POKER NEWS

2024 Potawatomi Poker Room Grand Opening

The Potawatomi Poker Room was first opened back in April 2004 under the original name of Potawatomi Bingo. It was a small room with only 10 tables located on the third floor of the building, towards the back of the bingo hall. The poker room quickly became popular and was consistently packed. In June 2008, Potawatomi Bingo completed a $240-million expansion that also included a new poker room. This poker room had 20 tables and was located next to the off-track betting room. It was here that poker in Milwaukee really began to flourish.

In 2012, the Potawatomi Poker Room introduced low-stakes no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em. They also started to attract poker tours like the WSOP, Mid-States Poker Tour, and the WPT. Poker continued to grow until the pandemic struck in 2020. As things eventually started to open back up, the poker room unfortunately was not reopened at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Multiple announcements were made that it would be coming back, but there were no concrete developments. Players who once frequented the room inquired about updates, but not many provided. Finally, in 2022, Potawatomi announced a new project with many renovations that also included a new poker room.

Potawatomi Poker

The long-awaited return to poker finally happened at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino! On May 3rd, 2024, the new poker room had its grand opening. On April 22nd, 2024, Above the Felt announced that they would be partnering with Potawatomi to host a meet-up game to celebrate the opening of the new poker room. The meet up game was set for May 2nd and included professional poker player Matt Berkey, professional poker player and broadcaster Jamie Kerstetter, and poker influencer and vlogger Jaman Burton.

The room was packed with hundreds of players waiting to get an opportunity to play poker with one of them. The event was a success, and many compliments were given to the dedicated staff in the poker room as they worked very hard to provide a superb guest experience.

Above the Felt Potawatomi Poker

Potawatomi Poker Room Manager Todd Graves Reflects on the Grand Opening

Potawatomi Poker Room Manager Todd Graves kindly took the time to speak with me about the grand opening and future of poker at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Todd has over 25 years of experience in the poker industry and was very excited to be working at Potawatomi for the grand opening. His goal is to differentiate the Potawatomi poker room from its competitors with exceptional customer service. He was glad that the meetup game was a huge success and looks forward to working with other poker influencers for other events soon.

The poker room is willing to spread any game if there is interest. With that said, Todd wants his staff to focus on Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha for now. Specifically, 60% – 65% of the dealers are new and he wants them to get some experience dealing before they start to train them on additional poker game variations.

I was able to confirm that the poker room does not take phone calls/call-ins. Instead of calling in, players may use the Bravo Live Poker App to have their name added to the list or come in person to the poker room. They do have the ability to send you a text message so that you do not need to wait in the poker room for a seat. You can go anywhere else in the casino while you wait. When you check in just make sure that the staff at the poker front desk have your number. If you happen to be a Fire Keeper’s Club (Potawatomi’s rewards) member, then they will automatically use the phone number that is linked to your account. Once a text message is sent you will have up to 15 minutes to come claim your seat.

When asked about the poker room hours, Todd was able to confirm that there are plans to extend the hours. The immediate concern is to make sure that they are fully staffed. Once they are, then they plan on extending the business hours to 24 hours on the weekends. For now, the poker room is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 AM.

Potawatomi Poker Room

Playing in the New Potawatomi Poker Room

One unique feature of the poker is that they offer table side food service. They have a QR code that you can scan to order from the Marketplace, a food court located on the first floor of the casino, and the food will be delivered right to the poker room. This service will be available from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. After 4:00 PM the sportsbook will then take over any food ordering and delivery from the restaurants in the casino.

I stayed in the hotel for the weekend to play poker during the grand opening and check out the new poker room. While I was there, I was able to speak with both dealers and players to get some perspective of how they thought the grand opening went. The one thing that everyone could agree on is that they were very happy that poker was back at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

Some of the players did complain about how they are not able to call in and have their name added to the list. A few players specifically said that the option to call in would be helpful in determining if it would be worth their while to drive to the casino. People were commenting on how big the list was and were not able to see in the Bravo app if everyone was a call-in or waiting. The other thing that players were consistently speculating on were the room hours. Many players felt that they should have opened 24/7 and I can see why they thought that. With a long wait list and a game at every table in the room, it would not be hard to keep the games running 24/7. As mentioned above, however, it all comes down to staffing; so surely we’ll see expanded poker room hours in the future.

All the dealers were excited to have a poker room. Some of the dealers had been working at Potawatomi Poker Room when the pandemic shutdown happened. Not all the dealers had stayed at the casino once they re-opened. Those who did leave after the shutdown lost their seniority with the casino. It was clear to me when speaking with the dealers that they truly appreciated the players and what poker meant to everyone. The new dealers were very good at dealing poker. There were a few things that could be worked on to ensure an excellent game was dealt, but a lot of the issues came from being nervous. Once they settled in, most of the poker-centric technical issues disappeared.

If you look on the Bravo app you can see that it advertises a Bad Beat Jackpot and High Hand promotion coming soon. Todd was extremely hard to read and had a great poker face when I asked him about the promotions. The rumor floating around the poker room was that the promotions would start within a few days. Some players even claimed that the high hand would be giving away $500 every hour! According to both players and dealers, there were still some promotional funds left over when the casino had shut down, and that was why they would be giving out a higher pay out.

Potawatomi Poker Room

Overall Experience at Potawatomi Poker Room

Overall, my experience there during the grand opening weekend was great. There was never a time while I was awake that I could not find a poker game. The action was great, and the environment was super friendly. Chips were flying all over the place. Potawatomi had thought of everything! Charging ports at the tables, cup holders, side tables, self-serve soda machines, and TVs! I had originally planned to go to the sports book to watch the Canelo vs Munguia fight but it was standing room only. So, I went back to my poker game and watched the fight while playing some $2/$5. This truly was a Vegas-worthy poker room.

I look forward to coming back to Milwaukee to visit the poker room again at some point in the future. It was great to see that many local players who had nowhere to go play now had someplace to call home for all their poker needs. Many players even stated they would stop going to the competitors in the area because Potawatomi was a better place to play. The future for poker at Potawatomi looks bright!

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

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Brian Bizzy Gutierrez
Written By.

Brian “Bizzy” Gutierrez

Bizzy has tried to live life through traditional forms of employment. He started out as a cook, eventually went to school, and completed a degree in Information Security. In addition to being a cardplayer he is also a gamer, movie geek, comic collector, and traveler. Bizzy met his wife on one of many travels and […]