When one screws up, the best thing do to is usually double down and screw up even harder. Seems to work for Donald Trump, so why not everyone else? Enter the Hawaiian Gardens Casino in the Los Angeles area, whose poker room management decided that two wrongs make a right. Or something like that. I’m not good with axioms or whatever.
The Hawaiian Gardens is currently hosting the Gardens Poker Classic, a two-week long, 16-event, live poker tournament series with over $1.4 million guarantees. And it was one of the prize pool guarantees that is at the heart of the problem.
The Gardens Poker Classic $565 buy-in Main Event has an ambitious $1 million guarantee. The card room scheduled a buttload of Day 1 flights in order to try to ensure maximum participation; two flights per day for seven days, starting Saturday, September 16th. With the last of the flights being Day 1N (1N!) on Friday, September 22nd, that’s fourteen Day 1’s.
But despite the multitude of starting flights, apparently the earlier ones did not draw the crowds that Hawaiian Gardens had hoped for, resulting in the powers-that-be having restless nights, fretting over the possibility of an overlay. So, rather than perhaps doing some extra last-second marketing or just sucking it up, coming to grips with the fact that the million dollar guarantee was a bad idea, and moving on (oh heavens, how will a casino ever make up the difference?), Hawaiian Gardens did one of the few things that would be on a list titled, “Don’t Do This”:
It added starting flights.
Additional Day 1’s were jammed into the schedule this past weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday. You may ask yourself, then, “So what about Day 2 and Day 3?”
Ah, that’s the rub. Day 2 and Day 3 got moved to Monday and Tuesday, respectively. And this was a terrible move by Hawaiian Gardens.
Players have complained – and rightfully so – that by trying to avoid an overlay, Hawaiian Gardens has completely dicked over the players who had already qualified for Day 2, as well as those who were planning on buying-in to one of the late-week starting flights.
The final two days were supposed to be on the weekend, but now that they are at the beginning of the week, many of those who made it past Day 1 likely had a conflict with work or home life. Imagine calling your boss and saying, “Yeah, um, I’m not going to be in the office for that important presentation on Monday because I have a poker tournament to play in.”
Additionally, those who traveled from out of town and advanced past Day 1 now had to shell out for additional hotel nights. It also tends to make one suspicious of a poker room if it actively attempts to avoid paying out a guarantee; now we wonder whether the casino can swing it if it has to.
The poker community has been calling Hawaiian Gardens out on its bullshit, including well-respected poker pro Matt Glantz. The interesting thing about Glantz’s criticism is that he serves as a producer and talent manager for “Poker Night in America,” which is filming the tournament at Hawaiian Gardens. On Twitter, Glantz posted:
The Gardens Casino decision to add flights to the $1m GTD event is very disappointing to me personally. I am confident I have done all I can in private talks with Garden management.
It is important to note, Poker Night in America is a production company that has NO input whatsoever on management decisions at the Gardens Casino.
Poker Night in America is a good brand that continues to broaden the reach of poker. But in the end, PNIA is a production company and does not make any decisions with regards to running poker rooms.
That Glantz said something critical about one of his show’s casino partners should indicate how bad of a transgression this was.