Friday, July 14, 2006

WSOP Rumors: Rebel Dealers and Andy Black's Hammer

The dealers started a rebellion on Thursday at the WSOP. Sort of. Check out Tim Lavalli's article called What's the Deal? Here's a bit of the latest drama at the Rio as told by Tim:
"After a survey of multiple dealers, the following information seems consistent, and accurate. According to the dealers, they got a check for the first week of the WSOP for a certain amount, however they were told at that time that this first check only included the tokes from one event and that was the Casino Employee event (#1). Last night when checks came out the hourly wage worked out to less than they got the first week. In addition, they were told that the first check had included not one but four events. Had the dealers been told that last week then we probably would have had this "walkout" back then.
partypokerad.gifI heard rumors that 70 dealers walked out last week when they got their first paycheck. They never came back. On Thursday morning, 40-60 dealers walked off the job in protest over their wages. I overheard several dealers bitching about their awful pay. Supposedly they got shorted and were livid. Dealers were paid by the hour instead of by the "down" which is the slang for the time a dealer is action dealing at a table.

Just like Tim said in his article, the $2,500 NL event that DoubleAs played in was delayed almost an hour as the staff scrambled to find enough dealers for Thursday's scheduled events including Day 2 of the $50K Horse tournament. When I walked into the Amazon Room, I noticed that the cash game tables were cut down to only a handful and the names of the wait list were 50-60 players deep.

At some point around 4:20pm, the folks in charge made a major change. Instead of getting paid by the hour, dealers would get paid by the down.

Some of the dealers are not as good as last year's crop. Just ask Gavin Smith who had an awful experience during the first week of play when a dealer made a huge error. Players and pros have been telling me horrible stories about the dealers in the satellites, cash games, and even in WSOP events. But the players are not complaining about the dealers as much as they are complaining about the inconsistency of the floor people.

On Shaniac's blog he mentioned how players are getting different rulings from different floor people. Here's a bit:
The management still hasn't gotten down basic functions, like announcing the number of entrants/prize pool in a reasonable amount of time. Each floorman seem to be working with his own rulebook, and I've heard of a number of terrible or inconsistent rulings. Worse yet, the floormen act as if they are hosting a game show and seem to be as star-struck by, for instance, Daniel Negreanu as his audience is. The tournament floor at the Rio has this distinctly Hee-Haw-ish vibe. Give me the Bellagio staff any day. Since last year's WSOP was my first, it's all I have to go by, but Johnny Grooms did a much better job of making the Series feel like a tournament should, a serious undertaking.
I understand how difficult it is to run a tournament, but when employees are paid low wages, the quality of the work suffers. I heard a rumor that WSOP interns for different organizations are getting paid $10/hr which is the same as the floor people (who also get a share of the tips at the end of the WSOP).

Take In & Out Burger for example. They are the highest paid fast food employees in America. Starting salary is much more than assistant managers get at McDs. Because the workers are paid better, they work harder and actually have smiles on their faces. The next time you are at In & Out take a peek at the kitchen. They are busting ass working hard. Then compare that to McDs. It's much slower paced. And this is just over $2 an hour difference in pay.

Pay the dealers and floor people more and the overall quality of work will improve. I'm not writing this to trash dealers and the floor staff. The majority of them are busting their asses. I've seen how horrible they get treated by other staff and the players. I would never subject myself to the abuse that they must endure. But a lot of them have to because they need the job to support families and pay bills. It's a shame that the overall quality of the WSOP suffered as a result of lower dealer pay.

Linda was explaining to me the other night over dinner why there was never a union for dealers, since a strike would cripple the casinos. We'll see if any more dealers jump ship after their next paycheck. With so much cash flowing in and out of the Rio, you would think they'd keep the folks who deal the cards happy?

None of this would be happening if Johnny Grooms was at the helm or if Matt Savage was running things. Even Paul Phillips agreed that almost every pro wished that Savage ran the WSOP like he used to.

"I love Matt Savage like a man should not love another man, except in ancient Rome," Phillips said.

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I've been watching various high stakes cash games going on at the Rio. The other day, Andy Black told Friedman and I about a specific hand he had in a cash game. The Irish Buddhist apparently dropped The Hammer in one of the NL cash games with $25 antes with one $50 big blind. Players have several thousand in front of them. Andy found 7-2o and raised it up. He flopped a 2 for bottom pair. He bet out and his opponent called. Black put out a huge bet about $15K or so on the turn when an ace fell.

"He had almost a quarter of a fuckin' million in front of him," Black explained. "And all I had was seven fuckin' two."

His opponent thought for several minutes before folding. Andy jubilantly flipped over The Hammer and collected $200 from every player. There's an ongoing prop that if you win a pot with 7-2o, then you collect $200 from every player at the table.

play online pokerOn Wednesday, Antonio Esfandiari was bluffed out of a huge pot. He raised preflop and missed the flop with A-Q. On the turn his opponent moved all in for $50K and Antonio folded. His opponent showed a junk hand... just 8 high.

Later that day, Chris Newton told me about a hand at that same cash table. Antonio was playing with Joe Hachem and Andy Black. There were several limpers into the pot. On a flop of Q-10-3, Antonio raised to 200. Black re-raised to 600 and Antonio fired a 10K re-raise into the pot. Black quickly shoved the rest of his stack all in... for 29K. Antonio called with Q-3. Black showed Q-10 for a higher two pair. Black took down a pot worth over $60K. That's the largest pot he's ever won in a cash game.

Instead of watching the last bit of Day 2 of the $50K HORSE final, I hung out with tourists who stood three and four people deep on the cash game rail where Antonio Esfiandari, Joe Hachem, and Andy Black all played in the same NL cash game with four other players I never saw before. That table was far more exciting.

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I get stopped very frequently in the hallways from players, staff, and spectators who tell me that they enjoy reading the Tao of Poker. I'm also asked several of the same questions or hear the same things. Here's a sample...
Top 5 Things Fans Say to Me After They Stop Me in the Hallway:
1. "I read you everyday."
2. "Where's the Hooker Bar?"
3. "What's Liz Lieu really like?"
4. "Is Change100 here?"
5. "Do you have any weed?"
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By the way, Full Tilt is giving away 100 seats to the main event this Sunday at 6pm EST. What are you waiting for? This is your last chance to win a seat into the WSOP main event!

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