Q&A with the Table Games Boss at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be the head honcho of the Table Games Department at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa? We have the full scoop on how Paul Mollo, Vice President of Table Games, started in the casino industry and what guests can expect from his department in 2015:

How did you get into the casino business?

I was actually a Chef way back in the day. I worked at a few different restaurants and I didn’t really see that as my future so I took a civil service exam for police officer and I was ranked 9th out of around 400 people. So they said, “You’re going to basic training for police,” but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a cop either… who likes writing speeding tickets? When at home one night, talking with my sister she said, “Why don’t you go down to Atlantic City and just take the entrance exam to get into dealer school?”   So, on a whim, I took the exam which is basically a math test and I aced it. They said, “You can start dealing school next week” and I thought I think I will. So I quit my chef job and went to dealing school for blackjack, craps, and roulette in the summer of 1980 and it was fun. I ended up getting a job instantly.

What was it that landed you the job?

I opened Harrah’s Atlantic City Resort and Casino in 1980 and theywere looking for friendly people. It wasn’t the math skills as much as the good customer service and friendly demeanor that they were looking for… similar to what we look for here in Tampa.

How long have you been in the casino industry?

It’s going on 34 years.

How many people do you personally oversee?

850 in tables and another 250 in poker, so 1,100.

How do you manage 1,100 employees?

Through having great shift managers and great team members, you can’t do it alone; it has to be a Team concept. I delegate a lot of high-level projects because it’s a great way for the Team to get involved with the business instead of me just doing all of the work and them not absorbing anything.

What’s the best part of your job?

It’s never a dull moment. I don’t spend eight to nine hours in an office. I get out and walk the floor… I’ll go to tournaments, special events and talk to customers and talk with my great Team Members. It’s not a cookie cutter job where every day is the same. Being the boss means I can do a lot of different interesting things… It’s fun, but it’s obviously a lot of work as well.

What is the biggest challenge when it comes to table games?

Believe it or not the biggest challenge is communication. With a staff of 1,100 people it’s tough to communicate with everyone. I have different ways to communicate; obviously mass emails, I have a forum and then there are the 1980s memos, but I don’t really do those. It’s just so tough to get the word out to everybody, whatever that word might be.

What is your favorite table game at SHRT and why?

Blackjack because it really makes you think and it’s the best odds for you. You can play perfect basic strategy and you’re house edge is .39 so basically for every $100 wagered we expect to make a meager $0.39. It’s a fun game.

How does Tampa’s table games compare to other casinos? We don’t have live craps or roulette, but I would put the variety of games that we have and the rules that we have set up against any major casino in the United States. We offer the same exact product, if not better than they do. We’ve got really great games set up for the player.

What advice would you give to a player who is new to table games?

Start out small. If you look at a game that you think you might like, look at the gaming guide for it. Buy in small, maybe like $100 or less. Play the minimum until you get to know and understand the game and/or look for a different game that you think would be fun and jump on that game.

What is a good beginner game?

A good beginner game believe it or not is casino war. I call it one card poker. If you get a jack and I get a seven then you win. It’s that simple and it’s very fast and action packed. We have around four of those on the floor. We started with two and the demand and popularity created more.

Would you say Blackjack is the most popular game?

Yes, probably 50-60% of our tables are blackjack.

What changes can guests expect to see in 2015?

I’m always working eight months to a year ahead for the install of new & fun product. We are looking at a couple new Asian games. One called, Saigon 5 it’s the craziest game, it’s a very traditional Vietnamese game and I can’t wait until we get it approved. We’ll world premiere it here, so that will add to the excitement. We are also looking at another game called 21 Baccarat and another one called Crisscross Poker. The 21 Baccarat and Saigon 5 are more Asian games and the Crisscross Poker is more for the domestic player. It’s one of those games where there is a lot of ways to win and I think our guests will enjoy playing it.