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About Us

About The Poker People

Our Origin Story:

The Poker People was started by Lara Gertzen in 2006 as a retail shop and dealer school. Known then as West LA Poker Dealer Academy, Lara trained new dealers for the casinos while also selling poker supplies to the West LA community. After some time, it became obvious that fighting the internet to sell poker chips was a losing battle and the retail store was closed to focus on training dealers.


In November 2007 Lara got a desperate call from the HR department at a local business. They had waited too long to book a casino night company for their holiday party (seriously folks, get those things booked by September) and no one was available. Looking out at a room full of great dealers Lara asked the obvious question, “Hey guys, wanna go to a party?” And that is how West LA Poker, the event company, was born.


West LA Poker started as Lara’s vision but has grown far beyond that. In 2009 Lara met Pamela Laurie and asked the North Dakota native if she wanted to learn to deal. It was a fateful day for both of them. Pamela would bring not only her work ethic to the job but also her ideas and her own vision for the future – including the name The Poker People.


Ten years later Pamela became co-owner of the company and now The Poker People has 47 employees and a reputation for quality that spans the country. We never forgot our roots. In fact, the very first customer who ever walked in the door to buy a set of poker chips is still a regular home game client 14 years later.

The People of The Poker People

Lara Gertzen

CEO/Marketing and Sales


Lara spends most of her time in the office these days focused on growing the company and expanding the product line. She has an AA in business but has never let that stop her. Married for 24 years, Lara splits her time between travel, several spoiled pets and of course playing a lot of poker.

Pamela Laurie

COO/ Operations Manager

Pamela has a background in event production and management and brings her unique vision to each job. She is truly a jack of all trades as you can find her dealing a high stakes home game, running a 200-person tournament or working on set as a production consultant. When not at work you can find Pamela at home with her husband, three cats and a serious Code Names addiction.

Scott Miroff

Supervisor/ Tournament Director/ Dealer Trainer


Scott has 30 years of casino experience and a deep love for the game. Originally from Colorado, Scott lived all over and worked in a variety of industries until he found poker to call home. Scott is in charge of our A.C.E. training program and his dedication to the art of poker dealing keeps our standards high. Off the tables you might see him skiing, mountain biking or riding his motorcycle.

Kari Larson

Supervisor/ Tournament Director


Running an event is a balancing act. You have to keep the client happy, the players happy, the game running on time and oh, also raise a bunch of money and make sure that everyone gets a parking validation. Kari does all of this in spades. From home games to actual stadiums, Kari runs many of our most important events. She is also a green belt in American Kempo, so if you decide to check raise her you had better have the nuts.

Jim FitzGerald

Supervisor/ Tournament Director


Very few people can claim to have the depth of knowledge and experience of the man knows simply as Fitz. He splits his time between being a boxing ring announcer and working for The Poker People. He trains dealers, runs home games and has a reputation for quality and commitment that is unmatched. If you have been to a poker game in Los Angeles anytime in the last 15 years, you probably know Fitz.

Karen Ritchie

Supervisor/ Tournament Director


Many of our dealers come from the casino world and Karen is no different. You may have seen her dealing top section at The Bike, acting as a DC or acting in a movie (check out The Gambler with Mark Wahlberg). Karen is one of our best dealers and a mom to everyone on the team. She is also a pretty good poker player. Karen will happily take your chips and then bring you homemade lemon bars.

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