The World Series of Poker (WSOP) began in 1970 at Binion’s Horseshoe before relocating to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in 2005. New for 2022, poker’s flagship tournament series made the move to the Las Vegas Strip as a new WSOP legacy begins at Bally’s – the future Horseshoe – and Paris Las Vegas. Poker players and fans around the world were skeptical of the move, but with the 2022 WSOP being a little over a week old, there is little doubt that the move has been a success.
“I was expecting a s–show just like everybody else was, but I am really shocked to see it’s gone really smoothly,” Daniel Negreanu said prior to WSOP Event #10: $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Championship.
Joining Negreanu, a six-time WSOP bracelet winner, in the event was fellow Poker Hall of Fame member and four-time WSOP bracelet winner Eli Elezra. Elezra said about the WSOP’s new location, “I just love this place. Bally’s and Paris are a dream come true for us. Between the coffee places available and the food places, it just looks like everything is very organized. For us in the high-limit area, the new chairs and new tables are just amazing. I never missed one [WSOP] at the Rio, so this place, I’ll never miss one.”
“The staff are doing the best they can here,” Shaun Deeb said during a break in Event #7: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo in which he finished 28th. “The chips are amazing, and the cards are holding up better than most years. Looking at some of the field sizes, you’re really seeing poker come back this year.”
Positive reactions by players were also echoed by the team at PokerGO that handle streaming both WSOP bracelet events and the WSOP Main Event.
“We’re moving to the Las Vegas Strip,” said Mori Eskandani, PokerGO President and Poker Hall of Fame member, about the move to the Vegas Strip. “I don’t care how iconic – you can say the World Series of Poker is moving to Madison Square Garden. It’s not going to be the same as moving to the Las Vegas Strip. The reaction from the players is very positive, and I expect it is going to be record-breaking numbers.”
Thus far at the 2022 WSOP, a couple of events have seen record-setting turnouts. Event #7: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo turned out a 1,086-entry field, surpassing the previous record of 1,036 entries. Event #10: Dealer’s Choice Championship also produced a record-setting turnout. Of course, we can’t overlook Event #5: $500 The Housewarming No-Limit Hold’em which drew 20,080 entries, good for the fourth-largest WSOP event of all time.
“I think the World Series of Poker has always needed to have a presence on the Las Vegas Strip, and now it does,” said Jeff Platt, PokerGO and CBS Sports sideline reporter, on the move. “It’s turned out so well. Major credit should go to Ty Stewart, Jack Effel, and the rest of the World Series of Poker staff and crew. They have pulled this off, and when you don’t hear poker players complain about anything, you know you have a good thing going.”
“I love it so far,” Maria Ho said about her WSOP experience at Bally’s and Paris prior to her entering the commentary booth for Event #8: $25,000 NL Hold’em High Roller. “I feel like everything that was kind of a complaint at the Rio just doesn’t exist here and everybody is having an amazing experience. They’ve made the transition really smooth.”
One of the key voices on social media for the WSOP is Kevin Mathers, who mans the WSOP Twitter account for the series and promptly responds to questions regarding anything and everything to do with the WSOP.
“Coming to Bally’s and Paris this year, it’s a remarkable turnaround,” Mathers said. “Standing in Paris right now with over 380 tables and it’s packed. Bally’s is all packed with people, too. Overall, people are very happy about both properties and the eating and dining options available. It’s almost an A+ I would give it.”
Tournament action is split between Bally’s and Paris with the WSOP feature table located in one of the rooms at Bally’s. With more tables and space than ever before, a natural learning curve exists as players become used to the new spaces but that was expected in the opening week.
For all events that are $10,000 buy-ins or greater (excluding the WSOP Main Event), they will be played exclusively in their own private section located next to the King’s Lounge; the home for WSOP high-stakes cash games.
“We also have the King’s Lounge for high-stakes games, so a lot of those people might already be here and jump into some tournaments,” Negreanu said. “It’s been a good environment. I think people having a better experience of coming here, and being here, are more likely to play.”
Negreanu finished third in 2021 WSOP Player of the Year honors behind four-time WSOP bracelet winner Josh Arieh, and Arieh is already off to a strong start this WSOP with a third-place finish in Event #8: $25,000 NL Hold’em High Roller for $616,047 in prize money.
“I think it’s amazing,” Arieh said of his first impression of the new venue. “It’s a million times nicer. From where I have to park, I’m literally from the car to Paris and at a table in under five minutes. I love it here, I think it’s great. There are less hiccups than I thought there would be.”
Arieh is one of the many WSOP veterans that have played at Binion’s Horseshoe, the Rio, and now Bally’s / Paris. Having experienced the cramped conditions Downtown and some good-not-great facilities at the Rio, it appears that the majority of everyone stepping foot into Bally’s / Paris throughout the first week have only positive remarks about the venue change.
“We were used to the Rio and accepted what it was, and then in just two days here, it’s just so much nicer,” Arieh continued. “The minute I walked in here, all the skepticism just totally went away.”
Now that the first week of the 2022 WSOP is in the books, it’s full steam ahead for poker’s most historic series at its new home.
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