Meet Mike Nelson, Peppermill’s new poker manager

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Mike Nelson, the new poker room manger at the Peppermill, has a lot of great ideas for the room and is optimistic about continuing the growth and popularity of poker in Reno. I recently had a chance to chat with him.

How did you get started in poker, and how long have you been in the Reno area? I moved to Reno in December of 1990 via a job promotion. I learned to play chess when I was 5 years old and two years later I was playing poker for change with my mom’s poker group. Seven-card stud was my favorite game and I was blessed with a good memory, so it was a good thing I was a well-mannered kid or I would’ve been kicked out of the ladies group for always taking their money.

People say you’re a “player’s manager.” What do you think that means and how does it benefit the Peppermill poker room? The players-manager tag is a big compliment to me and I really appreciate it. I think I’m labeled as such partly because I played poker for a living for five years and that’s a lot of time in cardrooms. During those five years, I observed how cardrooms are operated and all the missed opportunities that cardroom management has to communicate with the players. I owned, operated or at least managed service companies for the past 30 years, so I could not turn off my years of spotting obvious ways to make customers happier while still making the business successful.

As far as the Peppermill part of your question, being part of the Peppermill team is a really good match. My philosophies completely match up with the Peppermill management team. I feel completely supported and encouraged to continue to strive to make our poker room the best we can possible be.

What tournaments are you running and are there any player-appreciation events offered? We have a unique comp program for our players. The more hours you play the higher the comp level you earn. Players that play over 120 hours in a month earn $2.50 per hour.

Playing 30 hours in a month gets you an increase in comps and into the $10K monthly freeroll. Our daily 12:30 p.m. tournament has $500 added Monday through Friday; we average 50-70 players daily with a first place of over $700 for only a total buy-in of $55.

What are you biggest goals for the Peppermill? We want the poker room at the Peppermill to be the most fun place to play anywhere. Sometimes all of us forget poker is a game and it’s supposed to be enjoyable. I want our guests to have fun and enjoy their time with us even when they get sucked out on.

GRAND SIERRA: As part of the World Poker Challenge Mini Series (Feb. 26-March 2), the Grand Sierra Resort poker room will give away a guaranteed five Ante Up Poker Cruise packages for two (for the March 30 sailing out of Los Angeles) in a satellite on March 1 at 7 p.m. Click here for more details.

The series includes seven other events, with buy-ins ranging from $160 to $240, with six of them featuring at least $1K in added money. For more information on the tournament series, go to GrandSierraResort.com. For more information on the Ante Up Poker Cruise, visit AnteUpCruises.com.

— Email Leslie at anteupcali@gmail.com.