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Poker News | World Poker News

The 2010 WSOP Review: Space and Organization Key to Positive Series

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To walk into the convention halls of the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas today, one would find signs for individual meetings in various rooms and little excitement from the attendees walking the corridors. It is a stark contrast from the bustling hallways of the area from May 27 to July 17, 2010, a time this summer when the World Series of Poker took over and created a poker-only environment for poker players, media, and fans.

For approximately seven weeks, the WSOP made its home at the Rio, and the 41st annual Series was accompanied by some changes this year that made it a memorable one. While seven weeks of tournaments - 57 of them to be exact - cannot always run flawlessly, great steps were taken to make the summer a comfortable one for everyone involved while addressing some problematic issues as the Series progressed. All in all, the WSOP can be considered a success, as it not only made history with overall numbers of players and the collective prize pool, but most of the changes Harrah’s made were positive ones.

Space

For the first time since the WSOP has been held at the Rio, the entire Convention Center was allocated for poker use. The Pavilion, which in the past was used only for the Pokerpalooza weekend, was open for poker. One end of the room was used for cash games and satellites, and the rest of the massive space was utilized for every tournament’s first day of action. The set-up was simply to use Pavilion for Day 1, though the Amazon Room was available for overflow crowds, and more manageable Day 2 fields were brought to the Amazon Room to play through to a winner. It was a simple plan that left little room for confusion for players or media. The far end of the room boasted of a sizable stage that was used to house the WSOP gold bracelets and host the daily ceremonies to award that jewelry to tournament winners. It provided a fitting setting for the honors and allowed people throughout the room to witness the historical moments.

The Amazon Room space was just as efficiently utilized, as Day 2, Day 3, and other playdowns were held there for each tournament. The ESPN main stage was in one corner as usual, while the secondary feature table was in its normal spot just outside that stage. But in addition, crews set up two more feature tables, one in front of each media stand. Those extra tables were used throughout the Series but came into particular use during the Main Event when cameras wanted to focus on specific players.

The Poker Kitchen was moved inside this year to allow players a comfortable place to eat. One of the ballrooms set up a larger-than-ever kitchen area, with ample seating on most days, as well as more food choices than in the past, including a salad bar and a fair number of breakfast foods. Though there were incidences of food poisoning, more so at the beginning of the Series, the set-up was accommodating and useful to the players.

Members of the media also had more space this year, as the media room itself was much larger than in previous years. There were also two media stands set up in the Amazon Room, both of equal size at opposite ends of the room, giving writers, reporters, and photographers plenty of room to work and change spots if necessary. The problem with so much media space, however, was that little monitoring was done to ensure that people in that space were properly credentialed. Quite a few people worked from the media space through the summer without any credentials whatsoever, and only once did the powers-that-be pass through to check for badges.

The biggest downside to the space issue was the cooling system, possibly just too big of a space to regulate well. Many players found themselves not only bringing sweatshirts and scarves to the tournament, but some even went so far as to bring blankets and Snuggies in order to keep warm. The air conditioning system was fairly harsh on many players and media members in the Pavilion and even at times in the Amazon Room, and contrasted with 100-plus degree temperatures on the outside of the Rio, the temperature changes were somewhat brutal.

Tournaments

The biggest and most notable change to the 2010 WSOP schedule was the addition of $1,000 no-limit holdem events every weekend, as compared to only one such experimental event last year. But its popularity and a global recession of sorts prompted tournament officials to offer a $1K buy-in every weekend. Though the registration numbers for each of them didn’t exactly turn heads, they were significant and brought many new players to the game. Some argued that the volume of $1K events mixed with a still-significant offering of $1,500 NLHE tournaments made the schedule top-heavy with amateur-based events without enough $2,500 or higher tournaments for the experienced and heavily-bankrolled players. Changes will likely be made next year to balance the schedule a bit.

The $1K tournaments had the best schedule overall, as two starting days led them to two subsequent days before the final table day. Most other tournaments, on the other hand, were required to be completed in three days. Often, those events found themselves playing until the required stop time without having reached the final table, making for some very long final days that often went until sunrise to finish and declare a winner. The tight schedule was required to fit 57 tournaments into the allotted time frame, but some felt that the tournaments should have been stretched to four days.

Two interesting tournaments garnered much attention this summer, the first being the $50K buy-in Poker Players’ Championship 8-game mixed event, which offered more games than the HORSE of years past. Though some objected to the final table being limited to NLHE only for the ESPN broadcast, most were pleased with the event overall, which showed in the increased registration from the past year. The other big draw on the schedule was the Tournament of Champions, which was an invitation-only event but brought fans to the rail like few other tournaments. The issue with the event, however, was the unanticipated slow action of the event, which prompted several changes to the schedule to allow sufficient play to find the final table and play through it. Planning for a fast event and doing it for ESPN cameras created numerous problems for the players and staff, and any such future event will need much more time to allow the players to play at their own pace.

When it came time for the $10K NLHE World Championship, the staff seemed prepared for the big numbers. In order to keep from experiencing an overflow of players on the fourth starting day and being forced to exclude players from the Main Event, Day 1D registration was closed for a time leading up to it, so as to force players to sign up for an alternate starting day. Though the open/closed registration status was confusing at times, it did achieve its goal of spacing out the players and avoiding a mad dash on Day 1D.

The Main Event was scheduled so that sufficient time was given for the playdown, and only one issue surfaced throughout, and it occurred at the time of the money bubble. As soon as hand-for-hand play was announced and the field was reduced to a number ever-so-close to the money, the tournament staff decided to give them all a 90-minute dinner break, which was met by a resounding chorus of booing through the tournament area. The excitement of the money bubble was broken, and players with super-short stacks were forced to wait 90 minutes before moving all-in and possibly exiting without being paid. The tournament staff stuck by their decision, though, and felt that the break was warranted before what could have been a very lengthy money bubble process.

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