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Manchester235 eyes poker players

New poker lounge aims to boost casino’s fortunes

Published on November 4th 2010.

Manchester235 eyes poker players

Manchester235 has a new management team – which is keen to establish the casino as a major city centre poker venue.

The casino, owned by London Clubs International and ultimately, US gaming giant Harrah’s, has installed a new poker lounge in the lower ground floor featuring 14 new tables that can cater for a total of 140 players.

Austin Graham has recently taken over as venue director at the casino and is looking to run regular Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday tournaments for all levels of player, from the beginner to the more committed card sharp.

“There are plenty of poker players in Manchester looking for a good venue,” he said. “Perhaps that’s what the casino was lacking before and I think it will bring a real atmosphere to 235.

“We had the opportunity to put a dedicated poker floor in here with its own bar, and create somewhere poker players can come in the city centre.

“People are creatures of habit and tend to be quite loyal to their casinos so we want to grow own market and put on some good quality tournaments to bring those players in.”

Graham said the poker scene in Manchester has changed over the last five or six years, going from very low stakes games to higher value cash games.

“Cash game poker is in every casino now – it’s getting more competitive,” he said. “In our Thursday tournament, we’ll be guaranteeing £5,000 in the winners’ pot.

“The city has produced some really good players who have done well on the European Poker Tour (EPT) and even in the World Series. There’s a real split – there are old school players who want to play cash games and newer, younger players who like the social side.

“The traditional players actually tend to like the new breed as they bring a bit of action to the table.”

Graham said the casino was planning to put a few different packages together, including one aimed at the corporate market. Graham said he was looking to introduce online registration for tournaments to make it easier for players to book and was hoping the free car parking from 2pm until 6am will also bring in punters.

“We’ll be offering something for all skill levels, from 25p blinds to £30 buy-ins,” he said. “Lots of people out there aren’t confident spending large amounts to play with bigger players so we have to bear that in mind.

“We’re even looking at the student market for £10-£20 tournaments. It’s a cheap night out. The female market is also largely untapped so we’re looking into that.

“The rebranding is a huge challenge. We’re effectively starting from scratch and looking to make 235 the home of poker. But we think we’ve got a good space here, and the fact that we’re licensed until 5.30am should be a draw as well.”

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