Discussion On Security Measures For WSOP Heats Up Twitter

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With the 2013 World Series of Poker on the horizon (less than four weeks from today), many players from around the world are preparing for their trip to Las Vegas and the pursuit of their place in poker history. Recent events in the United States, however, are forcing officials with the WSOP to examine security measures to protect the throngs of players and fans who will be in the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino during this year’s event.

The effects of the bombing attack last month during the Boston Marathon – and the usage of backpacks by the accused terrorists to transport and detonate those homemade bombs – is one area in particular that the WSOP is looking at. The approach is currently heating up the Twitterverse as players and media members debate the issue, demonstrating the difficulty in keeping a large event secure while allowing for the comfort of those in attendance.

In a wide ranging discussion on Twitter, Tournament Director Jack Effel was asked about the number of players, fans and media who bring backpacks into the tournament arena. “Does anyone else worry about backpacks and bombs at the WSOP?” Effel was directly asked. After Effel responded by saying, “We are looking into the concern,” several players objected to potential ideas, such as a backpack search prior to entrance or a banishment of backpacks from the tournament floor.

“You have to be joking me!” poker player Matt Waxman stated to Effel. “I am now inspired to go on a rant why backpacks shouldn’t be checked!” Effel attempted to stem the flow of anger from others by responding to Waxman, “I carry one too…beyond just the players, media have backpacks or bags, plenty of floor staff and dealers do as well.” This didn’t slow down the discussion, however, as others chimed in their thoughts.

“I’m not a fan of bag checks,” poker journalist BJ Nemeth stated, “but it should be made very clear what the limits of the search encompass.” Poker player Matt Glantz sided with Effel during the discussion, saying over Twitter, “Having security look through all bags at entrance is very reasonable. Works well at major sporting events.” Nemeth went on to discuss what the searches would encompass, saying, “What if a security guard suspects drugs? How big does a pocket knife need to be to be ‘dangerous’? What else are they allowed to search? Pockets?”

A few other tournament regulars also voiced their opinions on the discussion over Twitter. “There is no need for this (backpack searches),” commented Jason Mercier, “(it’s) too time consuming and won’t accomplish anything except slowing down customers.” Dan O’Brien agreed with Mercier, saying, “There are simply too many ways in and out of the area. Lockdown would be wild. Life is risky.” Jimmy Fricke sounded off, tweeting, “Do people really think if someone wanted to blow up the WSOP that mall cops checking bags would stop them?”

Glantz remained in favor of the proposition from Effel, however. “I never said that bag checks are effective in any way. It is reasonable for Caesars (the ownership behind the WSOP) to do it due to their own legal liability.” When Nemeth asked how Caesars liability has changed over the span of the past 12 months (with the proposal for bag searches), Glantz replied, “The landscape has changed, which affects the definition of ‘reasonable measures.’”

Effel and the rest of the WSOP officials will have the final word on the subject come May 29. “We are aware of the public’s concerns and will do everything possible to protect the safety of all players,” Effel wrote on Twitter. “Between Las Vegas Metro, an increased number of guards, and the “eye in the sky” someone will be watching.” Effel also concluded the discussion by saying to those who had responded, “As far as which security measures we will use, those will not be disclosed…just know we want to be safe too.”

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