LasVegasMichael sits down with Mirage Poker Room Manager Chris Coffin and talks about the new direction that the Mirage is going in.
When one thinks of The Mirage poker room, they often recall a time when it was the ‘be all end all’ of Las Vegas poker. A time when it was home to the Big Game, and every poker pro in the city called it home. This is forever immortalized in the dialogue of Mike McDermott in Rounders. Now, in 2011, the Mirage has adapted to the changes in the poker landscape of Las Vegas, and changed directions in order to remain competitive and appeal to more recreational and tourist players.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Chris Coffin, The Mirage Poker Room Manager. I have known Chris a long time, and it was a real pleasure to get the chance to speak to him in person about The Mirage and the new direction that he has boldly decided to take the room.
Please tell us a bit about your history and how you came to be running historical The Mirage Poker Room.
Poker for me started as a child, playing with my Dad in the military. He taught all of us to play poker. I helped my family move to Las Vegas when he retired, and I stayed. Got into the poker business at 27. I played poker (professionally) from 21 to 27. I started dealing Downtown and then after 5 years I moved up to The Mirage to start dealing. 5 years later Bellagio was opening and they were needing help in training dealers, and I volunteered to help, which then led to me being promoted to Training Manager for The Mirage. After that, I helped run the first 2 WPT events….I discovered through a customer service class being held at Treasure Island one day that they were going to open up a poker room, and I pursued getting that room. Before that, during the course of years from Bellagio opening to when I got the TI in 2006, I worked as the office clerk, office coordinator, training coordinator, cashiering, chip runner, special events manager for poker, shift manager, assistant shift manager, floor person…Did and learn everything there is about the poker room from behind the scenes to the front of the scenes. Which led to me getting the TI poker room in 2006, which 3 years later when an opening came up at The Mirage I was able to get that position also, and moved over from there, just after Phil Ruffin had purchased the TI.
You decided to change the direction of The Mirage Poker Room when you took over. What has changed?
The big difference is understanding that there is only so much high end market out there. The mass of the market is low end, capped NL players and Limit players. Recreational players. Even within the realm of recreational, I consider many people who play on an everyday basis still to be recreational. They’re actually enjoying their time. They’re not just here to make money. They’re here enjoying the game of poker. They’re not just here grinding away a living. Understanding that that is the bulk of the market, instead of just trying to focus on just high limit when we have multiple big rooms in town that have captured that market pretty well, I started changing the room to focus on the more recreational, every day player, and offering them what they want. It was non-stop, people asked, “I don’t get anything for my quads? I don’t get anything for my Royal Flush?” So we started jackpots. And with the jackpot money, we have done many different promotions for holidays, for football, for any special event.
During our freeroll, I handed out a survey to all the players that were in the tournament, which they absolustely loved the fact that we were asking for their input, which is one of the big things that I always do is that I listen to the players.
2/5 NLHE is not very common in Las Vegas. Last I checked, there were only 8 rooms spreading 2/5 with daily regularity. Why do you think that The Mirage has been able to start getting 2/5 NLHE again?
The freeroll is what really spurned it off and our decision that we do not rake the game until it is 7 handed, and we also have the slowest rake on the game. We take a $3 max (plus jackpot), and we do not take that 3rd dollar until $100, and we’re doing $1.50/hour comps on that game. $200 Minimum, $750 Maximum buy in on our 2/5 game, with most people buying in for no more than $500.
What is the #1 reason someone should choose to play poker at The Mirage?
The #1 reason is we are the most comfortable, friendliest, funnest room in town. Comfortable, fun, and friendly.
To discuss or comment on this article please click: HERE
A version of this interview by LasVegasMichael was published in Ante Up Magazine.