The demise of the selfie stick at the WSOP

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: June 25, 2022 14:54 PDT

A few years ago at the World Series of Poker, selfie sticks were everywhere. Players from around the world wanted to record themselves in action or on the scene at the WSOP. These days, selfie sticks are seen... but not frequently. There's a deeper tale therein, in that for many years the WSOP had plenty of signage throughout the WSOP banning all film. Since the move from the Rio to Bally's and Paris, those signs have disappeared as well.

It's another way that the WSOP is modernizing and dealing with changing times. Filming of any sort by players or other visitors is still strictly disallowed. Yet it's only occasionally enforced, and that's usually in the instances where a player has attached his phone to a selfie stick and is quite blatantly filming, whether it's a hand at the table or action around the room.

If it's the selfie stick that's drawn the attention of casino security or tournament staff, and if the violator is wearing logoed clothes or any form of brand patches, that player is generally invited to turn off his phone. This writer witnessed the tail end of one such instance a few days ago; the player protested, but to no avail.

Filming rights protection at heart of unofficial policy

WSOP Vice President and lead director Jack Effel took time to explain the distinction for The answer as to why the WSOP will not allow filming by anything that appears to be a for-profit or for-promotion entity is because that interferes with the multi-year filming rights the WSOP has already sold to PokerGO, formerly known as Poker Central. PokerGO owns filming rights that span all of the WSOP tournament space, and the WSOP's cracking down on selfie-stick-plus camera use is its way of protecting PokerGO's rights under its contract.

Tons of filming goes on regardless, but it's the selfie stick's presence, especially if it and the attached camera is panning the table or room, that's the tipoff to security or staff. Then the hammer comes down, if done as politely as possible. One player who was ordered to cease filming argued that he should be allowed to continue because the WSOP was being held in a convention space, rather than on a casino floor, where filming has always been banned. Casinos have traditionally banned filming on gaming floors because the filming might accidentally capture other gamblers who wouldn't want to or haven't given consent to be filmed. The convention-hall argument is irrelevant: The WSOP could ban all filming, since it's being held on Caesars-owned properties.

Instead, the WSOP has accepted some modern technological realities. The WSOP lost the "no filming" war against smartphones several years ago. These days, the WSOP embraces a little bit of filming by players and visitors, as long as it's presumed to be for personal enjoyment and not for profit. As Effel explained, such brief videos are a form of free marketing for the series. Taking that too far, however, and infringing on rights that other entities have already purchased, continues to be where the WSOP and Caesars draw the line.

Selfie sticks haven't disappeared entirely, at least not yet. You might even have a chance to be run down by Mike Matusow as he talks into the stick-mounted smartphone camera that he's affixed to the front of his scooter as he whizzes through the Bally's/Paris complex. Still, selfie sticks seem to be on the wane, and their use is being unofficially curtailed in some instances.

Feature image source: Haley Hintze