Rant: WSOP Backpack Checks are Good for Poker

TV table
Bag checks are commonplace at concerts and sporting events. Why not WSOP?

One man sends an innocent tweet suggesting that the World Series of Poker should increase security in light of the recent Boston bombings, and the poker community goes nuts.

Free rights this and liberalism that. It’s enough to make you puke!

Speaking of puking. Last year, during the WSOP I was walking through the Amazon room during the Main Event when I noticed a plume of smoke and scenes of chaotic madness.

I was trying to figure out what on earth was going on when I realized that I couldn’t breathe. I know this sounds melodramatic but I immediately thought it was a terrorist attack.

Why would terrorists want to attack the WSOP? I know, but that’s not what goes through your mind when you are struggling to breathe and can see everyone coughing, spluttering and running around like headless chickens.

It turns out that a young lad had mistakenly picked up his friend's pen that was filled with pepper spray, and whilst screwing around with it at the table it went off. Everyone thought he was a terrorist.


Now a backpack search isn’t going to uncover a pen filled with Sarin gas, and I doubt we have any Police Squadesque villains who are going to walk in with a bomb inside one.

But what’s the big deal? Isn’t it just sensible to have a quick check of your backpack?

If the WSOP were doing their job properly they would have completed a risk assessment for the event. This risk assessment would have prompted some action to be taken to reduce said risk.

It’s just part and parcel of the health and safety business world we live in.

Backpacks are checked in European casinos all of the time. It’s as standard as having them checked at an airport, pop concert or sporting event.

When you consider the amount of money we're playing for in these tournaments, the security presence is abysmal. Has everyone forgotten what happened at EPT Berlin a few years ago?

Cash money
Poker events have been targeted for robberies before.

In the recent WSOP Annual Conference Call, the team said that players may be subject to random checks, but they are still allowed to bring in their bags. They will not rule out any additional security options, but things will be pretty much the same as last year.

Wouldn’t everyone benefit from additional security? I don’t understand where the problem lies with wanting to feel safe?

We all know what normally happens in these circumstances. The organization listens to the general public whining about it, they choose to do nothing, something tragic happens and then they implement what they should have implemented in the first place. Let’s not allow that to happen at our WSOP.

If the WSOP does increase security - and I hope it does - let’s make sure it isn’t just a paper exercise. Last year whilst working at the World Poker Tour event in Johannesburg the casino security were armed and manning metal detectors at each entrance.

On my first day I walked straight through the detectors with my backpack on and off it went.

“Do you have any guns in your bag?” The security guard asked.

I just looked at him and shook my head from side to side.

“On you go then laddie, on you go.” He said.

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