Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Caesars Atlantic City, WSOP circuit events

I don't know, I really don't get it. Why would you continue to offer the same crappy product when you know it's not working out. That people don't like it. You know this because the players tell you they don't like it.

They complain to your face that they don't like it. The attendance shows it. The sheer lack of numbers is proof.

I saw a lot of the same guys yesterday. All playing event 6 ($1k nlhe). Only this time there was only 300 players. 300 players??? You're the WSOP of crying out loud! Where's your pride? Most will think of this as just a by product of the economy, but before you pass judgement, read further.

I"m wondering what the Venetian averages when they hold their deepstack tournies. Anyone out there want to shed light on that number? Is it declining? Growing? Keeping steady?

Thursday is the Main Event at Caesars. Its a $5k entry and who knows how many will play. If yesterday was an indication it won't be much. I put the o/u at 250.

The reason being is that Harrahs has been holding $300 and $500 sats every day. Yesterdays $300 sat. saw 17 entrants. Thats right. 17. The $500 saw 27. There were $65 and $11o sngs all day long to qualify for the $500 at 8pm. I saw more than 50 of them go off. and yet only 27 entered. The rest were running around the room pedalling their vouchers at just about $.50 cents on the dollar (no I didn't buy one).

With so few sat'ing into the main event, I doubt the rest of the regualr grinders are locks for shelling out their $5k. The field just won't be big enough.

With the Borgata about a mile up the island how does Harrah's compete? Well, sure, they hold their events opposite of the B's, but what I heard yesterday was stunning. Just about half of every conversation I had was about making a decision to play in the 8pm sat at Harrah's, or just hop over to the Borgata and play their daily. Most went to the Borgata.

In just about a week, the Borgata will be holding their $500k guarantee. The entry is $1500 this time around, and I'm predicting just about 1,000 players. I'm only hedging that number because the economy is so bad. If it wasn't, I'd be predicting at least 1500.

Obviously the structure has something to do with it. I've said before that the industry is changing. Players want value, and starting stacks of $30-$50k with 70 minute levels and an extra level provides that value. In the least it's more playing time. It provides the ability to be more patient.

The question becomes then, when will Harrah's quit banking on their brand? It seems to be the resounding theme whenever I speak to anyone there. Comments like, "well, look, we have the strongest brand in poker, and we'll continue to run our tournaments in the tradition that the WSOP has for the last 40 years. Our brand has built poker, and we do not see the need to change the best product in the industry." I will leave out the name of the source. Times are tough.

They obviously have the most notoriable brand in poker. Anyone who doesn't agree with that is stupid. But you know what else was popular at one point? A good strong horse. Bow saws, muskets.

In case you miss my point, all of those wonders that helped build this country have been replaced by better technology. Better products. The WSOP needs to recognize this. It's in front of their face. Last year alone, the Venetian was getting bigger numbers during the WSOP because they offered a better product. I can't think it will be too long before players forget about how important it is (or was) to win a bracelet. Instead, opting for the better value and more winnings.

It was announced yesterday that Atlantic City Casinos, as a whole, were down 14% from last year. That's an expected but staggering number. With so many properties fighting for players, you would think that the higher ups would do everything possible to provide a reason to get players in their establishments.

Harrahs seems to think its their brand, while the Borgata understands its the value. People are still playing poker. In droves. But they are smarter. And if they aren't smarter, at least they know to follow the herds.

The Caesars main poker room was virtually empty yesterday. I saw 10 tables empty. This is a paradox really, when you think about the amount of players who would flock to the rooms during any tournament series going on upstairs in any casino. One of my guys who was with me said, "yeah, but everyone is playing upstairs." He didn't get it. So I explained it to him.

How does all of this bode for Harrahs? For the WSOP? How long before another casino or property steps up with a monster series that provides value to try to take on the WSOP as the noted World Champion of Poker? I don't know that will ever happen, but I don't think it will ever be revered as it once was.

This years WSOP has shown a willingness to try different things at least. I just don't know that a $3k NLHE triple chance tournament is the way to go. Seems gimmicky to me. I do think that this years WSOP at the Rio may see some really bad times. Not only because of the issue of players wanting a better game, but the economy is certainly going to have an impact. The 300-1000 family guys probably won't get the permission this year to dust off a couple g's trying to earn their way into stardom, and a new career.

As all things, time will tell, but as I see it, it's already told half the story.

Edit: I was speaking with another player and felt I needed to expand on the whole WSOP bracelet point. Back in the day, the WSOP bracelet was revered because everyone who played was already an accomplished player. It was a Tourney for Champions. Cash is king for the poker player so bracelets shouldn't matter. But what the WSOP offered was a venue for those monsters who already had won the money. The prize wasn't worth half as much as what the bracelet represented. That was besting your peers and being noted as the Best of the Best. The WSOP is no longer a tournamet for champions. Unless you consider a $5 sng winner a champion.


BamBam said...

Nicely written!

And all left handed too!


Instant Tragedy said...

Here, here. How many bracelets have been given away in the last 10 years versus the years previous to that. It made it elite. The problem is, that with the explosion of poker companies got greedy trying to drive revenue before the poker bubble bust. Not that the bubble has burst what original and cool ways will poker change for the better of players and the companies.

The person / company who can master that will have them beating down his/ her / their door.

Hope your hand gets better!