December 2006
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New Year Sales

New Year sucks. Christmas is over (well, actually that’s not such a a bad thing). You’ve run out of turkey recipes, and still have half a bird left. It’s starting to smell a bit, too. You can, if you wish, queue for hours in the freezing cold to stand a small chance of picking up a genuine bargain in the sales. Although I’m sure it won’t be as bad as the insanity and violence of the PlayStation 3 queues in America last month. This year, I’m spending midnight at New Year’s Eve on a plane. I know I won’t care.

Oh, and all new for 2007 – the price of poker is going up again. All around the country this time, too.

Grosvenor Casinos have announced a new schedule of “session charges”. Whilst they’ve had the sense to tier the fees so you pay less for a cheaper tournament, the attempt to justify it as the “true reflection of running costs of cardrooms” is unconvincing. I’m quite pleased that I managed to delete the word “bullshit” just then, very disciplined of me.

It’s a £2 charge on a £5 tournament, but £5 on £20. Does one game really cost two and a half times as much to run as the other?

It’s actually great for the game that the major casinos are finally starting to treat it as a game in its own right, and not simply something in the same league as £5 in free slot play or a complimentary drink. If they have to charge a little extra to do justice to their tournaments and keep the guys upstairs happy, then so be it. But c’mon, call a spade a spade. Call a service charge a rake (unless you’re not allowed to). And acknowledge this session fee what it is – a way for casinos to begin making money from poker directly, rather just using it to try to bring in pit game suckers.

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