1) Can you introduce yourself? What is your background in the poker industry?
A: I started as a poker dealer at the Bellagio in Las Vegas in 1998 and worked my way up to become a supervisor. Eventually, around 2001, I was working for the high-limit area of the Bellagio poker room. In 2005, I went to the Wynn (still in Las Vegas) and was in charge of the high-limit area there as well. In 2008, the Wynn asked if I wanted to move to Macau and help them open their poker room there. To me it was a great life and career opportunity, so I decided to take it. What was supposed to be an 18-month adventure turned out to be 7 years! (5 with the Wynn and almost 2 years with PokerKing.) Eight months ago, I started to operate Queenco Poker Room. It’s now my new challenge.
2) What is your personal history with the game?
I grew up in a family where every time we gathered, there was a nickel and dime poker game and other funny games, so I kinda knew poker through my family. Later, I learned Texas hold'em when I started to learn how to deal, of course. Now I still play recreationally from time to time; I enjoy the game. When extra players are needed, I also sit down to help to start the game.
3) Can you tell us a bit more about the venue and the role that poker is playing at Queenco?
I'm a partner with the casino. I operate the poker room on a mutual agreement. The owner, Mr. Yigal Zilkha, is a man of great vision. He is working on improving the resort with a terrace near the beach, an upcoming pool, and a new tower.Queenco Hotel is working more and more with Russian Tour operators. Russians are well-known poker enthusiasts, and it will help me to build a bigger game. The fact that the room is separated from the rest of the Casino is also great, as it helps players concentrate. The thing that makes our room stand out the most is the dealers. We have the best dealers in town; some of them could be among the top dealers in the country. Any of them could deal in Las Vegas. The rest of our staff is also awesome and will take care of every little detail that you request.
4) What about the partnership between the APT and poker at Queenco? What is your personal view on the event?
Michael Ross was the one who the put the poker room together with Queenco in December 2014. When he was running the room last year, he invited me to come see it. When I was here around mid-January, I mentioned that I knew the APT, and I introduced Michael to Jeff Man. The first event was run by Michael, and I followed up with the partnership. The event has been great. Number wise, except for the Main Event and the High Rollers, a lot of side events have exceeded last year's numbers. This is along with the 3-4 cash games every night, so the turnout has been good. It was unfortunate that the APT Ho Tram in November was cancelled, as many players saved their bankroll for the event in Vietnam. The event was also close to the ACOP.
AJ Brock (APT Cambodia 2015 – Photo APT)
5) What about upcoming tournaments at Queenco?
Tournaments are tough to pull off without branding. I would like to do some small series over high seasons—Friday to Monday or Thursday to Sunday with $500 main—like VPC but more often, for example, once a month. Next year, we are aiming to organize 2 APT events, though it's not confirmed for certain yet.
6) What is your personal view on the poker scene in Sihanoukeville? And in Asia in general?
There are 3 poker rooms in Sihanoukeville. During high season, all of us do very well. Like Manila, more and more poker rooms are opening and hopefully will put Sihanoukeville on the map. There are a few rooms in Phnom Penh, but they aren't really our competitors, as people go from Pnomh Penh to Sihanoukeville if they want to take a break from the city and go to the beach. Besides, more and more players are coming to live in Cambodia because of the inexpensive cost of living.