Three WSOP NV Online Bracelet Events Could Combine For More Than $2.5 Million Prize Pool
Online Poker Report

WSOP 2017 Likely To Draw Biggest Online Poker Crowd In Nevada History With Online Bracelet Events

WSOP.com
The World Series of Poker threw a curveball on Wednesday, when it announced that WSOP.com in Nevada would be hosting three online bracelet tournaments in 2017.

To some, tripling the number of bracelet events decided over the virtual green felt may feel like a case of ambitions run wild.

But, based on historical performances, there’s strong reason to believe that the sole active online poker site in Nevada will not only meet, but obliterate expectations.

Full World Series of Poker schedule here.

Low roller could draw biggest crowd in NV online poker history

New to the schedule is Event #8, a $300 + $33 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event slated for June 3 at 3:33 p.m local time.

Notable, is that the price point is the lowest the World Series of Poker has ever offered for a bracelet event — although this year’s Event #19 ($365 buy-in) comes strikingly close.

Event #8 is the only one of the three online bracelet events to support a guarantee. The minimum prize pool for the tournament is set at $333,333, meaning that in order to hit this benchmark, there must be at least 1,112 entries.

Historical data tells us that this shouldn’t be a difficult milestone to reach.

Although it’s not a true apples-to-apples comparison, we looked to the performance of the previous years’ 25 Seat Scrambles to gauge how Event #8 will fare.

Like Event #8, the Scramble:

  • Ran during the midst of the WSOP
  • Featured a similar price point ($185 + $15)
  • Was a reentry tournament
  • Featured a long late registration period
  • Boasted a guarantee (at least 25 WSOP Main Event seats, valued at a total of $250,000).

If the popularity of Event #8 parallels that of the Scramble in even a loose fashion, WSOP NV can expect monster turnouts.

In the past two years, the Scramble has drawn well over 1,500 total entries. Event #8 will feature a longer late registration period than last year’s Scramble, and is arguably more appealing because it is an official bracelet event.

That being said, Event #8 does have a couple of factors working against it:

  • It’s early in the Series. Historically, WSOP NV liquidity reaches its apex closer to the Main Event.
  • The entry fee is quite high — a full 10 percent of the total buy-in. Comparatively, the entry fee for the Scramble, and most other $200 buy-in events for that matter, is typically 7.5 percent of the buy-in. Value hunters may see this as a deterrent.
  • There’s no sense of urgency to play, as players will have the opportunity to participate in two other online bracelet events this summer.

That being said, these are minor detriments, that should be offset by the overwhelming appeal of playing an exclusively online bracelet event at a lower price point than ever before.

Prediction

If 25 Seat Scramble turnouts are any indication, than it wouldn’t surprise if the more attractive $333 buy-in bracelet event draws upwards of 1,600 entries. That equates to a total prize pool approaching half-a-million dollars.

Solid performance expected from mid roller

In 2015, the inaugural $950 + $50 online bracelet event drew 905 players in creating a $859,750 prize pool. Entries soared to 1,247 in 2016, but that was more a byproduct of a few rule tweaks than a pronounced uptick in attendance.

Most notably, the second online bracelet event was a reentry. This accounted for 93.5 percent of the additional buy-ins.

Given that, it’s difficult to see this year’s Event #71: $1,000 WSOP.com Online Bracelet No-Limit Hold’em having the same kind of year-on-year boost.

Realistically, a case can be made that entries will be down, as given the presence of two other online bracelet events, the novelty factor isn’t quite as compelling.

But there exists perhaps an even stronger argument that it will set a new precedent:

  • The tournament starts at 2 p.m and allows for a nearly otherworldly four hour late registration and reentry period. That’s the equivalent of 12 blind levels.
  • WSOP NV brand awareness should be at an all-time high by the time Event #71 runs on July 7, if only because the High Roller online bracelet event will have run the week before, and the Main Event starts just a day after.
  • The event will play out entirely online, which opens the door for players from other NV cities — most notably Reno — to participate.

Online Poker Report reached out to WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini, who confirmed that the events were online only:

“Yes, we’ll be playing out all three events entirely online.  We’ve received feedback going both ways on this.  Some players love the fact that they can come down to the Rio and face their opponents across the felt and others have said that they prefer to finish play online.  We decided to try the all online format this year and, as we always do, listen to the feedback from the poker community.”

As a secondary note, the tight 1-day format for the online bracelet event will allow for players to participate in Event #71 without any fear of missing flight A of the Main Event the following day.

Prediction

Although the $1,000 buy-in bracelet event has lost some of its novelty, there’s should be enough momentum to drive turnout slightly higher than last year’s mark. Expect roughly 1,300 entries and a record breaking $1,235,000 prize pool.

High roller a bit of a wildcard

Predicting turnout for Event #61: $3,333 WSOP.com Online High Roller No-Limit Hold’em is a bit trickier.

Why? Because, at least to my knowledge, there haven’t been any events at this price point since regulated US online poker went live in 2013.

The closest comparison point in recent memory was a $1,000 6-Max event on PokerStars NJ during last October’s NJCOOP. That event just crept by its modest $100,000 guarantee ($109,250 prize pool).

Event #61 is at a much loftier price point, and comes with no guarantee attached. While the absence of a guarantee will enable WSOP NV to avert financial disaster, it does diminish the appeal of the tournament.

On the other hand, the particular circumstances surrounding the High Roller lend credence to the notion that we could see the largest prize pool in NV online poker history:

  • It takes place on July 1, right around the time when, historically, World Series of Poker hype reaches a fever pitch.
  • The only other event running kicking off that day is a live $888 buy-in event, which will undoubtedly appeal more to the recreational crowd. High rollers will likely look elsewhere for action, and online will be as good a venue as any.
  • Based on observation, there is a far higher prevalence of high stakes cash games running on WSOP NV during the Series than at any other time of the year. What could result is a spillover effect where high rollers already mixing it up online gravitate toward the MTT.
  • $3,000+ price points might not be common online, but they’re everyday fodder for the live Series, where over a quarter of the events tout high points of entry.

That being said, some players may be turned off the 1-day structure, which despite the short 20 minute blind levels, all but guarantees the tournament will stretch into the wee hours of the morning.

Still, give WSOP NV credit for its ambition. When asked why the operator went this route, Rini had this to say:

“At the WSOP feel an obligation to find new ways to grow the game of poker.  Online poker had been a great way to introduce players to the game and ultimately have them come participate in the WSOP.  With online poker today, particularly in the United States, we felt we should get behind this variant of poker and re-affirm our belief and commitment in it as a true test of poker.  Upping our number of online only events, with a low, mid and high buy-in range, we believe accomplishes our obligation in a smart way.

And with this being the third year we’ve offered online WSOP bracelet events, three events seemed like a perfect fit.”

Prediction

Without a firm basis of comparison and no prize guarantee, there’s no telling how many entrants the High Roller will draw. Although given the propensity of players to gamble large sums during the live Series, 300 total entries and a nearly $1 million prize pool (a high water mark for US online poker in general) doesn’t feel out of bounds.

It could go much higher.

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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.