POKER

Celebrating a Decade of WSOP Massage Work With Professional Massage Inc.

TAGs: Professional Massage Inc, WSOP

Lee Davy writes about the unsung heroes of the World Series of Poker: the men and women of Professional Massage Inc., who this year celebrate their 10th anniversary working at the best poker series in the business.

Celebrating a Decade of WSOP Massage Work With Professional Massage Inc.It hurts.

But it’s worth it.

Tough hands, now tender to the touch, are plunged deep into a bowl of icy water. Your right thumb angles strangely, almost mutated into a different shape. An ant swims on the surface. There’s no energy left to save its life. You watch it fade away, as you begin to do at the end of your 10-hour shift.

When you’ve finished reading this I want you to go home and touch your loved ones. Give them a massage. If you are like me, the act will be very self-serving. The end is all that’s in sight. You will start aching within minutes, and you will want it to end.

When is it my turn?

Cramp starts to set in within the first 20-minutes. Most people quit long before the half hour mark. The amazing men and women of Professional Massage Inc. are made of sterner stuff. They need to be. They have been massaging the players of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) for 10-years.

Happy birthday.

Rolando Coro is a visionary. He dragged the clandestine massage chairs out of the doctor’s cave, and set them up in shopping malls, poker rooms and casinos all over Las Vegas. He is a massage therapist himself, learning his art working with the Cuban National Volleyball team. He is very proud to be celebrating their 10-year anniversary working at the WSOP.

No longer cloaked in mystery, anyone could jump into the chair, and have the energy pumped into them. Energy that falls out of the body of the man or woman you have hired to work on you. To you it’s a massage. To the massage therapist it’s much, much more.

“There has been an interesting evolution in the past 10-years with the WSOP,” says massage therapist Leslie Dziatkowicz. “When we started 10-years ago, we were a bunch of massage therapists that went to work in a poker room. It was cramped, and looked impossible. Today, it’s evolved into a form of massage that is undertaken all over the world. It’s been nice to watch this niche grow, and expand into what it is today.”

What started with a single chair at the Primm Hotel & Casino in 2002, has evolved into a company that provides a massage service at 21 different locations throughout Las Vegas. Once a year the WSOP is the apex of this activity, but the bees still buzz around hives located at Planet Hollywood, Harrah’s, Flamingo, Bally’s, Hard Rock, Tropicana, and many other places.

Coro won the WSOP contract in 2006. He started with 40 therapists. At the 46th Annual WSOP there are 370, working 24 hrs. a day at the WSOP and Rio Casino.

“10-years ago the players were, well, 10-years younger,” says Dziatkowicz. “They’ve grown from their 20s and early 30s into married men with families, small businesses and responsibilities that basically aided in honing their game and really learning how to be responsible. To watch players like JC Tran and Will Failla evolve into pro players that carry the class of the game into the next level, while massaging them every year, holds a place of respect, even though you don’t realize it.”

As you can tell from the heartfelt words of Dziatkowicz, relationships between massage therapists and players are formed. Professional Massage Inc. is as much a part of the WSOP as the tables, chips, dealers and players. People like Dziatkowicz have been working on players like JC Tran for a decade.

It’s not just the guys who receive massage work. Many of the top female poker players in the game also value from the services of Professional Massage Inc. Players like Maria Ho:

“I am very grateful to have the luxury of getting a massage at the poker tables thanks to the WSOP massage team! Sitting for long hours can really take its toll on my back and amazing massage therapists like Lena {Kaddoura} and Liza {Lim} are always on hand to work the kinks right out!”

And iron out the kinks they do. Pushing those fingers, palms, elbows, and forearms deep into every sinew of your body. Releasing energy that you never knew lay dormant there. Relaxing you like never before, so you can deliver your ‘A’ game.

“I remember back when I first started, the sea of faces seemed overwhelming,” says massage therapist Amanita Hart. “But I learned to walk through with confidence, and adapt my massage skills to the poker environment. Now there are many familiar faces, both staff and players. The World Series is hard work, like running a marathon, but the energy and excitement is exhilarating!”

It’s not just the physical work that’s tough. There are 370 therapists vying for your attention. They weave through the tables hoping for the opportunity to show you what they can do. If you blink, you may miss them. Miss them too often, and this can leave the therapist a little disconsolate. It’s tough to walk the room, searching for work, and leaving empty handed. Think about that the next time you stand up to stretch those aching muscles, and you see one of them flitting past, pillow in hand, magical fingers flickering in the fullness of time.

“I have been a regular customer since I started playing in 2009,” Says Justin “BoostedJ” Smith. It’s always good service. Rarely, have I ever had a massage that wasn’t above average.”

Last week I wrote about the WSOP dealers. I called them the ghosts of the WSOP. I urged you to see them, to recognize them, and to honor them. Today I ask you to do the same for another important cog in the machine that is the WSOP. Professional Massage Inc., Rolando Coro, and the 370 men and women who knead and unknot your muscles, are celebrating their 10th birthday. Remember that when they are turning your tar filled day into buttered honey.

“It’s an absolute blessing to have professional masseuses on hand during the long stressful hours at the poker table. I count on it daily.” Says Daniel Negreanu.

Amanita Hart, Ilene Gilbertson, Sabina Verbeck, Leslie Dziatkowicz, Francesca Baca, Johanna Kinter, Lena Kaddoura, Liza Lim, Crystal Honeck and every other soul who spends 6-7 weeks giving their internal and external energy to others – the WSOP salutes you. You are valued, you are seen, and you are loved.

A finger glides underneath the ant. Water drops onto the bed sheets as you guide the little fella onto the draw next to your bed. You let out a sigh as you watch it shake away the dregs and go along about it’s business, before once again plunging those delicate little hands into the ice cold water.

It hurts.

But it’s worth it.

It has been for the past 10-years.

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