WSOP Circuit invades Ohio for 1st time

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The region’s first World Series of Poker Circuit ran the last two weeks of September and players loved it. There is a mixed view on the relative success of the events based upon overall attendance. What can’t be argued, however, is the wonderful production of the staff at the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati.

They did a superb job getting players signed in for tournaments and provided players a great playing environment; complete with a first-class poker kitchen. There was plenty of action for players at any entry point. Poker room manager Jason Newman (formerly of Horseshoe Hammond) is no stranger to throwing a big poker party and it really showed. The staff was wonderful, floors confident and easygoing. It had the feel of major event and there was a generous sprinkling of known pros lurking about, including Aaron Massey, Maurice Hawkins, Aaron Stuery and Mark Rose.

In the largest tournament of the series, Event 2 saw 1,106 entrants vie for the $60K first prize. Jason Hill from Burton outlasted St. Clairsville’s Tim Bishop ($37K) in an entertaining final table. The main event had 740 participants and a prize pool of $1.11 million. Cincinnati’s Bradford Albrinck took down the $221K first prize by defeating David Kash ($136K) of Mansfield in a tough final table that featured bracelet-winner Stuery.
There were other winners, and not just of titles. The local hotel, bar and hospitality industry did a fine job entertaining everyone, while the Horseshoe got to show its stuff on a regional stage. And, the WSOPC put on a fine show.

But there were some losers, too. The Horseshoe Cincinnati had to absorb last-minute security changes in camera coverage for the event. The original plan had been a 2-to-1 table-to-camera ratio. Two days before the event began, the Ohio Casino Control Commission determined that ratio didn’t sufficiently meet the standard of coverage and forced an extra 30 cameras (about $1K each) and two DVR devices (about $15K each) to be installed.

Poker, unlike any other game in the casino, is a partnership between the room that takes a rake for providing a fun, safe and trustworthy environment to the player and the players who win and lose money to each other. If the house can’t be profitable in hosting an event or game, then it will not run it.

Looking forward, it doesn’t take a math genius to add up the numbers. Using the numbers from the ring events there is just shy of $300K in rake generated (3-4 percent goes to the dealers and floor staff). So, let’s be crazy and add another $100K on top of that number for the non-ring events and nightly tournaments, etc.

The cost of the cameras and DVRs is about $120K before any work has been completed. While these are infrastructure costs, it’s easy to see where this will have a chilling effect on major tournament poker in Ohio if something isn’t changed regarding the costs of putting on special poker events.

Jessica Franks, communications manager for the OCCC, said the security standards the OCCC adopted in 2011 were a combination of best practices used by other states. These standards relate to table games and slots, not poker and not tournament poker. The standard states security must be able to clearly view cards dealt, any community cards and winning hands, and of course, all wagers. She said one of the major roles of the OCCC is to provide players with a safe and secure playing environment and to protect player interests.

The problem is there’s a fundamental disconnect between what’s needed to protect players, in particular in the tournament environment. As we all know in a tournament, the director can enforce a variety of penalties to players, including removing them from the event with no refund. Tournament poker is different. The future should prove interesting.

— Dan Harkenrider hosts the Division of Poker and Chris Moneymaker radio shows. Email him at anteupdan@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DivisionofPoker.

WSOPC, Horseshoe Cincinnati. Sept. 19-Oct. 1

Event 1 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 308 • Pool: $92,400
Caufmann Talley, $21,716
Event 2 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 1,106 • Pool: $331,800
Jason Hill, $60,554
Event 3 • $365 O/8
Entries: 148 • Pool: $44,400
Samuel Panzica, $12,434
Event 4 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 196 • Pool: $58,800
Chris Parsons, $15,289
Event 5 • $580 6-Max
Entries: 138 • Pool: $69K
Darren Rabinowitz, $19,664
Event 6 • $580 PLO
Entries: 106 • Pool: $53K
Chris Karambinis, $15,902
Event 7 • $580 NLHE
Entries: 163 • Pool: $81,500
Robert Edelstein, $22,008
Event 8 • $365 PLO
Entries: 94 • Pool: $71,800
Samuel Panzica, $21,538
$1,675 Main Event
Entries: 740 • Pool: $1.11M
Bradford Albrinck, $221,994
Event 10 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 203 • Pool: $60,900
Pavlin Karakikov, $15,835
Event 11 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 138 • Pool: $41,400
John Robertson, $11,589
Event 12 • $365 NLHE
Entries: 120 • Pool: $36K
Andrew Spears, $10,801