The Post-WSOP Hangover At WSOP.com NV Isn't So Terrible This Year
Online Poker Report

Where Does WSOP.com Nevada Stand Now That The World Series Has Left Town?

WSOP.com Nevada online poker
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As expected, the conclusion of the WSOP Main Event has sent traffic on WSOP.com in Nevada inching downward.

According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout.com, liquidity has dropped 21 percent since reaching its annual peak on July 7. Turnouts for the site’s Sunday Majors have fared somewhat better, but are still down 14 percent.

Yet, a comparison to last year’s post-Series hangover reveals that there’s cause for optimism, both in the present and in the days leading up to the November Nine.

Cash game traffic slumps to pre-WSOP levels

In terms of absolute numbers, 7-day traffic averages have fallen by 18 (9 percent) since the conclusion of the Main Event.

The magnitude of last year’s falloff was considerably greater; less than three weeks after the 2014 November Nine were determined, daily player counts were down by 50 (27 percent).

While this statistic suggests that the operator has grown more effective at converting locals into site regulars, it hardly tells the whole story.

In truth, liquidity was only 1 percent lower at this time last year than it was two weeks prior to the start of the 2014 Series. Over an equivalent time span this year, volume gained 1 percent – an improvement, but hardly a differential worth getting excited about.

That’s not to say the operator’s augmented efforts were all for naught.

Notice (see graph below), that in the lead-up to this year’s Main, traffic patterns were far more volatile than in 2014. This is a byproduct of the overwhelming success and subsequent hangover caused by the first ever online WSOP bracelet event and 25 Seat Scramble.

An earlier spike occurs right around the time of the low-risk, high-reward Colossus, which drew a record shattering 22,374 entries.

Source: Poker Industry Pro/ PokerScout.com

Source: Poker Industry Pro/ PokerScout.com

While they may not resulted in any long term gains for the operator, all three events were successful at validating the theory that appealing tournament events, whether live or online, have the capability of driving online cash traffic.

Not only that, but the firm emphasis WSOP.com placed on online tournaments – not the least of which was the highly successful Online Championship Series – during the live Series may have translated to increased player interest in the site’s Sunday Majors and other nightly guarantees.

Sunday Major traffic only suffers incremental losses since Series

As evidenced by the graph, numbers for the operator’s two biggest weekly tournaments have held up rather well since the live Series packed up.

Source: PocketFives.com

Source: PocketFives.com

On the Sunday after the Main, both the $15k GTD and the $10k GTD Reloader boasted higher turnout figures than at any point during the Series – the Online Bracelet/25 Seat Scramble weekend withstanding.

Since, interest has waned a bit, but is still right around its May 31 and June 14 levels.

Furthermore, both tournaments are regularly crushing their guarantees. This apparently was evidence enough for WSOP.com to raise the guarantee of its $15k to $20k on August 2 – and even then, the tournament crushed its minimum benchmark by over 50 percent.

With major operators such as PokerStars now generating more income from tournaments than cash games, there’s little denying that revenue models that were successful in the mid-2000’s are rapidly becoming obsolete.

It appears WSOP.com is cognizant of this, and is actively embracing the new online poker model. This may pay dividends down the road.

Looking at the months running up to the November Nine

In 2014, cash game traffic on WSOP NV careened downward throughout the mid-summer and early-fall months, before receiving an artificial boost from the closure of Ultimate Poker.

ESPN coverage of the Main Event, and WSOP’s small cross-promotional efforts that came with it, did little to cauterize the wound.

I expect liquidity to remain in a more stable place this year, for a few different reasons:

  • As mentioned previously, cash game traffic has remained fairly stable throughout the latter part of July into August.
  • Increased tournament guarantees may precipitate a slight rise in overall site participation.
  • Popular twitch streamers such as Dutch Boyd play exclusively on WSOP.com in Nevada, and regularly speak of the merits of regulated sites.
  • The Nevada market is fully consolidated and is rapidly approaching maturity. Typically this combination precipitates industry stabilization.

Lastly, a combination of history and gut instinct tells me that WSOP will be more aggressive on the cross-promotional front this fall, hosting a variety of Main Event and November Nine themed events over the course of the next several months.

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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.