Poker rooms vary substantially in how they cater to the comfort of players. The venues themselves range from plush card rooms in casinos, to dedicated poker clubs, to smaller charity card rooms, and underground rooms. Each has its own unique set of features and services. Some have nice wide tables, ample space to walk around, and good lighting. Others are small, cramped, dark and lack even the most basic concepts of customer service. In my poker travels I have encountered a number of features that made me think “I wish my local card room had this!” Here are my top 6 favorite features of the ideal poker room:
- In-Table Phone Chargers – The Bellagio in Las Vegas was the first place I encountered this one. While a number of card rooms have charging stations somewhere in the room, The Bellagio actually enables you to charge up at the table. Heaven.
- Big Comfortable Adjustable Chairs – The winner for me has been the Aria. I have spent too many hours in hard, narrow chairs which leave me looking for a chiropractor. The chairs at the Aria are wide, well-cushioned, and fully adjustable.
- Cup Holders In, Not On, the Table – While most large casino poker rooms have built in cup holders, many smaller card rooms leave your drink to sit in a little metal holder on the table. Trying to reach around your own drink and and those of your neighbors leaves you feeling cramped and anxious, praying that the only thing you knock over is your chip stack.
- Auto-Shufflers – Like in-table cup holders, this is a casino standard feature, at least in cash games where the speed of hands dealt equals money to the casino. My local card room not only lacks auto-shufflers, it lacks enough dealers who can consistently deal more than 20 hands an hour. Long live auto-shufflers.
- Good Lighting – There is huge variety in lighting conditions from room to room. Many rooms are too dark to allow you to see the flop from the 3 seat. Other rooms are brighter, but are lit in an odd fluorescent color that makes everyone look vaguely ill and gives you a headache after two hours at the table. The best rooms are both bright and pleasant. The Borgata gets this right, as does The Venetian.
- Access to the Waitress – Getting the attention of a waitress before you die of thirst is a perennial poker room problem. Last summer, I was lucky enough to visit the Playground Poker Club outside of Montreal and experience the ultimate in waitress access. When you request a waitress at The Playground, the dealer presses a button which lights up a signal attached to the dealer’s seat. Once the light goes on, the average wait time is no more than 3 minutes. Brilliant.
There are of course many other features that will improve your poker room experience, from sparkling clean chips to breathing room between the tables, but these are my favorites.
What are yours?
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