There’s no denying that the World Series of Poker (WSOP) team – Ty Stewart, Jack Effel, Greg Chochonetc. – have done an amazing job with the 2022 WSOP, but one man poker fans may not know who played a big role in bringing poker’s biggest festival to the Las Vegas Strip is Jason Gregorec, Senior Vice President of Bally’s and Paris.
The 51-year-old Gregorec, who is married with three sons ages 13, 16, and 19, had the responsibility of readying his two venues for an influx of poker players from around the world. Gregorec was kind enough to chat with PokerNews as part of our Industry Insiders series.
start in the industry; WSOP is coming
Gregorec grew up outside Chicago in Elwood, Illinois, and attended a local college before joining the US Army Reserves. He then started a career in the hospitality and gaming industry as a dealer.
“After working as a dealer at Harrah’s Joliet for three years, I became Table Games Supervisor at Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana in 1996,” he explained. “I was at Trump Casino – which was later acquired by Majestic Star Casino – for 16 years, and over time, I became VP of Operations. I eventually landed with Eldorado Resorts as the General Manager for Tropicana Atlantic City. When Eldorado acquired Caesars Entertainment in 2020, I moved to Las Vegas to begin my current role as SVP and General Manager of Bally’s, Paris, and Planet Hollywood.”
While rumors persisted well in advance, the WSOP’s move to the Las Vegas Strip from the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casinowhere it enjoyed a successful 17-year run, didn’t become official until November 2021.
“Almost immediately following, we hit the ground running to prepare for the biggest poker event in the world,” Gregorec said. “So many factors are involved in a move like this, but we knew the dual setup in these resorts presented a special opportunity for the WSOP, a tournament beloved by so many around the world and the marquee event in poker.”
He continued: “The WSOP first started at Las Vegas’ original Horseshoe in 1970, so it felt a natural fit to bring it back to Bally’s, which has begun its transformation into Horseshoe Las Vegas. This year’s tournament marked the biggest WSOP in history, and its move to Bally’s and Paris afforded us a larger tournament capacity.”
How did the First WSOP Go?
Now that the WSOP is entering its final stages, how does Gregorec feel about the first of what’s sure to be many WSOPs at his properties?
“It has been a lot of fun. Everything has gone very well during the tournament’s first year on The Strip, thanks to extensive preparation by our Team Members. At Caesars Entertainment, we embrace the opportunity to host events of this magnitude. The tournament allowed us to introduce our new dining options to players and staff. In the past few months, we’ve opened Nobu at Paris Las Vegas and Vanderpump à Paris. Just recently, we welcomed Jack Binion’s Steak to Bally’s.”
Of course, not everything was smooth (though to be fair, they were much smoother than many players expected).
“Seeing the energy of this tournament come to life at our resorts has been special.”
“Any time you host large-scale events at a new location for the first time it presents unique challenges, opportunities, and key learnings, and we have those noted for next year,” Gregorec said. “We aim to treat all guests ‘like a Caesar’ by providing a best-in-class experience they can’t get anywhere else. We’ll be ready to deliver on that promise again in 2023 thanks to our incredible Team Members.”
For Gregorec, seeing the magic of the WSOP for himself was his favorite part about the whole affair.
“Seeing the energy of this tournament come to life at our resorts has been special. When you combine the historic legacy of the WSOP and its connection to the Horseshoe with all the new offerings we had for players this year, it created a special buzz. It’s hard to identify one, but everyone coming together to enjoy the sport they’re passionate about has been a highlight.”
So what’s in store for the WSOP? For one thing, the slightly-delayed Bally’s rebrand to Hoseshoe Las Vegas is not coming, but rather is already underway.
“The transformation is currently underway, and our guests will continue to see the property transform over time,” Gregorec revealed. “But once complete, Horseshoe Las Vegas will feature a renovated exterior, new entertainment and food and beverage offerings, a reimagined casino floor, and more.”
Gregorec enjoys playing friendly poker games with family and friends but has yet to take the WSOP plunge. That may change in 2023 in the Casino Employee Event.
“I might make a surprise appearance next year,” Gregorec said with a smile.
For more on Gregorec, follow him on Twitter @JasonGregorec.
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Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.