It appears, at least for now, there are sufficient dealers at the World Series of Poker to staff all of the tournaments and the cash games. Just two days ago, there were wait lists of 30 and 40 players for the some of the cash games, and yesterday, some players had to wait 45-60 minutes to get into a single table satellite.
There have been several dealer meetings in the past 48 hours both on and off site at the Series. Harrah's has made one change that has met with much dealer approval. Pay is now based on the number of "downs", the actually number of times a dealer sits in the box and deals a standard 30 minute session. Prior to that change, every dealer clocked in shared in the overall toke pool. Now this may seem a bit unfair to dealer's who were assigned to the bullpen but here was the real problem. Some dealers were clocking in at the Series and then heading out of other jobs around town and coming back at the end of the Rio shift to clock out. Three of my friends played a tournament at the Sahara the other night being dealt by at least two "on the clock" WSOP dealers. To quote one floor person, those two dealers were caught, and 'kicked in the nuts'.
To many dealers, Harrah's has taken steps that greatly improved the situation. Not all the dealers feel the "down" for pay change will resolve the low wage issue.
"There are still just too many dealers hired; not enough work for everyone and too many cuts into the toke pool."
Others feel the change will solve most of the problems.
"We just want to get paid for the work we do and not have others paid for work they don't do. It's not like we weren't told the policies before we got here."
What was clear yesterday, day two of this week's unrest, was that there were fewer dealers in the bullpen awaiting cash games or single table satellites to begin. And it was clear that the total pool of dealers was down. Internal estimates are that perhaps forty to fifty have left over this latest employment hiccup.
Whenever you bring together such a diverse group as people for such a big event, you are bound to have a myriad of personal views, personal problems, and uniquely individual opinions.
"Everyday they just find another reason to make us feel less welcome and less appreciated."
"I am doing a job I like, I am dealing at the World Series of Poker; before this gig I was working at Wal-Mart as an assistant manager, this pays better."
"Sure players can be rude. Sure there are bad management decisions and generally bad calls. It's a job not my life, get over it."
"You know we are the ones who drop the rake and the tokes, it's not like we don't have a pretty good idea what the totals should be."
"I deal for eight hours; I play poker and party with friends for ten or twelve and sleep once in awhile. It's a paid vacation in Vegas. Sign me up for next year."
"When I started dealing, skill and knowledge was rewarded. Now they just ask if you are uncomfortable dealing Omaha split or the HORSE event, then you just don't have to. The best dealers, the long time professionals get paid what the kid coming out of dealer school gets."
The one we all want to hear.
"I have only one thing to say: Shuffle up and deal."
And, lastly, the one that puts it all in perspective.
"I get what everyone is so upset about, I really do but my kid brother is in Iraq, I have nothing to [complain] about."
The most common comment I heard yesterday was:
"Wait until next Thursday."
Checks come out late on Wednesday here at the Rio and should the week three pay resemble that of weeks one and two, and there are some who expect some dealers to walk. Should that happen and I repeat – should that happen, could there ever be a situation where the Series itself could be endangered? I would estimate based on the tournament schedule that the WSOP tournament schedule is not in jeopardy. However, the permanent schedule in the Amazon room also includes: single table satellites, super satellites, a mega satellite, cash games and the Day Two and Day Three continuations of previous events. A significant loss of dealers could easily restrict the ability of the tournament staff to keep all of those ancillary events running smoothly. And this says nothing about the elephant-in-the-room awaiting us in just two weeks, the predicted 8,000 player main event.
Ed Note: Tune into Paradise Poker where there are always a lot of games.