MEET ZENAS HARMON PILCHER
HIS INSPIRATION: Zenas, or “Z” as his friends call him, has a personal connection to poker, and it has driven his professional endeavors as well. He learned the game from his mother who taught him how to play while she was dying of cancer. It was the way for them to spend time together and served as a positive diversion during her illness.
“I owe my passion for the game and my success to my mom, to something we did together during a really hard time.”
THE HISTORY: As a single dad raising his son completely by himself, Zenas didn’t have much of a social life and his employment options were limited as well. He came up with a unique way to live his passion for poker and also make a living. Like other enterprises, the business was small in the beginning and focused online. Then he opened a club at his home and invited people to play poker.
“I could get people to come play poker at my home, creating a solid camaraderie among our members and poker players in the San Antonio area. And this allowed me to father my son, keeping him close.”
Zenas is accomplished at the business of poker with more than 20 years in poker card room management and tournament directing, relationship building, casino operations staffing and training, and customer retention. He is highly experienced in developing and maintaining strong relationships with executives, high-profile professionals, guests, vendors, and staff. Zenas has extensive hands-on experience as a poker host and blackjack dealer and is expertly skilled at working efficiently in fast-paced environments. He is an results-oriented organizational leader dedicated to continual gaming excellence.
All of this helped Zenas build a successful poker enterprise.
ALAMO CITY POKER CLUB: The business grew and evolved into live venues or “clubs”, dedicated to the members. The unique business model allows for money to be returned to its members and given to local charities.
With Alamo City Poker Club Zenas has created the first premier poker community in Texas, and now the largest, with 5,000 to 8,000 events held over the last 17 years. It is a place for people have a safe fun-filled environment to “play strong” legal poker. His financial success allowed him to explore other revenue streams and further develop relationships with current and long-time partners. He now owns a small part of 17 different businesses through the evolution of this new idea.
“We maintain a positive, safe, and honest club for our members, and I’m not afraid to cut ties with anyone who threatens that. The important thing is that we have made many friends, built some solid partnerships, and given back to the San Antonio community.”
GIVING BACK: Zenas is committed to giving back to the San Antonio community, and has done so since the beginning in 2000. By 2010, Alamo City Poker Club’s not-for-profit charity, Chips 4 Children, had raised more $350,000 that was in-part shared with local charities, and is on pace to raise nearly one million dollars by 2018 to be shared among members and gifted to local charities. His goal is to create value for the members while benefitting local charities, all the while “making a million people smile.”
In addition to gifting on average of $1,000 per week per venue, Zenas also sponsors and manages poker tournaments for corporate events and other non-profits, further adding to his contribution to local charities.
And it’s not just for show. Zenas minimizes his expenses of the business by living and working in his venues. He personally gifts about 25% of his earnings.
“It has truly been a joy making people smile and helping kids through a sport we all love. Poker has definitely been a calling and a purpose that is totally worthwhile.”
PERSONAL PASSIONS: Zenas is dedicated to serving his family and spending time with his son. Together they enjoy hunting, fishing, archery, and relaxing at his family ranch in Uvalde, Texas.
“I love people and love giving back. I have a passion to serve through my business and my family.”
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Zenas has strategically led all gaming operations management across 13 poker venues, which includes:
- dealer performance
- relationship building
- managing monthly sales ranging from $60k to $96k
- overseeing monthly budgets and gaming operations of $125k
- ensures strict regulatory compliance management
- delivering highly profitable gaming operations
He delivers world class poker services to a wide variety of venues and customers and ensures customer satisfaction and loyalty.
For more about Zenas's professional background, visit his LinkedIn page.
HIS LEGACY: Now, Zenas is expanding his business operations with his son, Les Paul—who literally grew up with him in the poker business—forming InTown Poker Club.
“As he learned the ropes he eventually became my partner. We are the Pilcher Boys. It’s an exciting and proud time for me right now as we are setting him up in an independent business of his own.”
ZENAS PILCHER. MAKING A MILLION PEOPLE SMILE.