River King One-Pub - REVIEW
First of all, do not confuse the River King Poker Club with the River King One-Pub. Before coming to Phnom Penh, for many years my friend has recommended the River King club but when I got here, there was a big change and River King was no more, and the River King One-Pub was born. (although today they are operating as River King) I am not going to delve into the politics behind and how they came into business, but it is an interesting side story if you have the time.
I’ve been to the One-Pub so let’s start with the positives. It is right above a cafe, pretty obscure so it does feel private and secure. They serve free food from their menu, free drinks. They have low rake (but I never asked how much it was) and they have lots of bonuses. High hand bonuses paid to the top 3 hands paid out 3 times a day, a bad beat jackpot now at about 15k, a rakeback if you play enough hours and they recently offered a monthly rakeback race where the top grinders will get a cash prize at the end of the month. When I was there they were running two tables, and games usually start at around noon. The player pool has more Khmer players than other rooms, and typically softer as well. They are the only club that regularly runs PLO games if you are into PLO.
The game I went to was the 5/5 PLO with a couple of locals and couple of Japanese guys. Action was okay but then we switched to Holdem and it was not a great game. Closer to the end a drunk middle eastern guy sat down and it got a bit interesting until he won a big pot and broke the table. Overall my first impressions of the place is a bit dated, reminded me of the Metro Card Club in Manila. Maybe they have improved since then I don’t know. The dealers were fast but a bit unfriendly. The 1/3 game had many short stacks but I have heard sometimes there are deep stack 1/3 games that can be very juicy. I guess it is just luck which day you show up at.
But what really rubbed me the wrong way was how they did their marketing. Every day I would be spammed with so many messages from 3 different chats on WhatsApp and 2 on Messenger. Furthermore the message is always the same copy and paste, big fish big action blah blah. I personally prefer the undersell, over perform approach but they obviously don’t. Also their mode of marketing is sending negative messages about other rooms instead of highlighting their own positives. I think that is unethical and unprofessional. But still that may just be my own principles. Some people don’t care that much if there’s a good game. I was seriously considering another visit when my conversation with their marketing manager took a negative turn when he said “You think we need you?”
I continued to have a 30 minute conversation with Tony (marketing manager) but I won’t bore you with the details. But one funny conversation was about the legality of the game. Tony neither admitted or denied the place is illegal. His only defence was if they can run the game for 7 years, it must be legal/safe. My argument was I have not died in so many years, does that mean I will never die? The truth is, private poker clubs are not legal in Cambodia, so visit at your own risk. However River King advertises themselves publicly, on Facebook, even on Google Maps. I am sure they must be well-connected to be this open, and might not fear the police, but they are also at risk from robbers or curious journalists. (similar thing happened to a poker room in Hong Kong in 2017 where a journalist infiltrated the room, took hidden videos and wrote a full blown article about it)
Overall I personally would not recommend this place. There are games juicier and softer than here, however their rake, bonuses and rakeback is still the best in town. But it is still worth checking out at least once. Maybe poke at the marketing manager on Messenger and see if he is rude to you as well. Finally, please play at your own risk.