If you’ve never been to JACK Cleveland Casino, you’re missing out. While most gaming venues are built from the ground up to be casinos, JACK Cleveland adapted their casino operation to fit into a multi-storied, decades-old former downtown department store. As such, it’s got a rather unique feel.
Inside, there is a 24-hour poker room offering a wide array of tournaments and cash games, including both no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha up to $5/$10. The room has returned from the pandemic with renewed fervor due in no small part to Chris Lose, the JACK Cleveland Poker Room Manager and former Director of Bingo Operations at Aria.
Over the past decade, Lose has worked in various casinos both in his hometown (Horseshoe Cleveland and JACK Cleveland) and in Las Vegas (Orleans and Aria).
In the latest installment of the PokerNews Industry Insiders series, we chatted with Lose, who has assembled a strong team to help make Cleveland a burgeoning poker destination.
Check out the JACK Cleveland Poker Room review on PokerNews here!
Finding His Way to Poker
Born and raised in Northeast Ohio. Lose has been married for 17 years and has two sons – Lucas (13) and Liam (9). In 2004, Lose was introduced to poker when his buddies took him to a $20 home game.
“I was not amused by the game at first, but after I won my first tournament, I started to get hooked,” he told PokerNews. “I started to read poker books and watched a lot of poker on TV. We had weekly games and sometimes weekend casino trips.
Then, in 2011, Horseshoe Cleveland was having a hiring event. Lose was interested in landing a job, so in preparation, he attended a dealing school and received a certificate for blackjack and poker.
“At the hiring event, 12,000 people applied and only 600 were hired. I made it through,” Lose explained. “The Horseshoe had a Training Academy that was about 12 weeks long. I wanted to be a poker dealer. It was my dream. However, at the end of the academy, I was offered a Poker Supervisor position. I accepted. This position allowed me to move up quickly once I moved to Las Vegas.”
His move to Sin City took him to one of the most prestigious properties on the Strip.
“At Aria, I quickly joined the shift manager team. I used the position to learn even more about the game than I ever could have imagined.”
He continued: “As an operator, I believe in engagement. Players have voices. While we might disagree, it’s important that the public is heard. They are the ones playing the game. Always engage and keep an open ear. Poker evolves. Stay ahead of the curve.”
Things came full circle for Lose when he returned to Northeast Ohio and accepted the role of Poker Room manager at JACK Cleveland, which recently hosted a RunGood Poker Series (RGPS) stop. It was there he was able to bring his Las Vegas experience and build one of the best poker rooms in the Midwest.
“The best thing about Jack is that it is a single-owned-and-operated casino. We are one property. We get to try new ideas that a bigger company would steer away from. It allows me some exciting marketing opportunities.
A Legendary JRB Story
It’s actually having the chance to work JACK Cleveland again that is Lose’s proudest poker accomplishment.
“Becoming the Poker Room Manager at the casino I opened up in 2012 has to be the proudest moment. I always told myself, ‘I’m going to be Poker Room Manager in Cleveland one day.’ I took chances and moved around so that I could learn everything I could about being able to rise up to the challenge if it was presented. Being able to support my family while changing the culture of poker in my hometown is such an amazing feeling.”
With years of experience under his belt, Lose has seen it all, which proved especially true out west.
“Working in Vegas has gifted me with a bunch of stories. Most I cannot repeat or are better inside jokes than anything,” he said. “My favorite story was during the Patriots vs. Falcons Super Bowl. Jean-Robert Bellande had a bet on Tom Brady and the Patriots. JRB was dressed in a Brady jersey and was his usual chipper self. He was hosting a game at the Aria on Table One. As the score got worse and worse for him, legend has it that he gave up and at a defeating score of 28-3, JRB bought out of his sports bet. And just like that, in classic Broke Living Luck, the Patriots made an epic comeback. Watching this happen live was wild. I love JRB. He is one of the nicest players in the industry. He has always been good to me and is someone I speak very highly of, but the events of that night make for a legendary JRB story.”
Hands of the Week: Death By Quads in Level 1 of RGPS JACK Cleveland; Jack-Four Shenanigans
More Industry Insider Profiles
Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.