When I first moved to Oklahoma, the Cherokee Casino cardroom was the first place I chose to play. Its vast array of poker games and buzzing action were hard to resist. The poker boom and acquisition of large stakes and celebrity players pushed them to the forefront of poker in the region. As the initial poker buzz died, Cherokee poker took a hit and in the meantime, the casino rebranded to Hard Rock Casino Resort. Since the change, a dedicated poker staff has been working diligently to restore and refresh their cherished poker program.
Recently I interviewed poker supervisor Chris “Gomper” Hyams, cardroom manager Dennis Myers and PR coordinator Tim Landes to learn more about what Hard Rock poker has in store for the new year.
What are your poker plans for 2012?
Hyams: We’re going to add another major event. In the past we’ve always had three events a year, the Oklahoma State Championship of Poker in the first of the year, Mid-South Poker Classic in the middle of the year and the Hard Rock Poker Open in November. We are looking at creating a fourth event in August.
Myers: I’ve been working with Chris and getting all the knowledge I can on poker. We want this to be a year that stands out for our poker program.
I hear you are also getting a new poker room. Is that true?
Hyams: Yes, when the new building goes up.
Landes: The poker room will move away from where it is currently once the building is complete.
Are you going to increase the amount of tables?
Hyams: Well, we have 12 tables now. We had 16 before and our target is to at least get back to that.
What kinds of promotions or incentives are you giving your players?
Hyams: Some of the most recent things we have been doing to encourage new players and our regulars to come play are our time-rake games. For the players playing in a red-chip game we rake $5 from every player in the game every 30 minutes. The players really do like it better.
We have also developed a $10-$25 no-limit Texas Hold’em game that’s every other Thursday and on the off Thursday we have a $5-$10 pot-limit Omaha game. Thursdays have become a real big day for live games.
Those are above-average stakes. How did you get those games started?
Hyams: Actually, it’s all our floorman Greg McCord. He came to me one day and asked me if he could start calling players and putting games together. We had no objection. He started with a couple of names and spent some time at the nearby rooms where he got to know players and started to bring them here. He is using his own phone and puts in many hours calling all these players now. We have a lot of new faces here because of him.
What are your other regular cash games?
Hyams: $1-$2 NLHE, $2-$5 NLHE on the weekends and a $1-$2-$5 PLO game. Thursdays are our biggest variety of games. Cash plays on the table and it is very juicy.
We also have $1-$5 stud game $25 buy-in and a $2-$4 limit hold’em game on Monday nights, which are seniors nights.
Tell the readers more about your Team Hard Rock promotion.
Hyams: It’s a tournament-based promotion we have been doing for four years. You earn points for every tournament you enter and you win points based on how well you placed. It is done in quarters so at the end of the quarter the top point-earners come and play for five spots on the team. Team players can receive entry into big events throughout the year. We also provide them some apparel items, fancy dinners and hotel rooms among other things.
What is most exciting for Hard Rock Tulsa poker in 2012?
Hyams: The staff is really uniting poker players from all over. Greg has been doing such a good job finding new players. We really have lots of new faces in the room. Our regulars love it, our new players enjoy our action, and our poker staff really works hard to make players feel at home. As the word continues to spread, so do our games. We think it’s going to be a bright year for Hard Rock poker.
— Crystalynn Harris is the Ante Up Ambassador for the Oklahoma-Kansas area. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.