Table Talk: Ease Up on WSOP


This isn’t something you’ll hear me say often, but I feel that the WSOP deserves a break from some of the criticisms and complaints. No, I’m not drunk.

To be honest, it’s too hot to drink much in Las Vegas right now. The temperatures are heading to 110 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, and ice water is working just fine. I can pour a glass of iced-something for you, too, if you’d like.

Let’s get to this WSOP situation. Despite warnings from members of the media and some players, people continued to show up at the Rio Convention Center for the World Series of Poker over the course of the first week completely unprepared. It was as if they had never read a poker article or been to a poker tournament room in Las Vegas before. And those who were completely new to the scene were not the heavy complainers; the most vocal about issues like room temperature and registration lines were the pro or semi-pro players.

For players who are familiar with the Rio, it’s cold in the tournament rooms. It was cold last year. And it was cold the year before. Do you remember a year when you did not wish you had another layer of clothing? That means that you should bring something to keep you warm this year.

For the ladies who think they must look gorgeous to play in a poker tournament, good for you. But you’re going to be cold in those spaghetti-strapped dresses, low-cut tank tops, or short skirts. If it’s worth braving the cold to look good in that poker media photo, go for it, but a sweater or sweatshirt is the most sensible way to go.

As far as the registration lines for major tournaments, those who played in events in previous years know that the lines will be long just before the start of a tournament. For something that is likely to have a great turnout, like the Millionaire Maker event, how can you possibly be surprised that there is a long line at the registration desk?

Every year, the WSOP opens online and on-site registration weeks before the start of the first tournament. That is an excellent way to skip the lines on the day of the tournament. If you’re not inclined to plan ahead that far but decide the night before a tournament, register then. But if you choose to register an hour or so before the start of an event that is expecting thousands of players, just chalk the line up to your procrastination. You’ve stood in lines for concert tickets, waited an hour for a restaurant reservation, and played with your iPad for an hour when waiting for a doctor’s appointment. You can do the same at the WSOP.

Most players know that the WSOP staff (Seth Palansky, Jack Effel, etc.) is on Twitter, and they are there to address questions and concerns as the Series goes on. However, it’s important to realize that they also have a job to do, such as organizing tournaments for tens of thousands of players and fans, addressing questions in person, and making the changes you request. Tweeting at them over and over (and over) about the temperature of the Pavilion ballroom or a registration line is not productive.

Let’s be clear. I certainly don’t speak on their behalf. But from an outsider’s perspective, I can see that they are sometimes inundated with the same requests and complaints for which they have tried to provide clarity and answers in the past. And anything less than cordiality and civility is simply unacceptable when you are trying to be heard.

WSOP staff has been very responsive to most players and issues, taking a great deal of time to answer questions multiple times, address concerns, and rectify problems. They have been very generous in that way. In no other game or sport can a fan or competitor send a tweet to those in charge and receive a response to the degree that the WSOP has been doing. Maybe it’s time to respect that.

Complaints are fine, as long as they’re made respectfully and without repetition. That is how the WSOP continues to improve on things like structures, game options, and tournament rules. But also, don’t forget to thank them for the things that they’re doing right, the things that have been improved, and the amenities that you enjoy. Some players have taken to tweeting at the WSOP Twitter account or to Tournament Director Jack Effel to mention the names of good dealers and positive changes. This is productive.

Just keep in mind that the WSOP is more responsive that most other poker organizations. It is wise to respect that, use the opportunity to correspond with the staff wisely, and work positively for change.

Now, let’s refill those water glasses. The temperature may be cold in the Rio, but it’s the opposite outside. Stay cool, everyone.