Harrah's and US Playing Card executives were in jumping through hoops as the card problem first reported on PokerWorks during satellites erupted into a major problem during Event #1 this afternoon.
"There is no way any poker player has played with these cards before today," said Greg Raymer, the 2005 WSOP Main Event champion. Andy Black sat looking at the board incredulously as Doug Lee and Raymer chuckled. One table over, a few players started chanting "New cards! New cards!"
Jennifer Harman stood trying to figure out a flop, needing to scrutinize the two black cards to determine if she was looking at two clubs, two spades, or one of each (it was ). Likewise, Isabelle Mercier stood dumbfounded as the cards laying on the felt, banana in hand much to the amusement of Freddy Deeb.
"I just lost a $5k pot because of the 6 and 9," all to the benefit of John Phan. It is the story of 1 June.
Harrah's executives huddled together in the hall as they determine a gameplan of what to do to repair the damage. "The high-stakes cash players will not play with these cards," said an anonymous Harrah's executive.
Harrah's is working quickly with US Playing Card to repair the damage. A truck with an initial set of 300 replacement cards is headed to the Rio. The two companies will next work on how to immediately replace the 18,000 decks which have been ordered and are to be delivered to the Rio throughout the World Series of Poker.
The intent of the card design was good, to give a more elegant look to the cards and to add a new design element to the card, the Poker Peek. Kenny Robinson, vice president of global marketing for USPC, said on 14 March "The Poker Peek used during the WSOP will be the inspiration for a new deck that will be offered to the public later this year under our Bicycle brand." The reality of the card at work did not deliver the intended benefit to the players.
It does appear that Raymer may be correct. From a new product development view, it looks like post-development testing was either not done or done poorly. It is the kiss of death in new product design, to combine customer feedback and product expert designers without testing a new product before launch.
This problem should be repaired by Saturday's events. For US Playing Card, their financial hit has a chance to be significant. If the Poker Peek decks for the public are already in production, more than likely they will be scrapped after the World Series of Poker.
Harrah's is attacking this problem quickly, but it is a distraction they did not need to begin the World Series of Poker.