One year ago players didn't have any complaints about the prize pools or the size of the fields, but there were a few issues that left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, the first of which was the dubiously named "Poker Kitchen."
Equally enraging was the tent outside where players were expected to endure fluctuating temperatures and unsettling odors during tournament play as well as the many-hour waits needed for both registration and payout.
In 2007 a room inside the convention center, directly adjacent to the tournament room, was somehow deemed worthy of culinary production. The location, coupled with the limited menu, sent most people heading for the hallway leading out to the main Rio hotel and its additional dining options.
Depending on the time of day you may have been lucky enough to find an open establishment at the end of said hallway, the Sao Paulo Café. Too late and the only thing greeting you would be a closed sign and a dimly lit room.
This time around it seems both of these problems have been addressed. The poker kitchen has been moved to the tent previously used for supplemental tournament seating, killing two figurative birds with one stone.
We can't confirm the presence of new and exciting food options, since we grabbed the same Philly steak sandwich we developed an addiction to years ago, but we can say this: we saw chopsticks. Players and fans who may not want to subject themselves to the experience of eating in a tent will be happy to discover extended hours at the Sao Paulo Café.
Freeing up the room used for the poker kitchen last year allowed a new tournament area to be set up and dedicated to satellites. This has, in turn, increased the capacity inside the main tournament room.
The registration and payouts seem to be on track as well, given that we didn't see any massive lines trailing out the door and down the hallway. With a $1,500 event slated for tomorrow at noon it still remains to be seen whether the extended registration times and additional staff will be enough to cope with the zoo to come.
Similarly, we'll have to wait and see if the changes they've made can handle the hundreds of players who cash in these low-buy-in donkaments. Last year scores of players were lucky enough to cash only to be told they'd have to spend hours on end standing in line to collect their winnings.
The proceedings here in Vegas this year haven't been without their kinks, though. One issue that's plagued the WSOP in years of late has been the caliber of its dealers. We apologize to the skilled and experienced dealers of the Series, of whom there are many, but it is undeniable that there are those who simply don't possess the necessary skills.
A good example of this was seen in one satellite this afternoon when the dealer insisted on dealing the first card off the deck to the player on the button in a heads-up match, despite both players' repeated objections. That alone speaks volumes.
All in all, however, things are kicking smoothly into gear as we ease into the long cruise that is the World Series of Poker. Getting started with a star-studded $10,000 event seems to have been a good decision and tomorrow, when they reach the final table, we'll get our first clear look at who has a legitimate chance at the first bracelet of 2008.
As always, we implore you to tune in and follow all the action on PokerListings.com and, if you'd like to become one of the players we're here reporting on, simply click through and qualify for one of the many events the World Series has to offer.