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

Main Event, Day 1D – No Preferential Treatment At The WSOP. Are You Sure About That?

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It's late, around 10:15 at night, on day 1C of the Main Event. I'm working on my computer and get an e-mail message from a friend of mine. I read the e-mail and in it she tells me that she is coming out in the morning to play. She tells me that she will be getting in at 10:30 a.m. and asks me if I would do her a favor because she heard that the event might sell out. She asks if I would text her in the morning and give her updates on it if is filling up so she knows whether to rush in to the Rio or not.

I text her back and tell her no problem and added that the number of entrants was up to 2,400 and that she should come in as soon as her flight landed. She asks if someone should hold a spot in line for her and is nervous that she won't get in. I write back and tell her that I will get in line for her if I see a long line.

The next morning arrives and I get to the Rio a little after 10 a.m. There is a moderate line of about 30-40 players outside the registration area. I check the clock in the Amazon Room and it shows how many spots are getting paid. A quick calculation tells me they have 250 spots or so left if they are going to do the 3,000 they mentioned yesterday in their press release.

I send her a text knowing her plane should be landing soon and tell her that it isn't sold our yet but they only have 250 spots left and that she should get here as soon as possible. I also tell her that once she tells me she has landed that I'll get in line for her. She responds back a few minutes later and tells me that they had landed and she would be there in about 30 minutes.

The line is long and they stop letting people in. A security guard stands near the entrance to make sure no one enters. I let her know this and she calls me and asks me if it's sold out. I don't know I tell her and add that if they sell out they usually come out and announce as much. She hangs up and no less than a minute later, Kevin, the Harrah's customer service manager steps out and announces that the event has been sold out and that they are not taking any further entrants.

I call her and tell her the bad news. I hear a big sigh on the other end of the phone and she tells me her little heart is breaking and how sad she was. I encourage her to come in anyway. “It's never over until it's over,” I tell her.

All of the article above this point has been edited - removing chat specific text and condensing it to the chain of events - to protect a friendship!

I linger in the hallway listening to players discuss their displeasure with this decision. *Friend* comes up a few minutes later and after a quick hug and introduction to her friend, we start trying to figure out what she can do to get in the tournament. My friend knows a lot of poker players and is well connected in the poker world and makes a phone call to Joe Reitman. Joe is pretty connected in the poker world himself, being Annie Duke's boyfriend and very good friends with Jeffrey Pollack (the two had dinner the night before). Joe comes in a few minutes later and tells her to follow him to the Diamond Registration area. *Friend*, her friend, and I all follow Joe there.

There's a smaller group in there, but they are just as displeased as the larger group in the hallway. Joe bypasses the line and goes to this small area in the back, explaining that if they are going to get in this is where it will get done. My friend's friend is a high stakes player in New York and is good friends with several top professionals (and by top, I truly mean top). He's making some calls to see what he can do to get himself and my friend in. Joe talks to some people as well but it doesn't seem like there is anything anyone can do.

I leave for a little bit because I have to see the tournament get under way and make a quick walk through to see who is where. I come back about 30 minutes into level one and there is still nothing decided yet. The customer service representative who had been furiously on the phone and computer in the back corner finally comes out and announces some names. After each name he tells them to come back at a certain time... usually 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. Joe, my friend, and her friend are all called out.

I give my friend a hug and go work some, planning on coming back a little before three to see what the outcome is. It's 2:45 and I just finished watching Jeffrey Pollack's impromptu meeting with the players that got shut out of the Main Event. I walk back into the Diamond Registration area and just as I am, my friend and her friend (Joe had apparently already been given a seat) are told to follow the customer service representative. I get in behind them as they walk through the Amazon Room to the very back where the tournament directors desk is. Each player is given a stack of chips, registration cards, and is escorted to their seat by a floor person. A player on the rail sees this and asks the customer service representative if these players were playing and, “Who do I have to know to get in?”

The customer service representative responds, “These players were all pre-registered and had problems, we're just getting them in now.”

I follow my friend and she is taken to table 21, seat 1, a seat vacated because a player had busted out already and sits down to play in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event.

From the impromptu meeting Jeffrey Pollack held:

Angry Player: “The thing that bothers me is that there appears to be preferential treatment given to certain players. I've heard that some big names have gotten in to play even though there weren't any spots supposedly available.”

Jeffrey Pollack: “There has been absolutely no preferential treatment given to anyone.”

Are you sure about that Jeffrey?

I hate throwing my friend in the middle of this because she has no blame in the matter. She was simply a poker player wanting to play in the biggest event there is in poker. However, she wasn't pre-registered, and she was let into the tournament after every one (including her) had been told that there were no more seats available.

I'd heard rumors of similar things like this going on with Patrik Antonius and other big name professionals and stars (like Sully Erna) but I didn't have any proof regarding their special treatment. My friend, I knew for a fact got in after registration has been supposedly closed. Why? Because she knew the right people.

I struggled with whether to write this story or not. Some of my friends in the media said I shouldn't. I talked with others who said if I had a story and it was legitimate, I should go with it. In the end, I decided to go with it because I didn't like that one thing was being said when in reality other things were going on. Take this story for what it's worth... one person's observations of a crazy day at the World Series of Poker. But I'd stake everything I have on the truthfulness of what I wrote.

Editor's Note: the Friend's name was removed from the article to protect her from being the subject of anger from other poker players and she is referred to as 'my friend.'

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