WSOP.com NV Is Once Again Experiencing A Summer Surge
Online Poker Report

As Live Series Heats Up, Online Poker Traffic On WSOP NV Gains Momentum

WSOP NV series traffic boost
As was the case the past two summers, the presence of the live World Series of Poker in Las Vegas has sparked a traffic surge on WSOP.com in Nevada.

Slow and steady wins the race

This year’s initial uptick wasn’t as dramatic as those in 2014 and 2015. According to data provided by Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout.com, cash game liquidity only rose 8 percent from May 27 through June 3, compared to a 15 percent spike over an equivalent time frame in 2015.

This despite starting from a lower point – average ring game traffic on WSOP NV was approximately 175 players when the 2015 Series opened, versus 160 in 2016.

WSOP NV Traffic

While these figures paint a portrait of a site struggling to reach its former heights, there’s more to the story.

For one, this year’s trend has proven more resilient. Whereas in 2015 WSOP NV traffic suffered from a mid-Series swoon, we’ve witness no such downtrend in 2016, with liquidity either inching upward or holding relatively flat over the past 10 days.

There’s little reason to suspect this trend will reverse course anytime soon.

Secondly, the operator appears to be fighting against a slight decrease in poker tourism:

  • Despite an inflated first place prize, turnout for the second running of the Colossus was down 3.4 percent over last year.
  • The other recreational player-appealing event ran thus far, the Millionaire Maker, also failed to exhibit year-on-year growth.

Finally, structural changes to select live Series events have resulted in deeper starting stacks. While this change may appeal to poker hobbyists looking to get the most bang for their buck, the more time spent at the green felt, the less spent grinding online.

Given these added challenges, an argument can be made that the operator is proving even more successful at driving online traffic than in years past.

WSOP NV also making grade on tournament front

Although it’s still a bit early to offer full clarity, it appears that Nevada Online Championships (June 10 – July 10) events are performing at or above expectations.

Last year, the NVOC generated a total prize pool of over $855k, obliterating the somewhat conservative $535k guarantee. To no surprise, the operator upped the ante in 2016, increasing the number of events from 90 to 93 and the series guarantee to $700k.

WSOP’s more aggressive stance has yet to backfire, as so far, the majority of NVOC events are coasting by their guarantees – in some cases nearly doubling them. Most notably, Event #7 beat out its lofty $50k guarantee by just over 50 percent.

Online satellites to live WSOP events are also generating strong turnouts, with most $10 and $30 buy-in qualifiers awarding at least two $1,000 WSOP chip packages, and direct qualifiers also meeting, and often shattering, their guarantees.

Rake on rebuys?

If there is one down note, it has to be that effective June 1, WSOP.com began charging rake on rebuys.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a tremendous blow to players, but because WSOP.com favors the R&A format so heavily, most MTT grinders are going to notice a rather substantial hit to their EV.

PokerStars invoked a similar measure in March, and immediately, turnout for its Sunday Rebuy tournament plummeted. The then Sunday Major was restructured as a much smaller event shortly thereafter.

Expect secondary surge as Main Event approaches

In 2015, liquidity on WSOP NV really began to ramp up in the lead-up to the Main Event, peaking at a 7-day average of 223 concurrent players on July 6 (one day after the Main began).

The way I see it, there were three primary reasons for the secondary uptick:

  • The running of the inaugural and widely successful online bracelet event, not to mention, the live stream of the event’s final table.
  • A sharp increase in the number of online qualifiers, culminating with the 25 Seat Scramble.
  • The looming presence of the Main Event itself, which traditionally sets the entire poker world ablaze.

The ingredients for another early July successful push are in place this year as well, as the Scramble, online bracelet event and Main Event kickoff all fall within a two-day span (July 8 – July 9).

Image credit: NAN728 / Shutterstock.com

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Robert DellaFave
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several online poker publications and dreams of one day programming a poker simulation clever enough to beat the pros. Read more by following @DivergentGames on Twitter.