Interview with Phyllis Caro
By Jan Fisher
Phyllis Caro has had a long and interesting journey within the poker world. I had the good fortune to catch up to her at Hollywood Park recently, and she was kind enough to share some of her time and answer some questions. She is one of the most interesting women in poker and currently is the director of poker operations at the huge Southern California property. Phyllis didn't start out at the top, however, and she paid her dues along the way.
In 1979, Phyllis Caro entered the poker arena as a dealer at the El Cortez in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. From there, she worked stints at the Las Vegas Club, Aladdin, and Golden Nugget among others. It was at the Nugget that she met Mike Caro. Soon thereafter, they were married and she retired from dealing poker. She assisted Mike in writing many of his books, some of which include his Book of Tells, Poker for Women, Caro on Gambling, and the Mike Caro Quiz Book. For those of you who know Mike, it would be obvious that becoming involved with him would be a life changing experience and it certainly was for Phyllis. She has never looked back and has become one of the most high profile women in poker for the past many years.
In 1984 Phyllis met George Hardie who was the owner of the Bicycle Club in Bell Gardens, California. He was most interested in gaining the services of both Mike and Phyllis to help to improve the image of poker. They were both brought on board as consultants, with Phyllis becoming involved in the hiring selection and auditioning of dealers. She was also in charge of the opening day promotions. Next, she went on to be the DC (dealer coordinator), tournament director, director of dealer operations, and ultimately the vice-president of casino operations. This last position gave her responsibilities of running the daily operations of the club.
As her tenure at the Bike continued, Phyllis had some differences with the appointed federal trustee. She took some stands that were less than popular with the trustee, always trying to do what was in the best interest of the industry and trying to maintain the integrity of all games. Soon thereafter she parted ways with the Bike and was immediately recruited by Hollywood Park Casino in 1995.
Today, Phyllis is the director of poker operations at Hollywood Park and handles everything pertaining to poker operations. She commented, "I love the action and energy here. I have a great deal of freedom to make decisions in the best interest of the players and the casino. There are many things that we are proud of; for instance, our advanced surveillance system would rival the best systems in Las Vegas. We hire and train many local residents and work with our community to benefit many local charities. We are pleased to be the home site for the Mike Caro University, where we actually create business for our industry by teaching players how to play and win at poker. I'm also happy that our casino is sensitive to problem gambling issues. Signs and referral information are available everywhere, and we offer assistance to both employees and customers when requested."
In addition to the usual gaming menu at a wide variety of limits, Hollywood Park offers blackjack, pai gow poker and tiles, super pan 9, tonk, and bingo. Players can bet live or simulcast races with bet runners without leaving the poker tables. They may also sit in the Finish Line Sports Lounge and watch the action on more than 200 TV monitors. Other casino amenities include a barbershop & beauty salon, a 24-hour health club & massage center, a deli, and Citation Restaurant.
Phyllis' influence at Hollywood Park has been paramount to its continued success. She is a personal friend and I wish her lots of good fortune in the future.
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