Welcome to Silicon Beach: L.A.-Born Tech Can Shape Gambling on the Westside by Robert Turner

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Poker revenue at Hollywood Park Casino, located in Inglewood near the Westside of Los Angeles, is surging.

Though the media is focused on the $2.6-billion stadium being built for two NFL franchises (the Los Angeles Rams or the San Diego Chargers) as part of the City of Champions Revitalization Project, there is a new game in town that really can be a game changer for gambling on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Silicon Beach is the name for the Westside of Los Angeles that is home to over 500 tech startup companies. From Google to Snap Inc., the company behind the popular mobile chat app Snapchat, major tech companies have opened offices or are headquartered in the region.

The area includes the cities of Culver City, Playa Vista, Marina Del Rey, Venice Beach and Santa Monica–all just minutes from Hollywood Park Casino.

Billions in venture capital are financing the tech boom, and it looks like the money will continue to flow with the expected Snap Inc. IPO scheduled for Thursday, March 2.

With the company looking to price its upcoming initial public offering at between $14 and $16 a share, Snap could have a market value of more than $22 billion. The company could raise nearly $3.7 billion, according to an article in CNN Money.

This influx of money can transform the region and could have a major impact on the gaming world from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

The California and Nevada gaming industry and the way it is marketed may look different in the near future because of E-Sports and Internet gaming being developed in Silicon Beach. California gaming laws need to catch up with the new gaming opportunities on the horizon.

Nevada has been working hard on new gaming regulations to allow the new generation of gamers to play and bet legally on games of their choice. There is even some support to changing the gambling age to 18 in Nevada.

This new generation may not find table games or slots entertaining, but they do like games, and one game in particular they love is poker. Poker, along with E-Sports, may be the engine that drives the new gambling economy.

The gambling companies of the future and the businesses that market them may come from Silicon Beach and Southern California in the not-to-distant future.

Industries of the Future

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Thousands of new jobs will be created in social media companies, gaming studios and digital marketing companies like Jukin Media, the global leader in viral video licensing. These companies, though not household names, create and market the content that millions will purchase or view.

It’s time casinos get into digital marketing if they want to reach this new generation of gamers.

The employees who work in these industries range in age from their early 20s to 40s, and many of these tech and gaming employees are locating and working on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Ramy Wahba, Casino Manager of Hollywood Park Casino, recognizes the need to reach out to this new demographic, and he said they are creating a total new experience for the young gamers starting with their tournaments and service. They gave tournament players their own deli for faster service. And that’s just the beginning.

I recently located to the area with my wife who works at a video game company on the Westside. It’s a very special place now, and I forward to this exciting time in the gaming industry.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino/billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM.  He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” at www.robertturnerpoker.wordpress.com to receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

A Valentine’s Tribute to My Husband Robert Turner by Patricia Chavira

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My husband Robert Turner and I recently did a radio interview together on High Roller Radio to discuss my latest article on Phyllis Caro. Robert was asked about how hard relationships were for poker players, and his answer was essentially saying I don’t listen to his advice.

His answer inspired this article. Thanks, Robert.

I admit I may not always take his advice, but even he would readily admit we have very different playing styles. He certainly has earned the nickname “the Chipburner” as I have watched him at the tables the five years we have been together.

He didn’t become a world-class player by being timid. He takes calculated risks, but it is still nerve-racking to watch him play.

Being the wife of a professional poker player is not always easy. Because Robert is one of the one of the hardest-working people you will ever meet in the casino or any industry for that matter, I have spent many holidays at the casino with my husband—New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, my birthday.

But relationships require compromise, so I have established some boundaries—like no phone after 9 p.m. or before 7 a.m. (Sorry anyone who is trying to reach him between those hours!). And one day a week is designated as “Patty Day.” The funny thing is I often chose to spend it at the casino anyways playing a tournament while Robert rails me.

With the World Series of Poker (WSOP) only three months away, I prepare for long days railing my husband. He likes to be able look up and see me and talk to me between hands, so I stay close leaving only to charge my phone.

Robert has changed my life. I learned how to play Omaha from the creator of the game. I learned about the history of poker that I could never have read in books. He told me stories about players you will never see on tv. He knows everyone and everything about poker. He lives for the game.

When we were dating, he had some big ideas about writing books and asked me if I could write. I said, “I can string two sentences together.”

Well, we started a blog together, and then he started writing for Gaming Today. Every week we bounce ideas off each other about poker, writing and life. Robert is an inspiration to me every day.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer specializing in poker. She writes the “Poker Scene” column for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.

 

Pioneering Women in Poker: Phyllis Caro, Part 2

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Last week I wrote about how Phyllis Caro got her start in poker and how she ended up working with her husband at the time, Mike Caro, and founder of the Bicycle Club, George Hardie, to clean up poker in California.

People like myself who have been playing poker since the boom times have no idea how bad it was, especially for the dealers. As a dealer herself at one time, Phyllis can tell you some horror stories, but as she says, it was an accepted part of poker.

Players acted out and blamed the dealers for everything. She says players were not only verbally abusive towards dealers, but physically as well.  My husband Robert Turner described a horrific incident where a player actually got out a lighter and tried to burn a dealer.

It did not happen overnight, but Phyllis was instrumental in helping stop dealer abuse. Players were given warnings and then time out (yes, like children). Poker was changed forever once management took a stance against dealer abuse.

Phyllis continued to rise through the ranks from Dealer Coordinator to Vice President of Casino Operations of the Bicycle Club. In between, she worked tournaments becoming the first female Tournament Director making such innovations as starting the first non-smoking tournaments.

Always an advocate for women in poker, she started the annual Queen of Hearts tournament, which runs to this day; in fact, it was just held this Sunday at the Bike.

As Tournament Director of the Bike, she also ran the second largest tournament in the industry at the time, the Diamond Jim Brady. In 1993, when Phyllis became the Vice President of Casino Operations, she was the first female to hold that position in the industry.

In April 1990, the Bicycle Club was seized by federal authorities making federal government part owner of the most valuable asset ever seized at that time under federal racketeering laws.

The government appointed a trustee named Harry Richard to oversee operations at the Bike. Under the trusteeship, Phyllis fought to keep poker honest. As Phyllis says, “Mike ingrained the fact that all games should be honest.”

In 1995, Phyllis was hired as Casino Manager at Hollywood Park Casino and eventually became Director of Poker Operations where she continued making history.

Phyllis may be retired from poker now, but she will always stand for integrity in poker; she has committed her life to it.

Listen to me and Robert discussing Phyllis’ career on High Roller Radio here: https://youtu.be/bmhuFvCUw38

 

Pioneering Women in Poker: Phyllis Caro, Part 1 by Patricia Chavira

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In the poker world, the name Caro represents integrity in poker. But before Phyllis Caro became the well-respected casino executive she is known as today, she worked her way up the ranks starting as a dealer.

She played 7-card stud in the 70’s at Caesars Palace. At the time, poker was a small community where everyone knew each other. She was going back and forth between Las Vegas and New York, where she is originally from.

While she was in Vegas in 1979, she had a neighbor who was a box man at the El Cortez, which just opened a poker room in Downtown Las Vegas. She was asked to shill for a few days, and so began Phyllis’ first foray into the poker business.

The next day the room had four tables, and they still needed help, so she sat in the box. The room was very successful from the beginning. Over the years, she dealt at the Las Vegas Club, Aladdin and Golden Nugget.

She was dealing at the Golden Nugget in 1982 when Bill Boyd replaced Pineapple with a new game called Nugget Hold’em. This game would become Omaha, which Robert Turner brought to Boyd.

Not only was Phyllis there at the start of Omaha, she would also meet someone at the Golden Nugget who would take her life in a new direction. That person was Mike Caro.

They married in 1983, and Phyllis quit dealing and helped Mike write books. During that time, Mike was invited to a seminar in Redding, California, where George Hardie was also in attendance.

He told them he was going to open the biggest poker room in California and asked Mike to be involved. Hardie wanted to run a clean, honest poker room, and the Caros were the perfect people to help him.

Before the Bicycle Club opened, Phyllis helped interview and audition dealers and set up the casino staffing. She was offered any job she wanted. She became dealer coordinator.

Hardie had a new vision for California gaming, and it was different from the rampant cheating that defined Gardena at the time. It was so bad, Mike said, “I didn’t know poker was a team sport.” They had their work cut out for them.

In Part 2, read about how Phyllis helped shape the future of poker in California.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer specializing in poker. She writes the “Poker Scene” column for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.