This summer marks the fifth consecutive year the World Series of Poker will award gold bracelets online, coinciding with its annual festival of live events in Las Vegas.
The WSOP’s digital arm has upped the ante this year, putting nine shiny pieces of wrist-wear up for grabs. More events should lead to increased interest and even larger fields than in previous years.
The 2019 schedule of online bracelet events includes a broad mix of formats and buy-ins to suit all bankrolls, but eligibility remains unclear for now.
|June 9||$600||6-Handed PLO||Unlimited|
|June 16||$600||Knockout Bounty NLH||None|
|June 19||$500||Turbo NLH Deepstack||3x|
|June 23||$1,000||Double Stack NLH||3x|
|June 30||$1,000||NLH Championship||3x|
|July 3||$3,200||High Roller NLH||3x|
|July 7||$800||6-Handed NLH||3x|
|July 14||$500||Summer Saver NLH||3x|
Seven of the nine online bracelet events allow triple re-entry, while the knockout is unlimited. To achieve consistency, all nine start at 3:30 p.m. PDT, with one scheduled on each of the series’ seven Sundays.
“We knew we wanted to add more online bracelet events to the schedule. And as we worked through the dates, it started to make sense to be able to offer the consistency of a 3:30 p.m. start time every Sunday – plus two Wednesday events – in order to help players plan.”
For the first two years of online events (2015, 2016), just one bracelet was available in each. In 2017, though, the schedule expanded to three with a $3,333 High Roller and a $333 event added to the menu. The following year featured four online bracelet events with buy-ins ranging from $365 to $3,200.
This year’s nine events will equal the total number of online bracelets awarded to date. They’ll also generate more perspiration from the management team than ever before.
“For the team, the bracelet events are an emotional roller coaster,” Rini revealed.
“On the day of a bracelet event, everybody on the team picks the prize pool amount they think we’ll hit. And then it’s a long day sweating the early registrations, tournament start, late-reg period, and results. So far, we’ve exceeded our picks every year. We hope to keep that streak going.”
Alongside a host of satellites, the $215 buy-in 25 Seat Scramble on June 30 awards seats into the $10,000 Main Event.
Eligibility for players in New Jersey is the biggest question that remains unanswered. WSOP NJ players were able to join the party for the first time last year, battling against WSOP NV players on a shared platform.
Interstate play helped the $1,000 event draw 1,635 entries, including 1,180 unique players. That easily eclipsed the 952 uniques from the previous year. Last year’s High Roller attracted 480 entries, meanwhile, surpassing the 424 entries from 2017.
Participation from outside of Nevada gave prize pools a boost across the board — especially at the lower end of the buy-in spectrum where casual players gather.
Last year, for instance, 565 of the 2,123 players (26.6 percent) in the $365 event logged in from the Garden State. On the other hand, just 13.8 percent of the 1,179 players in the $1,000 event played remotely. The disparity was even more evident for the High Roller (6.5%), with much of the high-stakes community in Sin City for the land-based series.
Here is the full history of online bracelet events so far:
|Year||Buy-in||Entries||Prize pool||Winner||Screen name|
The elephant in the room is how the Department of Justice and its recent reinterpretation of the Wire Act will affect plans. Interstate online poker appears to be under a serious threat due to the revised opinion.
Will WSOP.com be forced to take a step backward and exclude players from New Jersey once again? When announcing the schedule last month, staff simply said NJ participation “has yet to be determined.”
Online gambling operators initially had a 90-day window to comply with the changes, though the DOJ is expected to announce a 60-day extension. This would push the expiration date to June 14, two weeks into the online schedule.
For now, NJ eligibility and the future of online poker are very much up in the air. Rini simply stated that WSOP.com “doesn’t control the process” and “will adhere to what is permitted at the time of events.”
The absence of a guarantee serves as a safety net, as the site won’t face an unexpected shortfall if WSOP NJ players end up being shut out.
Despite the headaches caused by the DOJ’s revised opinion and how this could impact numbers, the buoyant Rini is nevertheless delighted with how the online bracelet events have gone over with the community since inception.
“They have been very popular with players,” he said.
“It’s difficult to quantify how successful, because we keep adding bracelet events and tweaking the schedule every year. So we don’t have any years with an easy apples-to-apples comparison. But there’s no denying that with $1.5 million in a $3,200 buy-in event and almost a million in a $365 buy-in, the message from players is that they love the online bracelet events.”
The land-based WSOP begins May 29.