10 Questions from Lucien van Linden for Norbert Muller, Product Specialist Poker at Holland Casino.
Lucien van Linden Q1: Holland Casino is organising several poker tournaments throughout the year and looking at their attendance, it is hugely popular, what is the difference between the different tournaments like the World Poker Tour, The World Series of Poker, the Master Classics of Poker and the “regular” poker-room poker-games?
Norbert Muller: We take our poker very seriously and therefor we differentiate our poker tournaments in three segments: international, national and local. We have the so-called Weekly events with which we serve the local market with a low(er) buy-in starting from €50 up to €200 in the poker room of the casino. With the national segment we have the Holland Casino Poker Series in different venues throughout the year. These Series are multi-day events of at least 5 days in which multiple tournaments take place with a buy-in ranging between €200 and €700. The final of these Series takes place under the name Holland Casino Dutch Open Poker Series. The winners of all Series events and other selected players compete for the title of Dutch Champion Poker at the end of the year. The buy in of this Main Event is €1,500. The next step in the pyramid are international events such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour with which Holland Casino has entered into a partnership. These events last at least 8 days and in addition to the Main Events of €1,100 there are also high roller events and many other side events. Holland Casino’s flagship poker tournament is the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam. This festival is visited by many international professional poker players, but also Dutch players often put this event first on the agenda. The Master Classics of Poker distinguishes itself by the living room feeling in which every player feels very at home. The buy-ins of the various tournaments vary between €300 and €10,000 for the High Roller. This year (11 – 19 November) we celebrate the 30th edition of the Master Classics of Poker. And of course this is going to be a festival to remember.
Lucien van Linden Q2: In your role as product specialist Poker, what is your main area of work and your most important responsibility?
Norbert Muller: As a product specialist I am responsible for planning all tournaments within Holland Casino and all Back Office activities in the field of Poker, so that the operation can concentrate on running the events on location. We make policy in the field of Table Games (including Poker), we ensure that Holland Casino complies with laws and regulations, maintain contact with suppliers for materials and resources, but also cooperate with international partners such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour for which contracts must be concluded. Holland Casino also offers Online Poker and we are the contact for our partner Playtech to ensure that there is a connection, a synergy between land-based and Online Poker.
Lucien van Linden Q3: When searching for “the history of Poker” or information of where it originated, a lot of conflicting information is available. I think it is safe to say that the first time Poker was mentioned was in a book by J. Hildreth, in 1836 called “Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains” published by Wiley & Long from New York and by R.F. Foster, in which Poker is mentioned for the first time. Later in the 1837 edition of Foster's Complete Hoyle, he wrote: "the game of poker, as first played in the United States, five cards are dealt to each player from a twenty-card pack.”. Both mention Poker must have stemmed from the Persian game of As-Nas, the German game “Pochen” and the French “Poque”. From here on out, Poker spread to Texas, Omaha and other regions. Are the mentioned varieties still the same today or in what ways have they changed or adapted?
Norbert Muller: At this moment the Texas variant is still the most played one. Omaha is the one after most played one. When you look at poker tournaments around the world, those two are dominant. But there are also quite a few variants that are played depending on which part of the world. But mostly for smaller fields.
Lucien van Linden Q4: What is according to you the most important aspect of the game of Poker?
Norbert Muller: Compared to other casino games, the biggest distinguishing factor is that players play against each other instead of playing against the bank, the casino. There are more factors of influence in this game, for example the bluff factor. But practising and being experienced in the game besides being able to calculate the different odds and betting accordingly is of importance to have a good run in a tournament. And don’t forget the factor luck.
Lucien van Linden Q5: Late 1990 early 2000’s Caribbean Stud Poker was omni present in the Casino’s throughout Europe whereas today you seldom see the game anymore, what happened to Caribbean Stud Poker?
Norbert Muller: The game is still out there and we still offer Caribbean Stud Poker in our casinos (not all, by the way), but under the name Multi Poker. around ten plus years ago other variants were emerging. Poker games that have more decision making moments, like Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker. Also Four Card Poker is one of the poker games seen in casinos and also in some of our venues.
Lucien van Linden Q6: How many tournaments does Holland Casino organize annually and how many players attend and compete?
Norbert Muller: Our Weekly tournaments are offered almost every day, depending on the venue. These tournaments are played around 800 times per year with 50 players on average per event. The bigger events in the national and international segment and going on from five to eight or more days are played around 14 per year. For those festivals we see between 1,000 and 3,000 entries in total.
Lucien van Linden Q7: I am somewhat a novice to poker; Can I play in a Holland Casino Poker Tournament although I am a beginner?
Norbert Muller: Of course you can. Everybody of the age 18 years and plus is welcome to play. But be aware, it can be quite intimidating sitting at a table with 8 other players who most probably know the game and how to play. Make sure you know the game rules, the ranking of the hands, practise with friends before and start with a small buy-in with one of the Weekly poker tournaments.
Lucien van Linden Q8: As an authority on Poker, what would you advise players that are new to the game?
Norbert Muller: Like I mentioned before, you need to know what you are doing. Watch some YouTube poker video’s, read a poker book, play with friends, have some kind of strategy and a budget. Don’t forget, poker is played with real money. Only play with money you can afford to lose. But most important, enjoy the game because it really is a wonderful game. And have some fun.
Lucien van Linden Q9: The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is coming to Venlo from May 20th until May 28th 2022; According to my intel, it is going to be one of the larger tournaments ever hosted by Holland Casino?
Norbert Muller: The Venlo venue is a beautiful brand new casino. A casino where we will have 42 poker tables during the WSOP Venlo. If I do recollect correctly, some years ago we had 36 tables at the Master Classics of Poker. so 42 tables will be a new Holland Casino record. With the recent WPT Amsterdam we had 750 entries for the €1,100 Main Event, a new record. If we had more tables… May be next year. But with the WSOP Venlo, a brand new venue, 42 tables and directly at the German border, we have high expectations and a possible new record.
Lucien van Linden Q10: What are your main challenges to organize the WSOP 2022?
Norbert Muller: It is quite an organisation to bring such a large event to a successful conclusion, with al departments involved, not only the Table Games department; F&B, reception, cash desk, HR and all staff of the venue. Every single one is really looking forward to this first time WSOP Venlo. But for the tournaments itself, an experienced tournament management is key and everything around the tournaments, such as F&B must be well organised. Every day, for example, around 300 players have to eat in a short period of time (an hour and a half), besides the regular coffees and drinks throughout the day. And also the cash flows that have to be controlled with the registrations, all marketing activities prior to the event, the logistics that must be in order, the de-installation beforehand of tables and slots to build up the tables after. I could go on like this, there are many challenges to set up a great event and being successful.
Lucien van Linden Bonus Question Q11: I understand Poker players have a great sense of Humor: “Why is Poker banned in Africa? Too many cheetahs…😂”. Do you have a funny Poker story you can share with us?
Norbert Muller: No, not really. I don’t like jokes 😉.