The World Series of Poker will spend the next two weeks building toward its climax and the crowning of the 2018 Main Event champion.
As the live action turns to the biggest prize in poker, the online poker schedule is coming down from an impressive peak this past weekend.
The WSOP.com Online Championships have been running over top of the live calendar all summer, featuring 124 events and $3 million in guarantees. The site hosted four online bracelet events, too, the most since it introduced the concept in 2015.
Closing weekend was massive, a satisfying reminder of the heyday of online poker. Six- and seven-figure prize pools littered the lobby, and the site awarded more than 50 seats to the WSOP Main Event at $10,000 apiece.
The last two online bracelets were claimed, too, one by a new winner and one by a past champion.
The online bracelet events have been expanding, and there was cause for renewed anticipation this summer. A recent multistate poker agreement allowed WSOP NV and WSOP NJ to share players and games across state lines for the first time.
The results were record-breaking summer fields, four successful bracelet events, and a little piece of history for one poker player 2,500 miles away from Las Vegas.
William “twooopair” Reymond won the first online bracelet, conquering the $365 NLH event and its massive crowd of 2,972 entries. The attendance set a new record for the site, the first of several over the weeks that followed. Reymond earned $154,996 for his day of work at the computer.
Later in June, WSOP put another footnote in the history books. Matt “mendey” Mendez did, actually. Playing on WSOP NJ, the Jersey grinder became the first player to win a summer bracelet outside of Nevada. He outlasted 1,223 entries in the $565 PLO event to earn $135,077.
The $1,000 Online NLH Championship is the digital equivalent of the Main Event. The first-ever online bracelet event in 2015 carried the same buy-in, and it’s the only one that’s remained on the schedule every year since.
This year’s online championship was another strong success, drawing 1,179 players and 1,635 total entries on Friday. The addition of NJ players helped boost the field from 1,312 entries last year — an increase of 25 percent. The event’s $1,553,250 prize pool eclipsed its own record as the largest awarded by a US online poker site.
Chicago pro Ryan “toosick” Tosoc took it down, collecting the summer’s third online bracelet and $238,779. The marathon event took more than 15 hours to run from start to finish, ending after 7 a.m. local time.
Tosoc’s summer stat sheet includes one other WSOP result, a sixth-place finish in the $25k PLO event for about $215k.
For the second straight summer, WSOP NV ran a $3k event as the richest online tournament.
The $3,200 High Roller started Saturday afternoon, and it gave that $1k a good run. Registration closed with 480 entries and a $1,459,200 prize pool — seven figures up for grabs for the second straight day.
Chance “BingShui” Kornuth won it. The Vegas-based pro earned the final online bracelet and the $341,598 top prize, which represents yet another new record for a US online poker site. The victory is the second of Kornuth’s WSOP career and his first since his live Omaha title in 2010.
The runner-up got a little something for his troubles, too. David “bewater” Goodman won the series-long race with 2,046.89 points, earning a WSOP Champions Ring as a consolation prize.
Graphing player location helps us see the impact of WSOP NJ traffic across the four online bracelet events:
It’s worth establishing the context that there are generally two different sets of players logging into the two sites this time of year.
With most of the hardcore, full-time poker community in Vegas for the summer, WSOP NV traffic figures to be heavily weighted toward those players. Similarly, you’d expect the WSOP NJ traffic to be mostly part-time, recreational players.
The data reinforces that notion. You can see how sharply the percentage of NJ players decreased as the buy-in increased this summer.
That graph for the first event looks pretty great, with more than 25 percent of the $365 field playing from New Jersey. Contrast that against the High Roller, where less than seven percent of players came from outside of Nevada. For the vast majority of part-timers, obviously, a few hundred dollars is a more reasonable price point than a few thousand.
The decision makers are likely pretty pleased with the overall turnout, though. At least 565 individuals who wouldn’t have been able to participate in Nevada did so from New Jersey. That’s substantial. One of them won a bracelet, a fact the site would do well to promote more heavily. And really, finding 23 players in NJ to pony up a $3,200 buy-in is a decent feat by itself.
Imagine what those numbers might look like in a few years, once a few more states join the movement.