View from the Floor: John Scanlon at Aspers Stratford

View from the Floor: John Scanlon at Aspers Stratford

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Aspers Stratford is two-years-old this month. John Scanlon, Head of Poker at Aspers, reflects on the challenges of building a burgeoning poker community in the East End.

Our perception of time can be a strange thing. Something that happened quite recently can feel like a lifetime ago and something that happened many years before can seem just like yesterday. When I think back to when we first opened the doors to the UK’s first super casino in Stratford on the 1st December, 2011 I remember like it was yesterday: the first players making their way through the gaming floor looking for the poker room, all the questions about the plans for the room and comments and advice players were passing on.

Before we opened I knew there were going to be two main challenges. The first was going to be staffing and dealing standards. I’ve been involved in opening many new casinos and card rooms but for the first time I was taking on a project without my own team around me to assist. As part of the licence agreement, Aspers agreed to train people from the local community to fill the available positions. I knew that, no matter how much they practiced, the dealers would not be anywhere near the standard that players in London have quite rightfully came to expect.

I knew that the only way that dealers were ever going to get there was for me to throw them in at the deep end on opening night. I have to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of understanding that most players showed in those opening weeks, and I have to commend the trainee staff that stuck it out and can be proud of the professional dealers they have become.

The second challenge was to get the players to buy into the TDA rule set my team and I were going to be enforcing.

When it comes to rules the most important thing is consistency, and one thing that was clear to me was that there was a lack of consistency in the house rules that were being applied up and down the country. I have massive respect for Matt Savage and the rest of the panel that chair the TDA summit and have always been of the belief that the TDA provide the most fair and comprehensive rule set in the world. I love the fact that anyone can join and attend the TDA summit and debate any rules they feel need consideration, and for these reasons all Aspers poker rooms apply the TDA rule set without amendment.

My plan was to create a new poker community in the East End, built on a solid foundation of affordable tournaments and small-stakes cash games, then let it grow naturally – and my, how it’s grown! Within a year we expanded and doubled the size of the poker room, and then more recently we added a new dedicated poker bar to improve service levels. There are now 35 poker tables available every day and we increase our capacity to 65 tables when required.

The room is most definitely moving in the right direction. A new improved tournament schedule with weekly guarantees was launched in November and our cash game loyalty final is going from strength to strength with the playoff final in excess of £60,000 each month. Cash games run 24/7 and the last day there wasn’t a cash game was Christmas Day, but that was only because we were closed!

Events at Aspers

At Aspers we are all about poker events and bringing players from all over the world to play poker in London. Since opening we have held events for Betfair, Unibet, PKR, WPT, Sky Poker and we even had the privilege of hosting last year’s Party Poker Premier League.

This year we have teamed up with our friends from WPT and Party to create the new Aspers Accumulator tour which is a WPT National event. The first stop was in Stratford in October and, with online support from, we attracted 510 entries. The event takes place every two months, alternating between London and one of the other Aspers sites. The next leg takes place in the new Milton Keynes casino from the 19th to 21st December.

We’ve also just agreed a partnership with to run a new monthly tournament called the Aspers 30-30. This two-day event will run on the second Saturday and Sunday of each month from January 2014. The buy-in is £300, the starting stack is 30,000 chips and the guarantee is £30,000. Players will play 30-minute levels on day one and 40-minute levels on day two, and Aspers will provide a buffet for all players on the Saturday of the event.

The next event at Aspers is our annual Christmas Cracker, sponsored by Coral, which is taking place between the 13th and 15th December. Aspers and Coral add lots of goodies to the prize pool as a thank you to our players for supporting us throughout the year. I hope to see you then. For full details of what's on visit

Tags: Aspers Stratford, John Scanlon