Dan Michalski over at pokerati.com already has a rather detailed overview of the proceedings, which lasted about 45 minutes. Included as speakers were WSOP bigwigs Jeffrey Pollack, Howard Greenbaum, Jack Effel and Gary Thompson, and what Michalski reported as about 30 various and sundry poker writers. (I'm shocked it was that low a turnout; even for something as predictably blah as a teleconference, I'd have expacted 75 or 100. Silly me.) Michalski is also
1) New card set-ups every day: One of the recurring complaints from last year was the low quality of the cards in use. This year, the cards are going to be new at the start of every day's play, and the WSOP also just announced a new deal with card-provider U.S. Playing Cards for KEM-quality cards that will create a new "Poker Peek" line of cards, to be used as the official cards of the WSOP. It ain't the "new deck every 50 hands" as recently proposed in the pending Texas state poker legislation (good luck with that one, by the way), but it's still an improvement over '06, when one well-known player earned a penalty by intentionally trashing a deck he thought had passed the point of being suitable for tourney play.
2) Don't be looking for hospitality suites from places like Stars and Full Tilt, sites that currently service U.S. online poker players. When asked, Pollack said, "You're not going to see very much of that."
3) Any reference to 10,000 players is a "target," not a "cap." (Cue last year's frantic and erroneous inquiries concerning an 8,000-player cap here.) The Rio is building a "poker superstructure" on site that is designed to house future years' needs. This time around, the poker area will include expanded room for tournament, satellite and cash-game play, with 258 tables designated for tournament use.
3a) Michalski is a smartass. , God bless 'im. Damn, but I laughed when I saw this.
4) Way to endear yourself, Pacific Poker. 'Twas Pacific who interloped the teleconference, with the site rep asking, "That means we're okay, right?" in referring to the policies referring to non-U.S.-facing online sites. The rep was told to depart the conference, but we now suspect that the now-disappointed site will exact its revenge, most likely by spamming the WSOP into submission and scraping all worldseriesofpoker.com content onto 10,000 bogus ".info" sites paid for with stolen credit cards.
5) Harrah's intends to borrow dealers and floor staff from other Harrah's locations, to lessen the impact of temporary (and in some cases, marginally talented) staff.
6) Multi-table satellites (two-table and three-table), with buy-ins as low as $125, are likely to debut this year.
7) More starting chips for the low buy-in events. A corresponding higher level of starting blinds will disguise the impact during early rounds of play, but the higher amount of starting chips is supposed to allow for the insertion of extra rounds in the intermediate levels that expand the period when real poker play is important.
8) An AP guy seemed relativly clueless about the concept of an "open registration" tournament, wanting to know what the prize pool and/or first prize would be, months in advance of the event itself. (*sigh*)
9) Pollack made a point of noting that ESPN may well have its own apparel policy, over and above the changes made by the WSOP itself. So, who will be the first wag that shows up with a shirt bearing eight separate patches, each one with a single letter that collectively spells out F-U-L-L-T-I-L-T?
10) It took roughly 35 minutes for the phrase "chip-related fiasco" to be introduced to the conference. New chips will be used this year, and both dealers and tournament directors will be trained with the intent of avoiding a repeat occurrence of last year's "fiasco."
11) Amy Calistri will have Hershey's Chocolate to enjoy in the media room. According to Ty Stewart, one of the folks responsible for negotiating WSOP corporate deals, "Not just bite-sized. Full bars."