WSOP Main Event: "We are unable to accommodate any more players"
WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack walked to a podium in a tucked-away ballroom and stood before 130 very angry people.
Hoarse and dealing with one of the most unfortunate controversies of his career with the World Series, Pollack delivered the bad news. The first words out of his mouth told the story.
"We are sorry and I am sorry."
As we mentioned earlier, the World Series' final flight sold out this morning, leaving an untold number of people without seats in the big one. The players who didn't make it in were incensed. They wondered why the WSOP couldn't run another flight, why it couldn't take alternates, why it couldn't find more tables. Or, as one player called out, "What part of $3 million don't you like, bro?"
Pollack put it as succinctly as he could.
"We are unable to accommodate any more people this year," he said.
Pollack conceded today "very well may be" the first time in the Main Event's 40-year history that players who wanted to play were denied seats. But, Pollack said, once the event sold out on the final day, operational issues precluded allowing any more seats.
"We do not want to be in the business of turning people away," Pollack apologized.
Harrah's executives called the impromptu meeting in a partitioned conference room alongside the giant convention hall where just yesterday Harrah's held the so-called Poker Palooza exhibition. Today, the Rio's general Manager, the WSOP's head Tournament Director, and a line of somber faced men in suits stood as players hurled questions and accusations.
The most damning of the accusations suggests that some bigger-name players were granted entry when others were turned away. There currently exists no proof the accusations are true, but that didn't stop the denied players from repeatedly suggesting they had been treated unfairly.
Pollack said, "As far as I know, there was no special treatment" and cautioned players and media from perpetuating an "urban myth."
Today's controversy highlighted the potential trouble of allowing players to pick their own starting day and who bears the responsibility when the event caps out. Frustrated WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky put a finer point on it when he asked the assembled players, "Why didn't you show up earlier?"
In an interview after the meeting, Pollack was contrite, but stood by the decision to not change the rule book in mid-game. "This is not the WSOP of 20 years ago. There is a domino effect. When you push a button to make a change, it has a massive effect."
He conceded today's issue was unprecedented and said, "We are going to learn from this and make it better."