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Grand Victoria's New Poker Room Is a Hit

29 April 2009

The new live poker room at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin has only been open for seven weeks, but already the addition has earned the support and favor of players from around the Chicago area.

It debuted on Feb. 18 with three tables in a dedicated area on the lower level of the casino. A fourth table was quickly added, two more soon followed, and in the future the room may expand to nine tables pending Illinois Gaming Board approval.

"We've been really busy," said Mark Blackman, director of table game operations. "To be honest, I didn't expect it would be this huge."

The room is open every day during the property's normal hours of operation, 8:30 a.m. until 6:15 a.m.

At the present time the only games being offered are limit and no-limit Texas Hold'em with stakes of $5.00/$10.00 and up.

When space limitations are a factor, many casinos explore going with fully automated electronic tables, but for Blackman that wasn't an option.

"Part of the whole thing about poker is the people, the dealer, the interaction, and holding the cards," he said. "I think the experience of poker is important, and that it gets lost in automated games."

One of the unusual amenities being offered in the room is allowing players to place orders for sandwiches off a menu and being permitted to eat at the table. Also, comp dollars can be accrued for poker play through the Club Victoria player's club.

Because Illinois regulations limit the number of gaming positions each property may have open to 1,200, the addition of live poker at the Grand Vic has come at the expense of some slot machines.

"A slot machine is the equivalent of .9 positions and a poker table is five positions, so five or six slot machines have to be taken out for each poker table that we bring in," Blackman explained.

Poker room manager, Debbie Masters, was recruited from Las Vegas to open up and run the operation, a decision which Blackman deems crucial to its success.

"Debbie has been in the business for over 25 years," he said. "She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to make it a professional room."

One of the ways casinos generate money from poker rooms is extracting a percentage of money from each pot which is called "rake". The Grand Victoria games have a rake of 10 percent of the pot, up to a maximum of eight dollars.

"The size of the pots has been very large, something we didn't expect," Blackman said. "We see $300, $400, and $500 pots almost every hand."

"Players may call up to an hour prior to their arrival," said Masters. "They may also walk in an go directly to the podium. If there's an opening, they'll be seated right away. If not, we'll put them on a waiting list, get their cell number, and text them when a seat is available."

All initial buy-ins should be made at the casino cage adjacent to the poker room.

The Grand Vic's new venue leaves Harrah's Joliet as the only Chicago area casino property in Illinois without a poker room.

Information and reservations are available by calling the casino at 1-888-508-1900 and asking for the poker room.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp