Massage important part of World Series of Poker

Jun 21, 2011 3:00 AM

There are games within the games going on at the World Series of Poker leaving little in the way of idle time at the Rio. But when there is a break, chances are you’ll see players getting a massage.

No, not that kind of massage.

"We hear those jokes all the time," said Robert Jaynes, a certified professional massage therapist since 1980. "There are over 350 massage therapists either outside in the hall or walking the room. We are a necessary part to the World Series of Poker."

In fact, Jaynes’ company, Professional Massage Inc., is considered the biggest of its kind in the world. PMI, located in Las Vegas off Polaris Ave., is exclusive to the WSOP and all the Harrah’s properties.

"Most of our customers do want women and they do outnumber our male employees 6-to-1," Jaynes said. "Even the women players prefer women. But our guys work extra hard for the business and having these special chairs allows us to give the players a good, hard physical session that a lot of the women can’t do."

The types of massage provided are as much about relieving mental pressure as they are about physical relief.

"Poker is stress and much of that is locked into the neck, and shoulders, which cuts off circulation to the brain," Jaynes said. "When that happens, the stress causes players to make moves that are no good. They can lose entire hands because of that stress."

The chair most players utilize for the therapy allows them to sit comfortably face down while the therapist is working the muscles from behind.

"We get the blood moving through the brain when the customer is leaning over face down," Jaynes said. "The chairs are designed for the therapist to put people in the exact angles and movement for us to do a real thorough job on them."

The prices and length of time in the chair varies. Some may need 10 minutes. Others could go three or four hours in one session.

"Out here we can do the full sports massages," Jaynes said. "Inside the big room we can’t. It could shake the poker table and that would not be good."

Customers are charged $2 a minute for the service. Even the dealers receive massages. No surprise that business is highly competitive.

"Most that do it are independent contractors who split their earnings 50-50 with the house," Jaynes said. "As I said, a lot of the massage therapists are women and they will walk the floor looking for customers all the time."

Not so with Jaynes’ company, which began some seven years ago at Stateline/Primm with three chairs and has grown into the pre-eminent massage company in the center of the poker world.

"We open at 8:30 a.m. and go until one or two in the morning," Jaynes said. "The girls walk the floor all night in the cash games. I am on an hourly rate for the company. The girls, who are mostly independent contractors, use eye contact and looking good to get customers. We get them by being the best."