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Old 07-31-2020, 03:15 PM   #1
GuitarDean
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Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

I'm a few months away from retiring and I don't plan on having another standard career. I don't need any more income in order to sustain my lifestyle, but if I can pull off something that's both profitable and fun, why wouldn't I with all my new free time?

I have a potential business opportunity - with 1 non-player business partner - to run a raked game in a language that isn't English targeting a specific player profile that is common in our area. (Don't want to reveal too much.)

Same stakes and rake structure as the local casinos, making it clear we're not trying to gouge anyone with unbeatable rake. Cheap alcohol to encourage drinking.

I think such a game has a decent chance of pulling away a portion of the casino crowd who would likely prefer an environment in their native language. Let's just say there is a heavy over-abundance of very bad players fitting this language profile in the area.

Obviously I speak the language, so I can blend in as a rec player, and this naturally filters out most of the known casino pros. I plan to act like a drinking rec and let no one know I'm there to make money or that I'm 1 half of the business owner. My partner will handle all of the front-end operations including advertising in this language through media platforms frequented in this language; I'll play and also handle some back-end stuff, and also provide most of the guidance on how the game needs to run.

I'm not exactly a strong player (yet - working on it with online courses) but against this player pool, I certainly have an edge now, and it's certainly going to increase as I spend more of my retirement time working on this game.

Not sure if sustainable indefinitely or not, but the idea is for my partner and I to combine earnings from the game and from me playing together and split evenly in order to reduce variance. I'll probably earn far less than the game, but I do have value in this partnership beyond just playing poker. Let's just say this game would never be started by my partner alone, while I can't manage it alone either, and I have 100% trust in my partner.

Would such an arrangement be seen as unethical?

Last edited by GuitarDean; 07-31-2020 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 08-01-2020, 02:26 AM   #2
Alpha Fish
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Re: Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

if you're not strapped for money I wouldn't recommend doing it if you haven't run a game like that before

but in general, there's nothing wrong with the game owner playing in his game as long as he's not winning - not many things annoy players more than someone who's beating them with the rake actually beating them with poker as well

a raked game owner being a consistent winner will definitely spook some of the players into thinking they are being cheated

your job is to fill a seat when the game is short and to be a good action without playing back at your customers, and then to get up when it's full and someone wants to play, nothing more
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Old 08-01-2020, 10:12 AM   #3
Garick
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Re: Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

Quote:
and also provide most of the guidance on how the game needs to run.
You can't floor while you're playing, imo. That's a pretty clear conflict of interest. At the very least, you need to teach your partner enough that he/she can floor without asking you questions while you're at the table, or the game will die pretty quickly.

As for the base concept, if you've never run a raked game before, you may have a lot to learn. Security, legal issues, training and supervising deals, spotting skimming, etc.
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Old 08-01-2020, 10:39 AM   #4
DrStrange
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Re: Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

Running a card room is a lot harder than it appears. You only need to look at the chip guide for states with legal card rooms to see how many closed places were once around.

http://www.chipguide.com/

A card room is a cut throat business. You are always trying to recruit customers from other venues and they are trying to poach your players. Success is often fleeting, the "new place" is attractive if for no other reason it is new.

Running a card room in a competitive market is surprisingly capital intensive. You will likely need more money, staff and experience than might be anticipated. The lack of prior experience will be an on-going problem. New operators don't know what they don't know. I have doubts you will granted a license to operate a card room, if that is what you are considering.

Perhaps one might think it would be different running an illegal game out of an apartment. Put a couple of tables out, hot stamp a few thousand chips get a crate of cards and a wall full of illegal booze sold without a license. Can't cost more than $5,000 to get set up - you'll make that back the first night.

The fact the original post exists offers insight. It is good that someone is asking before doing. But I hope it comes across that this is potentially a really bad idea. More so if the idea is to become part of the criminal underground. Perhaps it is just me thinking of myself, but I have the impression old men make bad novice thugs.

My advice? Go get a job in a legitimate card room, if you can. Let someone else train you on their nickel. Learn if you really want to do this. It is harder and more tedious than you think. Don't try to learn the business on your own, with your own capital at risk.

Consider the implication of joining the ranks of organized crime. Sure, you'll just be a "small fry" barely getting your beak wet. Is that a good place for some old retired guy? Some of the other members of the criminal underground don't play well with others.

Let's just not do this so quickly -=- DrStrange
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Old 08-01-2020, 05:16 PM   #5
Tbirdx24
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Re: Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

Definitely seems unethical imo, particularly the pretending to be a rec player. If everyone knows you're the owner, and you're playing to fill seats and create action, that's one thing. But deceiving is certainly unethical (although ironic given the game is poker).

It also sounds like a dumb business move. Players will 100% find out.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:31 PM   #6
sw_emigre
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Re: Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

I concur that as you laid it out, it's entirely unethical.

I played in a raked home game where the host played, the gf dealt, and his dad also played in the game. There was never an instance where I thought something unethical happened as a result of this set-up, but everyone knew about all of this in advance. You trying to hide it is a huge red flag for me.

If you and your co-owner are friendly and run a clean, friendly game, it won't matter if you play. But if you are less than upfront about any aspect of it, you will deserve it when something bites you in the arse.

I also 2nd the motion that in a raked game, you can't floor if you are a player. I'm sure most all of us hosts here play and act as floor in our games, but the stakes are usually such that it's never worth screwing over a fellow player for a couple of dollars.
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Old 08-03-2020, 11:21 AM   #7
Gobbs23
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Re: Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

Sounds like a good way to get robbed, beat up, and thrown in jail...not necessarily in that order.
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Old 08-04-2020, 02:34 PM   #8
GuitarDean
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Re: Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

Hmm, alright, not going to do it then. Thanks for the comments.

I definitely wasn't planning on any actual cheating, but the appearance of cheating / conflict of interest is problematic enough. Optics was the reason I had the idea of trying to pretend to be just a player and not part owner, but yea, eventually someone's going to find out, and the results could be reeeeally bad.
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Old 08-04-2020, 10:18 PM   #9
sw_emigre
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Re: Is it unethical to run a for-profit raked game and play in it?

Do it or not do it, just be up front about it. But after rereading some of the good advice above, I can highlight something that was pointed out, which is that recruiting players can be a full time business. That alone may make this more of a hassle than you were anticipating.

gl
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