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Daniel - Poker Journal

Harrah's and the WSOP

02 May 2008


I've been reading the various forums and several e-mails in regards to the WSOP final table delay and so many people are completely off base in their thinking that I wanted to set a few things straight.

The bottom line is this: if Harrah's and/or ESPN doesn't profit handsomely from the WSOP... then we are all screwed. If they don't make enough money to justify the headache of trying to accommodate thousands of sometimes, demanding poker players, then who will run this thing?

We need to take a step back to the Becky Behnen era circa 2004 and realize that the WSOP was almost a thing of the past. The tradition, the history, all of it could have disappeared if Harrah's didn't buy the Horseshoe along with the rights to the WSOP.

As more and more people attend the WSOP, that means more and more profit for Harrah's, but at the same time, it also means a heck of a lot more overhead.

I don't have any idea how much money Harrah's makes off the WSOP. I'm guessing, though, that the number people assume is far greater than the actual amount.

As a poker community we need to wake up a bit and realize the situation we are in, specifically in the U.S. Attendance is down in most tournaments, ratings for the premiere poker shows has also dipped. Poker is no longer seen as this "gold mine stock" amongst the mainstream public. There has been a lull in mainstream interest (a lot of that can definitely be credited to the UIGEA to some degree).

The poker players DON'T hold all the cards, despite the fact that many of us would like to believe that. We don't have a ton of well funded companies chomping at the bit to get in on the poker craze at the moment.

I am assuming that both Harrah's and ESPN are sensing that, and this is an attempt to inject some life, and some buzz back into the game. Their goals are obviously monetary at the core, but we should all realize that our goals are aligned. If Harrah's and ESPN can't make a decent buck off the WSOP, where would that leave the WSOP? Seriously, do you guys think about that sort of thing?

I should add this: I am no "company man," I am no "yes man," and I've had my fair share of shouting matches in the past with management. You should know this from seeing my past video blogs and written blogs as well. I don't give Harrah's a free pass by any means, but things need to be put into perspective here.

Harrah's is a business. They have to make money. If they don't make money, well, that's not a very good business is it! This delayed final table could go either way, it might work out extremely well, or it may not create the buzz and interest that they'd hoped for.

If you are a poker player and love the WSOP, you should actually be rooting for this idea to work because it is in your best interest.

As I said in the other blog on the topic, if the idea doesn't work, we go back to the original way of doing things, what's the harm in that? In 1997 someone had the bright idea of playing the final table on Fremont street in 110 degree heat! Stu Ungar won that year, and the next year they went back inside (thank goodness).

The sky isn't falling and the WSOP will be just fine...

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