Features of My Dream Live Poker Room

Written By James Guill on November 12, 2014
the best possibility of all-encompassing features of a poker room

I was recently talking with a friend about which card rooms that I frequently visit out west and it led into a discussion about what amenities we would like in a live card room.

Thinking further on the matter, my ideal card room would really be a hodgepodge of rooms that I have played in around the country with a couple added amenities. Below are some of the features from my perfect live card room.


You want to guarantee that I will seldom come to your casino? Spread only Texas Hold’em. I refuse to frequent casinos that only spread Hold’em. As a mixed games player, a casino has to have variety in order for me to be a regular.

By variety, that means you must spread at least the following:

• Limit AND No-Limit Texas Hold’em
• Seven Card Stud
• Omaha Hi-Lo
• Pot-Limit Omaha

My ideal casino would spread the above games as well as Stud 8 or Better, and other varieties of games such as Badugi and 2-7 Lowball. H.O.R.S.E., 8-Game or mixed variants such as Mixed Hold’em or Triple Stud would be great as well.

Furthermore, I prefer casinos that regularly offer tournaments in variants other than Hold’em. Tournament Director Johnny Groomes had a great philosophy for events he used to run at the Gold Strike in Tunica, MS. He said that he was going to always spread at least five variants of poker regardless of how well they drew.

There is a market for mixed games and casinos that spread more than Texas Hold’em can tap that market.


When it comes to dealers, I’m actually fairly lax on my requirements. In most cases, if a dealer is nice and works hard, I can look over mistakes. With that said, there are a few things that I like to see in dealers.

First, I believe that dealers should have a solid command on the English language. I’m not saying they have to understand all our idiosyncrasies or our slang, but we should be able to have a basic conversation with a dealer. There’s nothing more frustrating that having a problem with a game and having to get a floor man to come to the table to handle the problem because the dealer doesn’t understand what you’re saying.

Next, dealers should be able to deal all of the games that are spread in the casino competently. It doesn’t matter if it is spread or played regularly. If it is on the board, dealers should be able to deal it.

Omaha Hi-Lo players understand the frustration of this, especially in tournaments. You get a dealer that has seldom, if ever, dealt a game and they slow down the game because of their lack of experience.

Otherwise, I have few preferences on dealers. Male or female, it doesn’t matter to me. Just be fast and act like you like dealing to my table a bit.

Food / Drinks / Service

One benefit that every live poker room should offer is food and drink service beyond your typical cocktail server. The Bicycle Casino was one of my favorite places to play because of their table service.

In addition to your typical cocktail servers, you regularly had food service that came around with a solid menu that you could order from. Whether you wanted greasy or healthy, they had options.

However, my favorite option was actually the porters. The porters are the equivalent of your old school gophers. You want some food that isn’t on the food service menu? Get the porter to go order your meal and bring it. Want some candy or sodas from the gift shop? Porter!

My ideal poker room would be similar to the bike with cocktail, food service and porters. To add icing on the cake, let’s have an option like what the Trump Taj’s room has in Atlantic City: go to the back of the poker room and take an elevator straight to the second floor snack shop.

This would allow you to get away from the poker room while taking a break away from the restlessness of the casino.

Tables / Chairs

My ideal poker room would have upgrades over your standard room. First, auto-shufflers on all tables regardless of the limits. Everyone deserves to have the maximum number of hands possible.

Next, I would prefer to have some extra large tables to allow for some of us players that belong to the Association of Broad Bottom Architects. You put three or four of us at one end of the table and that’s like stuffing sardines into a snuffbox.

Also, how about we look at the poker room layout. Many poker rooms decide to put the table so close together that it can be difficult to get in and out without hitting players at other tables. Poker tables should have enough space between them for an old person to drive a motorized scooter between tables and not touch anyone. That would be proper table spacing.

Let’s next look at chairs…

Why must many poker rooms use these horrible stacking chairs with cushions that go flat when a cat sits on them? Let’s get some nice padded executive style office chairs with nice padding on them and wheels. Give your players some comfort at the tables. After all, most will walk away with nothing but a memory. At least make them comfortable while doing so.


Finally, let’s talk a bit about rake. First, my ideal card room would not take a dead drop in any form. Rake would also only start if a pot gets to the flop (or second round of betting in other games.)

Next, if a room chooses a rake structure, I prefer a 5% rake structure. While this is considered a bit low compared to many live card rooms, it is better for players.

However, if I have my true preference, I would prefer to pay a time charge to a rake. Essentially, each player posts the equivalent of the big blind as a time charge each half hour.

In a $3-$6 game, you pay $3 every half hour. This would be a drop to the casino in lieu of per hand rake. For many games, this will be cheaper than standard rake. Higher limit games could offer a discounted drop to keep players happy or draw new blood.

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James Guill

Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

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