Friday, May 02, 2008

Harrah´s WSOP Announcement Invites Cheats!

When I read that Harrah´s is going to push the play of the 2008 WSOP final table back to November 9, 2008, a full 117 days after the last card prior to the final table is dealt at the Rio, I nearly fell off my poker cheating dinosaur! In cahoots with ESPN, Harrah´s has agreed to this new format to boost the exposure of its hotel even more than the tournament while ESPN gets to crown the new Poker World Champion during a primetime broadcast on November 11.

"It is our hope that this adjustment will add more excitement to what's already the biggest poker event ever...just like when baseball added the wild card or when NASCAR added the "Chase for the Championship" said ESPN senior producer Jamie Horowitz.

"Our goal is to create a greater sense of anticipation for the outcome of the final table," added WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. "We're changing the equation, if you will. We want as many people around the world as possible to be asking 'Who will win?' and the best way to do that is to make the decision we've made. If there's more buzz and water-cooler talk, just as there would be around the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, or the Daytona 500, then we've done a great thing for the game of poker."

This is obviously a deal to increase WSOP promotion and create drama during the three-month wait, much like is done with the NFL Super Bowl during the two weeks between the end of the Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl kickoff. The final-table players, the tournament and ESPN will all capitalize on this anticipated media frenzy, the players using their sudden fame for lucrative promotional deals, ESPN by adding to the drama with its one-hour special "Final Table Preview" that airs on November 4, and Harrah´s by basking in the WSOP sun for three additional months which will increase their revenues in many diverse ways.

But what about the cheating? The poker community is already abuzz with the cheat opportunities such a delay would bring with more than $20 million on the line. The potential for collusion is too good to pass up. The pre-final table deal-making between the finalists will resemble an Arab bazaar, with cheats hawking cheating.

Commenting on these issues, Pollack had this to say: "There are probably a hundred different scenarios that precede any championship event, whether in entertainment or sports and it's very difficult to anticipate every scenario beforehand. People should be confident in our ability to stage an event that is professional, world-class, and customer-friendly as we always do. If there are extraordinary circumstances, we will deal with them with the good process we apply to anything that comes across our desk."

He added that A new player code of conduct will be released later this week that will include new regulations regarding "unsportsmanlike conduct" as well as clarifications on the use of cell phones in the tournament area. Cell phones must remain silent at the table, and players must be at least one table length away from their seat in order to answer it. The player code of conduct will also address cheating and/or collusion.


Okay, I know that this is all about tens of millions of dollars in added revenues that have nothing at all to do with the actual play of the final table, but this is really hard to take! I highly doubt that even the late Benny Binion would have agreed to this.

Shame on Harrah´s for allowing this to happen. It will compromise the integrity of the tournament and open the door for poker cheats who know poker cheats who know other poker cheats with a direct line to any honest players at the final table.