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A Day With Hairah Suks

THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2008-06-08, by TwoGun

Every now and then, PokerTips.org lands me some pretty interesting contacts. This past week, I was fortunate enough to spend time with one of the most powerful CEO's of the Nevada gaming industry, Mr. Hairah Suks. As head of one of Nevada's most famous casino brands, as well as owner of the Intercontinental Championships of Poker, which it had bought from Billy Bob Joe's Gambling Hall about five years ago, Hairah Suks is a man from whom we all could learn a lot.

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I met up with Mr. Suks on a Tuesday. Hairah was prepping for the upcoming Intercontinental Championships of Poker. I met up with him in his office, where he was in a meeting with his subordinates about the logistics of planning for the Championships. They were discussing issues such as player comps, dealer pay, etc. One of Suks's subordinates, Vinny Spenny, suggested comping all of the poker players two meals per tournament they entered, as well as providing reduced hotel rates to encourage player loyalty. Spenny's reasoning was that they paid well more than that in vigorish, as well as provided an invaluable service to Suks's brand by catapulting the prestige of the Intercontinental Championships's in the public eye.

Suks promptly fired Spenny, took off his belt, and chased Spenny out of the office, attempting to whip him like a misbehaving horse. Some might call this extreme, but Hairah believed it was important to send the right message to his staff.

"No excessive freebies for those YAVs," proclaimed Suks (YAVs is short for Young Annoying Varmints, a nickname they gave poker players).

Serious discussion then began about what sort of comp would be given to the YAVs. A buffet at Hairah Suks's casino cost on average around $20. The discussion was whether or not the coupon to be given to the poker players for an entry into the tournament should be $5 off or $10 off. While Suks preferred the $5 coupon, he relented and gave into giving the players $10 off.

"I just felt that those players would eat at the buffet no matter what. Where else are they going to go really? The casino that the Intercontinental Championships is at is so far out of the way anyway," Suks told me.

Discussion then went on about the Intercontinental Expo, an exhibition they have right outside the Championships. Hairah explained to me that they had engineered the Expo this year to resemble a rat maze.

Suks explained, "In the past, we forced the YAVs to walk through the Expo to get to the main poker room for the Intercontinental Main Event. This year, not only are they forced to walk through the Expo, we have made it in such a way that it is almost impossible to navigate, and takes on average thirty to forty minutes to walk through. The route the YAVs have to walk through is kind of like the small intestine inside a human body. It keeps wrapping around and around until they are let out."

By forcing the players to walk through this maze, Suks was able to charge the exhibitioners more for the floor space, since the were guaranteed maximum YAV viewing time. Furthermore, he could charge the YAVs about $5 for a soda or bottled water upon exit, as he was fairly certain quite a few of the players would be thirsty after the hike.

The final idea that was floated around was how to handle the final table of this year's Intercontinental championships. Hairah decided that this year, they would delay the final table for a year. So when the final nine players were ready to play, they would freeze the table chip counts and resume play in about a year's time. The final table would coincide with the beginning of next year's Intercontinental Championships; a way to boost awareness of the event.

Hairah believed this would both make them more able to secure TV spots and produce a series documenting the lives of the final nine players prior to the final table. Also, Hairah Suks's casino would be able to hold on to the money and allow them to earn a significant amount of interest off of it.

"It seems the players are very much against delaying the final table like this," I noted. "Should you maybe reconsider taking such a drastic move."

"Nonsense," Hairah replied. "Those YAVs will keep coming back no matter what. Might as well squeeze every penny out of them."

The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.


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