The World Series of Poker has released the full details for this year’s online bracelet events.
There are a lot of them.
Last year’s schedule was not only the biggest to date, it was also the largest single-year expansion of the schedule. The WSOP had more than doubled the number of events to nine (from four in 2018).
This year it will add another five, bringing the total to a record 14.
The WSOP elected to roll out this summer’s schedule piecemeal. Although we’ve had details about most live events for a while, the only information available for online bracelet events until now concerned the addition of the $10,000 Super High Roller.
The size of the final schedule has therefore come as quite a surprise.
The 51st annual WSOP runs from May 26 to July 15. Online bracelet events are spread out across almost that entire range, with the first event running on May 31 and the last on July 12.
Unfortunately, they are only likely to be available to players in New Jersey and Nevada. There is, so far, no word on the eligibility of WSOP players in Pennsylvania.
Since the first online bracelet event in 2015, the WSOP tends to alternate between expanding the schedule and leaving things to grow naturally.
The schedule first grew from one event to three in 2017, followed two years later by a much larger increase. Nothing changed in 2016, by contrast, and only one event (Pot-Limit Omaha) was added in 2018.
There’s no such rest being taken this time around, and the additional events aren’t the only change.
In the past, the WSOP has stuck to adding events and making minor changes to buy-ins and timing. This year, there will be some substantial adjustments even to the existing events. In fact, only four of last year’s events remain unchanged in buy-in and format:
Everything else has been tweaked in some way.
Part of the reason for this may be a change in leadership.
Former WSOP Head of Online Poker Bill Rini stepped down last year to pursue other opportunities. There’s been no direct replacement, leaving Director of Online Poker Danielle Barille as the public face of the brand.
“We believe the 2020 offering of online gold bracelet events features our best schedule yet,” Barille said in the announcement. “This year we offer a consistent schedule of Sunday events every week of the WSOP, plus a special selection of eight events from June 28 to July 5 to coincide with the biggest week of the live WSOP when most players are in town to play.”
Here’s what this summer’s 14 online bracelet events will look like. Keep reading below for a full breakdown of what’s different this year.
|May 31||3:30pm||$400||No-Limit Hold’em||15,000||1|
|June 7||3:30pm||$777||PLO 7-Handed||20,000||3|
|June 9||3:30pm||$800||Freezeout Knockout Deepstack NLH||40,000||0|
|June 14||3:30pm||$500||8-Handed NLH Turbo Deepstack||40,000||1|
|June 21||3:30pm||$500||Freezeout No-Limit Hold’em||20,000||0|
|June 28||3:30pm||$1,000||No-Limit Hold’em Championship||20,000||1|
|June 29||3:30pm||$500||No-Limit Hold’em||15,000||1|
|June 30||3:30pm||$1,500||No-Limit Hold’em 8-Handed||20,000||1|
|July 1||3:30pm||$3,200||High Roller NLH 8-Handed||25,000||1|
|July 2||12 noon||$10,000||Super High Roller Championship||30,000||0|
|July 3||3:30pm||$400||No-Limit Hold’em||15,000||1|
|July 4||3:30pm||$500||No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Deepstack||40,000||1|
|July 5||3:30pm||$600||6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em||15,000||1|
|July 12||3:30pm||$500||Summer Saver No-Limit Hold’em||20,000||1|
Aside from the increased number of events, the most dramatic and important change is to the availability of re-entries.
Until now, the norm has been for online bracelet events to allow up to three re-entries per player. The only exceptions last year were the Pot-Limit Omaha event, which allowed unlimited re-entries, and the Knockout event, which due to its format allowed none.
This year, the new normal is for events to allow only a single re-entry per player. As before, the Pot-Limit Omaha event is more generous in this regard, but even there re-entries are limited to three, rather than being unlimited.
There are furthermore three events on the schedule with no re-entries.
As before, the Knockout event is one of these. The new Super High Roller is another. Finally, a $500 Freezeout event is among the new additions. Aside from the lack of a re-entry, it is identical in structure to the $500 Summer Saver and another $500 vanilla No-Limit Hold’em event which was added to the schedule.
Single re-entry is also the norm for many of the series’ live events this year. Consistency with that was therefore one reason for the change. It likely also influenced or was influenced by the decision to add so many new events.
Cutting down on re-entries will encourage players to enter additional events and mitigate the fatigue the new schedule might otherwise cause.
As with last year, a majority of the new events have buy-ins below $1,000: two $500 and one $400 — all generic No-Limit Hold’em events save for the lack of re-entry on one of the $500s.
Two existing events also had their buy-ins lowered:
On the other hand, a couple of buy-ins have been increased:
In terms of new events, along with the $10,000 Super High Roller there’s now a $1,500 8-handed event. That’s a new price point for online bracelet events, as previously there were no events with buy-ins between the $1,000 Championship and $3,200 High Roller.
To date, the online component of the WSOP has achieved significant growth every year. Without competition from new events, the field for the $1,000 Championship grew 38% in 2016 and 25% in 2018. Even in 2017 and 2019 when the schedule expanded, its field grew — albeit by a smaller amount.
The trend for other events has been similar. The only losses in field size have been due to changes in buy-in, and even in those cases, prize pools have grown.
That could change this year.
Two consecutive years of big additions to the schedule coupled with the reduction in re-entries might be more than the series’ natural growth can keep up with. Total attendance and prize pools for the series as a whole should still be well up, but individual events might get a little smaller as players spread themselves out.
On the other hand, some of last year’s lower buy-in events early in the series suffered from smaller-than-expected turnouts because of being clustered together too tightly. This year, the sub-$1,000 events are mostly spaced a week apart, so that won’t be a problem.
The only exception is three low buy-in events running on consecutive days from July 3 to 5. Those correspond with days 1C, 2A, and 2B of the live Main Event and are presumably an option for players who’ve busted out or are playing a different flight. That itself is another new element of this year’s schedule.
There are 93 events on the WSOP schedule so far, and online events now make up 15% of that — up from 10%. That share is only going to rise in the future. The only question is how fast, and response to this year’s changes will likely play a big role in determining that.