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Cardrooms that understand the importance of catering to the players are the ones that are successful

by Lucy Rokach |  Published: Jan 06, 2005


Ladbrokes invited us on its poker cruise in October, and it was very enjoyable. It was a great atmosphere, and the Ladbrokes team put on a great show. You may think that I'm waxing lyrical to suck up to them, and if you do, you're a poor judge of character. To begin with, there was a stand in the embarkation hall for anyone needing assistance, and then as we stepped onto the ship, poker CEO Albert Tapper was there to introduce himself and greet us. Nice move, Albert, nothing beats the personal touch.

On the first night of the cruise, they held a cocktail party for the draw of the heats, a very sociable affair with Roy "The Boy" doing an excellent compeer's job. On the night of the final, there was another cocktail party to intro­duce the finalists and hold a Calcutta auction; this created great razzmatazz and buzz. It strikes me that Ladbrokes put a lot of thought and effort into this cruise and deserves a big pat on the back. Cash games, satellites, and additional tournaments were available to suit every pocket, and the structure for the main event was excellent (more about that another time). All in all, it was a job very well done. In addition, Ladbrokes has just announced that it is going to add more than $800,000 to its televised Poker Million in 2005.

Inasmuch as there are so many poker festivals nowadays, there is no reason to support cardrooms that do not treat the punters well. Those operators who believe poker players are so dim that they will put up with any nonsense should remember the saga of the Las Vegas Rio festival. What a fantastic poker tournament that was. The hotel rooms were great, and at about $50 per night, they were an incredible value. Because everyone was happy with the hotel, we all stayed on the premises and the cash games went around-the-clock. Then, disaster struck. The tournament was moved to Harrah's on the Strip, which boasted inferior facilities for more money. Poker players talked with their feet and went to play elsewhere, and the festival was a flop and was not held again … talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

Similarly, the Rainbow casino in Birmingham used to have poker players hanging from the rafters seven nights a week. Then one day, the owners decided that we were eating too many expensive ham and cheese toasties and drinking too many milky coffees, so they stopped all weekend competitions and stopped providing dealers for half of the tables. The following week, half of the players moved their allegiance to Grosvenor Walsall. The Rainbow owners belatedly realised their error and spent a lot of time and money trying to woo these errant poker ­players back, but, alas, it was to no avail. Today, there is no cardroom at the Rainbow, and Walsall is the main ­beneficiary.

The moral of these stories is obvious: Cosset the goose that is laying the golden egg.

Lucy "Golden Ovaries" Rokach has long been one of the most successful tournament players in Europe, with 14 major European titles to her name in the last five years alone. She hails from the Midlands in the UK, but can usually be found on the European tournament trail.