The 2016 World Series of Poker is less than two months away. As doors are set to open to the tournament rooms on May 31, everyone from poker pros to casual players are getting excited about the summer of poker in Las Vegas. With everything from 69 gold bracelet events, daily low buy-in tournaments, and cash games over a 50-day period, there is something for everyone.
The WSOP executives take a great deal of time each year to try to improve the offerings from the previous year and consider any mass complaints. They increased the number of players to be paid in most events, announced earlier start times for many tournaments, and tweaked the structure in some events as well.
Even so, there will be complaints. Last year, the primary complaints – in addition to structure and payouts – involved the quality of the playing cards and the Colossus structure, payouts, and cashier lines. We certainly hope those issues have been addressed for the upcoming 2016 summer, and we have a few more ideas for improvements for players as well as staff.
Be Upfront With Information About Everything
The WSOP website has seen some improvement from the previous years. The home page for the 2016 WSOP does offer easy access to the structures/schedule page and a separate page dedicated to information about Colossus II.
For the casual players, however, this entire experience may be overwhelming, with too much information to seek and find. There are two easy ways to get around that.
First, set up a “Player Desk” at each entrance to the Rio Convention Center (the doors from the rear parking lot and the walkway from the casino). Someone should be at the desk to answer all player questions and even accept complaints. Everyone is not on Twitter, and it can be time-consuming to try to find answers on social media or express sentiments regarding the WSOP. Players should be able to write their complaints and leave them with the staff. And everyone should be able to ask questions. “Where is the Amazon Room?” “What time is the dinner break?” “Where are the bathrooms?” And the list of questions goes on.
Second, every player who buys in to a WSOP event or daily tournament should receive a printout with certain information on it, including the schedule for the tournament, structure, approximate break and meal times, and important casino information (restaurant phone numbers for making reservations, etc.). The WSOP can even use the opportunity to list “suggested tournaments of interest” based on the buy-in. For example, if the tournament slip is for a $1,500 buy-in event, the printout can include other similarly priced events starting that night or the following day.
Provide Wi-Fi and Charging Stations at No Cost
Last year, the WSOP increased its bandwidth and offered free wi-fi throughout the Convention Center at the Rio for all players. Admittedly, it was a self-serving move so that players could log on to WSOP’s online poker site and play. Even so, it was an improvement.
This year, it would be nice to see that again, including as much bandwidth as possible for easy Internet access. But also, instead of specific areas of the Rio dedicated to phone charging – and charging for the charging – that service should be offered as a courtesy.
In addition, every poker tournament table should be equipped with charging stations. Some casinos already do this (cough-Venetian-cough), but the WSOP could incur the cost for the special access during the summer series. Players would be grateful, and they would also have unlimited access to social media accounts to tweet about their positive WSOP experiences.
Poker pros do it. Gamers do it. The Global Poker League is doing it. Twitch is the thing to do.
The WSOP could not only forge a partnership with Twitch (better sponsor than the Planters Peanut), but they can use Twitch for nearly everything. Host a daily Twitch show each morning or night with special guests. Put poker pros on a Twitch channel to livestream their play on WSOP.com. Allow random players to play online poker on the Twitch channel from the Rio (under supervision, of course) for prizes.
The possibilities are endless with some creativity and player input. Keep the players involved, and allow everyone to maximize their WSOP experience by watching or participating in the Twitch movement.
Invest in Good Playing Cards
This one is easy. Last year’s fiasco with Modiano playing cards saw mass complaints about the quality of the cards used in WSOP events. This year, get the best ones, the highest quality available, and spare no expense. Test them. Test them again. Ask players to test them. And test them again.
Embrace the Old Guard
The poker players who come back year after year – or maybe not so much anymore – should be respected and made to feel appreciated. When a poker player spends two months in a rental or hotel room in the desert in the middle of summer just to participate in a poker series, they should feel that they matter.
Players who compete in a certain number of events should receive special perks, apart from Caesars VIP rewards. It can be something as simple as a dinner comp once a week or theater tickets, but it should be something to express gratitude.
And for players who have competed in many events in past years, an invitation to participate this year might bring them back into the fold. Considering that the numbers in events like the $50K Poker Players Championship have been down the past two years, it might serve the WSOP well to extend a hand to those who contributed to years of success.
Sometimes, a little goes a long way.