As we approach the end of this year’s World Series of Poker, I must admit this year ranks as one of my most frustrating World
Series. I played eight tournaments and did not cash in any of them. Plus, I played four satellites and ended up with nothing
there also. The kicker was that, just to make it a hat trick, I lost in the cash games too. My losses were only $500 in the cash
games--not much unless you add all three endeavors together and come up $9,984. I would have liked to have lost $16
somewhere else, just to even the total out, but I was afraid had I tried that I would have went over. On second thought, I
should have put $16 into a slot machine. Who knows, I might have hit a $10,000 jackpot and then been even for the trip and
not frustrated at all.
What was even more irritating was that as I muddled through the 40 or so days that I was in Vegas. I kept remembering the
old days when the World Series was at Binnion’s. When I first started playing the Series in 1988, there were only about 20 or
so events. The first few years I played, I would only play the Ace-to-Five Lowball event. Most of the California players didn’t
play the Hold’em events as Hold’em was illegal in California. Shortly before I played my first World Series event, they legalized
Hold’em Stud in California and, by 1990, I was playing two or three events at the Series.
By 1992, I had become somewhat of a known player and expanded even more to playing seven or eight events. I began
cashing in the events and that opened the doors to even more perks that the average player was getting then. So for the next
12 or so years, I enjoyed what, for many of us, was the heyday of the World Series of Poker as far as being treated “right.”
I admit, I may have been treated slightly better than many of the players, but believe me it was only slightly. If you played any
of the tournaments, or played in the cash games, breakfast comps, Deli Comps, buffet comps were available. Or maybe you
wanted one of the famous Binion's cheeseburgers at three in the morning, no problem just see the floorman. It was, as it has
always been, helpful to slip him a five dollar bill every couple of times you got a comp.
Then, talk about value in the tournaments... Let’s see, $1,500 buy-in was $1,570, total, no more unless you cashed and left a
tip. Now that buy-in has gone down, well kinda. The buy-in now is only $1,500--the catch is, they take $150 out of the prize
pool. The subtlety is that if they charged you $1,650 for that same tournament, I bet more people would complain, even though
they would be paying less juice.
The biggest change is, of course, the main event. Until Harrah’s took over, it was a $10,000 buy-in with no juice. Can you in
your wildest imagination conceive of that? How quickly we forget and have got used to being overcharged. The first couple
of years after they started the $600 there were some complaints, but they quickly faded. Now, you never hear anyone
complain. The word "sheep" comes to mind.
Oh, and if the Casinos aren’t making enough, I loved the latest gaff. Let me start by pointing out how satellites and some
tournaments had re-buys--it pumped up the prize pools and created a whole lot of action. I was never a big participant in the
re-buys, although I would re-buy sometimes, especially if I got angry at the guy that busted me. Let me back up for a second
and explain my reasoning. It was always based on what my boss, Joe Gasparovich, told me many years ago in Seattle when
I asked him the secret of the “whole thing.” He said the whole object of gambling successfully was “investing little and
winning lots.” More truth to that than meets the eye.
So, back to the latest B.S. used by the powers that be, here it is. Now, instead of having a re-buy tournament, they have a re-
entry tourna-ment or satellite. You see, in years gone by there was no juice on the
re-buy, but the directors were not going to let that go unchecked. So now in the re-entry tournament, if you go busted no
problem, just get up, go to the sign-up window and re-enter. Problem is, as you might guess, they charge you the same juice.
Say it’s a $340 tournament where $40 is juice plus 3% of the $300, or a total of $49. You, of course, paid the same thing the
first time you entered, that was so much fun, they allow you to do it all over again.
Lastly, another pet peeve of mine for a couple of years has been the “bonus” chips. Some places call them “dealer
appreciation” chips. In effect, it is money you pay for extra chips--money designated especially for the dealers and/or staff.
Maybe I am confused, but the three percent plus the vig. I thought was supposed to cover that. Now, you might say you don’t
have to buy the “bonus” chips. Excuse me, but they give you three thousand worth of chips for $340 and for $10 extra you
can get two thousand worth of chips. In effect, 100% a must, of course unless you are stupid or very stubborn.
I have wanted to write a blog like this for a long while. I know a lot of the old-timers are angry and frustrated at the way the
players are being treated and they have many times asked me to write about it. Since I have basically quit writing for
CardPlayer, and only rarely write for other publications like Poker Player, I thought it better to let things play out, hoping
competition would cause some backing up by the
Casinos. I have, in the last few weeks, saw some writings complaining about one thing or the other in the poker business.
This, to me, was a very good sign. Maybe the players, with the help of some writers, can begin to have our voices heard.
If you agree, or even disagree with what I have talked about, sign my guest book and let me know
For What it’s Worth ...