Multistate poker pooling has not created a huge surge of cash-game players at WSOP Nevada and WSOP NJ

Why Is The WSOP Not Creating A Bigger Bump In Online Poker Cash-Game Traffic For Nevada, NJ?

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The World Series of Poker is the busy season for poker in Las Vegas. The online poker site has also benefited from the seasonal bump the state receives from the thousands of poker players that descend on Las Vegas for the WSOP.

In previous years, cash-game traffic has spiked at the beginning of the WSOP and reaches a crescendo in early July, just before the WSOP Main Event.

In between, online poker traffic is relatively steady throughout the series — depending on the schedule there are some highs and lows during the six-week WSOP run — before falling back to normal levels once the WSOP ends.

There was speculation that the recently enacted multistate poker player-pooling between New Jersey-Nevada-Delaware would cause an even greater surge in traffic during the 2018 WSOP. The belief was the increased traffic in Nevada would appeal to New Jersey players, helping both WSOP Nevada and WSOP NJ.

Instead of taking a break during the WSOP, New Jersey players are now right in the thick of the WSOP action. Furthermore, if you couldn’t make it Nevada for the WSOP, heading to New Jersey to play some of the online bracelet events was the next best thing.

Not much of a bounce from online poker pooling?

But so far, the 2018 WSOP bounce has been minimal, and well below the spikes seen in previous years (day zero is the start of the WSOP):

Here’s a look at what has happened historically:

  • In 2015,  average cash game traffic went from around 170 in the run-up to the WSOP to around 215 players nearly two weeks into the series. That’s a 26 percent increase.
  • In 2016, traffic rose 19 percent over the same period of time.
  • In 2017, the initial jump was around 18 percent.

This year, average cash game traffic has grown by just eight percent.

What’s causing the lower bump in traffic?

There are several likely causes of this year’s sluggish growth.

Starting from a larger base

With New Jersey added to the mix, the pre-WSOP player base is much larger than it has been in previous years. As such, the impact of each additional player is lessened.

In fact, the number of additional players network-wide since the start of the WSOP isn’t far off historical averages. The 20-player increase on the / 888 Poker network in 2018 would have resulted in a 12.5 percent traffic increase in previous years.

Tournaments have become king

The World Series of Poker is a tournament series, and even though it attracts plenty of cash game players, by and large, the people heading to Las Vegas are there to play tournaments.

Not only that, is also catering to these players in 2018. The site has increased guarantees for many of its tournaments — partly due to the WSOP and partly due to the new tri-state network — and is running four online bracelet events during the WSOP.

The appearance of lottery-style sit-and-go’s

With its newfound liquidity, has also introduced its version of lottery-style sit-and-go tournaments to the US market: BLAST Poker.

These games are very popular with recreational players, and because they’re not tracked as cash games they’re believed to be behind some of the cash game traffic declines in other jurisdictions in recent years.

It’s possible that players that would normally jump into cash games while in Las Vegas are choosing BLAST Poker now that it’s available.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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