Marketing Officer Sarah Sculpher talked with Casino International about what the scheme means for their players and how it has helped create one of London’s busiest poker rooms.

WSOP seats to poker players for several years now. Senior Poker Manager Rommel Lapinid and EMEA Chief

London’s Empire Casino has offered Player

Casino International: Where did the idea to take players to Vegas as a team for the WSOP come from? Sarah Sculpher: This is Rommel and the Empire team’s concept, and it would not be as successful as it has been without Rommel taking it on as his own. It started life as a promotional mechanic to give something to the players and to keep them coming back to the casino; it is something very aspirational to players. They’re not players that would normally be going to the WSOP, we’re not talking about celebrity ambassadors, we are championing our own customers and giving them the chance to be part of something really special. Of course, what we do get out of it is the social sharing they do, the advocacy they share with their own poker community – but it’s not a traditional sponsorship arrangement where someone puts on a jumper and they’re given money for it. They’re part of a community and they have earned their spot on the team. Then they just have to enjoy it

and have fun, we don’t have expectations for them. Rommel: That’s exactly right. With our customers… it’s quite unlike other venues where players are paid to wear the badge or whatever at WSOP. Our customers representing us, going there is like a thank you, and when they get back to the room, they can share their experience with their friends and other players.

ecosystem. You need things to make sure the atmosphere is right, that there is the right feeling in a property – and poker players are a big part of that.

“ 36 DECEMBER 2019 ” Casinos are an

and slot players. Marketing to poker players is not as simple as advertising the rest of your offering, there has to be a point of difference that appeals to a demographic with just one thing in common – the game. London’s Empire Casino has one of the capital’s busiest poker rooms, with player loyalty driven by the chance to play at the World Series of Poker. Senior Poker Manager Rommel Lapinid and EMEA Chief Marketing Officer Sarah Sculpher talked with Casino International about their project.


poker room is considered an essential for most casinos, though it’s difficult to quantify things that are simple elsewhere in the casino – and the players themselves are a different breed to tables

CI: How do your players end up in a WSOP seat? What’s the process for deciding who gets the seats? RL: In terms of qualification, players can qualify by playing the normal cash games at the normal stakes they would play – these are £1 or £2 blinds with a minimum buy-in of £50. These players come in with £50 to £300 when they come in to play; the bonus is, if they were to come in and play these cash games they could qualify for a monthly tournament; every month they get the chance to play for one WSOP package. Also, while they are playing the cash games, we also have something here called the Empire Hand, which is 5-6 suited; if they were to win a pot using that signature hand, they get a point and that would qualify them for the leader board for that month.

CI: That sounds pretty unusual… The signature hand part, I mean.

SS: It’s quite a skilful hand. RL: It would be, yes. But it’s also one of those hands where if you have it, you have a reasonable chance of winning the

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