Rob Yong Speaks Out About Changing The Guarantees At DTD
Over the bank holiday weekend that has just passed us, the Dusk Till Dawn poker club in Nottingham hosted two fantastic events. One was the £500 Deepstack and the other was a World Series of Poker Super Satellite; the latter has caused some controversy due to the guarantee being lowered at the last minute.
Initially there were meant to be five packages, worth £9,000 each, up for grabs but just before the tournament kicked off Simon Trumper made the bold decision to reduce the guarantee by two packages.
Below is a quote from Rob Yong regarding the situation:
I think it's appropriate that I comment on Simon's decision to reduce the WSOP Satelittes from 5 seats to 3 seats on Sunday and Monday. Players have taken the time to email me personally, so I will state a few facts/background first, then give my open and honest view, and leave it at that;
A) In 2010 we did a a live satelitte for the WSOP and lost around £30,000 qualifying 10 players for 10 packages. Of the 10 players, 7 requested that we give them the £8.5K in cash rather than take the WSOP package, even though we had booked hotels etc. The idea behind justifying the cost of qualifying the players was that we could blog their progress throughout the WSOP and get some positive PR. After doing £30,000 and having the problems with players prefering to take the cash rather that do the WSOP trip, we vowed never to do this again, so in 2011, despite requests, we refused to do any WSOP satelittes, why would we take £30,000 risk to get 80-100 players into the club?
B) Fast forward to early 2012 and we have planned the Carribean Poker Party in St Kitts, but the subject of WSOP satelittes and a DTD trip to Vegas comes up again, and again, and again. Requests/suggestions come through our Online Support log, from players in the the Club, and directly to Simon, Alex and Nick. Then players start coming to me directly, but the answer is united "NO" from all of us, the reason given to players was that we want to focus on our CPP, which makes commercial sense, why would we want to take £90,000 of satelitte funds and DBI's (direct-buy-ins) out of our community in this economic climate, just before we launch our CPP.
C) Fast forward to the UKIPT 2012, when I personally begin marketing the the £1M gte directly to players, and the subject of a DTD WSOP Trip keeps coming up again, I explain that we can't do it due to the CPP but players assure me that they will turn up and part with £500-£750 for a live satelitte, with committments to bring their mates and spead the word to get support for the WSOP satelittes. Im talking abot 100+ players here, not just a handful (see my Blondepoker post http://blondepoker.com/forum/index.php?topic=57203.0 ).
D) Fast forward to a meeting with Alex, Simon and Nick, and I overrule all 3 them on the WSOP on the basis that I beleive that we should be giving players what they have asked for, Alex is tasked with the arrangements for hotels and entertainment, and Simon for arranging the WSOP satelittes and promoting the event. We set a target to qualify 150+ players for both the £500 Deepstack and the £500 WSOP satelittes, allowing players to use their satelitte seat for either/both events, we also have 50 £500 satelitte seats carried forward from previous months, so approx 200 qualifers available into the £500 Deepstack and £500 WSOP satelittes.
E) Fast forward to THIS weekend (and not mentioning the players that personally asked me to put on these sats but decided to play the Genting Poker Tour instead), we had;
- Satelitte winners transferring their seats to "friends and family" for £500 Deepstack buy-ins at the club cash desk, rather than using their seats for the WSOP sats
- Satelitte winners requesting £500 cash for their duplicate seats instead of using for the WSOP Satelittes and emailing support requesting refunds as they cant make Vegas for various reasons
- Value hunters at the club saying that they will stay and play the WSOP satelitte if we agree that winners can have the full £9,000 package in cash, even though we have pre paid the hotels (when we did live sats for the Irish Open, we gave in to player power and allowed players to take the cash)
The decision to reduce the GTE to 3 seats was made by Simon, I like to try and spend Sundays with my family so I was not at the club, however I called him after he had made the annoucement and we agreed that we would give every player £50 back plus the option to withdraw from the satelitte. I still had the opportunity to overrule his decision before the satelitte commenced, so ultimatley you could say the decision was mine. At the time, I knew the potential damage to our reputation could far outway the costs of a couple of Vegas packages per sat, especially since we had already paid for the hotels. Therefore Simon's decision was far braver than just letting the 5 seats ride or cancel the sats, which were the two correct business decisions to make for DTD as a company.
VALUE FOR PLAYERS THAT PLAYED THE WSOP SATELITTES
Did the 90 players that played the WSOP satelittes get "value"? I would say overall that the players received MORE value that they expected before they made a decision to play a satelitte or travel to the club, I am pretty sure if we had announced we were adding £14,000 beforehand with £0 juice, that would have exceeded player expectation;
- The WSOP £500 satelittes themselves overlayed by £9,000, so the effective buy-in value over the 2 satelittes was around £700, players paid £450.
- The live and online satelittes on Saturday and Sunday for the WSOP sats overlayed c£5,000, so those 30 players that qualified did so at a 33% discount, so effectively received £700 of seat value for their a discounted satelitte seat of £300, meaning that DTD added £14,000 to these 2 satelittes
- Players had a 1 in 15 chance to win a seat with 3 seats and 45 players, versus a 1-20 chance with 5 seats and 100 players
- We dealt them both the WSOP satelittes for free and have commited £10,000 expenses for the WSOP trip
- IMO, the £12,000 overlay in the £500 Deepstack this weekend is irrelvent to the WSOP satelittes and the decision made
The correct business decision was not made but I respect Simon for standing up and announcing his decision in front of the players and not hiding. I also thank him as a mate for making this decision as I know he feels I was personally let down.
I have said everything I will on the matter, it will be business as usual starting with the added money that we will be chucking into the Chip Leader. I will leave it to players to have their own opinions on whether DTD GTE's are still rock solid or not.
I must say that I back Yong and Trumper and the whole Dusk Till Dawn management 100% on this simply because I believe the situation was out of their control. They listened to the players requests and acted on them only for the players to show a complete lack of support despite having their requests met in full. They obviously sat down and believed 100% that enough players - based on the players' responses - to meet the prize pool needed to give away five packages.
Most companies, including a whole plethora of online poker sites, would have simply slashed the guarantees without ever consulting the players never mind stand up in front of them to give them the news and then give them the juice back and deal the satellites for free. Yes it is disappointing that five seats weren't given away and I am sure there is nobody more disappointed than Yong and his team but those calling them out need to take a good, hard look at themselves and those around them who caused the guarantee to be lowered in the first place.
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