Event Generates Largest Prize Pool Ever In A Regulated U.S. Poker Market
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Successful WSOP.com Online Bracelet Event Sets New Precedent for U.S. Regulated Online Poker

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Event No. 64 at the World Series of Poker — the WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold’em — brought together 905 players from over a dozen jurisdictions for what will likely be remembered as the most ambitious and unequivocally successful leap of faith undertaken by a licensed US operator.

Not only did the first-ever online bracelet event break the record for largest tournament prize pool in U.S. regulated online poker history — more than three times over — but it hinted at the future of regulated online poker.

Was the online bracelet event really that successful?

Yes. While cynics may argue that the online bracelet event had fewer participants than any other $1,000 buy-in WSOP event this summer, there are a litany of other reasons why Event #64 made the grade:

  • Prior to Thursday, the record for player buy-ins for a single tournament was $247,000. That benchmark was achieved by last summer’s 25 Seat Scramble on WSOP.com Nevada. The prize pool for Event #64 was $859,750.
  • The tournament was a non-guarantee; a rarity for big buy-in online MTTs.
  • A single tournament generating nearly $860,000 in a market as niche as Nevada (population 2.84 million) is a nearly unfathomable achievement. To wit, non-US regulated offshore site WPN hosted a $1 million tournament in February which only produced a slightly larger prize pool, despite being accessible in most states.
  • Event #64 was a technical triumph. As per WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini, everything “went amazingly smooth.”
  • A noon starting time on the day before a holiday weekday isn’t exactly suited to the average online grinder’s schedule.

One success does not a successful site make

The overall impact of Event #64 on market health will likely be very minimal. According to PokerScout.com, peak cash game liquidity on WSOP NV/DE Lottery was only 383 on Thursday, which is actually slightly lower than Wednesday’s numbers.

Furthermore, once the live Series rolls out of town, traffic levels are likely to return to their pre-WSOP levels.

However, Event #64’s success hints at a future that might be, if only because it proves without question that players will gravitate to an online poker event they deem compelling, even if that means wading through an elaborate registration process and/or waiting on line to make a cash deposit.

In short, it generates positive momentum for and grants increased legitimacy to an industry sorely in need of expanded reach.

That could prove vital as more and more legislators consider the merits of regulated online gambling.

Next up: Event #64 to conclude live at the Rio

Event #64 played out over the course of 9 hours and 32 minutes.

The remaining six combatants will have one day to rest up before facing each other live on the Rio’s ESPN Stage on July 4th at noon.

In what should prove to be an excellent opportunity to raise WSOP online brand awareness, the conclusion will be streamed live with hole cards and commentary by David Tuchman.

For more details, click here.

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Robert DellaFave
- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several publications centered on legal US online poker and the regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.