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Interview: Jan Fisher, Partner of CardPlayer Cruises

Resides: Las Vegas, NV Known For: Being a managing partner of CardPlayer Cruises This week we got a chance to speak with Jan Fisher who is one of the managing partners of CardPlayer Cruises. Jan has had a unique involvement in the poker world for over 30 years. She spoke with us about what it's like organizing poker-themed cruise packages and her work with the Poker Player's Alliance. online poker 468x60 PokerTips.org: First off, how long have you been involved in the poker world and how was CardPlayer Cruises created? Jan Fisher: I moved to Las Vegas to become a poker dealer in 1977. I dealt professionally and mostly full-time through the late 80's then both played semi-pro and dealt til about 1992. Since then, I've mostly been involved with charity events, teaching WPT Boot Camp, working for the WPT the first 6 seasons, being on the board of the PPA, and the cruises. Before becoming a partner (with Linda Johnson and Mark Tenner) I also took care of all of the staffing, equipment, transportation, and scheduling of all of the staff. Being a partner is MUCH easier work! The cruises used to be owned by CardPlayer magazine and when Linda Johnson sold the magazine in 92, she and some friends bought the cruise division from Barry Shulman. A few years later is when I became a partner, originally being a minority owner and ultimately become an equal partner with the other two. PokerTips.org: What type of poker action can a player expect to find on one of your cruises? Jan: Each cruise is unique with our Mexican Riviera cruise typically being our largest. Last December, on that cruise, we had nearly 600 players and as many as 28 games going. These ranged from $1-2 NLHE, $2-5 NLHE, $1-2 up to $20-40 LHE, $4-8, $10-20, and $20-40/kill Omaha Hi-Lo, and often a few mixed games such as HORSE both at $4-8 and $20-40. While that isn't necessarily typical, our smaller cruises have 10-12 games with a similar mix. We have one exotic cruise a year where we have a more intimate group and this past February spent two weeks in Asia with about 100 passengers and held four games every night. For our hours of operations, we always close during first seating dinner so that our guests and employees may enjoy the fine dining and keep our games good before and after. The economy is hitting our business as it is everyone else in the US. That said, cruise prices are lowered by the cruise lines and we are able to pass those savings on to our customers. We recently issued rebates to many cruisers who had booked for an upcoming event where our prices were subsequently reduced. PokerTips.org: Tell us a little about some of your upcoming events. Jan: I have an event in Mesquite, NV, July 25 to August 2 at the Eureka Hotel and Resort. It is a laid back and fun low buy-in event. All of the info and hotel booking numbers can be found here. There is a freeroll on the 2nd and you can earn your way in during the event by playing as few as 25 hours live. Also, you can earn a free room by playing an average of 8 hours a day. If two share a room, then 4 and 4 or any combo playing will earn that room. The property is lovely and has the Las Vegas Strip feel while being in the small town atmosphere of Mesquite. I am teaching a few WPT Boot Camps coming up in Las Vegas, Dallas, and other locations in the next few months. As I do this interview, I am in Washington, DC, getting ready for the lobby "on the hill" with senators and representatives to fight against the UIGEA. We hope to rattle some people and get this ridiculous bill amended so that online poker can be a taxed and regulated pastime for Americans to enjoy without the fear of breaking the law or playing on sites that may not be safe. Also, by totally legalizing it, underage and problem gaming will be easier to monitor and control. I am also a co-founder of the charity organization Poker Gives. We just held our first event, in conjunction with the Women in Poker Hall of Fame (where I was honored as one of the 2009 inductees), and we raised $30,000 between our poker tournament and silent auction. This foundation is a 501 (c ) 3 tax-exempt fund raising effort and we have many other events in the works. I have also worked for several years alongside Matt Savage, Dave Lamb, and Linda Johnson (as well as tournament directors and cardroom managers) to simplify and make consistent tournament rules and procedures. We have just completed the TDA summit for 2009 and are finishing up our latest set of rules to be on the website shortly. I feel this has not only legitimized tournament play but made it easier for those who travel to events to know what to expect. All good stuff for the industry! PokerTips.org: Is there a particular cruise line you guys typically work with to coordinate CardPlayer Cruise events? Jan: We have recently moved our operations to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and are enjoying showing off this wonderful cruise line to our customers. They have the biggest and most luxurious ships with amazing amenities such as rock-climbing walls, ice skating, putt putt golf, surfing pools and other unbelievable on the sea activates. We look forward to a long-lasting relationship with them and already feel that their ships are perfect for our poker needs. They have wonderful conference rooms that can house everything from our biggest to smallest cardrooms. PokerTips.org: As a director, what are some of the biggest challenges you face during a typical CardPlayer Cruise? Jan: That's a good question... we rarely have challenges. Some obstacles we do face, though, are guessing what the game mix will be the first session (and after that we know the players' preferences) and also closing down the games for dinner and restarting them afterwards. We have done several charter cruises back when the Party Poker Million was a U.S. based event and hosting that always had many challenges. That said, we always got the job done and look back on some of the odd situations that came up with a smile. It's all good and we have the nicest customers so we rarely have problems. PokerTips.org: What type of a price range should players expect to spend in order to embark on one of your cruises? Jan: Cruise prices, once taxes and prepaid gratuities are factored in, are about $100 a day(starting price) on many of them. Upgrades to bigger and better cabins cost more and the longer (than seven days) ones and/or exotic destinations also are a little pricier. All of our prices can be found on our website. PokerTips.org: How many CardPlayer Cruises have there been since the company started? Jan: Hmm... tough one. Likely 80-85? PokerTips.org: Have you been on them all? If not, is there anyone who has? Jan: I have been on more cruises than anyone and only last year missed my first one ever. I also will be missing the Alaska cruise next month. As the economy is hitting Card Player Cruises, all of the partners no longer go on all of the cruises unless it is something we particularly want to go on. We've all been to all of these ports several times so share the privilege of going now. The October Fall Foliage cruise is a new one so we'll all go on that one. PokerTips.org: Is there any cruise in particular that sticks out as having been more memorable than the rest? If so, why? Jan: Wow, good question. This past February we spent two weeks in Asia and it was just wonderful. We went to several ports in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Singapore and enjoyed seeing such different ways of life. It may have been my favorite cruise of all time. That said, I am an avid scuba diver so always enjoy the Caribbean ports and am really looking forward to the New England trip in October. PokerTips.org: Tell us about some of the work you do in Washington on poker's behalf. Jan: I currently am in DC and meet tomorrow with representatives and senators from both Nevada, where I currently reside, and Washington State, where I grew up. I am a past board member of the PPA and have worked to overturn the UIGEA since its inception. I look forward to this opportunity to "make a difference" in this situation and see that online poker can once again become the enjoyable pastime it once was but with better regulations and taxation into our much needed budget. PokerTips.org: Who in the poker world has your respect as an ambassador of the game? Jan: There are many great ambassadors of the game. Mike Sexton always has my nod, I hope he gets voted into the Hall of Fame this year. Barry Greenstein, Nolan Dalla, Linda Johnson, Berry Johnston, Mike Caro, Daniel Negreanu, Eric Seidel and so many others have been such awesome role models for poker. They have stood the test of time with their many years of exemplary skills and behavior in a game so well known for its "bad boys". I am honored to call each of them friends. PokerTips.org: Finally, for our readers who are always up for a good game of 'What Lodden Thinks', what percentage chance does Jan Fisher think Phil Ivey has of winning the WSOP Main Event when the final table resumes in November? (Scroll down to view answer) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan: 13.7% PokerTips.org: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Jan! :) Jan: Anytime!

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