By Garrett Roth
It’s a new era in Florida poker. July 1, 2010 was not only a significant date for poker players, but for management of casinos and racetracks all over the state. New limits, games, hours and employees are just a few of the additions that were needed for the new Florida poker expansion.
Casinos and racetrack venues were forced to make some major changes to accommodate these new additions to Florida poker. Michael LaFroscia, CEO of the Casino Career Institute in Oakland Park, Fla., discussed transformations that these institutions would have to put in place for this transition to be successful.
“One of the biggest factors is the expanded hours,” LaFroscia said. “Many places need to cover the extended hours with new employees and dealers.”
Florida cardrooms such as Derby Lane, Tampa Bay Downs and Ocala Poker are just a few of the rooms that had to hire new dealers for the expansion. Hours for these rooms have been extended to accommodate players. There are, however, some casinos that didn’t have to hire more dealers, such as the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa. Hard Rock always has been a 24-hour room, so hiring more dealers wasn’t necessary.
What was necessary, however, was separating dealers according to skill. Since pot-limit games were introduced, the current dealers had auditions to deal these specific games. Hard Rock is one of the most popular cardrooms in Central Florida, so it understands the quality of the dealer must match with the quality of the game.
LaFroscia also said dealers will have to deal with players from around the country.
“The new dealers need to be trained not only on mechanics, but also on customer service and professionalism,” he said. “High-limit players want experienced dealers that are able to deal with game protection, work ethic, knowledge of management skills and collusion protection.”
Poker rooms across the state are very selective in their hirings. The standard of dealers and casino employees has been raised along with the new limits. Along with hiring new dealers and new casino staff, there are other areas where these locations can improve to draw players from out of state.
“These casinos and racetracks need more knowledge of what players want and what gamblers are all about,” LaFroscia said. “They need to offer players free drinks, rooms or comps to keep them coming back. The rooms need to market themselves more and have additional incentives. It will definitely get to that point.”