Positive Effects Of 2016 WSOP Are Being Felt In New Jersey, Nevada Online Poker Markets

Online Championships Highlight Robust Promotional Schedule At WSOP.com

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In what has become a familiar trend, WSOP.com is defying the seasonal downwind that afflicts online poker during the summer months.

Already, heightened brand awareness associated with the live Series has facilitated a traffic surge on the operator’s arms in Nevada and New Jersey.

And once again, the sites are helping their own cause by rolling out an appealing promotional schedule, highlighted by a double dose of deposit bonuses, the second annual Online Bracelet event and a massive 93 event tournament extravaganza set to launch on June 10.

Online Championships in Nevada reach new heights

Last year’s Nevada Online Championships (NVOC) was an unparalleled achievement, smashing its series guarantee of $535k by over 60 percent. In total, the series spanned 90 events, of which only five were unable to fend off overlays.

Expect even better turnout this year, as the series guarantee has been boosted to $700k, with individual tournament guarantees as high as $65k. To put these figures into perspective, consider that the recently-concluded PokerStars NJSCOOP had a series guarantee of $1.1 million – just ~1.5 times the size of the NVOC in a market more than three times as big.

Event highlights include:

  • Event #2: A $100 buy-in, $14k guaranteed MTT will open the action on June 10 at 7:30 p.m. local time. The tournament will allow for re-entries and one add-on.
  • Event #7: This Sunday will see the operator host a $500 buy-in, $50k guaranteed freezeout.
  • Event #50: A $200 buy-in, $30k guarantee takes center stage on Sunday, June 26.
  • Event #88: The biggest event of the series will see players pony up $500 to compete for a guaranteed $65k prize pool. This tourney takes place on July 9, not coincidentally the same day the Main Event gets underway at the Rio.

Most buy-in levels and tournament types will be well-represented during the NVOC.

However, the same cannot be said about the games themselves, as nearly all tournaments will be of the No Limit Hold’em variety, with only a smattering of Pot Limit Omaha MTTs. Stud, Omaha Hi/Lo and other mixed games are not featured on the schedule.

NJOC plays it safe

The NJ Online Championships parallels its Nevada counterpart in the number of MTTs and event formats, with the primary difference being the series guarantees.

Instead of $700k, the NJOC will dole out just $250k in guaranteed prize money, with the biggest single event of the series capping out at $20k.

Given the breadth of the Nevada series, these figures come off as ultra conservative. However, last year’s NJOC wasn’t exactly an awe-inspiring success, with 14 events posting overlays and another 13 cancelled due to low turnout.

Given this, a prudent approach seems wise – especially considering that a good chunk of Nevada’s current inhabitants are regular online grinders from NJ.

Online Bracelet event caps off festivities

On July 8 at 1 p.m., WSOP NV will host the second annual Online Bracelet event.

Last year’s inaugural running was an unequivocal success, drawing 905 players in creating a $859,750 prize pool – low by live Series standards, but otherworldly for a niche U.S. regulated online poker site that normally serves a market of fewer than 3 million.

Heightened awareness and twice daily direct qualifiers, as well as other more general qualifiers that award 2016 WSOP tournament buy-in chips, should inspire even greater turnout for this year’s event.

A brief look at the Online Bracelet qualifier schedule:

  • Now until July 7: $30 buy-in, one seat guaranteed, runs at 1:00 p.m. daily.
  • Also now until July 7: $10 buy-in, one seat guaranteed, runs at 5:00 p.m. daily.
  • July 7: Satellites will run hourly from 4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Buy-ins will range from $10 to $30. All qualifiers will be turbo, rebuy and add-on tournaments that guarantee one seat.
  • July 8: Last chance satellites featuring a $100 buy-in. One seat guaranteed. Satellites run at 11:00 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.

Other promotions at WSOP.com

  • First time deposit bonus of 100% up to $1,000. One time use only. Nevada only.
  • Reload bonus, also a 100% up to $1,000 match. One time use, and only valid in Nevada.
  • Mega Monster MTT Leaderboards: A new promotion in New Jersey that distributes $2,000 in prizes each week for the top 20 tournament grinders. Runs through July 4.
  • Heads Up Sit & Go Leaderboards: Also exclusive to NJ, this promo awards $1,500 per week to the top 10 players heads-up sit and go players. Runs through July 4.

Signs of growth on both WSOP NV and WSOP NJ

For the third consecutive year, the presence of the live Series is prompting a traffic surge on WSOP NV. According to Poker Industry Pro via PokerScout.com, liquidity is up 12 percent in the past week, and continues to trend upward.

Less expected was the surge on WSOP NJ, where cash game traffic ballooned 19 percent from May 28 – June 5. Although we witnessed a similar phenomenon last year, this year’s spike is much more pronounced.

What probably happened is that increased WSOP awareness, either via email marketing, live streams or increased media attention, initially drove players to the cash game tables. Then, they stuck around due to the high prevalence of new and recurrent promos available on the site – many of which service ring game players.

It also didn’t hurt that the NJ online poker industry in general is on the up-and-up, largely thanks to PokerStars bringing its widely popular CardHunt promotion to U.S. soil on May 31. Since the promo – which is reminiscent of Winamax’s Cash Game Bingo – began, liquidity is up 30 percent on PokerStars NJ alone, and 15 percent in New Jersey as a whole.

Betting on the New Jersey market to sustain these heightened levels for the rest of June is a bit of a tough sell, as CardHunt ends on the 19th and WSOP NV boasts an even better promotional slate than its NJ partner. But one thing is certain, the reverberations of the live Series are being felt as far away as the east coast.

- 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.
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