The World Poker Tour is visiting Florida this month (April 8-May 2) for the first time in its storied history, thanks to uncapped poker limits and the efforts of the Seminole Hard Rock family. The person responsible for making sure this event runs smoothly is William Mason, who recently was named the Paradise Poker Room’s director of poker operations at Hard Rock Hollywood. Ante Up’s Chris Cosenza had a chance to chat with Mason about his new appointment and the challenges he faces in bringing the first WPT event to the Sunshine State.
How old are you? 41
Where are you from originally? Absecon, N.J., just outside of Atlantic City.
How long have you been in poker? I have been around poker for a good part of my life and began working at the Seminole Hard Rock poker room in 1995.
Do you play poker, and if so, what is your favorite game/limit? Yes, I have been playing poker since I was a teenager with my friends. My favorite game is $15-$30 limit hold’em.
Where did you gain your poker experience before landing this position? I first learned the dealing aspects of the game from a friend when I moved to Florida. When I became the manager of the Casino Princesa, I had to familiarize myself with all aspects of the game for management purposes. In 2005 after the Princesa closed, I was hired on as a poker floor person at the Seminole Hard Rock and was promoted to shift manager.
What are some of the challenges you face in taking over Hollywood Hard Rock and removing “interim” from your title? Some of the challenges in taking over the poker room at the Seminole Hard Rock are found in getting everyone involved. I believe for us to succeed, we must all take ownership in the room. Everyone from our guests to the staff must feel part of the family and be committed to its growth and success.
How have you prepared for the upcoming WPT event at HRH in relation to staff, changes, etc.? We have spent a great deal of time ensuring we have one of the best venues on the tour and I believe that Hard Rock Live will be the best. Late last year we submitted rule changes to hold the tournament outside of our current poker room and they were approved. Recently, we began a push to hire dealers and other staff for the event.
What will make this WPT stop different from the others? This WPT stop will have the Seminole Hard Rock flair and style. It will be footsteps from one of the best nightlife scenes in all of the country and one of the most rocking casino hotels in the world.
How have the limit changes made you rethink your approach to attracting players? With the current limit changes in Florida, the business has changed from a tournament-based business to a cash play-based business. The playing field has been leveled and poker rooms, including ours, have to be more sensitive to players’ needs. Promotions have become a more important part of attracting business and finding the right mix can be a challenge.
Do you have any plans you can share? With the competitive nature of the business in South Florida, discussing specific plans might not be in our best interest. I will say that there are some new promotions directed at player loyalty and other nuances in response to guest suggestions.
What can a player expect from a poker room run by William Mason? They can expect a commitment to guest service and a belief that we will do everything reasonable to accommodate their wants and needs.
WPT HARD ROCK SHOWDOWN
Event 1: April 8, 11A, 1A, $350 ($200K guar.)
Event 1: April 8, 7P, 1B, $350
Event 1: April 9, 11A, 1C, $350
Event 1: April 9, 7P, 1D, $350
Event 2: April 10, noon, $230
Event 3: April 10, 4P, $150
Event 4: April 11, noon, seniors, $350
Event 5: April 11, 4P, $230*
Event 6: April 12, noon, $350
Event 7: April 12, 4P, Omaha/8, $230
Event 8: April 13, noon, $350*
Event 9: April 14, noon, (1 rebuy, 1 add-on), $230
Event 10: April 15, noon, 6-handed, $560
Event 11: April 16, noon, $560 ($100K guar.)
Event 12: April 17, noon, $350, ($40K guar.)
Event 13: April 17, 4P, $150
Event 14: April 18, noon, $230*
Event 15: April 18, 4P, PLO w/re-entry, $340
Event 16: April 19, noon, $350
Event 17: April 19, 4P, $150*
Event 18: April 20, noon, $350
Event 19: April 21, noon, $350*
Event 20: April 21, 4P, $350*
Event 21: April 22, noon, $350*
Event 22: April 22, 4P, $125 ($30K guar.)
Event 23: April 23, noon, $560 ($100K guar.)
Event 24: April 23, 4P, $1,080, 6-handed
Event 25: April 23, 8P, $150* ($25K guar.)
Event 26: April 24, noon, $1,630
Event 27: April 24, 4P, H.O.R.S.E., $560
Event 28: April 24, 8P, $150* ($25K guar.)
Event 29: April 25, noon, 6-handed, $2,160
Event 30: April 25, 4P, Omaha/8, $550
Event 31: April 25, 8P, $150* ($25K guar.)
Event 32: April 26, noon, $560
Event 33: April 27, noon, WPT Main Event $10K
* One $1,050 mega seat added to prize pool.