There's been a thread in the Brick and Mortar forum on 2+2 about jackpots with a number of regular players complaining that they're a tax on the system, just a scam for the benefit of the cardroom and should be eliminated. My opposing position (cardroom perspective) is that they're not a profit-center, and they're a legitimate tool to attract new and recreational customers. Regulars forget that their chosen profession requires a steady stream of new or rec players who will come in and make EV- plays because they're having fun and, consequently, fuel the ongoing poker economy. I'm not sure why they don't see that.
In any event, I figured I'd share some excerpts from my responses in the thread...
"...As a owner/operator, I'm very interested in keeping a grinder happy, but I also need to remember that most people come into the card room to have fun, get some good cards and win a few pots. They're not students of the game who discuss hands, strategy or edges on forums. They're at the table because poker's fun and that rush they get when they peek at pocket aces or scoop a pot with chased flush is awesome. Jackpots add to that excitement. It's true with slots and it's true with most poker players who approach the cardroom for entertainment and a maybe, just maybe, a shot at a nice score.
As for the fight over jackpots (Bike vs. DoJ circa 1995) a few years back, the big cardrooms fought it because they knew that recreational customers want them and they felt that they're an important constituency. That's not to say it was an altruistic fight; it wasn't. The cardrooms felt there would be a noticeable falloff in business, and based on my experience and interaction with the majority of our players, I agree with that.
The state's position IIRC was that the jackpots were an illegal lottery and was protecting the CA Lottery's turf. Similarly, if the state pressed to ban alcohol from all casinos, that might be eliminate abusive drinkers, improve the demeanor and health of most players at the table, but the cardrooms would probably fight it. Admittedly, when smoking was banned in CA rooms in 1998, everyone howled in protest, but the impact on business was marginal. Then again, only 17% of Californians smoke. I'm guessing most customers (i.e. a number higher than 17%) would prefer us to fight for their right to party and chase jackpots.
Look at it this way. The baseball purist probably finds all the kids out for bat day kind of annoying, but the future of the game (both for the owners and the pro players) depends on a constant flow of new faces and repeat recreational customers. We BOTH want new customers and the regular "I know there's a 3-bet in front of me, but I have pocket 7s and the jackpot hasn't hit in three weeks. Call." player, right? To me, talk about eliminating jackpots is the equivalent of tapping the tank. Dude...shhhh..."
From a later post in the same thread...
"...If we eliminate the jackpots and, while we're at it, other taxes on the system like advertising and comped food, how do we continue to bring in the players that we both need to survive and make a living? Should we count on the regulars to recruit their friends down to the cardroom to enjoy the camaraderie? Should we count on the WPT or ESPN? Maybe we should hope that the 100,000+ players on 'Stars decide that the "play on the laptop by the pool and generate more hands in two hours than a live player sees in a week" lifestyle is too convenient and anti-social and they'd prefer the challenge of driving down to the cardroom, getting on the list and engaging in the social niceties of live poker?
Jackpots and promotional tools are part of the business of bringing in new customers and keeping recreational players anxious to sit and stay at tables. In some markets, like Vegas, you can count on a continual stream of tourists--unless, of course, the economy sours and people are less-inclined to part with discretionary dollars. In other smaller or local markets, we can't just fire up a Cirque du Soleil show or a few white tigers and hope the husbands will waddle into the poker room. Therefore, we advertise and come up with promotions, jackpots and other things to stimulate traffic and butts in seats...
Complaining about jackpots is akin to Derek Jeter beefing about answering the same inane post-game questions or signing autographs for some kid he'll never see again. Or Tiger Woods refusing to play the pro-am because he makes his money on the weekend. They don't because they know that without the sponsors and the fans, their paydays wouldn't be what they are. Similarly, without the new or recreational players, how profitable do you think your games will be?
If you don't think promotions or advertising matter, ask yourself how good the live games were before the WPT, PartyPoker or guys like Moneymaker winning the WSOP? Ask yourself how good the games would be if there weren't new players getting in, chasing, making mistakes. What you only want good players who understand the game, read books published by 2+2 and play solid poker?
Put differently, jackpots are like your girlfriend's makeup. It may seem like a waste of time and a fraud on the purity of the sport, but I'm not sure you'd like the look of the game without it. Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, once said, "In the factory make cosmetics; in the drugstore, we sell hope." Embrace the hope. It's why the new and/or recreational player comes in and blindly takes the seat to your right."
Anyway, thought you might be interested on the perspective from the other side of the felt.