If you’ve ever
visited Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker or even just enjoyed
watching the event on TV, you’ll be aware of how massive it is in every sense
of the word.
tournaments, tens of thousands of players, and millions of dollars – all of it
squeezed into a few weeks of the exciting poker action.
Every year, as
the series draws near, you’ll see numerous TV and online ads inviting people to
join the fun. For Caesars, the company currently owning all rights to the WSOP,
it makes sense to spend a lot on marketing.
They want as
many people as possible to visit, enter tournaments, play in cash games, and
try their luck with some casino games too.
corporate guys aren’t the ones on the ground.
Their job is to
try and motivate people to play in the World Series of Poker, but once they
arrive, someone needs to take care of all the logistics and make sure things
people who make WSOP possible year after year, although they often don’t get
So, this article
will be about all the essential jobs at the World Series of Poker that people
don’t know or often forget about.
1. Tournament Directors
directors are essential staff at every World Series of Poker event. Since every
WSOP comprises dozens of tournaments, someone needs to be there to run them.
If you happen to
be new to poker, you might be confused about what a tournament director (TD)
does, so I’ll try to explain it.
Fundamental poker rules are quite simple, but when you’re organizing an international tournament with hundreds of thousands or even millions on the lines, everything has to be perfect.
With so many
hands dealt every day, there are bound to be situations where the dealer alone
can’t make the call.
someone had announced an all-in when it wasn’t their turn to act.
calls, they start complaining that they couldn’t see the other player’s cards
and that they made the play by mistake.
This is just one
example out of many that would likely require the attention of a tournament
need to know WSOP rulebooks by heart at all times.
So when they get
called over and the situation is explained, they’ll make a decision based on
the official rules of the series.
is usually final, and all players at the table have to abide by it. Refusing to
act according to a TD’s decision will only result in a penalty and eventual
disqualification if you persist.
know better than to argue with WSOP TDs, but some still try it.
Every now and
again, they’ll manage to get a senior TD called over to make a ruling if
they’re not happy with the initial decision, but it rarely happens that they
make a different ruling.
tournament directors at the WSOP often get a lot of heat from the poker public
and the media, they’re mostly just following the official WSOP rulebook. They
aren’t making things up as they go.
It happens now
and again that a situation arises where rules aren’t clear enough.
This is where
TDs will have some freedom and need to use their best judgment to make the
It’s true that
they don’t get it perfect every single time, but most of them have been running
tournaments for years, so if they don’t know the right answer then it’s
probably a really strange situation that could go either way.
You should know
that WSOP tournament directors are selected from a pool of the industry’s most
experienced and knowledgeable people.
After all, this
is the biggest event in all of poker, so they won’t allow someone to walk in off
the street and run the show.
That said, it
may sometimes happen that there is an inexperienced TD running a smaller side
If that happens
and they make a ruling that you feel is unfair and not in line with official
rules, you can always ask for a senior TD to come in.
But you should
be pretty sure you’re in the right; otherwise, you’ll just be wasting
everyone’s time and it won’t win you any points with the staff, either.
2. WSOP Dealers
The World Series
of Poker needs quite a few tournament directors, but that number pales in
comparison to how many dealers are required each year.
Just think about a tournament like the Main Event, where there can easily be a couple of hundred tables running at any given moment.
You need a few hundred dealers right there just to cover that one tournament.
And at the WSOP,
there are usually a few tournaments running concurrently.
people from all over the US will flock to Las Vegas to pitch some cards.
The demand is
big, and the dealers can make decent money, so those with the knowledge and the
experience will often spend the summer months dealing in Las Vegas.
Even though they
need a proper army of dealers of around 1,200, according to Jack Effel, WSOP
organizers won’t accept just anyone who can throw cards across the table.
For those who’ve
never dealt at the WSOP before, there is an audition during which the dealer
must show their skills.
It’s not enough
to know just Hold’em, though, as all dealers are expected to know other
variations, including Omaha and different stud and draw formats.
technical abilities, the dealer will have to answer a few general questions
about the game. If they pass, they’ll be invited back to deal at the WSOP.
Those who pass
the audition once don’t have to take it again the next year and will usually
have a spot waiting for them at the series if they performed well in the past.
aren’t that easy to come by, so those who show they have what it takes to do
their job in the high-pressure environment are usually welcomed back.
There is a
hierarchy of sorts among WSOP dealers as well.
If someone comes
to Las Vegas for the first time and passes the audition, they’ll usually cover
lower buy-in events and earlier stages of larger tournaments.
usually needs to have at least three or four years of experience under their
belt to deal a final table.
Since this is
the most important point in any tournament, the WSOP makes sure players get
someone with the experience.
All of it makes
For the players,
it’s good because dealer mistakes at the final table can cost someone serious
money. For the new dealers, this doesn’t put them in an awkward spot.
If you have no
experience dealing in the large final tables, you’ll certainly feel the
pressure, which can cause you to make mistakes that you’d never make in a more
Does It Pay Off To Deal
Cards At The WSOP?
According to Jack
Effel in an interview a few months back, WSOP dealers are paid $9 per hour and also
receive a small portion of each buy-in.
This money is split between the dealers at the end of the series. In general, the number going out to the WSOP dealers is around 2 percent of all prize pools, which is a fair chunk of money.
As far as
dealing cards go, doing that at the World Series of Poker certainly makes
definitely some money to be made as the action is non-stop.
those who make the cut for the WSOP can pretty much count on work the next
summer. This is a pretty big incentive in the casino industry, which can be
shaky at the best of times and jobs are hardly guaranteed.
Of course, some
players will still tip after a big score on top of these guaranteed payments.
While I can’t
say that I know for certain what the WSOP’s policy on tips is, it’s safe to
assume that the dealers at least get a portion of it.
There is also
the added benefit of being there for the World Series of Poker and enjoying all
the buzz and excitement while getting paid for it.
There are many
people who are part-time poker dealers and enjoy this aspect more than anything
You get to be
right in the middle of the action. It may not be as exciting as actually
playing the tournaments, but it’s probably the next best thing.
Finally, from a
professional standpoint, it’s a great thing to have on your CV.
If you were good enough to deal cards at the WSOP, you should have no problems getting a job at a local casino. It can easily put you well ahead of other candidates.
If this sounds
like something you’d like to try, the good news is that WSOP auditions new
dealers every year. You can find all the information on the official World
Series of Poker site and their social media accounts.
You’ll need to
have some prior dealing experience or a certificate from a dealer school, but
the requirements are not that harsh.
Just make sure
you’re also proficient with non-Hold’em games, as the dealers who can deal
other games have a huge advantage.
3. Reporters & Bloggers
tournament directors ensure everything goes smoothly on the floor, but someone
also needs to get the information out there.
People want to
know what’s happening at the Rio at all times.
Not everyone can
travel to Las Vegas during summer, but they’ll have friends and relatives
playing in the tournaments, and they want to know how they’re doing.
And, of course,
poker fans from all over the world want to know how their favorites are doing
Is Phil Ivey there? Did Hellmuth win another bracelet? Are there any controversies going on they need to know about?
information out there is the job of poker reporters and bloggers who spend
hours every day running around the tournament floor, making notes, taking pictures,
and filming videos to try and get them out as quickly as possible.
Some of them are
employed by the WSOP and some are sent by other poker media outlets.
an understated job as these people often don’t get paid much (or even at all) and
many of them are doing it because they love the game and simply enjoy being
around all the action.
Thanks to their
efforts, we get timely reports and updates, and we know what’s happening inside
Rio around the clock.
important happens, you’ll know in a matter of minutes, as it will be posted on social
media and news portals, giving you almost real-time insights into what’s
happening at the WSOP.
While TDs and
dealers make sure cards are in the air and chips are moving back and forth,
poker reporters and bloggers have certainly helped popularize the game and
attract new players from all over the world.
Apart from a
select few, they rarely get much credit for their work. If you’ve ever tried
reporting live, even from a small tournament, you know how crazy things can
So there you have it – some of the essential WSOP staff that make it all possible. Without their work and dedication, there would be no World Series of Poker.
Lead image: Wikimedia Commons