Harrah's Hosts World Series of Poker Conference
By Justin West
It seems like only yesterday that I was pacing the tables at the World Series of Poker, fighting for position amidst a sea of reporters and railbirds, craning to catch a glimpse of poker history. Be that as it may, we're ready for another go-round, with the 2007 World Series of Poker now just a few months away.
The brass at Harrah's held a teleconference for a handful of reporters earlier this week to give us a glimpse of what's to come for this year's festivities. On-hand to answer questions were World Series of Poker commissioner, Jeffrey Pollack, Jack Effel (this year's Tournament Director), Howard Greenbaum (Head of Tournament Operations), and, finally, Gary Thompson, head of WSOP media relations.
First-off, as reported earlier by PokerPages, the US Playing Card Company has become the official card supplier for the World Series of Poker. Each day, says Jeffrey Pollack, the USPC co. will supply each table in play for a WSOP bracelet with a fresh set-up of a new design of card called "Poker Peek." We have yet to see this design, but we do know it is being printed on KEM card stock.
This change is a much-welcomed one. Last year Copag provided the playing cards, and a lot of complaints ensued. It's a great card, but it doesn't hold up well to players "squeezing" to get a look at their hole cards. The cards are easily creased, and are thereby "marked." This was one of the biggest complaints during the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event last year.
Also noted was an attempt to improve the quality of the dealers for the tournaments. While Harrah's did not comment on the method employed for dealer tokes, a policy that garnered many an angry word from the dealing staff, Harrah's did note that there are about 300 or so dealers currently undergoing training for this year's tournaments. These will be the main dealers to be employed during the course of the tournaments, but other Harrah's dealers will be utilized to back-fill the WSOP events and other poker rooms around Vegas.
Jeffrey Pollack made it very clear that there is no cap on the buy-ins to this year's World Series of Poker. While the plans they are making at the moment include accommodations for up to 10,000 players, Jeffrey noted that there is no cap, and that no player will be turned away.
Perhaps, aside from the post-WSOP lawsuit involving Jamie Gold and Bruce Leyser, the most heated debacle to emerge from last year's World Series was the notorious "extra chips" that were introduced during play of the main event.
"The chips that are going to be used for this year will be new chips," said Howard Greenbaum, Head of Tournament Operations, commenting on changes made to improve play and prevent such an error. "As I touched on earlier, talked about dealer training, there will also be a mandatory staff training, as well, for supervisors... We don't anticipate [such] a mistake... would happen again this year."
Perhaps a bit of much-welcomed humor in an otherwise serious conference, a representative for an online poker site actually got the chance to ask a question... despite the fact that he was not supposed to be on the conference call in the first place.
"Your next question," said the conference operator in her overly-placid tone. "Comes from the line of Michael [?], Pacific Poker."
"Hey, Michael," Jeffrey said, enthusiastically.
"Hey, Jeff, how are you?"
"Listen," Michael continued. "Just a couple of things that I'm a little unclear on. As far as we're going... right now we're only taking poker players from, you know, outside the United States. That means we're okay, right?"
Jeffrey was quick to respond: "Are you an online site, or a journalist?"
"I'm an online site," Michael responded.
"This call isn't for you, I hate to say," said Jeff. "If you've got a question you should call our business office during business hours."
"Okay, because I got the e-mail from you, so that's what I thought, that..."
"Sorry about that," said Jeff."
"Okay, Jeffrey. I'll give you a call during the week, then."
Jeffrey completed the conversation with a simple, "Okay."
Quite humorous indeed.
But the question was a valid one, and was actually touched on earlier in the conference. Harrah's is going to be on the lookout for online poker sites that violate their trademarks, using Harrah's or WSOP trademarks without authorization.
Players will be forbidden from sporting any gear displaying the logo any of the sites in violation of policy. This goes for .net and .com sites, so we might see some differences in what players are wearing this year.
Harrah's will also not be allowing any online sites to buy-in the WSOP players. Obviously, though, the online sites are still offering seats, but when asked about how these qualifications would translate into a warm chair, Jeffrey refused comment.
The 2007 World Series of Poker begins on June 1. Click here to view the complete schedule.
Justin West played poker since the age of 17, he spent more than a year earning a living on the green felt; a modest living, to be sure, but a living nonetheless. His aim was at one point to win the WSOP main event, thus causing Hell to freeze over. However, given his penchant for sin and his extreme dislike of cold weather, Justin has put that dream to rest.