6 figures. Members are mostly second home owners from NYC.

In a venue like that, high stakes games would be a feature of membership but the social aspect would be the primary driver of revenue, with an underlying nonprofit structure.

Another angle would be for me to just convince an existing club to let me host games there.

But that’s specific to my area. My broader point is that I think a new entrant into a market which already has “mass” options may need to address a niche or other special angle to stand out. As opposed to just taking the 1950s advertising approach (“Our aspirin has 15% more pain reliever than the competition”)
 
This is super interesting and I’m enjoying following along. One thing I appreciate is that @Anthony Martino always responds with his thoughts instead of ignoring tough questions. Fingers crossed for you!!

Out of curiosity, have you been able to drum up interest from investor(s)?

Also, you might want to reach out to @ImCrossland ? I know it didn’t get off the ground, but he may have additional insight for you that could help.

Thread 'Opening a Card Room in Texas!'
https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/opening-a-card-room-in-texas.92894/
 
I’m thinking more of a private club model not a traditional casino/poker room one.

For example, there are “hunt” clubs in my area (where little if anything ever gets hunted except clay pigeons) where the initiation and annual fees are in the 5-6 figures. Members are mostly second home owners from NYC.

In a venue like that, high stakes games would be a feature of membership but the social aspect would be the primary driver of revenue, with an underlying nonprofit structure.

Another angle would be for me to just convince an existing club to let me host games there.

But that’s specific to my area. My broader point is that I think a new entrant into a market which already has “mass” options may need to address a niche or other special angle to stand out. As opposed to just taking the 1950s advertising approach (“Our aspirin has 15% more pain reliever than the competition”)

You mean like all those rich folk that hunt poor people for sport? I've seen the films good sir!

While there are already 9 rooms in the Austin market and one of them is the clear leader of the pack, there's still the issue that they're advertising to traveling professional poker players, rather than doing localized advertising and outreach.

That's the massive hole I see to exploit, reaching players everyone else is failing to reach, rather than just trying to steal market share from the competition. I'm trying to tap parts of the market I view as untapped.

This is super interesting and I’m enjoying following along. One thing I appreciate is that @Anthony Martino always responds with his thoughts instead of ignoring tough questions. Fingers crossed for you!!

Out of curiosity, have you been able to drum up interest from investor(s)?

Also, you might want to reach out to @ImCrossland ? I know it didn’t get off the ground, but he may have additional insight for you that could help.

Thread 'Opening a Card Room in Texas!'
https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/opening-a-card-room-in-texas.92894/

Oh wow, wasn't aware of this but I'll take a look. I am in discussion with potential investors, I don't have anything finalized/secured as of yet.
 

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