The ARIA Resort & Casino is home to the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl, which became arguably the top poker room in Las Vegas in just a few short years. The biggest whales in poker travel to play in Ivey’s room, while at the same time recreational low limit players on vacation flock to the property.
Leading the ARIA poker team is Sean McCormack as director of poker operations, but when it comes to tournaments Paul Campbell is firmly in charge. He’s been on his feet 18 hours a day overseeing every detail of the SHR Bowl.
While most mortal men would be at the point of exhaustion, Campbell is sharp as ever. His energy comes from his passion of the game. “I’m a poker fan, I’m a poker player – obviously not to level of these guys – I study the game,” he said. “I study all aspects of the game from the business side to the player side, I’m an all-around poker geek in every sense of the word.”
From the time Campbell graduated high school he knew poker was his path, but it wasn’t clear at first which path he’d follow. “I played as a source of income from 18 to 28. I tried to try it as a full-time source of income and decided that it wasn’t the lifestyle for me,” he said. “But I still loved being in poker rooms and I tried the other side of it.”
“What I found is that I’m a lot more talented on this side than playing,” said Campbell. “I enjoy to play but from the business side, the administrative side of it – not only do I enjoy it, but I’m a lot better at it.”
Campbell’s been a part of the ARIA team for a little over a year and a half but already has a deep loyalty for the company. “We have some big plans coming for tournament poker and I’m going to see that through,” he said. “My bosses have shown a lot of confidence in me and I’m excited to be a part of what we have planned.”
Not only does the ARIA brass support Campbell, but he’s grown into a player favorite. “The players are great; you see them on TV and you hope they’re nice guys and they are,” he said. “Most of these players are high roller regulars and I’ve gotten on a first-name basis with most of them.”
“It’s a great group of guys and I love running events for them,” added Campbell. “The players are starting to get to know me and get comfortable with me and trust my decision-making process.”
Campbell’s reputation among players stems from the overall company culture. “Sean says, ‘We’re not in the poker business, we’re in the people business.’ He reminds everyone every day from me to a temporary dealer that might come through,” he said. “We make sure that our guests whether they’re playing a $100,000 High Roller or a $1-$3 game, we treat them well.”
“We credit our success based on the service we provide our guests. Luckily for me, it comes second nature,” said Campbell. “I do enjoy being in the service industry – that’s what this is. You have to have guest service skills and expertise in the field.”
Campbell often appears hyper-serious while on the floor, but behind the stern façade is a guy just waiting to crack up. “A lot of people say I don’t smile very often and think that I’m really serious and professional all the time,” he said. “But anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a very approachable person and an absolute goofball outside of work.”
“It’s funny, people ask me at work if I ever smile but I think I just have a resting crabby face,” he added. “When I’m outside of work people are like, ‘Are you ever serious? Can you act like an adult one time?’ It’s a complete opposite from when I’m here, which gives me a good balance in life.”