Kunovic wears many hats at Caesars’ new poker room

December 04, 2014, Rob Solomon  

Caesars Palace recently named Frank Kunovic III the manager of its new 16-table poker room. I spoke with him about the room and the future of poker at Caesars.

Can you talk about the decision to close the old poker room? We’ve got a beautiful new nightclub coming in, owned by the Hakkasan group. They take a lot of space. So we built this new beautiful poker room here at Caesars. Plus, we have a great product at our sister property, Planet Hollywood, with our PHamous Poker Series and the WSOP Circuit events.

What’s your goal with the new room? We’re creating a culture change here for Caesars Palace poker. In the coming months, our focus is going to be on really planting the flag to say, “If you like online poker, Caesars Palace is the place where you should play.”

Dec. 7 we will be holding our grand reopening from 7 p.m. to midnight. We will be giving away cash and prizes to everyone in a game and at midnight we’ll be giving away a main event seat for the 2015 WSOP.

We’re going to be working with WSOP.com very closely. There will be satellites and cross promotions between our room and WSOP.com. This is going to be a different look for poker in the city of Las Vegas. The goal is to be the first true integrated poker room with online poker. We’ve now launched the Android app and the iPhone app for WSOP.com. You’ll be able to play online here in the room.

So, a whole new definition of multitabling? Exactly. We encourage online poker. We love online poker. If you like online poker, Caesars Palace is the place you should be playing.

You recently changed your $1-$3 no-limit game to $1-$2. Why? The $1-$3 game had a $500-max buy-in. We wanted to be competitive in the market with the $2-$5 game. A lot of our customers, instead of going into the $2-$5 game, would just sit in the $1-$3 instead. The $2-$5 had no cap on the buy-in and we got feedback that this was scaring away some of the casual customers; the tourists who were staying at the hotel. So we listened to that feedback and changed it to $200 minimum, $1,000 max on the $2-$5. We changed the buy-in for the $1-$2 to $100-$300. The intention is to drive more of that $2-$5 business, which really is a great game here at Caesars Palace.

How often does the $2-$5 spread? We usually get one every day. We’re hoping to get more than one, though. And the goal is, if you want to play the higher limit game, we offer $5-$10 as well, with a $500 minimum and no max. We have also been spreading a $25-$50 limit game pretty consistently lately. We are focusing in on spreading more than just the $1-$2 game.

Why play at Caesars? A great location and this poker room has a lot of high-action games. If you’re a good poker player, this can be a very profitable room for you. We pride ourselves on our customer service. We also offer a $4 maximum rake and $2 an hour comps, which is very competitive. Effective with the grand reopening, there will no longer be a $1 jackpot drop.

Tell me about your background. I started at 18 in Chicago at Off Track Betting. Then in 2003, I came to Harrah’s Las Vegas as a part-time sportsbook ticket writer. I worked my way up to become a supervisor. Then in 2004, they consolidated the sportsbook and the racebook and built a poker room there. I loved poker so I went to work there. I learned how to deal, then cashiered. I worked my way up to lead supervisor.

A position became available at Harrah’s Laughlin in 2006 and I became the specialty games manager. I ran the poker room and the sportsbook because I had both backgrounds. I was there a year and then Harrah’s bought the Imperial Palace (now the Linq). I came back to Las Vegas to oversee the poker room, sportsbook and keno room.

After some restructuring, I moved over to Bally’s, overseeing the poker room there as well as the sportsbooks and keno there and at Paris Las Vegas.

Then we purchased Planet Hollywood. That was just natural (they’re all located right next to each other) so my responsibilities increased and I added the poker room and the sportsbook at Planet Hollywood as well. And now my responsibilities have expanded just a little further, managing the Caesars Palace poker room.

The way my career path has gone, I like to tell people that, “There’s opportunity. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”

SCHEDULE CHANGE: Caesars recently changed its tournament schedule. The 10 a.m. has a $100 buy-in, an 8K stack and a $1,500 guarantee. The 2 p.m. is $125 for a 10K stack and a $2K guarantee. At 8 p.m., it’s $150 for 12K chips and a $4K guarantee. All levels are 20 minutes.

VENETIAN: New Year’s Extravaganza runs Dec. 26-Jan. 4. The house is offering $300K in guarantees. The highlight is the $300 RiverCard event Jan. 2, offering a $100K guarantee.

PLANET HOLLYWOOD: PHamous Poker Series VII will be Dec. 26-28. The $500 main event has a $200K guarantee and a $40K guarantee for first.

— Email Rob Solomon at rob@allvegaspoker.com. Follow him on Twitter @Robvegaspoker and read his blog at robvegaspoker.blogspot.com.