The WSOP Main Event And The Bottom Line On Liquidity

How Impactful Is the Main Event On WSOP.com Traffic In New Jersey And Nevada?

WSOP.com Nevada New Jersey traffic
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For the second consecutive year, the lead-up to the Main Event coincided with a massive traffic surge on WSOP.com in Nevada, resulting in network liquidity reaching an all-time high in early July.

Yet, based on observed data, the Main Event itself does little to inspire additional online gains – not in Nevada, or in New Jersey.

Most gains observed before Main Event

Although the start of the 2015 WSOP Main Event didn’t exactly spell doom for traffic on WSOP NV, most of the site’s gains had already been realized.

According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout.com cash game traffic surged 24 percent from May 27 to Day 1A of the Main Event (July 5). 7-day moving averages peaked the following day, then fell off rather dramatically (13 percent) as the Main wore on.

Liquidity on WSOP NV followed a parallel pattern in 2014, only difference being that 7-day averages held relatively steady throughout the Main Event.

So why the dissimilarity?

From the looks of it, the successful pairing of this year’s Online Bracelet Event and 25 Seat Scramble resulted in a very pronounced and artificial traffic spike in the long weekend leading up to the Main, resulting in the illusion of a heavy falloff the week after.

In actuality, 7-day averages were the same on July 9 (after the spike) as they were on the day of the Online Bracelet Event (July 2).

Based on this, we can neatly conclude that cash game volume on WSOP NV during the July portion of the Main Event tends to hold relatively steady.

As for the aftermath of the Main, that’s an entirely different story.

Beginning in mid-July, liquidity trickled downward for a period of nearly two months, ultimately sinking to levels not observed since March.

The annual seasonal uptick came to the rescue in mid-September, and today, traffic levels on the site are strikingly similar to what they were pre-Series.

What happened in New Jersey?

Not totally unexpected, the 2015 World Series of Poker had a less than stellar impact on WSOP NJ traffic.

From the beginning of the Series to the first day of the Main Event, 7-day moving averages rose a modest 5 percent. And during the Main, traffic was flat.

What’s interesting is that in 2014, an altogether different trend was observed. Last year, liquidity climbed 17 percent in the five weeks leading up to the Main Event, only to fall 8 percent throughout the tournament itself.

From what it appears, in summer 2014 the operator field tested a very aggressive cross-promotional schedule in New Jersey, with the bulk of the best promotions occurring in June. My guess is that it was the stellar promotion schedule, not heightened WSOP.com awareness nor the Series itself, that lifted traffic upward throughout most of the Series.

It’s for the opposite reason – a dearth of cross-promotional tie-ins – that traffic averages barely budged throughout most of the 2015 WSOP.

Furthermore, it’s plausible that the presence of the live Series may actually have a net negative impact on WSOP NJ traffic, as historically, the WSOP is the one live series that even the most stalwart online grinders attend.

As a recent  example, players from New Jersey and its surrounding areas were well-represented at this year’s event, with four November Niners hailing from the east coast. At least one, New Jersey resident and fan-favorite Thomas Cannuli, is known to play online.

November Nine impact

By now, it’s safe to assume that ESPN’s televised coverage of the November Nine does little to inspire cash game traffic gains in New Jersey, despite WSOP.com’s best promotional and marketing efforts.

Week-on-week traffic on WSOP NJ is flat; a familiar story played out last November.

The situation in Nevada is slightly rosier, as 7-day moving averages have increased 8 percent in the past week.

Las Vegas is experiencing a slight surge in poker tourism this week, as many out-of-staters find themselves at the Rio, both as players and observers. This probably at least partially accounts for the modest surge.

World Series of Poker a boon for WSOP.com

The World Series of Poker is by far the most lucrative time of year for WSOP NV, and the operator’s hold over players in town for the extravaganza is only growing.

As per an interview with WSOP Head of Online Poker Bill Rini over the summer, I was informed that in June, WSOP NV generated more gross gaming revenue than the entire Nevada market a year prior.

That means, at minimum, the operator made over $1.037 million in a calendar month – something the combination of WSOP.com and 888 Poker in New Jersey haven’t pulled off since August 2014 – and New Jersey is nearly three times the size.

Now if only WSOP NV can replicate these kinds of results each and every July, we’ll all be singing WSOP theme song “On My Way.”

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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.