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This is a developing story and may be updated as information comes in.
From the start, online poker has been a waiting game for Pennsylvanians. Now, however, all the major pieces are on the chessboard, with WSOP completing the trifecta through its soft launch today.
As required by Pennsylvania regulations, the new site will operate with limited hours for the first three days. This starts with an eight-hour window this afternoon and adds two hours each day:
This is for testing purposes. Assuming all goes well, the three-day soft launch period will be followed by a full launch on Thursday. So far, no Pennsylvania online poker site has encountered difficulties in its testing period that forced a delay in the full launch.
Update (07/16): The test period did in fact go smoothly, and WSOP Pennsylvania has been operating on a 24/7 basis since Thursday.
WSOP joins PokerStars, which was the first to launch in November 2019, as well as BetMGM Poker and Borgata Poker. The latter two, despite having different land-based partners, are two skins on the same network, and launched in tandem in April this year.
The site uses the new Poker 8 client from WSOP’s technology provider, 888. The company has said it will roll out an update for New Jersey and Nevada some time this year to bring players in those states up to date as well.
What would a launch day be without enticements for new players? Naturally, WSOP has some offers available should you choose to sign up.
For the most part, these are the same offers extended to players in New Jersey and Nevada on an ongoing basis. New signups get $50 free with a first deposit, plus a 100% match up to $1000. The former is released immediately but the latter has a playthrough requirement. Each $25 paid in rake or tournament fees will clear $5 worth of bonus funds.
There is, however, an additional Welcome Week offer, available only in Pennsylvania, and only for the first week. It requires a minimum deposit of $10, and grants entry to up to seven daily freerolls, each with a $100 prize pool.
One of the reasons that WSOP has been so hotly anticipated by Pennsylvania poker players is that it runs what is currently the only legal interstate poker network in the US. What’s more, it is currently in the midst of its second-ever online bracelet series. This is tiding players over while they wait for the WSOP live series in Las Vegas, which ordinarily takes place in the summer. The series this year has been moved to the fall due to the pandemic.
Naturally, the timing of WSOP’s Pennsylvania launch has lots of players asking if they’ll be able to participate in the tail end of the online series. Unfortunately, the answer is no. The company will need regulatory approval before adding the Pennsylvania site to the larger network. This could take anywhere from a few months to a year or more.
There should, however, be more online bracelet events next year. With any luck, WSOP’s network will have expanded to include both Pennsylvania and Michigan by then. The company will be eager to do so as soon as regulators permit, since that shared traffic is its primary competitive advantage at the moment.
Update (07/16): Pennsylvanians will, however, get to participate in their own eight-part series of bracelet events running from Aug 8-15. Buy-ins range from $400 to $3,200 and each event will award a real WSOP online bracelet to the winner.