After interviewing over 60 poker players during my six-week sojourn to Sin City, I feel I'm qualified to answer the two questions tweeted out by World Series of Poker Executive Director Ty Stewart last week.
Those two questions?
How'd we do? and
What can we do better?
Two questions for anyone who played @wsop in 2014. How'd we do? What can we do better/different?— Ty Stewart (@wsopSUITd) July 15, 2014
So how did you do? Excellent.
Main Event? Don't Ever Change.
The feedback from most of the players that I spoke to was first class. Very few complaints were produced and for the Main Event it was "keep business running as usual."
From a media standpoint I thought things were excellent. With the exception of a few Gremlins I thought the Internet connection was spot on, there was plenty of room for everyone and access and egress to the tournament areas was smooth.
What can you do better/different?
The following suggestions are a combination of my own personal views and from feedback I received from the players during my six-week stay.
#1. Revolutionize the Poker Table
Players spend most of their time at the poker table so it’s important this home-away-from-home has every creature comfort players may need.
The chairs need to be top quality. We need battery chargers for mobile devices at every seat. And we need power sockets available so players can use their laptops.
If the WSOP wants more players to spend money at WSOP.com, then give them the tools to multi-table whilst trying to win a bracelet.
There is also a need for hand sanitizer at the tables. It was good to see these outside of the toilets but they really need to be available at the table. Handling chips and then dipping into your packed lunch is not exactly conducive to a germ-free environment.
Finally, it would be a huge bonus if the drink options at the table were improved. Red Bull is not good for you.
Surely, if there were healthier options like fresh juices, more people would buy them.
There also should be food service at the table. I know All American Dave operates in this zone, but again, prices are high and competition is limited.
#2. More Toilets
Whilst it’s impossible to change the infrastructure of the building, it’s easy to provide a wider range of male and female toilets outside of the Rio.
There is nothing more annoying than spending your break standing in a line whilst bursting for a piss.
#3. Make the Thunderdome More Spectator Friendly
I heard a lot of muttering about the set-up of the Thunderdome this year.
Whilst it looks amazing, it’s not really designed with spectators in mind.
The spectators are too far back from the table to see the action and the television screens are too small.
There aren’t enough diverse camera angles to show the action, the live commentary was inadequate. Trying to get a drink is impossible.
These changes are very easy to rectify, would hardly break the bank and would provide a much more interactive experience for friends and family on the rail.
#4. More Chips
If I'm being honest the feedback on this was a mixed bag, but I still think it’s worth mentioning.
A lot of the pros I spoke to wanted more chips in the lower buy-in events.
Whilst some other pros didn’t want this, and were happier with the quicker turnaround, the success of the Monster Stack surely shows the overwhelming view of the recreational player.
Give us more chips in the $1,000 and $1,500 events and more people will play. Simple as that.
#5. Chill-Out Rooms and Healthy Food Choices
The facilities away from the table are not ideal and this needs to be looked at in time for the 2015 series.
So much more could be done to provide value for the players.
There was an increase in player awareness when it came to health this year, both in body and mind.
Instead of bombarding people with a whole host of pain-in-the-arse salesmen/women, why not provide places where people can chill out?
I’m thinking of yoga classes, meditation classes and rooms where people can play video games or grind online.
Provide fresh fruit and vegetable juices at affordable prices and healthy food choices that don’t cost the earth.