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What's The Deal? WSOP Dealers Reportedly Upset at Conditions – Some Have Left

What's The Deal?  WSOP Dealers Reportedly Upset at Conditions – Some Have Left 0001

I spent the first hour today in the Dealer's tent listening to several dozen very irate dealers. In their collective opinion they had been deceived, and generally disrespected by their employer. For those players who wondered about the "technical difficulties" that delayed the start of today's $2,500 Short-Handed NLHE event (#21); those difficulties were the 40 to 60 dealers who, at least for a time, walked off the job this morning. As I sat there listening to the dealers I can tell you that at that time more and more dealers were calling home and heading for the door.

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.

Talk in the dealer tent was of a mass walkout but as one Ohio dealer said:

"I have three babies to feed; I can't be doing no protesting."

Dealers were comparing checks and finding that even the amounts of those checks were not in synch. Dealers with the same hours and shifts were receiving different gross wages.

There was a meeting for all dealers this morning where I heard two statements repeated over and over. First, the checks are the checks, the hours are the hours, it is what it is. Second, the numbers had been audited and two night shift dealers had been in on the count, however, the names of those dealers were not released.

When the noon tournament did eventually start, several dealers told me they were told not to discuss any of these issues with any of the players while at the table. I was stopped three times on my first pass through the room to answer player questions about the "technical difficulties." I can only imagine what the restart of the $50,000 HORSE event will bring both in player comment and in the lack of dealers qualified to deal all five games that make up the HORSE event. But knowing the excellent floor staff here, there will be dealers for this big event, about the rest of the Series we shall see.

When asked for comment on this situation, Gary Thompson, Director of Communications for the WSOP had this to say.

"I think there is a lack of understanding on the part of the dealers as to what the compensation package is going to be this year."

"The fact is for all events except the Main Event, we are taking 2.5% of the prize pool {for the dealers}, versus 2.0% last year. For the HORSE, and Main Event, we are taking 1.5% of the prize pool, versus 1.4% of the prize pool last year, and the prize pools are bigger across the board."

All of which is true, but according to many dealers, the pool was split among all dealers, including dealers that spent most of the day in the bullpen, or simply on the floor waiting for a game to deal, or even according to some dealers not even at the Rio. There are even suggestions that the chip runners were participating in the toke pool, a fact that didn't sit well with many dealers.

"One of the things that was a concern was that some dealers were being paid on an hourly rate, versus being paid for the downs {shifts actually spent dealing at the table}" indicated Thompson.

To rectify this, there was announcement in the main room at about 4pm stating that the policy had been changed, and dealers would actually be paid on 'downs' {shifts served}, rather than split among the whole staff. This drew cheers from the room, but it remains to be seen if this will be enough.

"As far as I know, anyone who was scheduled to report to work today has reported to work." added Thompson.

Clearly, there is different information coming from Harrah's than the scene witnessed this morning in the dealer tent.

This story will continue to develop, as has learned there is a "dealer only" meeting at 8pm tonight to discuss how to address the situation.

This is yet another in a series of growing pains for an event trying to go from the backroom to the boardroom. The years of the dealers taking cash out nightly in envelopes are long over. Harrah's is trying to figure out how to run this great event as a business, and the event itself has been, and I assume some Harrah's officials would agree, a challenge to run at times – most notably this year. Last year was the first year of Harrah's ownership, and a certain transition period would be assumed. It just seems most thought that transition period began, and ended with last year. That is clearly not the case.

My source told me that he received over two dozen calls from dealers asking for advice and talking about everything from walkouts to legal action. Stay Tuned to see what happens in this developing story.

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