World Poker Tour Tournament Director for Europe, Christian Scalzi, talking about the upcoming European tour stops, a few words on his favourite locations and much more.
As the World Poker Tour (WPT) has grown so has the pressure on those responsible for ensuring it shines.
One of these people is the WPT European Tournament Director, Christian Scalzi, who manages the WPT500, WPT National, WPT Main Event and WPT Alpha8 stops all over Europe.
In this interview, we talk about the different experiences in managing a WPT500 field as opposed to a WPT Alpha8 field, what’s coming up next on the WPT European tour and much more.
*What follows is an abridged version of the audio interview
What are the differences in managing the WPT500 and the WPT Alpha8?
“It’s always difficult to say because you are talking about two different types of poker players. Obviously, the quality is much higher in the Alpha8. The players are VIP players. The WPT500 is a different concept. At the WPT500 at the Aria, we had massive numbers of players and this was good. It’s important to attract the recreational players, so they can be competitive alongside the professionals, and enjoy themselves.”
Is it tougher to manage the VIP players?
“I have fewer issues and fewer rulings managing the higher level. But when you do get a ruling you have to ensure you don’t make a mistake. They are playing for huge sums of money, so it’s important to take your time, focus on the issue and take the decision that’s in the best interest of the game. But it’s true when you have a £100k buy-in you are saying, ‘please don’t make a mistake.’
“It was great news. He deserves it. He does so many things to push the interests of the poker industry very well. He is close to the players, and he is always thinking of new concepts. The WPT500 is his concept. He is a friend, and I am always in touch with him. I am really happy for him.”
I believe you worked with him in Vegas this year for the first time. How was the experience?
“It was my first year. I learned a lot. It’s entirely different from Europe. You don’t have a lot of late registrations as we were sold out. They were relaxed. You can feel they are comfortable holding a tournament with a lot of players, so you don’t feel pressure. I was putting pressure on myself before the event, but they treated me well. I felt comfortable and have great memories.”
What next for the WPT in Europe?
“We are currently at Dusk till Dawn doing the WPT UK Festival. It’s huge with £2.5m in guarantees. Our next challenge is to go to Paris where last year we had almost 700 players for the €1,200 buy-in; a record for a National in Europe. We will go to the Clichy Montmartre in the heart of Paris. It’s a brand new poker room. The French are waiting for us. It’s the only poker room open in Paris. Afterwards, we move to WPT Prague and back to Corinthia for the Main Event. We expect a big number this year. Then I will go straight to Venice for the National event in the beautiful Casino Di Venezia in the heart of Venice.”
What are your favourite stops?
“I like working in the warmth. I like Barcelona and San Remo. I live there, so that’s why I like it. I can see my family. I like Vienna because it’s a beautiful town. We will go there after Prague. Amsterdam is also a beautiful place. We will go back in May. I love to be in a beautiful town like that so when you get a few hours you can walk around.”
What are the toughest challenges for a TD?
“I have been TD for the WPT for three years. Most of the time I return to the same venues where I find old friends and colleagues. Sometimes when I am alone and working in a new place, it’s tough to get to used to how the other staff operate in such a short time. You have to find the people you trust, be in touch with registration, cash desk, the floor so it’s crucial to find people who can help you in a moment of need. Sometimes this is the toughest challenged for me.”
Who inspires you?
“My family is the most important thing for me. I have a nine-year-old daughter who would like me at home more. I love my town, San Remo. I like my bicycle and the sea. I get inspiration from the sea and the sun.”
If you had 10,000 hours to work on anything what would it be and why?
“I give a lot of my time to yoga, the inspiration behind it and the breathing. In our job, we are a like a sponge for energy. I am 40-years old, and I have changed a lot of priorities in my life. It’s important that I can draw in new energy. It makes me better at my job. Positive energy is important.”
Give my teenage son some advice
“Your family is the most important thing. You have to take care of your family. Understand that your parents are behind you. In Italy, we are very family orientated. Even if they want to be a rebel, when they are growing up in a healthy environment they will be ok. Spend time with your children. When I am home, I love spending time with my daughter. We study together, take the time to do some sport, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you spend time with the family.”
How tough is it to get the balance right between earning money and being with your family.
“I find equilibrium with my daughter, but in the beginning it wasn’t easy. I tried to take her with me to some stops. She was interested in what I do after seeing me in a magazine or TV. But sometimes she misses me, like today, for example. It’s Halloween, and I would like to be with my daughter, but I am here. When I go back, I will take them on a cruise and we will have a holiday. It’s not an easy job. Sometimes we think too much about the money and the quality of the time you spend with your children is the most important part of your life.”