The 2022 World Series of Poker is scheduled to begin in just over a week, with the first event ($500 Casino Employees) slated to begin at 11am on May 31. The excitement in the poker world is palpable, as it will mark the first ever WSOP taking place on the Las Vegas Strip, housed at Bally’s/Paris.
The team responsible for organizing the WSOP and putting on poker’s greatest show has been hard at work on this quite literally since the 2021 WSOP wrapped up in November. As the starter’s pistol is about to sound on this year’s festivities, there’s a tremendous amount of frenzied activity behind the scenes.
For that reason, we’re that much more grateful that World Series of Poker Vice President Jack Effel was kind enough to take a few moments to answer a handful of questions for us.
You obviously don’t build a WSOP alone, so what’s your team like? How many people are involved, how many players? Is there still a sort of ‘players advisory panel’?
It takes a village to put this incredible event together. From the talented dealers to the folks that literally build out our footprint and so many more, the WSOP wouldn’t be possible without such a strong unified team. This year we have our largest footprint ever and we expect player attendance to return to pre-pandemic levels.
What has the preparation for the coming WSOP been like, specifically as it’s the first venue change in over 15 years? What’s been different than previous years, and what have some of the new challenges been?
This will be our biggest and best World Series of Poker yet and we’re extremely excited about the move to the Las Vegas Strip for the first time ever. The new location will create the largest tournament capacity in the event’s history with over 150,000 square feet and more than 580 poker tables to accommodate players of all levels. There are always unique challenges associated with the moving of an event, but we’ve embraced them head-on and expect a great WSOP.
You recently made a very big, well-received announcement about increasing dealer pay, to up to $50/hour. Are you and your team confident that the call will be answered so you’ll be fully staffed to handle a capacity crowd WSOP this summer?
The new pay structure we put in place for our dealers was an exciting build for this year’s tournament. When you boil it down, dealers are the backbone of the WSOP, without them and their incredible work ethic this event couldn’t happen. We’re confident in the talented group of dealers we have in place and we’ll be fully staffed for the biggest WSOP yet.
What else should players expect to be different this year at the new venue versus at the Rio? How would you suggest they prepare for these changes?
We’re excited for players to see our new home and we’d ask them to come ready to embrace a new chapter in our history. Beyond a best-in-class setup for our tournaments, there are many things to enjoy and see at WSOP’s new home with multiple great restaurants and entertainment options that just opened, including Nobu at Paris Las Vegas, Vanderpump à Paris and so much more.
What moment(s) are you looking forward to most this summer?
This year’s tournament touches back on the history of the WSOP and some great memories should be made. The WSOP has always been synonymous with the Horseshoe brand, and we are thrilled to intertwine the past with the present again at Bally’s, the soon-to-be Horseshoe Las Vegas. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to join us at our new home and it will be great to see all the familiar faces who were unable to be with us in the fall due to scheduling or travel restrictions.
Event-wise, we’re excited about the $500 / $5M GTD opening Housewarming event but are equally excited about the $1,000 Buy-In Million Dollar Bounty that will award a maximum bounty prize of $1,000,000. The Million Dollar Bounty will run at the beginning of July and during the main event but is scheduled so players can participate in both events.
Editor’s Note: I’ll be milling around the hallways at the WSOP from June 7, and am looking forward to checking out the new location. If you see me, come say hi and get yourself a free Cardplayer Lifestyle patch.