High Stakes Home Theater

A poker aficionado mixes cards and movies in the same recreation space.


For this Calbasas, CA, homeowner, constructing a great home theater next to a game room whose highlight is a regulation poker table was simply in the cards. “He has an adjacent poker room so he could earn back all the money that the theater cost him,” jokes Murray Kunis, who owns electronics system installer Future Home of Los Angeles. “He’s an excellent poker player—he’s slowly made up about $5,000, $10,000 a night.”

While the card playing might be a gamble on some nights, receiving a high-performance theater for the homeowner’s budget was a safe bet. Kunis worked in conjunction with First Impressions Theme Theatres of North Miami, FL, a one-stop shop type of home theater builder, to design a room with top-of-the-line audio and video.

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For now, a Runco VX2c DLP projector serves up video onto a Stewart Luxus screen that measures 169 inches diagonally. (Kunis says that the nearly $40,000 Runco projector may be updated in the near future.)

The sound comes out of a JBL Synthesis system that Kunis felt was one of only a few options that could handle the room’s enormity. “It’s a good-size room. Most ‘home theaters’ are about 3,000 cubic feet (16 by 20 with a 10-foot ceiling) and this room is three times that size,” Kunis says. “There are some wonderful, beautiful speakers out there, but just not many that can fill this volume with theatrical presentation. They’re straining to make it so Arnold [Schwarzenegger] is really in the room with you.”

Since the room was designed from scratch as part of an annex add-on to this 10,000-square-foot residence, the design and installation was flexible and really fell into place, Kunis explains. That includes risers for three rows of five-chair seating that elevate 18 inches for perfect viewing.

Along with desiring a theater room that would not look dated three years down the line, the homeowner’s primary concern was ease of use. “He was just scared to death of not being able to operate the thing. He doesn’t get along with technology,” Kunis says. “He travels a lot and is gone sometimes for months on end. He didn’t want to be in a situation where he came back and forgot which buttons to push.”

Using a Crestron control system alleviated that fear, to the point where all the owner has to do is press one button, and the curtains are drawn, the lighting fades from blue to orange to magenta, and stars pop out along the ceiling when a movie is about to start. Kunis says the sequence “slowly decompresses you” in preparation of the viewing experience.
After a movie, guests can head to the outdoor pool or full-size batting cage that round out the annex area before settling in for some Texas hold’em next door. Just try not to bluff the homeowner, or you might end up donating to the home theater fund.


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