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The World Series of Poker (WSOP) this week confirmed the dates for its 2020 festival in Las Vegas next summer.
The 51st annual WSOP will run from May 26 through July 15, with the $10,000 Main Event kicking off on July 1. The series will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino as usual, despite the property’s pending sale to a private investment company.
So far, the WSOP has only provided details about two events aside from the Main. The schedule for the remaining events is still being ironed out and should be released sometime early in the new year.
That means we don’t know much at this point about what online events will be available. We can, however, make some educated guesses based on previous years.
One thing that is clear is that players in New Jersey will be able to participate, as well as those in Nevada. That was up in the air until the last minute last year because of the Department of Justice’s attempt to extend the Wire Act prohibition on interstate sports betting to include all forms of interstate gambling.
Fortunately, a federal judge vacated that opinion following litigation from the New Hampshire Lottery. Players from the Garden State can therefore rest assured that they’ll be hunting online bracelets from the comfort of their own homes once again.
WSOP introduced its first online bracelet event in 2015. Since then, the online component of the series has been growing quickly and steadily, both in terms of attendance and total prizepools. Last year’s prizepools came up just shy of $10 million, and it’s safe to expect WSOP’s online events to clear that bar this year.
Additional events have been added for the last three years. The WSOP in 2017 added a lower buy-in event and a High Roller in addition to the original $1,000 event, which became known as the Championship at that point. In 2018, WSOP added a low buy-in Omaha event.
Last year represented the biggest expansion of the schedule by far, with five new events on the calendar. All of these were no-limit hold’em events with buy-ins of $1,000 and below. Here are the events which ran; new additions for 2019 are in bold:
We can probably expect field sizes to grow again this year, but it’s unfair to expect to see as many new events added as last year. One new event would be our best guess based on history, though it’s even possible the schedule could remain unchanged.
Given the number of low buy-in hold’em events added last year, we probably won’t see another of those. Instead, the most likely possibilities, in decreasing order, are:
Whether or not WSOP adds a new event it’s unlikely to remove any of the existing ones, as that’s something it has never done before. On the other hand, slight changes in buy-in have been the norm.
We may see some tweaks in scheduling as well. Some of the early events last summer may have been clustered too tightly and cannibalized participation.
Aside from the online bracelet events, WSOP will host a large number of satellites. In fact, satellites for the Main Event are already running. Once the schedule is finalized, satellites for other events will no doubt become available. That should include all of the online bracelet events as well as some live events.
For players outside of the US, satellites are also available through 888 Poker and its regional European sites. These will be more limited in scope, likely including only the Main Event and a few other special events. Don’t expect to see online bracelet events, as those are not accessible via the 888-branded platform.
In addition, WSOP.com generally runs its Summer Online Championships alongside the live series. Based on previous years, we can expect over 100 events to be included on that schedule, with buy-ins between $10 and $1,000. They do not award bracelets, however, and aren’t part of the main series.
The biggest question remaining concerns what will happen in Pennsylvania.
Following the belated launch of PokerStars in November, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) hinted that it expected at least one more site to follow suit within a matter of weeks. The site the PGCB was referencing could have been either partypoker or WSOP.
With the holidays now approaching, however, another launch before year’s end seems less and less likely by the day.
Nonetheless, we can probably expect a WSOP PA site to be up and running before the summer. It’s considerably less likely, however, that Pennsylvania will be sharing liquidity with other states by then.
The prognosis for Pennsylvanians, then, is that they’ll probably have access to WSOP satellites in their home state — but not the online bracelet events. It’s possible they’ll get their own Summer Online Championships as well, but it would almost certainly be separate from New Jersey and Nevada.