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Players in New Jersey have yet another online poker series to look forward to this summer.
Partypoker announced this week the first World Poker Tour (WPT) Online Poker Open for players on its US network, encompassing partypoker NJ, Borgata Poker, and BetMGM Poker. The three sister sites operate only in NJ for the time being.
“WPT and partypoker US Network are coming together to provide the New Jersey network of online players the opportunity to compete in a world-class event and take part in a familiar WPT experience,” said Angelica Hael, who manages live events for WPT. “We look forward to our first event with partypoker US Network and a great start to a long-term partnership.”
The two brands do have a history, of course, including a stint as shared assets of the same company during the Bwin.Party era. With the live Tour still interrupted by COVID-19, they’ve also teamed up for WPT-branded events on partypoker’s dot-com platform in recent months.
The WPT Online Main Event runs on June 28 with a $400 buy-in and a huge $300,000 guarantee.
For comparison, the largest Main Event guarantee for partypoker’s now-defunct Garden State Super Series was $200,000 in 2018.
Satellites and side events begin on June 21, with buy-ins starting from just $5. Guarantees are modest in contrast, ranging from a mere $1,000 up to $20,000 for the $215 event on June 24.
|June 22||6:30 p.m.||#1 - PLO 6-Max Rebuy||$5||$1,000|
|7 p.m.||#2 - NLH R&A||$10||$2,500|
|June 23||6:30 p.m.||#3 - Red Chip Bounty NLH||$10||$2,000|
|7:30 p.m.||#4 - Green Chip Bounty NLH||$109||$7,500|
|June 24||6:30 p.m.||#5 - NLH||$5||$1,500|
|8 p.m.||#6 - NLH||$215||$20,000|
|June 25||6:30 p.m.||#7 - NLH R&A||$10||$2,500|
|June 26||6:30 p.m.||#8 - NLH||$5||$2,000|
|8 p.m.||#9 - NLH||$215||$15,000|
|June 27||7 p.m.||#10 - NLH R&A||$10||$2,500|
|7:30 p.m.||#11 - Black Chip Bounty NLH||$320||$15,000|
|June 28||5 p.m.||WPT Online Poker Open Main Event||$400||$300,000|
|7:30 p.m.||#12 - Red Chip Bounty NLH||$20||$2,000|
Players who don’t have $400 to drop on a single tournament needn’t necessarily sit this one out. There are plenty of alternative ways to grab a seat.
Direct satellites with a $45 buy-in run daily starting June 21 and guarantee 10 seats apiece. Players on an even tighter budget can participate in one of four daily $5 qualifiers, each granting entries into a direct satellite.
Another alternative is available in the form of Phased entries on June 23 and 25. These carry the same $45 as the satellites, but winners carry their chips with them into the Main Event rather than starting with a standard stack.
WPT and partypoker are two of poker’s most identifiable brands, with histories dating back to the early boom years. In fact, partypoker was the world’s largest online poker site before being forced to pull out of the US market in 2006.
The World Poker Tour began as an attempt to create a year-round traveling series of televised events to rival the World Series of Poker. Its innovative TV show, frequent advertising, and top-notch ambassador Mike Sexton all contributed significantly to poker’s surging prominence in popular culture during the early 2000s.
The two companies’ histories are also deeply entwined.
PartyGaming, which subsequently became half of Bwin.Party, purchased the WPT outright in 2008. The Tour expanded greatly under new direction, from 16 stops on the main tour to a total of over 70 — including live events with partypoker sponsorship in New Jersey.
Bwin.Party ultimatly sold the WPT off in 2015, but the two have maintained a working alliance across both live and online events in the time since.
US online poker traffic has reached record levels in recent months, with the coronavirus shuttering live poker venues nationwide. Operators have worked to capitalize on the surging demand with a number of large and hastily assembled online tournament series.
The huge turnouts for WSOP events may have provided partypoker with some of the impetus for the WPT Online Poker Open guarantee. Super Circuit events tripled their guarantees on average — including a Main Event prize pool that reached $567,000 — and inspired the company to follow up with its largest-ever Spring Online Championships.
Partypoker should be able to reach its guarantee for the Main, though it does not have the benefits of multi-state poker working in its favor. Although parent company Roar Digital is seeking licensure in Pennsylvania, its operations in the US so far remain limited to New Jersey.
The WPT Online Poker Open may be a first for the US market, but it follows on the heels of a similar, larger series on partypoker’s international network.
The two companies joined forces in May to offer a series of 54 events with $35 million in combined guarantees. These included events using the tour’s WPT 500 and WPT Deepstacks brands, lower-stakes stops first introduced during the Bwin.Party days.
Coming later in the summer will be a series of higher buy-in online WPT events on partypoker, culminating in its first-ever World Online Championships. The series begins on July 17, runs through September 8 and features an eye-watering $100 million in combined guarantees. That includes $10 million each for the $10,300 World Championship event, a $25,500 High Roller, and a $102,000 Super High Roller.
That $100 million is a site record, as is the buy-in for the Super High Roller. It also beats PokerStars’ record of $85 million for this year’s Spring Championship of Online Poker. The only previous series with such a large total guarantee was WSOP’s international Online Super Circuit, which was also held this spring, in collaboration with GGPoker.
The World Championship event itself will span four days of play and has two starting flights on August 2 and 9. It will run alongside a similarly-structured Mini World Championship with a $1,050 buy-in and a $5 million guarantee.