Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at the World Series of Poker? We are going to take you inside the life of Jack Effel, Vice President of International Poker Operations and Director of the World Series of Poker. He has executed some of the biggest live poker events in history for over a decade and this is his sixth year as director of the WSOP.
Many events at the 42nd Annual World Series of Poker hit record-setting entrant numbers. We’ve seen Effel running around the Rio, awarding bracelets, kicking off tournaments, and making sure every event runs smoothly. We wanted to dive deeper and see what it’s really like to direct the biggest poker event of the year. We'll put you in his shoes, show you what it’s like in the days leading up to the Main Event, and show you what he does in a typical day at the Rio.
10:00 a.m. PDT: Jack arrives bright and early to start his day off at the Rio. We are in a quiet Amazon room sitting around a poker table in the purple section with WSOP media and ESPN production heads. The meeting is about the upcoming ESPN schedule and the broadcast of the Poker Player's Championship Final Table that will take place this week. They discussed everything from the types of chips that will be used on T.V. to when it will air on ESPN3, ESPN2, and ESPN. There are so many details that need to be discussed, such as when dinner breaks will be so they line up with ESPN2's schedule, when the color ups will take place so the chips look good on camera, and how the tables in the room will break during the Main Event so that ESPN will be able to get the best coverage. The only other people in the room are the ESPN crew prepping the "Thunder Dome" to make it ready for ESPN and the final table.
10:45 a.m. PDT: We are on the move again scurrying through different rooms of the Rio looking for a phone so Jack can call in to ESPN radio Cleveland to do an interview. We secure a phone in the Pavilion room, where Jack talks to the station about the WSOP, the potential Horseshoe Casino that will open in Cleveland with a poker room, and about the Main Event just days away.
11:35 a.m. PDT: Immediately after the interview Jack is getting ready to kick off the noon $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event that starts today. I manage to pull him aside for a few minutes and get him to join the PokerNews Podcast live from the Rio. After the Podcast we head off to the Amazon room to make sure all the dealers are set up and ready to go, and then check on the Pavilion room.
12:15 p.m. PDT: Jack just kicked off the noon event and also unveiled Jonathan Duhamel's Main Event Champion banner that will grace the rafters in the Amazon room. Immediately as he is stepping of the stage Jack is approached by various people asking questions about the schedule for the day. He meets with some of the tournament directors since we are 11 minutes late starting the first event and goes over details for the rest of the day.
12:31 p.m. PDT: Just did a sweep of the Pavilion room with Jack. He is visiting with different poker supervisors to coordinate the multiple tournaments going on. We need to find tables for the growing noon event that already has over 2,500 runners, the mega satellites, and the cash games that are going on all inside the Pavilion room. There are also tournaments that start later today so the breaking order of the tables need to be determined in order to make room for every event.
12:37 p.m. PDT: We will be doing a Twitcam in about ten minutes. You can join the conversation here. We will post the video here after.
1:05 p.m. PDT: Here is the Twitcam we just finished up from the Pavilion room.
1:10 p.m. PDT: Jack has a little time now to answer mentions in his Twitter feed. Most of them have to do with tournaments and starting times. He is sitting on the stage here in the Pavilion room on his phone responding to people.
2:03 p.m. PDT: Had to do a quick sweep of the Amazon room to make sure everything was running smoothly over there. Jack scans the room to make sure there is a poker supervisor in each area and that there are enough dealers for each section. We check in with each of the supervisors to see if they need anything. We go to visit Charlie, one of the supervisors in the blue section where the Poker Players Championship is set to restart later today. The tables set aside for it are the wrong ones since they do not have automatic shufflers. Jack gets on the phone and within a minute he has the situation resolved. After the Amazon room sweep, Jack is visited by the head of security with some problems going on in the cage area. The lines are so long for registration for each of the events and there are people everywhere. We swing by the cage to fix the problem and work on figuring out the puzzle to getting people registered for the $1,500 event and the 1:00 p.m. Mega-Satellite.
2:46 p.m. PDT: We found some time to grab a quick bite to eat while fixing the registration problem and preparing for the bracelet ceremony. Today Jack awarded two bracelets from the main stage. He reads a short biography, presents the winner with headphones, a Diamond card, and of course the bracelet. He then resumes the $1,500 noon tournament at the end of the ceremony.
3:37 p.m. PDT: We made another complete sweep of both the Amazon and Pavilion rooms. For the past hour or so Jack has been strategizing with the tournament supervisors to figure out where to put the over 4,000 players that will be playing in the various tournaments today. The tables began filling up at 10:00 a.m when the $550 Mega-Satellite started. The noon $1,500 event brought in over 3,000 players. The deepstack that starts at 2:00 p.m. has already been pushed back to 4:00 p.m. because of the long registration lines and the need for more tables. On top of all that there is the restart of the Poker Player's Championship that started under an hour ago and at 5:00 p.m. is the start of the$5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-low Split-8 or better.
4:21 p.m. PDT: The later it gets in the day it is becoming more clear to us that Jack isn't just the voice behind the microphone. We have been busy running around the Rio all day. Everyone we run into and meet with keeps telling us that Jack knows this business better than anyone else. For instance, we just met with Kevin, a supervisor who told us that Jack has been telling everyone for days that today was going to be a busy day. He was right. Jack told us today has been the busiest day of the series so far. He managed to give a brief interview for Bluff when they pulled him aside in the hallway and now Jack is off to a private meeting with some players to discuss how to make the series more player friendly.
5:08 p.m. PDT: Jack is still in his meeting. We will be meeting back up with him shortly.
5:40 p.m. PDT: As Jack was leaving his meeting he was pulled into the Amazon room to make a ruling at the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship. A player had used derogatory language and directed it towards a player. Jack decided that an appropriate ruling would be a one hand penalty, rather than a whole round. The player was obviously very upset and tension was high since there are only a few players left in the tournament. Jack says he makes decisions like these everyday and thought that the penalty was needed. After the ruling we went back to the media center to meet with supervisors and make sure the events were going on as planned.
6:19 p.m. PDT: We swing by the tan section of the Amazon room to check on the 6 p.m. deepstack that just started. People are constantly coming up to Jack asking questions and he always seems to have the answer. The biggest issue of the day has been dealing with logistics. With 408 tables, and over 5,000 players looking to play, the events need to be strategically planned around one another to make it all work. Jack oversees all of this and helps fix the daily problems that arise from running a tournament of this scale.
6:55 p.m. PDT: Wrapping up the day with Jack here is a Twitcam we did from the Pavilion room.
7:09 p.m. PDT: We were surprised that most players didn't come up and complain about something to Jack. He said that most of the players just complain on Twitter now. He thinks that it's a lot better that they complain on Twitter because he can reply to more people at once and take the time to thoughtfully respond to their complains instead of dealing with it on the spot. His day is about over here at the Rio, he is going to head home relax and take care of his new twin babies. Even though he is at home he still says he will get phone calls throughout the night to deal with situations that happen during the tournament.