WSOP Dealers: Overpaid or Underpaid?

Dustin Gouker : June 8th, 2015

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The pay and skill level of dealers at the World Series of Poker is again a topic of debate, as a walkout is again at least threatened, whether or not it is likely to happen.

The issue mostly came to a head in the online poker forums at twoplustwo.com, in a thread titled “WSOP dealers $10.79 down, talk of mass walkout.” Up for debate is the amount of compensation given to dealers.

A lot of the sentiment in the thread at the online poker community seems to be against the dealers — that they are doing a relatively unskilled job, and that they should not be paid very much. But the crux of the argument isn’t really whether the money they are making is appropriate; it’s that Caesars is reportedly paying much less money to its dealers than in past years.

According to the original poster, dealers for the Colossus and other early events were making “$10.79 down (1/2 hour) rate.” While almost $22 an hour for dealing sounds pretty generous on the surface, dealers are getting better rates at other tournament series in Vegas…going on at the same time. And that rate doesn’t account for the fact that many dealers have to pay expenses while in town, just for the WSOP. (Contrary to popular opinion, there is not an endless supply of poker dealers in Las Vegas.)

One pro, Brian Hastings weighed in via Twitter (retweeted by another well-known pro, Scott Seiver) on the 2+2 discussion:

In reference to this post:

Blah, blah, blah my 80 year old grandfather,…a trained monkey,…Walmart,…people lined up to replace…all of which are bull****.

The bottom line is the dealers at the WSOP accepted their position with the understanding that wages would be comparable to prior years. A $10.79 down rate is off approximately $5.50 per down from week 1 last year. It is the lowest down rate in the history of the WSOP. Basically, they are being paid 2/3rds what they expected to be paid. It doesn’t matter if a monkey or your 80 year old grandfather could do it (they couldn’t by the way). A wage (carrot) was dangled in front of the dealers and what they got was 2/3rd of what they expected (moldy piece of cheese).

Management knows it’s so bad they didn’t even announce the down rate at the dealer meetings prior to the shifts. They just quietly posted it on the wall above the time clocks. Prior years they ALWAYS announce the down rate at the dealer meetings and there is always a smattering of applause.

If you, as workers elsewhere, cannot agree that being offered X amount and being paid 2/3rds X would make someone disgruntled, then nothing else I have to say will change your mind.

As some have pointed out, the World Series of Poker is, and is supposed to be, the greatest event in poker. Paying a rate that is less than they used to pay, or that is even less than other casinos, can’t possibly be good for the game. The WSOP should be paying the best rate, to attempt to attain the best poker dealers in the world for the month and a half the series is going on.

The WSOP is also one of the only tournament series on the schedule that features a variety of non-Texas hold’em variants that most dealers aren’t familiar with. Those are the events that often have the most pros, and the WSOP should be endeavoring to provide a smooth experience. Instead, pros tell stories like this one, from David “Bakes” Baker.

It also annoys me that I have to instruct most of my dealers in non-holdem games on every decision point. This isn’t because of the shortcomings of the individual dealer, you understand, it’s a holdem world, I get that it’s tough to deal these games once a year, and that a dealing school probably doesn’t suffer financially in the slightest if it neglects non-holdem games during training. I just don’t think WSOP management does not make enough of an effort to educate their dealers.

One dealer told me that he was told nothing about the game before the tourney, merely that it was Razz and that ‘the players would tell him what to do’. This is unacceptable imo, if there are dealers who have never dealt the game, they need to either receive a primer beforehand or only deal hold’em. I know that there are enough dealers in the total pool that know the games, I just think there needs to be more of an effort to get them in the proper tournaments, even if this means incentives. Many of the tables I play at are just simply dealing too few hands per hour.

It seems pretty clear — even if popular sentiment disagrees — that dealers should be at least getting an industry standard, not less. And, in reality, they should be the best paid dealers on the planet in June and July.

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