5 Things to Look Forward to if the WSOP Changes Venues
There was a lot of hype this summer surrounding where Lebron James would choose to play basketball in the upcoming season. Something that has drawn an equivalent amount of hype (I think) was whether or not the WSOP will return to the Rio next year or move to a new location. If you believe the poker world rumor mill, it seems there is a strong possibility that Harrah's intends to sell their Rio property and move the WSOP to a new location, most likely Caesars Palace or Planet Hollywood.
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So we figured we'd get ahead of ourselves a little bit and analyze five things to look forward to if the WSOP does indeed move to a Strip venue.
#5: Harrah's Makes More Money
Prevailing wisdom suggets that if Harrah's sells Rio, the new home of the WSOP will be Planet Hollywood. Although Caesars Palace is probably a nicer venue for poker's biggest series of tournaments, it is located on the west side of the Strip where every adjacent property is owned by MGM, Harrah's largest competitor. Planet Hollywood is situated on the east side of the Strip, the side where Harrah's has virtually no competition except on the very polar ends. By luring WSOP participants and spectators to the east side of the strip, Harrah's will retain more gambling and dining dollars that might otherwise be expended in an MGM property.
The obvious upside to Harrah's making more money for poker players is, of course, that they will no longer need to withhold millions and millions of dollars from WSOP prize pools to please investors. Right? RIGHT?!? We're pretty sure that's how it works, anyway.
#4: New venue = Rejuvenated Public Interest
The WSOP getting a new home is the perfect bit of news to draw the attention of people who would otherwise be only vaguely interested in the tournament series. Imagine Joe Q. Hold'em getting a flyer in the mail from Harrah's since his name made the mailing list thanks to his participation in the 2006 Senior's Event. Joe looks at the flyer and learns that the WSOP has a new home. "Hey Martha," he tells his wife, "them hold'em tournaments are at a new place now." So Joe loads up his suitcase and promises Martha he'll bankroll her for the penny slots and off to Vegas they go. Put a check-mark in the win column for poker.
#3: Ease of Access
The major downside to having the WSOP at the Rio is its proximity, or lack thereof, to the Strip. There is no way you can walk to the Rio from basically any other hotel in the city. For visitors, this means taxis, taxis, and more taxis. If a massive global recession wasn't bad enough for Vegas taxi drivers, they now get to deal with the blow of not having as many poker players to cart around in the summer. Planet Hollywood is situated perfectly in the middle of the Strip and is a very manageable walk from many Strip hotels.
Additional benefits to a centrally-located WSOP venue include: more dining options, more hotel options for people who would have otherwise just stayed at the Rio but now can stay somewhere close and walk, as well as the ability to use the monorail for transport to and from the WSOP.
#2: More Spectators
In its current location, the WSOP gets virtually no walk-through traffic from spectators who just so happened to randomly stumble upon poker's greatest tournament series. Every railbird at the Rio is there because they purposefully decided to go out of their way to see what the WSOP is all about. Planet Hollywood's location will lead to more random stragglers stumbling upon the poker action. While we don't want to get too ahead of ourselves, increased female tourist foot-traffic could potentially lead to a poker player getting laid in 2011, which is very exciting news for the whole industry.
#1: Shopping for the Euros
Planet Hollywood has a full-scale shopping mall inside their property. You know what that means! Purses (excuse me, handbags) and other accessories are just a short walk away for the European players! Why drink away your pain after a bad beat when you can just go dust off a couple thousand on a nice Gucci man-purse?!