2021 WSOP: Smoother Saturday at Rio as WSOP averts bracelet-event delays

Haley Hintze
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Posted on October 31, 2021 4:54 pm EDT

Following a frustrating Friday featuring the unusual occurrence of a morning-start bracelet event undergoing a delayed start, the WSOP experienced a more normal traffic day on Saturday. Despite the expected crush of the Day 1B turnout in Event 55, the $400 Colossus No-Limit Hold’em tourney, the rest of the day ran smoothly.

Saturday’s early Daily Deepstacks were cancelled, but that’s no special news. In recent live-WSOP years, it was more the norm early on weekend days that such events were delayed or canceled altogether, even if it was more due this year to the WSOP’s ongoing dealer shortages than to a space crunch itself.

Colossus Day 1B draws 5,182 entries

Saturday’s Day 1B flight in Event #55, $400 Colossus No-Limit Hold’em, drew 5,182 entries from well over 3,000 unique players. (The Colossus’ format allows players to rebuy a single time if they bust during the late-registration period, which stretches from the event’s kickoff to well past the dinner break.)

That Saturday turnout exceeded Friday’s Day 1 turnout of 4,217 entries. That produced an overall entry tally of 9,399. It wasn’t close to a record, and the Colossus itself was downscaled in an attempt to fit it into the WSOP’s larger plans, which involve keeping a flow of events running through the Rio Convention Center.

Each and every weekend, usually beginning on Friday, the WSOP offers a massive-field tournament. That maximizes the WSOPs resources, including both staff and available table space, to cater to the series’ sizeable number of “weekend warrior” attendees. Most times, this tactic works just fine. But not always.

Seniors event skewed resource demand

As we noted on Friday, the extenuating factor was the Day 2 restart of Event #52, the Seniors Championship. The Seniors event falls into a separate, smaller category of closed-field events that still draw a healthy turnout. The 50-and-up Seniors tourney has grown so fast that it was expanded to two starting days for the first time in WSOP history.

The 1,107 Seniors who returned at 10 am for Friday’s Day 2 required 123 dealer-staffed tables to resume play, and that’s without the several hundred more dealers that would be needed as the Colossus and three other events offered action on Friday as well. Like the Seniors, the Colossus was originally slated to begin at 10 am, and needed another 200 (or many more) dealers simply to begin. It likely became something of an “all hands on deck” situation that took an hour or two to resolve.

Casual observers sometimes underestimate the resources that a series such as the WSOP needs. The series’ long daily hours means that there are in essence two shifts of dealers and floor staff working every day, even if the evening “shift” — it’s more of a flow, in actuality — is smaller than the daytime crew.

Complicated resource dance

The WSOP is a tough act to juggle, and once in a while, when it’s a little bit off, it shows. Besides the weekly massive-field event plans for the WSOP, the series also tried to combine the Seniors and the upcoming Event #58: Super Seniors No-Limit Hold’em (60 and over) into a single WSOP sequence, road trip-style, to appeal to older WSOP players.

Sometimes the pieces don’t all quite fit together as hoped, and that’s what happened on Friday. It’s also not as if the WSOP could have run out and hired hundreds more temporary dealers. The poker-dealer shortage, directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, is a nationwide (if not worldwide) phenomenon. Those large numbers of short-term poker-dealer hires simply don’t exist at the present time, and a temporary series such as the WSOP feels that shortage more severely than any casino’s permanent room.

All this made for a messy Friday, but as expected, the WSOP had the whole operation back on track within 24 hours. It’s likely the WSOP realized the Colossus weekend’s potential for delays many weeks ago, but there just weren’t many workarounds to be had. Think of it as the live alternate to an online DDOS attack that cripples a site temporarily and forces it offline. It’s usually unplanned, and it’s always an unpleasant annoyance. But as poker players know, sometimes you just have to wait it out.

Featured image source: Haley Hintze