Bedlam, Confusion, and Incredibly Long Lines Mark First Days of the WSOP

by Lou on June 5, 2007

Day One of the World Series of Poker was bedlam. It always is. But this day was more frazzled than most. It looked like about a three-hour line to sign up for tournaments, and I don’t know why.

Day Two was just as crowded, but at least there’s some excuse: They were busy setting a record for attendance. The $1,500 no-limit hold’em event was the largest non-WSOP main event poker tournament in history. The previous record was Event #17 at the 2006 WSOP, which attracted 2,891 entries. They broke the previous record by 107 players, with a field of 2,998 players. This ranks as the third-largest poker tournament of all-time, behind the 2005 and 2006 championship (main) events.

It seems as though the registration process is adequately conceptualized but poorly engineered. It would have made sense for the WSOP to take 50 dealers, and run them through a dummy registration process to develop a mean time to process a registration. With that information, it would have been duck soup to determine how many clerks it takes to staff the booth in order to maintain a waiting time of a given number of minute–not hour–to sign up.

The “poker-peek” cards that looked so cool in the photograph shown a few posts ago, right here in this blog, had a few flaws that became immediately apparent once they were employed in live games. For starters, the corner index on the card’s corner was quite small, and difficult to see. But the real problem was that the design of the rest of the card made it difficult to read the board. No one I spoke to or over heard¾and I mean no one¾had anything good to say about the poker-peek cards.

Get a few decks today and they’re likely to be a collector’s item in the future. My bet is you’ll never see them in a poker game again, but you will see them on e-Bay before long.

I’m betting the Rio spent the better part of yesterday and today buying as many decks of traditional poker cards as they could find. It’s another fiasco that could have easily been prevented by trying out the new cards before using them in tournament play. Had the WSOP’s management simply sat 10 experienced players down in a mock game, used those cards for 15 minutes or so, it would have become abundantly clear that the traditional cards were vastly superior and that the new ones should never have been introduced.

Once again, well conceptualized, poorly engineered. It’s beginning to sound like a mantra. A note to the WSOP management: Test before implementing. Only then can you close the loop between design and conceptualization on one hand, and user response on the other. That’s what systems integration is all about.

You need to test things before implementing them, and you need to inspect what you expect. It’s Management 101 and it’s that simple. Even a caveman can do it.

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