Matt Glantz recently penned an op-ed for Bluff where he stated his belief that the World Series of Poker is starting to lose its luster.
Glantz, a highly respected poker player on and off the felt, pointed to several annoying issues that he felt could have been avoided had the WSOP brass consulted with players beforehand. This is something the WSOP has done in the past through what was known as the Players Advisory Council.
What I would suggest isn’t the advisory council made up of poker players, but a “competition committee”: A group of people from across the poker world who examine rules and procedures to see where improvements can be made.
The role of the Competition Committee
The Competition Committee shouldn’t be thought of as the yin to the casino’s yang, or as a way for poker pros to further stack the deck in their favor by advocating for beneficial policies.
The competition committee’s sole mission would be to look at what isn’t working:
- Events where attendance has fallen significantly
- Lack of female participation
- Problems with new cards or the new live reporting team
- Legitimate complaints from players (long registration lines, lack of bathrooms, food, etc.)
The committee would then offer up one or more potential solutions to each problem. These solutions don’t have to be adopted by the WSOP, they are merely suggestions.
The Competition Committee would not be there to criticize, they would be working alongside the WSOP staff and recommend potential improvements.
The members could not pull the “if you only” and “I told you so” cards. They have to be willing to make their suggestions and live with the WSOP’s decisions on what changes to make.
After all, they could always be brought up again the following year.
My Competition Committee fantasy lineup
So, who should be on the Competition Committee?
In addition to several Caesars and WSOP representatives (Nolan Dalla, Jack Effel, Ty Stewart, Bill Rini and so on) who can offer up suggestions and speak to the constraints (logistical or regulatory) that have to be considered, the Competition Committee should be made up of a cross-section of the poker world.
My choices would be:
Matt Glantz – Glantz is highly respected in the poker community. A high-level player as well as an ambassador for Parx Casino, Glantz understands the importance of catering to recreational players and making their overall experience entertaining. And based on how strongly he has been ringing the bell on this issue it’s obviously something he takes very seriously.
Phil Galfond – When Galfond speaks the poker world listens, and over the years (via his blog), Galfond has proven he possesses a strong understanding of the balance between exploiting edges and keeping your customers happy. As an online legend with two WSOP bracelets, he also has a unique understanding of the motivations for both segments of the poker world, and what appeals to both live and online players.
Neil Channing – Neil is the consummate professional and his blog post (Failure to Engage) is one of the most important poker columns written in recent years. Channing would also bring a bit of the European mindset to the table, something that is often lacking in these types of discussion groups.
Jason Somerville – The very definition of a hard worker, Somerville balances playing, coaching, being a sponsored pro, and doing massive outreach through his popular Twitch channel. Jason has spoken on conference panels where he has demonstrated an understanding of poker far beyond the game’s strategies.
Mike Sexton – Sexton is the perfect representative for the older generation of poker players and has proven countless times that he’ll speak his mind when he thinks poker has gone off the rails.
Me – Toot, toot! But in all seriousness I bring quite a bit to the table. I’ve seen virtually every side of the poker world pre- and post-poker boom thanks to my experiences as a casual player, a low and mid-stakes pro, and now as a columnist.
Alex Weldon – Alex is a semi-professional Canadian online player with a background in game design. I’ve known Alex through forums for a very long time and find him to be one of the more insightful people in the game. Alex has also started writing for poker outlets and quickly established himself as one of the better poker writers on the scene, bringing his unique perspective to the poker world.
Karina Jett – Karina is a long-time player, has worked with several poker rooms and charities to organize poker games, and from my very limited interactions with her is passionate about all things poker. She can also represent the female demographic.
Glenn McCrory – Who better to speak for the amateur player than a person whose livelihood depends on appealing to them? McCrory runs one of the most successful bar poker leagues in the country, the Eastern Poker Tour, and is an avid consumer of all things poker. McCrory has to know how to market and also gets the logistical issues poker tournaments create.
Marcel Luske – Marcel has been keeping busy trying to unify poker rules across the globe. In addition to this he’s European, and was one of the first people in poker to market his personality.
Some other choices
Barry Carter – From my conversations with Barry he is someone’s whose opinions I have come to respect. Barry can also speak to the European experience.
Kevin Mathers – Thanks to his countless interactions with poker players of all stripes, all day every day, it’s safe to say nobody has their pulse on the poker world, or understands what poker players gripe about, like Kevin.
Chris Wallace – Chris is another poker player who has built up a strong following and has the ability to see things from both sides of the coin.
Robert Turner – Turner is old school and brings the perspective of both a player and a card room manager to the table.
It’s not a perfect list, but it’s a start.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten very deserving people, and I would like to see more European and female representatives added. I’m also sure there are conflicts of interest with some of my choices. But these are the types of people poker needs to work with, not against, the WSOP.
Wait… No Daniel Negreanu?
While he has a really strong understanding of what ‘s good for poker, Negreanu’s voice is too big for this job, and the last thing the Competition Committee needs is someone dominating the process. This should be a free and open dialogue where everyone’s opinion holds equal sway.
I think all of my choices represent that ideal.