Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor’s poker room has reopened for business. This is a great move that should have been cause for celebration in the poker community. However, the relaunch has been hampered by limited seating and a rake that some players feel is robbery.
Encore Loses Support for Poker
Encore shut down poker in July of last year. It argued that it was having trouble finding dealers, but the closure irked the poker community. This followed a previous closure induced by COVID-19. The decision to cut off poker last year even forced Massachusetts gaming authorities to get involved, investigating the closure.
The casino changed its mind and announced later in the year that poker would be brought back. As of this past Monday, it fulfilled its promise. However, poker players aren’t impressed.
The games have been filled with long waitlists right away. In addition to interest building for the option, the poker room opened with only 12 tables, 60 less than before the pandemic. There were large waitlists for all of the options, and some players couldn’t get into a game due to the fact that the room closes at 8 PM.
The casino won’t be adding any more poker tables anytime soon, either. A member of the casino’s PR department told PokerNews last December that the property doesn’t have the real estate to bring back poker to its pre-COVID-19 capacity.
Long Lines Only One of the Issues
Players were disappointed by the limited hours and seating. However, the most concerning aspect appears to be the unusually high cash-game rake in the reopened rooms. Encore’s poker rooms are reportedly charging a 10% rake up to $10 per hand. This includes low-limit games, which can make it very difficult for even a skilled player to beat the rake. There are no tournaments in the card room at this time and it is unclear when tournaments will be back.
The Boston area has two options. Make a two-hour trip to the closest competing casino or stay close to home to pay a higher rake. Foxwoods has a $5 rake in a $1/$2 and $2/$5 games. This is a big difference that can impact profits.
It seems Wynn and Encore brass completely missed the mark with poker. Social media has exploded with complaints. On Poker Atlas, one person wrote, “Closing at 8:00 pm and not operating on weekends is disgusting. No recreational player who is employed could possibly play any meaningful hours here. It will attract retired people and pros. Although most pros wouldn’t pay the outrageous 10%, max $10 per hand rake. They should just be honest and say that they do not want a poker room.”
Fewer options, higher rakes, longer waits. It’s the perfect recipe for disaster, but Encore will later try to claim that its poker option failed due to lack of interest.