Out with a Fizzle? New Trop Poker Room Closing

by , Sep 10, 2012 | 9:02 pm

tropicana poker room closing

Sit-n-Go-Away: The Tropicana Poker Room tried everything, but just couldn’t get enough action to stick.

I went to the Trop poker room Wednesday night, about 10:30, to see if a few friends might be working or playing. The room was totally dark but for a single flickering light. No dealer in a box, no suit at the counter. It seemed odd, but the room had been growing noticeably quieter in recent weeks.

Sure enough, the new Tropicana Poker Room, which opened on Black Friday and briefly enjoyed a stretch as the Jamie Gold Poker Room, is closing tomorrow. Supposedly for good, with its current space, next to the CantorGaming Sportsbook, slated to be transformed into a special area for slot tournaments.

The room had been going dark quite often since the end of the WSOP, I’m told. The daily “rakeback” deal that offered grinders upwards of $10/hr just wasn’t drawing enough players to make the room profitable for the house.

And save for a weekly low-stakes mix game, “the Cannon Game,” the room simply wasn’t getting much regular action.

Charity events and specialty tournaments weren’t helping either. This past weekend was supposed to be a big event catering to the LGBT crowd as the Trop hosted Las Vegas’ annual “Gay Days” celebration. Thousands were in town for a weeklong string of events at the casino, and the poker room was expecting upwards of 60 players for their $150 “Poke’em Poker Tournament,” but only nine showed up.

Staffers got the news Monday morning that the room was closing. They were told they could apply for jobs in the Tropicana pits, if they wanted.

The rakeback promo and various drawings, coupled with free sodas and water and stiffer drinks paid for by the room, apparently was crippling the once-promising 6-table room that emblazoned Jamie Gold’s name on the felt in an effort to attract players.

Penultimate last action: It was still daylight when the last cash game broke today before tomorrow’s farewell party.

Despite giving the players low rake, special promotions, and extensive bonuses, the room was not able to achieve the critical mass necessary to make it all work for the house. They needed somewhere around $1,500 per day in rake to break even, poker room sources said, but the room was barely pulling in half that on a regular basis.

Jackpot money collected, however, belongs to the players, not the poker room. So on Tuesday, before the room begins its transformation into a tournament slots area, the Trop Poker Room will be giving away all leftover jackpot money, as required by Nevada law. So about $16,000 must go back to the players.

The plan is for two $1,000 drawings per hour from 10am-4pm. (Subject to change, but still, it’s money they must somehow give away.)

Poker room supervisor Andy Cobb advises getting in early to pick a seat. As word spread about the room’s closing on Twitter, phone calls poured in to the front desk.

Cobb, who started at Trop when the room opened on April 15, 2011, told me he plans to go back to playing for a living.

“I’ve been working long enough,” he said.

You would think, as a poker room supervisor, he might think better of that plan.

Meanwhile, I sat down for some $1/$3 NL in what I thought could be the last rakeback game at the Tropicana ever. But I was there for only about an hour before the single table broke, before I could put in the three hours it takes to qualify for rakeback.

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