09/10/2006

Interview with Roy Houghton (Loose Cannon Club) Part 2/2

Mob Articles

Roy HoughtonRead second part of the interview with Roy Houghton, founder of Loose Cannon Club – a members only poker club in the centre of the city. You can also read first part of the interview.

There is still a lot of confusion over the legality of running poker games in the UK. With the Gutshot case still going through the courts….

Oh I pray they win their case! Can you imagine the money we’d make down here if they won their case?

So you’re completely confident that you’re not going to have any problems with the law?

I know we’re not. I can show you letters from the Gaming Commission, I can show you letters from the City of London police, I can show you letters from the City of London licensing officials. Funnily enough, we do not come under the Gaming Commission’s authority in any way, shape or form, which quite amazed me. We’ve done our research, employed the best legal advice and will run the club as per licence. The only thing I did not like is that we must charge membership on a quarterly basis, but at the end of the day, when the club is up and running and players realise the value, it won’t be a problem.

What sort of people are you trying to attract to the club?

We are looking for a large percentage of the people to come from the City of London. I know lots of people now, in fact I did a tournament a couple of weeks ago for one of the finance houses, it was only a 50-player tournament, but every one of these boys wanted the details [about the Loose Cannon]. I knew two of them, they were regular poker players and I got chatting to them and when I told them they said it was 5 minutes from their offices. And you know, this was a 50-player tournament. My sister-in-law’s son, Jimmy, works in the finance market. He said, “Roy, every single guy in the office plays poker online, every one. The day you open they’ll all be down”. We are hoping for a large percentage of city players. I don’t want, no disrespect to Joe, I don’t want the hard nosed poker players down here I really don’t, although I’ll probably get them because they know a good deal when they’re getting one.

We will be open to all players and I will do my best to make sure there is plenty of variety and the magic value, and of course my charming welcome.

Do you not expect people from the Vic to come down?

The Vic is The Vic, Loose Cannon will be Loose Cannon. Of course we will get Vic players and eventually they will get to see some of ours too. But then I worked for years at the Vic and I know them all. I can’t really sling them out, as such, but what I can do, as I said to you, is do everything I can to keep Joe who’s a pro from Roger, who works in the city, from playing at the same table. No disrespect to Joe but that’s going to be my job here, I mean I can’t hold their hands, I can see 5/10 10/20 limit hold’em being played here. The other good thing about limit hold’em is it’s very easy to teach them the other games. I say to the boys look, why don’t you play Omaha? Then you teach them hi/lo split and within 6 months you get a whole nucleus of people who can play all these games. You’ll never get that if you’re playing pot limit or no limit. Saying that there will be plenty of pot limit and no limit games available.

The quarterly charge is going to be £125?

Yes.

Do you think people will realise that represents very good value compared to paying rake on pots at Gutshot or paying table charges.

I think the intelligent ones who play poker regularly will realise that if you can get fifty gallons of petrol for the price of one, then that is value. If you play one hour of cash play at £10 or 4 hours on a £25 game at £12 then that is the question answered. The same goes for tournaments.

But these regular players aren’t really the sorts of people you are wanting to attract?

The city traders, to them, £125 is peanuts. We may even have to put it up. No-one’s ever done this before, we’re in unknown territory. Let me put it this way, if we charge £500 a year and end up within 3 months with 2000 members and we’ve got 450 players in here every night and people can’t get a game, we must be undercharging, so now we have to up it a bit just to balance it out, and if we still get 450 players here a night we’ve gotta up it a bit more until it finds its own level. If you play live poker once a fortnight you will be money in.

But players don’t actually realise that do they? £1, £2, £3 coming out of the pot it different from handing over £125.

Oh I know I’ve been the other side of the fence. I’ve done it all, I’ve had the 5% rake before the game with no cap, I’ve had tables charges at the Vic and the Barracuda and at Russell Square and I’ve had the 5% rake with a £10 cap. Now it doesn’t seem a lot but you know the worst part… you start a game 10 handed at 9 o’clock at night, the rake’s peanuts. £45 an hour, nobody’s winning, nobody’s losing the game’s granite. Now it loses a couple of people and you get to midnight and it’s down to 7 and you’re taking a £100 an hour. 2 in the morning and you might be down to 6 players and they’re all losing. The rake now goes up to £160 or £170 an hour and there’s only six players playing, all trying to get their money back. They haven’t got a prayer. Not the slightest chance.

You already have four festivals for the club planned, four a year. Do you have any more details?

Haven’t worked them out yet but we have a strong ally in Victor Chandler, I said I want to do four major poker festivals a year, they won’t be longer than 7 days. That’s not to say we might not run mini festivals, 3 or 4 days, but we want to 4 week long ones with maybe a £1000 NL Hold’em double chance Freeezeout or even a £3000, I understand they have a £1000 Freeezeout down the Ritz and they’re getting 28-30 players every week. I will have a full schedule up in the next couple of weeks.

For the opening night you are going to be running a ‘two-tier’ event where players can buy in for either £50 or £100. Can you give us any more details?

It was just an idea, I did it some years back at the Barracuda for a couple of weeks and it went down reasonably well with the players but it was a huge amount of admin so I knocked it on the head but the players quite liked it. It’s either a £50 or £100 buy-in for the Freeezeout. You get the same amount of chips of course. Say we get 100 players and 60 pay £50 and 40 pay £100. The £50 players can win £5000 can’t they, that’s all there is in the pool. There is another 40x£50 over, which is another 2 grand. That’s paid out to all the players who paid the extra and made the money.

What happens if none of the players who paid extra made the money?

I don’t think that would happen but if it did all the £100 players would get their money back. If only one of them made the money they would get the whole £2000.

When are you opening, and how do we get in?

Hopefully the 9th October, more likely the 23rd. If you want to come down, just go to the web site www.loosecannonpoker.com and register your email and I will send you a Founder Membership Registration, you will be able to come and try out the club for a period of time at no charge. Before I get a roasting the website is very, very temporary and there will be a class site up in the next couple of weeks. The interest shown so far has been amazing, especially from the city, we are on their doorstep and hopefully we will generate a new breed of player. I have got a little Ace up my sleeve, we will be running a Grand Prix event at the end of October or first week in November, £50 freezeout with £5,000 added prize money from our friends at Victor Chandler.