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WSOP Circuit stops consist of 12 ring events held over the course of 12 days. The tour has increased each of those numbers by one for upcoming stop at the Rio, though. A 13th day was added to accommodate a 13th event. But it won’t be held in Masquerade Village like the rest of them.
The online event carries a $365 buy-in to match its live counterparts. The gold ring is the same as the ones that are awarded to the other 12 winners at the Rio, too. Like the live events, the online one also awards points toward qualifying for the WSOP Global Casino Championship. It plays out from start to finish on WSOP.com.
The site is running $5 rebuy plus add-on satellites almost every night, plus a $20 rebuy plus add-on satellite with three seats guaranteed a couple days before the event. There’s also a freeroll satellite, open to players who use the bonus code 365RING when depositing this month.
The WSOP Rio Online Circuit event runs Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. It’s not live for registration yet, but it should be in the lobby soon. Satellites start Feb. 16.
WSOP.com enjoys what amounts to a monopoly for Nevada online poker. It is the only viable, real-money operator serving the state right now. The majority of the players who will consider the online ring event are likely already customers.
The online WSOP bracelet events have produced good numbers in the past, and they’re trending upward. Last year’s $333 event pulled more than 2,500 entries. There is clearly an appetite for online trophy events.
There aren’t nearly as many customers in town in February, of course. The pool that WSOP.com is drawing from basically includes Vegas locals and a fairly small group of traveling grinders from elsewhere in the US. The live Circuit events at the Rio don’t really attract too many of those, either. Fields in $365 events struggle to reach 200 or 300 entries, which is fairly modest by the tour’s standards.
The timing won’t help with that, either. The online event is scheduled for the Tuesday after the Main Event finishes. Most of the traveling pros, the potential new customers, will likely be gone by then. The event does run in the evening, at least, to give working folks a chance to compete. But losing out on that group of Circuit regulars definitely limits the ceiling.
The WSOP brand carries good weight in Nevada, but it serves another large market in the US, too. An online ring event might have a larger impact in New Jersey, where it could be leveraged against the competition.
NJ online poker revenue has been shaky of late, particularly for Caesars. The group is tracking more or less on course with its two primary competitors, the Borgata / PartyPoker NJ network and PokerStars, but it’s lagging well behind them. And it’s not making a real move to challenge Borgata’s throne.
The three products aren’t so different from each other, really. Each has its pros and cons in terms of software and customer service. They all have decent slates of tournaments and cash games, and they all run seasonal festivals to drive spurts of traffic.
But Caesars has something its competitors don’t. It owns the largest live poker brand in the world.
The WSOP is one of the few poker brands recognized in the mainstream. The power of the brand hasn’t been fully leveraged in NJ, though. Live events are already in place, with Atlantic City hosting a Circuit stop each season. They tend to be poorly attended, though.
If the Circuit is going to run an online ring event in Nevada, it would be fair to presume WSOP NJ could follow. The only real cost would be promotion, and drawing a couple hundred players would be plenty to call it a success. Even at a hundred, it’d still be larger than some of the live events the tour has held in the recent past.
An online ring event is a great offering for Nevada customers, no doubt. But WSOP.com will likely need to do some more tinkering to make the idea stick.
Photo courtesy of Eric Harkins / IMPDI Worldwide