+EV Club – Interview with Richard Liu Part 1 of 2.
A new poker club is set to open up this spring just outside London, with a very special twist which could see it quickly become the busiest in Europe.
The +EV club in Guildford, Surrey is going to be putting money back into the poker economy at an unprecedented rate, with ReverseRake(tm). The brainchild of Richard Liu, a Chinese born property developer who owns small stakes in several UK casino groups, a unique business model which sees the players themselves being paid to play by the house could change the face of poker in the UK, if not the world, forever.
Sounds too good to be true? I asked Richard about his plan and how he hoped to make money from the venture.
Richard, casinos have traditionally viewed poker as something of a loss leader at best, and this when they are charging the players to play. The idea of paying this ReverseRake instead of taking it out of the pot seems like ‘pie in the sky’ stuff. How do you expect to make any money?
You have to bear in mind one of the reasons casinos are not such big fans of poker is because of the way they are charged by the Government. The more space they have in use for gaming, the larger the amount they have to pay, and this space doesn’t come cheap. There’s no way the casino can make as much through a game of poker than if they had a roulette table or one of the many house poker game tables in its place instead. This is the single biggest advantage we have, not being a casino we do not have to pay these prohibitive taxes. We are looking at the whole thing from a totally different angle to casinos or even a standard poker club though.
Obviously not requiring a casino licence will save you a lot of money, what about the other costs associated with running a poker game, dealers etc.?
Well we’re not expecting to be making money directly from the poker games themselves. We want to keep our costs to a minimum and will be setting up tie-ins with other businesses, for example we have already secured a deal where we will actually be paid to to install and use electronic poker tables. Not only do we get all the required equipment to run the games for free, we won’t require dealers, in return for promoting these.
So how much will you be giving back to the players per pot?
We will be starting at 5% capped at £5 per pot, we would like to give more but what we don’t want to do is create a situation where the players are only interested in playing large pots because of all the money added to them.
That sounds like it could get very costly, very quickly for you, you might be keeping overheads down but the cost of paying for a dealer, for example, is pretty irrelevant when you’ll be handing back these sort of sums to the players
Poker players have been getting a rough deal for too long. Poker is a massive business now with associated sponsorship potential, we have this absurd situation now where there is a massive pool of players watching and playing the game, mainly in that group of 20-40 year old males with high disposable income which advertisers are so fond of, but only a few top pros have been able to take advantage. Only the online poker rooms themselves seem to be taking advantage of the situation and snapping up what is actually extremely cheap exposure. We will be running regular satellites to all the televised tournaments throughout Europe and, when we launch our online card room, to the US too.
No serious poker player is going to want to miss out on our cash games and we expect membership to grow extremely quickly. We’ll be sending so many players to these tournaments we will be able to sell, for example, a deal to a sponsor to get their logo on all of our players for any tournament, at far more than these players could hope to get if they were negotiating individually. For example I expect negotiations with Gamblers Anonymous to sponsor all our players for a particular tournament in the summer to go extremely well. What better way for them to reach their target audience?
We might put 10% of the field in and there could be a sponsor logo on most of the tables, this is worth much more than having one or two logos out there and we are able to make back that money we are giving the players in ReverseRake. It’s high time poker players got rewarded by the corporate world in the same way which other sportspeople are, we effectively act as their agents, but all they have to do is turn up to the club and play.
You mention an online poker room also, will this be working on the same ReverseRake principle?
That’s certainly the plan, for the time being we are concentrating on the live club but once that’s launched we expect the online room to follow shortly afterwards.
Well going back to the live club, will players expect to be given money any time they order a beer or will they have to pay for those?
No, there’s a limit to our generosity I’m afraid! Electronic chefs and bartenders are not quite here but food and drink will be reasonably priced. There will be a lot of money being splashed around in the room, as with ReverseRake most players will be winners, so we will be catering to more expensive tastes too, with 3 vintage champagnes on draught for example, a world first, and vending machines will be dispensing jars of beluga caviar rather than the usual peanuts or jelly beans.
Check back next week for details of the other ReverseRake venues being built around the UK and information on how to make your membership application. In the spirit of the club you’ll receive £500 just for applying!