The Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel and Casino kicks off the 11th annual Grand Poker Series today, May 29. The Series runs through July 3.
The event will be hosted in the Grand Event Center with more than 90 poker tournaments spread across 36 days ranging in both buy-in amounts and poker disciplines. We interviewed Andy Rich, the Golden Nugget’s poker room manager about the event, his background and his views on poker.
AR: “I’m 44 years old, and I’ve been working in poker for 20 years. I have a business degree from the Haworth College of Business at Western Michigan University. I started playing poker in the mid-nineties and working in the Midwest.
“I moved to Las Vegas in 2005 and was hired on at the Harrah’s poker room on the famous Las Vegas Strip. I transferred to Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino very shortly thereafter, where I eventually worked my way up to operations director for World Series of Poker and poker room manager for Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and Caesars Palace. I left Caesars in 2012 and have been at Golden Nugget Las Vegas since November 2014.”
GT: How did you get into poker?
“I started gambling at a very young age. The first sports bet I remember was $5 against my mom in 1985 on a Vikings/Eagles game. Mom had the Eagles. She won, but at least there was no vig if I lost.
“My dad had a weekly home poker game, and my mother had a weekly home Mahjong game. Mom’s game always had better snacks, but I ended up liking poker better anyway. I’ve always loved gambling, math, and the psychology of out-thinking your opponents.”
Tell me about your room at the Golden Nugget. How many tables, games you spread, tournaments, amenities, etc.
“The Golden Nugget is one of the most famous poker rooms in Las Vegas. The Nugget is seen by many as the spiritual home of the legendary televised poker show ‘High Stakes Poker’ – with its High Roller Suite being witness to some of the biggest and most dramatic pots in TV history. Several series of NBC’s ‘Poker After Dark’ also have been taped here, as well as head-to-head battles of ‘Face the Ace’ on NBC, so players have a good chance of rubbing shoulders with big-name poker pros.
“As the name suggests, the Golden Nugget poker room maintains the casino’s gold rush theme. Our poker room hosts 13 smoke-free tables, comfortable seats and plush decor. Tables are fitted with golden felt and sit below spotlight lampshades that emit low levels of filtered, golden light. Flat-panel TVs are placed above each table and display tournament information is at such close range that even short-sighted players can stay on the pulse of the action.
“All tables are equipped with phone chargers as well. Various levels of live cash poker games are always available from beginner low limits to No Limit action like you see on TV. We have a high hand bonus promotion for our cash games, where if you make quads or a straight flush using both cards in your hand you win a bonus of the posted amount (between $50 and $599.)
“If you hit the high hand between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. it pays double! (Except the Royal Flush, which is never less than a $200 bonus.) We also feature a progressive Bad Beat Jackpot that pays out the entire table if somebody loses with Quad Deuces or better. The Bad Beat Jackpot starts at $10,000 and grows daily until it is hit and re-sets.
“24K Select members earn $2 an hour in comps while playing in our cash games. The comps can be used at any Golden Nugget Las Vegas restaurant, as well as any Landry’s restaurant nationwide.”
What makes your room popular or unique for players? What are their favorite games?
“There are a few very popular things in our poker room that you won’t find anywhere else. First are our double high hand jackpots. Our 2-4 limit players love hitting quads and winning up to an $1,198 bonus. In our no limit games we have no cap on the buy-in, which can create some fantastic action. We’re also the last poker room in LV where $100 bills still play on the table.”
Tell me about the Annual Grand Poker Series, May 29-July 3.
“We’re very excited about our upcoming Grand Poker Series. We run this event every June in the Grand Ballroom for the entire month where we have 60 poker tables and feature all types of different events. We will be bringing back the extremely popular daily $20,000 guarantee prize pool no limit Hold’em event. It starts at 1 p.m. each day and the buy-in is a very affordable $150.
“We also offer some bigger guarantee prize pool events, such as our multi-day championship event from June 29 through July 2. That event has a guaranteed $500,000 prize pool with a buy in of $570. Last year we ended up with 2,025 players and the prize pool eclipsed $1,000,000. We expect another huge turnout this summer. For a complete schedule visit www.goldennugget.com.”
What are your interests, hobbies, family life like outside of the poker room?
“I thoroughly enjoy running my poker room. I also like to play poker, watch poker on TV, talk about poker, read about poker and write about poker. As far as other interests I like to play fantasy sports, and of course watch said sports. I also very much enjoy reading, watching movies, listening to music and spending time with my family. I have two young kids and watching them learn and experience new things every day brings me more joy than anything else.”