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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009 | The Works

Day 27 Of The WSOP: Cash Cow

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When Noah Schwartz complained last night about how much the WSOP took out of the prize pool, I got to wondering exactly how much it was. I did some number crunching this afternoon and through the Seniors Event that kicked off today there have been a total of 43,309 entrants into events for a total of $92,711,500 in buy ins. The total entry fees collected range from as high as 7% for the Casino Employees and 1K Stimulus event (I found it interesting that the Womens and Seniors event got a “rebate” even though they were also 1K or less buy in) to as low as 4.2% for 5K+ buy ins and just 2.8% for the 40K buy in. Total amount of entry fees collected thus far equals $5,044,585.

The tournament staff fees, which is used for all tournament directors, floor staff, and dealers range from as high as 3% to as low as 1.2%. This amount thus far totals $2,161,965. Of this amount, I have on good authority that 70% goes to the dealers and 30% goes to the rest of the staff. That means thus far the dealers have received $1,513,375.50. Before you go thinking this is a ridiculous amount and that the dealers are overpaid, there are approximately 800 dealers working the WSOP. This means the average dealer will have received for their 27 days of work thus far a total of under $2,000 a piece. Of course this isn't counting the extra tips that players leave (I often wonder how closely this is kept track of by the tournament staff) and the money they make from dealing cash games and satellites, but it's not as exorbitant as one might first think.

Granted, there are expenses the Rio and WSOP have to deal with. Paying the janitors, security, WSOP staff, and others isn't free. They give up almost all of their convention space for a two month period. There are the complimentary beverages they provide players while they are playing. Of course, they make a lot more than just the five million plus they have collected thus far. There is the rake on the cash games, which are going pretty much 24-7. There is the rake on the satellites (which is significant) and other tournaments going on like the mega satellites and nightly tournament. There is the cash surplus that comes from places like the Poker Kitchen and WSOP store. Any place that charges $3 for a 20 ounce soda isn't hurting in the profit margin department.

Have you ever wondered why the WSOP has so many NLHE events? Thus far there have been five $1,500 NLHE events. The total buy ins for those events total $20,943,000 or 22% of all buy ins. If you add in the 2K NLHE events and the 40K NLHE event that total equals $35,343,000 for 8 events or 38% of all buy ins. Nearly 40% of the total revenue has come from under 20% of the tournaments. There's your reason why so many NLHE tournaments are on the schedule.

To answer the question is the WSOP a cash cow for Harrah's? Considering they also collect a hefty sum for media coverage rights from both the online source and ESPN, and factor in all the rake and food/beverage sales they rake in, there's no doubting that one of the best investments Harrah's ever made was buying the rights to the WSOP from Binion's 5 years ago.*

In other going ons from around the tournament floor today...

I'm walking by one table and see an all in confrontation between two players. The shorter stack has pocket kings and the other stack has A-Q. “No ace, no ace,” the player with kings pleads. Which of course brings an ace. “King me,” the player with kings pleads. The turn is a king. I laugh and say to the guy, “Can you please say give a million dollars to the media guy?” A very happy player raked in his chips, happy to have survived another hand.

I've always wondered why dealers do this. There is a big pot where they count out the chips in nice neat stacks of 20 or 10, get a precise count, and then count out the payment owed from the losing player in nice neat stacks of 20 or 10. Instead of taking the 20 seconds it would take to pick up those stacks and move them over to the other side of the table, the dealer shoves them all into a pile and pushes them across the table. The player then spends the next five minutes stacking chips. I know the argument is going to be that it's more efficient for the dealer to do this so they can get to dealing the next hand, but to be honest the inconvenience of the player stacking all those chips slows down the game more than if the dealer would have just handed the stacks in an orderly fashion. I think I'll have to get on my tournament director friends about this one.

An anonymous very attractive female player had a just as anonymous pro buy her into some satellites. She didn't succeed but still wanted to play in the $1,500 NLHE event. She only had $1,000 though so anonymous pro offered to give her $500 for 60% of her action. His claim for the high percentage was that he had invested a lot in her in the sats. Said hot chick agreed to said stupid deal. She of course cashed and had to ship 60% to the guy. Gotta give it to the guy, he worked a good one on the girl, especially considering she could probably have gotten any random guy in the Rio to give her $500 for a 2 second peek at her chest.

Players returning from break is bad in any low buy in event. They always try to come back to their seats early. It was even worse today in the Senior's event. It reminded me of a stampede at Walmart on Black Friday. Time and time again, the old folks (although I don't really think 50 is that old) would storm in and try and take the room over and be turned around. Finally, the tournament staff just gave up saying “screw it, just let them in” and they let the players in early. Again another one of those you had to be here to see it to be amused by it like I was.

For the most part a really slow day, although the 10K PLO final table is a good one and there are two relatively big names in the 1.5K NLHE in Brandon Cantu and Alex Jacob. With the Senior's event and a limit razz tournament as the events kicking off today though it's definitely not an action packed day. That's going to change soon though. Until then...

*Editor’s Note: Sponsored ads like Jack Links Beef Jerky, Everest Poker, etc., also supplement the coffers of the Rio.

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