ltimate Fighting Championship all-stars - including Dave Terrell, owner of the Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance - are expected to be on hand to sign autographs and participate in the event.
Occupying the former site of the Lounge 128 nightclub, the new poker room now has arguably the most prime piece of real estate on the casino floor. The facility also includes a covered patio overlooking the vineyards of Geyserville. This patio initially will be a place for players to relax, but poker room manager Dan Higginbotham says he eventually plans to use it for open-air tournaments.
"We want to make sure we take full advantage of that patio," says Higginbotham, who joined the casino earlier this year. "There aren't many poker rooms in the country that can claim they've got tournaments or cash games outside."
The new room has the same number of tables (six) and flat-screen televisions (five) as its predecessor, but will soon feature other amenities, including a free, self-serve drink station with soda and coffee, and a bar that will serve free appetizers for special events (such as tournaments).
Near the front of the room, by the host desk where players check in, there's also a row of mini refrigerators where Higginbotham keeps cans of Red Bull. In the old room, which will become a restaurant serving Chinese and American cuisine, these drinks cost us$ 4 per can. In the new room, however, they are free.
The new poker room has new jackpots, too. Gone is the casino's progressive bad beat; in its place, Higginbotham has instituted progressive royal flush jackpots that can reach us$ 5,000 apiece. The poker room also pays us$ 200 for any straight flush in which both hole cards play.
To enliven high hands, Higginbotham even has launched a Winner's Whee, in which players are invited to spin for cash prizes after they earn quads or royal flushes, get aces cracked or have 40 hours of live play. The wheel resembles the "Wheel of Fortune" board; every sliver is worth a different amount.
"It doesn't help the players or the house for (progressive bad beat) money to just sit around and collect dust, so I'm giving it back a lot more frequently," Higginbotham says.
Players seem to appreciate this new approach; on a recent weekday afternoon, every time someone went up to spin the wheel, the majority of other players in the poker room clapped and cheered as it spun around. Between the applause, the windows and the spacious patio outside, I almost forgot I was sitting in a poker room. These differences are refreshing, to say the least.