Organisers of the World Series of Poker have once again listened to their players and taken action to improve what is already the pinnacle of every player’s year, but have they done enough?
Season XIV of the World Poker Tour (WPT) is over. Season 12 of the European Poker Tour (EPT) is a Grand Final away from being finished. And you know what that means. Oh, yes you do. The greatest live tournament festival is about to begin. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is on the horizon.
True to form, the organisers have listened to feedback from their most trusted clientele and have come up with some changes designed to provide value for the masses.
But how effective are their latest changes?
I want to start out by saying I have nothing but the utmost respect for the WSOP team. They work their bollocks off throughout the year to make sure this is a life changing event. They put their life on hold during the event. They must be useless to those that love them after the event.
That said, I don’t think the latest tranche of changes does enough to satisfy the needs of the people. There is so much more that could be done. Perhaps, I am a little early in my criticism. Maybe there are more changes to come.
Still no PokerNews
Last year, the WSOP took the decision to axe PokerNews from their live reporting coverage, and instead brought things in-house. I was amongst the minority when I spoke out and said that the WSOP team had done a great job, and the WSOP’s decision resulted in even more media coverage of the event because the decision freed up PokerNews to spread their coverage to other mediums.
I also still believe that the criticism was a reaction to change and that over time, everyone will have forgotten that PokerNews used to do the reporting because the WSOP in-house crew would have gotten so great at it through experience.
That said, the players wanted PokerNews. The players aren’t getting PokerNews.
eQueue Payout Process
When I skimmed the press release and saw this headline, I said a quiet, ‘well done’ in my mush. Having stood in that line for several hours waiting to get paid last year (thinly veiled brag), I remember how annoying it was, and how much it soured my experience of the series.
Then after reading the process, I was dumbfounded.
In reaction to the outpouring of complaints that spewed forth last year, especially around the management of the Colossus event, the WSOP have introduced an eQueue system.
If the lines start to get busy, the new regime will be introduced. Players will have the opportunity to be added to a ‘payout list.’ You can then leave (don’t go too far), and you will be notified via text message what time your payout will be ready for collection.
Not only does this miss the point, but it’s like a new video gaming console trying to take on the Xbox and PlayStation with the ZX Spectrum.
I have been stood in a short queue and still had to wait an hour to get paid. It’s not the length of the queue that’s the problem. It’s the process, and from what I can gather that hasn’t changed.
I can walk into most restaurants these days, eat food, and then leave after I have paid my bill via my mobile phone. Most people on earth get paid by their employer via a banking system.
Why is it so difficult to automate the entire thing, so your payout goes directly to your bank account? If you want to pick up your winnings, then fine, stand in line, and use eQueue.
The other point sorely missed here is the queues for registration. There is no mention of this anywhere in the press release. I hope the rumors are true and that Bravo will be used to cut out registration time because that’s a bigger problem than paying out, although they are both cut from the same ragged cloth.
As a player at the WSOP, I want to register for my event online, including adding my personal bank information. I want a confirmation ticket sent to my mobile phone. I want to go directly to my table and show this information to my dealer. When eliminated in the money, I want the money wired to my bank account.
It will happen.
It’s only a matter of time.
Why not now?
I assume it’s an issue with the Nevada Gaming Commission, and not the WSOP, but it’s an issue nonetheless.
A caveat with this system is you need to have your payout information on file before you can receive a text.
Players can now wear their headphones at all stages of the WSOP except the final table.
Taking a leaf out of the PokerNews playbook, the WSOP have introduced a new chip counting app that connects directly to the live chip counts at WSOP.com. Players update their chip counts by registering and using the app.
I think this is the most sensible solution for ensuring the chip counts are as up to date as they can be. I would go one step further, and give each dealer an iPad so they can do an eyeball chip count at the end of each break. A simple player registration system can be invoked for identity purposes.
Kevin Mathers Hired
The WSOP has hired Kevin Mathers to run the @WSOP, and @WSOPcom Twitter accounts; help out with the @WSOPTD account and keep an eye on the @WSOPChipin account. Mathers is the kingpin of poker Twitter news with over 29,000 followers. Let’s hope he doesn’t get his personal Twitter account confused with the WSOP accounts and tweet something he might regret (been there, done that). It’s a good appointment and one that makes sense.
‘Live at the WSOP’ Web Streaming
David Tuchman returns as the WSOP Lead Commentator, and his sidekick Tatjana Pasalic also returns albeit with an extended portfolio. The WSOP intend to broaden their scope of coverage to show the viewer at home what life is like in the Rio during the WSOP. I look forward to plenty of interviews and features from TattyTats.
Another change they are making is to scrap the option to select what final tables viewers can see, and instead, choose one final table per day, while keeping a roving eye on the rest of the action. Also, each day’s coverage will begin with a highlight reel of the best action from the previous day’s final table coverage. A very good idea. Live poker is boring. Poker highlights are not.
WSOP.com With $2m in Guarantees
The WSOP will once again leverage the sheer numbers of people walking through the halls of the Rio by extending online coverage at WSOP.com.
There will be over 500 events to choose from including 25 guaranteed seats to the WSOP Main Event. There will also be a host of satellites for the WSOP’s signature events such as Colossus, Millionaire Maker, and Little One for One Drop.
The WSOP.com Online Championships will also return June 10 to July 10, with a 93-event schedule, promising over $700,000 in guaranteed prize money.
There will be another online bracelet up for grabs. The event will have a live final table of six players. It will play out Monday, July 11, and it will be the final live stream of the summer.
So that’s my opinion on the latest changes…what’s yours?