New owner of Johnny Chan’s 88 Social promises to pay club’s debts

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on 12/29/2021

Out with the old, in with the new. What was Johnny Chan’s 88 Social Club in 2021, will be the 101 Social in 2022.

According to a recent interview, Sanjeev Vora will be taking over (and rebranding) the business. Vora is a familiar face on the Houston poker scene and seems to be stepping in as much to help out as to turn a profit.

“If I make money, everybody surrounded by me should be making money,” Vora said. “I’m in this business to be profitable, yet I want to make sure the integrity, ethics, honesty is extremely important to me.”

The new name 101 Social, is a tribute to Vora’s favorite poker room in Katy, Texas. Though the 101 in Katy is unaffiliated with 101 Social in Houston, Vora is a familiar face there too.

“101 is my family. I love the way I’m treated by the players, dealers, and owner at 101,” Vora explained. “They love to play against me because I play a bit sloppy sometimes. But I’m not an idiot who doesn’t know why they want to play with me.”

Vora has 35 years of running a petrochemical company under his belt, and one imagines a failing poker room is a steal for a rich hobbyist when compared to buying a football team.

Who’s who in Houston

The Houston poker scene is a relatively new one, living in the cracks between city and state rules. They charge membership and daily fees to avoid accusations of taking rake. The whole of the Houton live poker market had a bit of a boom in 2021.

Unfortunately, the boom made for a crowded marketplace. And despite the name recognition 88 Social struggled to stay ahead of the competition. It was late November when the cracks began to show through.

First came a daily $2,000 cashout limit that left worried players holding stacks of potentially worthless chips. Then the management canceled the Winter series, allegedly out of fear of what the overlay would do to the business. Rumors began to appear of paycheques bouncing.

Then, in early December, the shutters came down. Management locked up the business and went silent.

What followed was a period of speculation and concern. The consensus (by no means confirmed) that filled the silence was that employees were three weeks behind on their paycheques and high rollers were left holding hundreds of thousands in chips.

According to his interview with PokerNews, Vora has a plan to make employees and players whole and to settle the club’s debts.

The 101 Social in Houston was soft-launched under its new management on December 27, 2021. Whether Vora does better in the end than the previous owners remains to be seen, but we all have our fingers crossed for his success.

Featured image source: Flickr by WPT, used under CC license