Table Talk: Complaints Begin Ahead of WSOP Kickoff


The weather today in Las Vegas started cool this morning and heated up to about 80F. It’s pleasant now, but by the time the World Series of Poker kicks off, the temperatures will be regularly soaring into the 90s and above. For now, I’m sitting on my patio with a lovely glass of white wine and enjoying this rich desert weather.

This will be my first year living in Las Vegas during the WSOP, as I traveled in from Los Angeles during previous years. I don’t play the events, but I’m often working various assignments that require my presence at or near the tournaments. For the first time, I don’t have to pack up my life to trek to the desert; I can just drive 10 minutes to the Rio at any time. I’m very much looking forward to the convenience.

Most poker players look forward to the WSOP as well. They start to ask about the summer tournament schedule shortly into each new year, and the excitement level shoots through the roof on social media sites when the details of the dates, times, and events of the Series are announced. It is Christmas morning in the poker world.

And in almost no time at all, the complaints begin. Why is there no xxxxx tournament this year? How can they start xxxxx tournament on xxxxx date? Can men play in the Ladies Championship? No matter how many happy players look at the schedule with glee and begin making their plans, there are those who immediately find something wrong and run with it. This is also like Christmas, in that the kids are super happy when they see what Santa brought, but the minute they find something that doesn’t work or there aren’t enough batteries for a certain toy, the tears begin.

Poker players are simply a microcosm of society in many ways, and the wide range of personalities in the game undoubtedly includes some who will complain. What many of them fail to realize is that their complaints about the tournaments, structures, dates, and rules is that they had nearly a year to influence change. The powers-that-be at the WSOP are actually very open to listening to players and willing to change. Should concerns be brought to their attention during the Series or in the six months after, players have the opportunity to influence the information that is ultimately released in the early months of the following year.

The latest fodder for complaints is a rumor that there will be heightened security at the WSOP this summer, complete with checks of backpacks and other bags that players carry with them to the tables. The uproar was almost immediate from some players who claim it will be an invasion of privacy. Considering these are the same people who regularly fly around the world and must submit to randomly invasive pat-downs and searches at airports, the potential of having to disclose the contents of a backpack in Las Vegas shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

Keep in mind that this is merely a suggestion at this point. But within hours, a popular online poker forum was several pages in length, and Twitter was abuzz.

If the WSOP chooses to search items that poker players tote with them to poker rooms, it would be no different than the security at many major sporting events and other large gatherings. I’m willing to bet that the process would not be put into place for any reason other than to ensure the safety of everyone in the massive ballrooms full of poker players, fans, media, and staff.

Is it an invasion of privacy? Probably. Is it going to add a few minutes to the time it takes to enter the Rio each day? Yes. Is this any different than what goes on across America in today’s fear-based environment? No.

Again, it’s only a consideration at this point.

Players, have you already forgotten that you waited anxiously all year for the WSOP schedule? It’s almost here! Your summer vacation, your opportunity for fame and fortune, the chance to show the world how great you are at poker, and poker’s very own seven-week festival – it is all just weeks away.

I know that it may seem like I’m a complainer, too, just complaining about the complainers. I suppose that’s true. But I have this column to write each week. And whatever, this isn’t about me!

My point is simple. Remember what you love about the WSOP. If you have complaints, try to simply address them to the WSOP in a polite manner. … or at least wait until the WSOP actually begins. There will be seven weeks of 110-degree weather, freezing cold poker rooms, bad runs and losing sessions, and limited food choices at the Rio to inspire complaints throughout the summer. Can we just enjoy Christmas morning until then?

Speaking of complaints, my wine glass is empty! Considering I live alone, there’s no one to blame but myself. I must go in for a refill. See you at the bar, I mean the WSOP!