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EncoreBlog

Club Life

One Step at a Time

by on Apr.08, 2012, under Club Life

We’re always looking to improve the overall playing experience at Encore.  I think our players appreciate that, and those of you who have been playing regularly for the last year or so probably see the gradual changes we’ve brought to the club.  These changes are ramping up for 2012, as there are several ambitious plans to improve the overall experience at the club in many ways.  I do like surprises, so I won’t be giving all of them away, but I’d like to give a sneak peak on a few changes that are in the works.

Our bar manager Alex has really done wonders over on her side of Encore, making a number of improvements in the bar.  Together with our amazing cook Kalman, they are working on revamping our menu, especially in the evenings.  We’re testing grass-fed ground beef sources to improve our burgers, and we’re buying our bread and buns fresh from Delphina’s Bakery in Northeast Portland.  Alex and I are working together to bring in some new and interesting Scotch Whiskys for our bar, and she is always on the lookout for ways to improve our liquor and beer selection overall.

Over on the poker side of things, I’m always looking for ways to keep Encore in the lead when it comes to Portland poker.  We’ve recently replaced all of our lighting with brighter LEDs, as many of you have noticed.  Working together with our Shift Managers (and listening to customer suggestions) we’re ramping up our promotions as well, with the new VIP email programs and frequent giveaways at random times.  Our much-awaited efforts to build daytime shootouts will be launching in May, with big giveaways as well as a dedicated timer monitor… and that is just the beginning.

There’s one big thing I am really excited about.  We’ve started a phased process of replacing all of our poker tables; manufacturing has begun on our first batch.  These new tables are going to be larger, the cupholders will be in the armrest, the graphics will be beautiful, and we’re switching to a nice speedfelt which will stay cleaner and last much longer.  They’ll be better in every way than our current tables (which are still pretty nice) and I can’t wait to play on them.  They will also provide the foundation for some other fundamental improvements we’ll be implementing in 2013.

I’m personally looking to spend a little more time playing in the club, and a little less time tied up in my office.  While this is certainly an improvement for me, I think it will be good for the club as well.  I really enjoy playing with our customers and many of our improvements are hatched out in between hands in a good game.  I’ll also be trying to visit the other clubs in town a little more consistently, it’s important to build a relationship between all of the clubs. I’ll stop bragging, I know I am incredibly lucky that my job considers playing tournaments a basic skillset.

I want to give a big thanks to all of the customers who have come to me with ideas, comments, and criticism.  You’re the reason we’re here, and I do like to hear how you think we’re doing to make you want to come back.  Feel free to email me with your comments (sean@encoreclub.com) or talk with me at the club.  If you don’t see me on the floor, you can always ask for me up at the desk.

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Keeping Encore Safe and Fun

by on Feb.23, 2012, under Club Life

One of the main goals of Encore is to provide a fun and safe environment for all of our customers.  We have a number of procedures and policies in place to guide us toward this goal.  One of the most important tools in maintaining the fun, friendly atmosphere of Encore is our code of conduct, and the enforcement thereof.

If you’ve been visiting our card room for some time, the chances are good that you’ve either played with someone who has been asked to leave, or have been there when a difficult situation erupted.  In a poker room (especially one with alcohol) these things are bound to come up from time to time.  Reacting properly and getting everything under control is our number one priority in these situations.  However, we try very hard behind-the-scenes to prevent these incidents from happening in the first place.

This this end, our floor people are trained to monitor the tables for excessive behavior, and then hand out warnings and penalties as appropriate.  We base our code of conduct on Robert’s Rules of Poker, which is one of the universal, most comprehensive rule sets for Poker.  Both the TDA and WSOP rules are based off of Robert’s Rules, as well as most Codes of Conduct for poker rooms around the world.  I’ll be working on a concise list of violations to have in posted in our room soon, but the basic idea is that people should be treated with decency and respect while in the card room, and rule-breaking will not go without penalty.

Before a player is asked to leave the club for an extended period of time, they will generally have received several warnings and penalties along the way, as well as a one-on-one talk with the General Manager of the club.  If these steps have failed to improve the behavior of the offender, we hope that some time away from the club will do so.  In most cases, this works, but in some it does not and a permanent ban typically results.

Obviously there are some infractions that result in immediate and/or permanent banning without the warning/penalty steps being followed.  Some examples would include if we have to call the police on someone for their behavior, physical violence is brought upon a guest, or damning evidence of theft, cheating, or fraud are discovered.  Luckily these events are rare.

Excluding customers from Encore Club is one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching decisions I have to make as General Manager.  Each of these decisions are carefully thought through and made with the understanding that they surely will bring about negative word-of-mouth.  I only hope that the benefits of having a safe, fun environment outweigh the costs of having upset former customers.  When players are asked to leave, the reasoning for their exclusion is kept confidential, therefore it makes it difficult for our management staff when they are asked “What happened to so-and-so?”  We can’t come out and say “Oh, they were stealing/fighting/cheating” so instead we must hope that the circumstances for our silence are understood.

If you have any questions or concerns about any of these issues, please feel free to talk with me personally.  You can either contact me through email (sean@encoreclub.com) or come see me here in the club.  My schedule is Thursday through Monday, from open until 5:00, although I am generally here later.  I thank all of you for your continued patronage and support, we have the best players in Portland and together we’re only making Encore Club better.

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2012 Off To A Great Start

by on Jan.24, 2012, under Club Life

Our year has started off strong here at Encore Club, and we’re already looking to make things better.  As our regular players know, we’ve introduced a number of new tournaments and other changes to the club this month.  I’ve completed the most current phase of updates, and wanted to share the results with all of you.  Here is what we’ve done to beef up our schedule in 2012.

$5000 Guaranteed Friday 8pm Tournament : We’ve changed our 8pm Friday tournament to a $5000 Guaranteed game, with a $50 buy-in and a $25 add-on.  You start with T9000, add-on for T6000, and the tournament follows our Main Event blind structure with 20 minute levels.  The first time we ran this, we had a prize pool of $10,600 and 121 players.  This is the game to play on Friday nights!

Pot Limit Omaha High : We’ve made our PLO Freeroll into a $30 buy-in game.  PLO is a fun action game that is a great transition for Hold’em players.  It plays just like Hold’em, except you have four hold cards instead of two.  Two cards must play at showdown, along with three board cards.  If you haven’t given the game a try, you should!

Deepstack Sunday : Sundays are a special day for us here at Encore.  We start off the day with the $500 Added Freeroll that everyone has come to love, but the real action starts at 2pm.  We have a $40 freezeout at 2 starting with T7000, a $30 rebuy at 4 for T6000, a $1000 Guaranteed $50 freezeout at 6 (T7000), another $1000 Guaranteed at 8 ($40 buyin T6000, no rebuy, $20 addon T4000), and our nightly $500 Guaranteed turbo at 10 ($25 for T6000, 1 rebuy, 1 addon T3000).  Sundays are the day to get your deep game on at Encore!

Midnight Express : We’ve added a new midnight tournament, the Midnight Express.  This is a super-turbo $20 buyin tournament that is really a lot of fun.  After a few weeks of testing and player feedback, we’ve settled on a 10k starting stack, 10 minute blind levels, and 2 rebuys at 5k or less.  It’s a fast-paced game full of laughs and excitement, and a great way to get one last game in before heading home.

Improved Blind Structures Overall : If you know me, you know I’m a blind structure nerd.  My inner geek means great value for our players, as I’ve gone through and added a blind level here and there in nearly every blind structure.  Gone is the steep jump from 500/1000 to 1000/2000, replaced with a more gradual progression.  Even our already balanced freezeout structures have an additional level in the fourth hour, slowing down the “shovefest” feel of some final tables.

 

As always, I’ll continue to think of ways to make your experience better here at Encore, and I hope you’ll enjoy the results of my work.  If our busy room is any indication, people seem to enjoy it already!  Thanks again for choosing Encore, I look forward to talking with each of you in the weeks to come.

 

 

 

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End of Year Thoughts From Encore

by on Dec.22, 2011, under Club Life

Would you believe that we’ve thrown nearly 2200 tournaments in the last year?  If the average prize pool for those tournaments was $1000, that means we’ve had over $2.2 Million in prizes awarded through the Encore Club in 2011.  I’m too lazy busy to do the math and come up with the real figures, I’m sure they are much higher.  Still, even that modest estimate is astounding.

It’s been a fun year.  We started the year off as one of the newcomers to the Portland poker scene, and now that December is here I dare say we’ve positioned ourselves well as one of the major movers in town.  A lot of great things have happened along the way… we had Micheal Mizrachi visit at the end of March, we ran so many sold-out monthly $10,000 Guaranteed events that we decided to do them weekly, and we expanded our noon tournament from a modest open game to our exciting daily $1000 Guaranteed event.  The crown jewel of 2011 was our amazing $37,000 prize pool anniversary event which set the bar for major tournaments in Portland.

We’re always looking for ways to grow and improve here at Encore.  I’ve heard nothing but good things from our last major initiative when we bumped up our day-to-day schedule and moved our $10k to a weekly event.  It’s very gratifying to see so many happy players coming back again and again.  We’re going to make some modest changes and additions in January, and you can be sure that I will be out talking with players and dealers looking for ways to keep our club at the front of the line when it comes to exciting games, big prize pools, and customers satisfaction.
2011 has been an exciting time for everyone involved, but none of our success could have come about without the great players and friends we have developed in the last twelve months.  Our players are the reason we’re in business, and I love to hear from any of you about the things we do well, or those we could do better.  Thanks for being here for us, and I hope we can make 2012 an even better year for everyone!

Happy Holidays, everyone, and I hope each of you has a successful and joyous 2012.

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How’s That New Schedule Working Out?

by on Oct.20, 2011, under Club Life

We’ve had an amazing last ten days here at Encore.  Ever since we announced our new schedule on October 9, we’ve been busier than ever here in the club.  We’ve only fallen short of one guarantee so far, where Encore was more than happy to add a little money to the pot to get things up to where they should be.

I want to thank all the players who have been coming out recently to keep things hopping here.  Some of the highlights of the last ten days:

 

Our first ever $250 Added Saturday Freeroll attracted over 40 players and had a prize pool of $1000!

 

Our Monday $200 Added Pot Limit Omaha Hi tournament attracted over 40 players and had a prize pool over $700!

We had our biggest ever $1000 Guaranteed Noon tournament last Monday, with 46 entries and a $1970 prize pool.

Our new Monday and Tuesday 8pm $1000 guaranteed $40 buy-in $20 add-on freezeout are big hits, with 46 entries, $2600 prize pool, and $1000 first place prize!

 

Our Sunday $50 PLO8 tournament brought in 17 Pot Limit Omaha 8 players and a nearly $1500 prize pool!

 

Our first weekly $10,000 Guaranteed Main Event attracted 87 players and a prize pool over$16,000!

 


Things really are going well for us here at Encore.  It’s no surprise, since we’re offering over $150,000 in guaranteed prize pools monthly.  And as always, our guarantees are REAL, requiring only 5 players to start.  That’s right!  As long as there isn’t a blizzard, ice storm, or other natural disaster… and it’s not a major holiday, we’ll meet ALL of our guarantees as long as five people show up to play a tournament.  That’s because we’re confident that you’ll come back again and again to play here.

 

So thanks, Portland, for your support.  I look forward to seeing you here in the club!

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