There’s a lot of talk about how well the WSOP is doing, in general, this year. The new space is, well, spacious. The venue is nicer than the Rio ever was, and there are lots of things to like about the move to Bally’s/Paris. But while people are praising the series as a whole, they all seem to have a complaint about something as well.
And I wouldn’t be a proper mixed-game player if I didn’t have some complaints of my own. We’re known for that sort of thing. The things I’ve noticed are fairly minor, but there are some things you should be aware of if you haven’t been to the new WSOP yet.
The crowds aren’t gone, and neither are the lines
While there are more cashiers, there still aren’t enough to handle the big rushes of players in events like The Housewarming event this weekend. Players waited in lines longer than they should be to register, but which were still nowhere near as bad as the last few years at the Rio. At least not yet. Lines could still get out of hand in some events. Sunday should be one of the largest fields of the entire series, so we’ll know more after we see how that goes.
Those crowds don’t seem to be a problem for the restaurants or the halls, or even the restrooms, but they have overwhelmed the valet system where I waited for 15 minutes to get my vehicle. I’ll be parking in the media spots in the garage on weekends from now on. Players were expecting parking to be an issue, but so far, it’s been fine in the garages.
Cash games aren’t running smoothly
With no chip runners — and requiring every player to buy chips, as well as cash them out — at a cashier window, the number of lines have grown along with the number of cash games. It’s not just frustrating to wait in line for five minutes to get chips and again to cash them out: it hurts the games.
When a player is called on the list for a game, they can’t just walk up to the table. They have to go get their seat card from one place, sometimes waiting in line for a minute or two behind people who are trying to get on a list, before getting in line again to get their chips.
So, the process of filling a seat after a player leaves involves a seat card being set out and then picked up by the floor. Then, the floor goes to the lists and calls the player. The player shows up, gets the seat card and goes to get their chips, and finds their table.
If this sounds like a long process, it can be. We never saw a seat filled by a new player in less than five minutes. Five minutes doesn’t seem so long until three players leave, and then another leaves, while we’re waiting for the seats to be filled and, suddenly, an eight-handed game is four-handed with one person walking. This left us playing three-handed with 20 people on the list for our game, though it didn’t last long.
A few chip runners wouldn’t be a big expense, and I’m not sure why the WSOP wouldn’t hire them. It surely costs them more money in lost rake than it saves them in low-wage hourly workers who make most of their money from tips.
Even opening up every cashier window would certainly alleviate some of this problem. Seeing a long line, and only half the windows open, isn’t only slowing down the games, it’s frustrating the players, some of whom have no idea how hard it is to run such a big event. Those people just see raw incompetence and a general disinterest in players, rather than a logistical issue, which is yet another reason to solve it.
A bit loud
My personal complaint is the loudspeakers in the cash game area. The good news is that you won’t miss it when your name is called. The bad news is that those speakers will bore into your brain and turn it into mush if you are anywhere near them. I’ve seen Slayer in concert twice, and they would be jealous of these loudspeakers.
When they called me for my mixed game, my mom heard my name and phoned from Michigan to wish me luck. The United Nations showed up and charged two of the floor guys with war crimes. At one point, the speakers made a high-pitched whistling noise and 12 dogs, two cats, and a coyote showed up. What I mean to say is, they were very loud.
Single-table tournament registration still a drag
The buy-ins for single table tournaments are now in the same room in which they’re played — right across the aisle, in fact, but there were long lines just to get a ticket to play one. I know I talked about this in the first installment of this blog, but it still baffles me. They could be running twice as many single-table tournaments — and generating twice as much profit from them — if they just dealt with these buy-ins differently.
I’m a mixed-game grump
My other complaint is that the mixed games are run in an absurd way. Our mixed game was a must move to a game with a different mix. The other game wasn’t a kill game, but ours was. And, another mixed game of the same size wasn’t a game we were moved into, though it was a kill game. And we had a player table change into our must-move game, something I’ve never seen happen before.
When it came time for us to start moving to the main game, no one wanted to go. The first player chose to leave, then the second player chose to leave. My name was next and I chose to leave as well, not to make a point, but because I didn’t want to play all the draw games the other table had chosen when we had chosen our own games that I liked quite well. I don’t know if that broke the game; probably not, but it certainly sent some players home who were happy sitting there paying rake.
And, the games are chosen early in the day and can’t be changed without unanimous consent. So, the draw games that eight people with a combined age of 760 years choose in the morning are part of the main game all day and all night.
Anyway, I left the game up $350 and the 20-minute wait for the valet was long enough that my ears stopped ringing, so I guess I can’t complain. I wouldn’t anyway, I’m not much of a complainer….
Someone lost their backer
Just outside the door of Bally’s, I overheard a loud telephone conversation that one can only expect to hear at the WSOP.
“You can’t drop me now, I just got out of makeup. You mother#@$&@!! I just got even! This is bullshit!”
My fantasy team is cruising along
I played the ODB Fantasy League this year, which is a $500 buy-in version of the $25K Fantasy League, and which is tracked on the same site. It’s fun, and I think I got some real bargains on the cheaper players I drafted. Without much knowledge of the schedule that some of these players were going to play this summer, I just went with great players for the more expensive picks.
The key is mostly to find players who are going to play the high roller and $10K events with smaller fields, and who have the skill to make final tables. There’s just no telling who will do well from year to year in the huge fields of the smaller buy-in events, but the big ones are more predictable.
With his schedule and his long history of good results, I thought Phil Hellmuth was just as good as Negreanu or Deeb, and he was $20 cheaper. With only $200 to spend, that $20 is the difference between taking a flier on a cheap player and getting John Monette, one of the actual best players on the planet.
Some of this comes from my own experiences with the players. Having played with Monette, Friedman, and Chidwick, I thought they were all a steal at these prices. Ball, Koon, Imsirovic, and Soverel are all really good no-limit players who are likely to play a lot of big buy-in events. Monette, Koon, and Chidwick are often brought up when “who is the best in the world” conversations come up around specific disciplines.
Michael Addamo as my bonus player felt like a steal too. I don’t know if he’ll play many events, but he’s an absolute crusher when he plays, and he could end up being the bargain of the bunch if he decides to play a full schedule.
My team has 80 points right now. Imsirovic might not be popular right now, with cheating accusations swirling around his name, but I know he’s really good and will play a bunch of big stuff. And, he came through in the 100K bounty to bring in 70 points. Then Monette got me a point in the Dealer’s Choice event, and Adam Friedman, who’s amazing in Dealer’s Choice tournaments, took fourth for 9 points.
That 80 points would have me in fourth place out of 14 teams if this were the 25K Fantasy League, and Hellmuth hasn’t even entered the building yet. Reporting isn’t up yet for the ODB league, but there will be a lot more than 14 teams, and I’ll need some big scores to win it.
If you want to follow along once the tracking is up on the 25kfantasy.com league, my team name is Awesome Cobras. That should put some fear into the other teams and give me a nice advantage. I also considered The Murder Hornets and The Grumpy Wolverines, but I already had an Awesome Cobras t-shirt, so it was the easy choice.
It’s warmer at Bally’s…
I’ve been pleased the first few days of the series to find that I don’t need a hoodie at all. I’m a big guy who lived in Minnesota for 20 years, so I’m pretty hardened to the cold so, while you may still need a hoodie, so far I have not. The temperature has been perfect.
*Narrator voice with lots of dark reverb chimes in out of nowhere…
“But this perfect temperature had a dark side. An evil that no man could have expected, one that even the best of us can not defeat. The hideous repercussions of a warm poker room would strain his very sanity by…”
Okay stop, you’re being dramatic. Yes, I’m aware that’s what a narrator with a ton of reverb is supposed to do, but that was ridiculous. Anyway, the downside is that as I walked through the tournament area taking photos, I caught a powerful whiff of what I can only describe as “unwashed grinder” at least 10 times.
I hadn’t considered that keeping the room cold also kept the stench down to a reasonable level on players who were too busy rebuying to take a shower. We may all soon regret our complaints about the cold temperatures at the Rio.
A minor mistweet
Kathy Liebert stopped me to point out that a tweet from the @WSOP Twitter account had misled her on the return time from dinner break by 13 minutes, and she had been late getting back from break because of it.
KevMath soon replied with an apology, and since KevMath is the best, I’m sure he was immediately forgiven.
That’s not how a color up works
A dealer yesterday, upon hearing the floor announce a color up during the break, pulled in all the chips on the table and started sorting them by color. This didn’t go over well with players and floor personnel in the area. We’ve heard that this dealer no longer works at the WSOP. Play was halted until the cameras could determine the correct stacks for the players affected.
Fun With Photos
Here are some fun photos from the last few days. I’ll be back with another report soon. Go Awesome Cobras!