The Las Vegas poker rumor mill invariably spins more rapidly as WSOP approaches, and with the added complication of COVID in 2021, we’re likely headed for a bumper crop of gossip.
Chad Holloway recently suggested via tweet that three poker rooms may close during WSOP, in order to cover a dealer and floor staff shortfall:
“For WSOP this fall it’s well known there’s a dealer shortage. I’ve heard from some sources Caesar’s may close poker rooms at Bally’s, Flamingo and Caesar’s Palace during that period…”
At first sight, this seems counter to the best financial interests of Caesars Entertainment. While it is true that insufficient staffing for the WSOP would be an embarrassment and logistical headache for the company, Las Vegas cash games are at their busiest during the WSOP. The lost rake from three rooms operating at capacity would appear to be too much to sacrifice.
Poker.org decided to talk to some dealers in the affected rooms to determine if there was substance behind the rumor. We can confirm from three independent sources that the idea has been floated.
“We were told ‘there’s a possibility you’ll be dealing the WSOP this year and we close this room’,” one dealer said.
The news came as no surprise to Twitter user Maskaveli:
“No surprises here, this was a problem long before this pandemic.”
In recent weeks, WSOP has been advertising aggressively for both temporary dealers and floor staff. A multitude of job placement sites have been targeted, including Snagajob, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, LinkUp, Jooble, Hypjobs, Talentify, Jobilize, Military.com and the LGBT Job Board.
A former WSOP dealer, who had also heard the room closure rumor, was skeptical. He told Poker.org:
“Every year I hear the rumors about how they are massively understaffed for WSOP and desperate. Every year they somehow end up finding the people. Granted this year may be different with COVID, but I think they’ll be fine.”
He added that he felt complaints about WSOP conditions for dealers were largely exaggerated, and that he found “the money good for a pretty easy job”.
Another industry insider shared this sentiment, also noting that any dealer shortage may be eclipsed by a player shortage. Chris Moneymaker has already announced he will not be attending, and recreational players with school children find it more difficult to visit Las Vegas outside of the summer vacation.
Based on multiple sources, we are convinced that Caesars Entertainment has put its staff on notice that closure of the Flamingo, Ballys, and Caesars Palace poker rooms is being considered for some or all of the WSOP. Whether they will go through with that tentative plan, and why they would contemplate it in the first place, remains a matter for conjecture.
In a group chat, Poker.org asked several poker dealers and players why Caesars would hold a massive event spanning 88 bracelets and eight weeks in such uncertain times. Even without staffing concerns, it would seem more sensible for the return of the WSOP to scale back a bit from recent years.
Two comments appeared almost instantaneously with the same, single word: