As the number of World Series of Poker online events has increased from year to year, so has the interest in them. And interstate compacts could allow players outside of Nevada to compete for online bracelets for the first time (although it’s not clear if that will happen this year).
So how many players will click the “register” button in 2018?
Here are the online bracelet events on the 2018 schedule:
WSOP.com held one bracelet event in both 2015 and 2016, and that number was increased to three for 2017. One more has been added to the 2018 calendar, making it four total.
Here’s the history of the events to date:
|Year||Buy-in||Entries||Prize pool||Winner||Screen name|
According to Head of Online Poker Bill Rini, WSOP.com has seen organic growth over the past few summers.
“We attribute a lot of that to increased awareness,” Rini said. “Obviously the WSOP at the Rio is the main attraction of the summer. But as players increasingly become familiar with the online offering, they are starting to view the online and offline as a more integrated schedule of events.”
WSOP.com has been clever with the online calendar, too.
All four events overlap live events that either have multiple starting flights or are big-buy-in mixed events. A lot of hold’em grinders will be spending those days away from the Rio, anyhow. They’re also held on Fridays and Saturdays, giving recreational players a better chance to join.
Further growth could be in the cards if players in New Jersey are able to participate this year, too.
Late last year, Gov. Chris Christie signed New Jersey into the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association, joining Nevada and Delaware. Online poker sites in the three states will soon be allowed to combine player pools and share liquidity.
The timeline for multi-state poker to happen is still to be determined. NJ gaming officials say they are ready to approve interstate products submitted to them. And Rini says that he’s working with them daily to push things forward.
“At the moment, we’re supplying them with additional information they have requested,” he said. “There isn’t really just one next step. There are several avenues we are pursuing simultaneously as quickly as possible and within the structure required.”
WSOP.com is already licensed in both Nevada and New Jersey, so that hurdle is already cleared, at least. But it’s still not clear if interstate play will be available before the summer. Rini figures it will be “a couple of months” before he knows, which would be getting close to the start of the series.
The $1,000 event is the easiest to forecast, since there is some historical context to consider. If the attendance increases more or less linearly, there could be over 1,500 entries in 2018. That should be the target, at least.
That number becomes obsolete if WSOP.com launches interstate play in New Jersey before the summer. If so, it’d be fair to expect an increase in numbers across the board.
The gains may not be as pronounced as you’d expect, though, particularly at the higher buy-ins. Many of players who are bankrolled for a $3,200 online event will already be in Las Vegas for the WSOP. It’s likely a similar group to the 424 who entered the online High Roller in 2017.
There could, however, be some significant gains in the smaller events.
The $333 event saw more than 2,500 entries last year, and it figures to draw a comparable number of Nevadans at the $365 price point. Growth in this event would be good confirmation that Rini’s words about increased awareness are true. And if New Jersey joins the mix, 50-percent growth wouldn’t be far-fetched. Even without, it’s reasonable to anticipate a solid increase.
As for the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha… who knows? The WSOP has held comparable live events at the Rio for the last two years, and they’ve been wildly successful. Last year’s $365 event was the largest live PLO event in history with more than 3,000 entries. That one did have two starting flights, but it’s pretty clear that WSOP players have an appetite for four-card poker.
And PLO is particularly prevalent online, too. Players tend to be younger and more prone to grinding on the digital felt. There’s no reason this event can’t get around a thousand entries.