PokerNews Op-Ed: Veronica Brill Recognizes Those Shaping the Future of Poker

Veronica Brill

The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of PokerNews or its members.

When you think about the world of poker, it's easy to see the diversity of people who make up this dynamic community. From vloggers and podcasters to prominent pros and tournament directors, there are countless individuals who contribute to the game's popularity and growth. But amidst this community, there are a select few who stand out as true visionaries. These individuals possess a passion for the game that extends far beyond their personal experience, and they are driven by a powerful idea for the future of poker.

In this article, I'll explore the experiences I’ve had with such people, and gain a deeper understanding of the people who are shaping the future of poker.

Letting Lose on the Industry

A little over a year ago, I received an unexpected message on Twitter from a mutual friend in Cleveland. It turns out that the new poker room manager at JACK Casino was interested in having me host the grand opening of their brand-new poker room. I was booking a few grand opening gigs at the time so I was intrigued, but also a bit skeptical – what could this new poker room offer that others didn't already have?

Chris Lose
Chris Lose at a RGPS stop.

As it turned out, the new manager had an impressive background in the industry. He had spent time working at the renowned Aria casino in Las Vegas under the guidance of Sean McCormack, one of the most respected figures in the world of poker. With McCormack's high standards for customer service and professionalism, it was clear that this new manager was bringing some serious talent to the table.

That manager was Chris Lose, a native of Cleveland who had decided to return home to take on the challenge of running the new poker room at JACK Casino. Despite the obstacles and uncertainties that come with launching a new poker room, Chris was confident in his ability to deliver an exceptional experience for players. And as I would soon discover, he also had a big vision for poker.

During our first conversation, he was brimming with enthusiasm about the brand-new poker room that had just been completed on the second floor. He had big plans for a grand opening that would not only showcase the room's spacious capacity but also promote inclusivity in the Cleveland poker scene. Over the course of the next year, I had the pleasure of returning to the casino several times, and each time I found Chris hard at work on his mission to make the game more welcoming and diverse.

He was passionate about supporting women in poker, championing the LGBTQ+ community, and creating a fun and comfortable atmosphere for all players. It was clear that he had his finger on the pulse of what the community wanted, with a mix of low and medium-stakes games and plenty of PLO action to keep things interesting. As he continued to pursue his vision for the future of poker in Cleveland, it was impossible not to feel energized and inspired by his dedication and enthusiasm.

"He set his sights on attracting the biggest names in poker to the new room, with high-profile tours making it a regular stop on their schedules."

With a bold vision for the future of poker in Cleveland, Chris was determined to make his mark on the industry. He set his sights on attracting the biggest names in poker to the new room, with high-profile tours making it a regular stop on their schedules. He was diligently working with the casino’s legal team to try to make the poker room a site for vlogging.

And he didn't stop there – Chris knew that players were looking for more than just big guarantees. He wanted to create an unforgettable experience that included innovative game formats like double board bomb pots, ensuring that every player who walked through the door would leave with a sense of excitement and anticipation. With his sights set on becoming a competitive market for traveling poker grinders, Chris did everything in his power to make the JACK Casino poker room the go-to destination for players within traveling range of Ohio.

I sadly found out that Chris has recently resigned from his position at JACK Casino. As a poker player, I know firsthand the difference between playing in a room that is truly dedicated to providing the best possible experience for players, and one that is simply focused on hitting its financial targets. Chris was the driving force behind the poker room at JACK Casino, and his passion and dedication were evident in every aspect of its operation.

His departure is a blow to the Cleveland poker community, and to players like me who had come to appreciate his vision for the future of the game. While I am saddened by this news, I am hopeful that Chris will soon find a new home in the poker world – one that recognizes and appreciates his commitment to excellence and his unwavering focus on the needs of players.

Industry Insiders: Chris Lose Shares Legendary JRB Story

The One Who Bets the Most Wins

Women are significantly underrepresented in poker. This can be attributed to a variety of factors, including social norms and the belief that poker needs high-risk tolerance that is better suited for men. One woman has made it her job to change that terrain.

Jamie Kerstetter had already made a name for herself before I had ever met her. She was featured on Poker Night in America and hosted the Run it Once podcast. Jamie could have easily taken a sponsorship deal, pocketed a yearly poker Twitter personality GPI award, and promoted herself into vast monetary gains full of Instagram posts, Florida casino commercials, and poker tour stops. But instead, Jamie knew the game not only needed fresh faces, but also needed more representation by women.

Jamie Kerstetter
Jamie Kerstetter

The interesting thing about Jamie is that she truly understands that marketing products to men and women require a different approach. Harvard Business Review once wrote about a phenomenon called "Gender Contamination," which occurs when men and women become uncomfortable when a product that symbolizes their gender is extended to appeal to another gender. Jamie recognized this issue and changed the way poker was marketed to women. She began hosting women-only meet-up games in a comfortable setting, where women could learn and play poker without feeling intimidated or out of place.

These women-only meet-up games provide a supportive and encouraging environment for women to learn and grow their poker skills. Jamie understands that if women sit at a table to learn to play HORSE for the first time at her meet-up game, they will be met with patience and acceptance. She has also been the driving force behind the WPT women's $25/50 televised cash game, which has given women much-needed recognition in the game.

As someone who has played in the WPT at Wynn Las Vegas, I can attest to the importance of Jamie's efforts. During our $25/50 televised game, I was outplayed and gladly gave my $5k to the crushers I was up against (or Jamie had pocket kings vs. my jacks when I was all in for my last $1,800). These types of games give us all more recognition in the game and it’s important that we are included.

Jamie's commitment to creating a more inclusive and diverse poker community is making waves in the industry and inspiring us all. She has shown that with hard work, determination, and a willingness to think outside the box, we can break down barriers and create a more welcoming and supportive poker community.

Jamie Kerstetter's WPT Ladies Meet Up Game at Wynn a Smashing Success

Make Poker Great Again

Poker has come a long way since its early days when gut feeling and a lot of gambling were the keys to success. With the advent of solvers and advanced strategies, the game has become more complex and competitive. However, this shift towards a more serious and professional approach has also made recreational poker less fun and enjoyable for many players. But one tour is changing that - the Run Good Poker Series (RGPS).

The RGPS is the brainchild of Tana Karn, a Buffalo slot professional and poker enthusiast who understands the foundation of the game and the regular guy who wants to play without breaking the bank. Tana has created a traveling community disguised as a poker tour, where players can come together and enjoy the game in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

Tana Karn
RGPS President Tana Karn

I had the pleasure of being an ambassador for Run Good last year at the Graton stop, and it was one of the best experiences I've had outside of Cleveland. The atmosphere was electric, with everyone getting t-shirts and trying to get the bounties placed on the ambassadors in the tournaments. There were tons of pictures, laughs, and good vibes all around.

What sets the RGPS apart is its focus on creating a fun and inclusive environment for all players. The tour caters to recreational players who want to play mid-level events and have a great time. The emphasis is on having fun, meeting new people, and building a community around the game we all love.

Tana Karn's vision for the RGPS, which recently won the Global Poker Award for "Mid-Major Tour of the Year" for the third time, has breathed new life into the game. By focusing on creating a fun and inclusive environment for all players, the tour is attracting a new generation of players who value community and enjoyment. Congrats on the GPI award!

Visionaries like Chris Lose, Jamie Kerstetter, and Tana Karn are crucial to the evolution of poker. They work hard to create a more inclusive and fun atmosphere for all players and have breathed new life into the game and attracted a new generation of enthusiasts. These trailblazers have shown that with hard work, determination, and a willingness to think outside the box, we can break down barriers and create a more welcoming and supportive poker community.

  • Veronica Brill takes a moment to recognize three people she feels are helping shape poker.

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