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WSOP adjusts registration process on the fly

7 July 2007

Players waited in three-hour-registration lines the day before the World Series of Poker Main Event began as throngs tried to secure seats the moment they arrived at the Rio Thursday afternoon.

At the same time players were looking to register for the Main Event, others were also trying to enter Annie Duke's Ante Up For Africa charity event and the nightly Main Event Mega-Satellite tournament.

Joe Scibetta, director of customer service for the Rio, said this "perfect storm" of registration hold-ups caused the back-up, forcing some players to wait until just minutes before the tournament began Friday to reserve their spots.

"For some reason, the Main Event players usually check-in for their hotel rooms then come straight to the registration booth," Scibetta said. "I think it has something to do with the fact that players don't want to have $10,000 in their pocket."

Morning registration times for the Main Event have been minimal since the tournament began Friday. But the mid-afternoon back-ups have continued to occur.

"We expect to see longer lines in the afternoon," Scibetta said. "But we've put many controls in place that will keep the lines moving. Once the afternoon rush is over, the nights and mornings are seeing very small wait times."

Short lines in the morning

Registration lines were ten minutes long Friday morning. Saturday, the lines were a little longer because of increased participation in Day 1B of the Main Event.

Daniel Elizandro tried to register four times on Thursday for Day 1A, returning to the Amazon Room at 9 p.m., 10 p.m., 11 p.m., and 1 a.m. Each time the line was so long, Elizandro refused to wait.

Friday morning, Elizandro completed his registration process in five minutes.

Chris Smith of New York City slept in on Friday morning and was afraid he would miss Day 1A because of the rumors about long wait times. He brought his $10,000 in cash to the registration cage at 12 p.m., just minutes before the Main Event began. And Smith was in his seat when George Wallace told the room "shuffle up and deal."

"It went pretty smooth," Smith said. "I can't complain about a 10-minute wait."

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said his "registration team" has performed admirably since long-lines plagued the Series' opening weekend.

"We learned a lot from that first weekend and I think since then the lines have been reasonable and well managed," Pollack said. "I also think it's reasonable to expect that registrations for the richest and most prestigious poker tournament in the world (the Main Event) might produce some wait times."

The process

Three-to-four hour registration lines at the start of the WSOP forced officials to change the way they conducted registration transactions.

Pre-registered players caused the delay, Scibetta said. In past years, third parties could pick up tournament tickets for players. But new U.S. restrictions on financial transactions with online gambling companies forced the WSOP to require that players register in person with proper identification.

They also need to verify that the player's entry fee has been paid. Often times, wire transfers are bungled and Scibetta's has to track the money down in cyberspace. Early on in the Series, his teams had little experience in tracking lost money. Now, Scibetta says he has a team of experts in fixing wire transfers.

The multi-tiered pre-registration process can take several minutes, Scibetta said.

"It became clear very quickly that we needed to separate the pre-registered players from the people who walk up the cage with ten grand in their wallet," Scibetta explained.

As a result, there are now three lanes for registration.

The first lane is a separate room for pre-registered guests labeled the "will-call room." Scibetta calls this room an "oasis" - a quiet place where registration teams can confirm a player's identity, collect their entry fee and hand the player their tournament entry.

Lane two is for walk-up registrations only. These transactions take only one to two minutes, but are the most common. Scibetta has deployed the bulk of his team in this lane to handle last minute rushes.

Lane three is for Harrah's VIP guests and International players. Because players from other countries can have complicated registration processes, mostly due to currency conversions, Scibetta placed "super employees" here - people capable of handling complicated financial transactions.

Scibetta said making the process more efficient has worked better than just adding dozens of employees and lines. And besides the late mid-afternoon rushes, lines have been short and efficient.

"We're pretty happy with the way things have gone," Scibetta said. "I think the players will tell you the same thing."


Mucking McLane
WSOP adjusts registration process on the fly is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.