The room was packed with players, who gathered on short notice to find out what Harrah’s would do with the hundreds (conservative number) of irate/disappointed/confused players who were denied entry to the 2009 WSOP Main Event because of their late arrivals to the sell-out event. Notables in the room included Mike Sexton, Mickey Appelman, and Melissa Hayden.
Between the tournament staff, Harrah’s staff, and security contingent, there were approximately 20 suits, lined in front of the room. Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack addressed the crowd with a prepared statement that began, “We are sorry and I am sorry.” He went on to say that the players would not be allowed to play, and that he understands that it is disappointing. “We wish we could accommodate you,” he said and added that he wished they would have played other starting days.
Questions were beamed at Pollack, many players talking over each other at times. Allegations of special treatment were aimed at Harrah’s, with some players asserting that well-known players were granted entry after others were shut out. Pollack’s response? “Absolutely not.”
Most questions revolved around the option of allowing players to begin play this evening and play through the night or somehow incorporating a Day 1E into the mix, but Pollack insisted that it would be logistically and operationally impossible to do. When someone pushed the subject, WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky jumped in with a question of his own directed at the player. “Why didn’t you show up earlier?” A collective “oooh” let Palansky know that he may have gone too far with the comment.
Pollack tried to cool the crowd with comments like, “We are not doing this happily today,” but it was clear that the players were not becoming any more satisfied with the comments. With Pollack promising that sell-out tournaments will be the number one topic to be discussed when planning the 2010 WSOP, he eventually ended the meeting with parting words “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Pollack, Palansky, and other executives went out a private side entrance protected by security.