On Thursday evening, the Amaya Gaming Group posted a press release on its website confirming that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Rational Group. As part of its arrangement, Rationals parent company Oldford Group will cede 100 percent of issued and outstanding shares to Amaya in exchange for a cash sum totaling $4.9 billion. While several sources speculated that the arrangement would only involve Full Tilt Poker, Amaya will indeed acquire the worlds largest and most successful online poker room in PokerStars, shareholder approval withstanding. This shocking development comes on the heels of Amayas stock rising 29 percent over the past several days and nearly doubling in the past month. We examine the particulars of the unprecedented deal and its possible impact on Nevadas regulated gaming market. Notable aspects of the acquisition From an operational perspective not much will change. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will not experience an interruption of service, nor will there be any unexpected changes to company sponsored poker tours or other live events. The Rational Group will retain its base of operations in the Isle of Manand the vast majority of its executive management team. Likewise, Amayas headquarters will remain situated in Montreal. Beyond that, the entire poker world might as well have been flipped upside down. To illustrate, CEO of Rational Mark Scheinberg will leave his post once the transaction is completed, as will OldGroups principles. Furthermore, Scheinberg will dispose of all of his shares in the company. Amaya will effectively become the worlds largest online gaming company. Not only that, for the first time in history, a company associated with the PokerStars brand will be publicly traded on an exchange. Amayas stock price currently resides at $13.03 an all-time high. Its likely that investors will be keeping a close eye on it as more news develops. Key players comment on the Amaya / Rational deal According to Amaya the acquisition will allow PokerStars faster entry into the U.S. regulated market. To date, PokerStars attempts to breach the U.S. have met with heavy resistance in both California and New Jersey. Amaya CEO David Baazov had kind words for Mark Scheinberg, stating that he pioneered the online poker industry, building a remarkable business and earning the trust of millions of poker players
Considering that PokerStars boasts peak cash-game averages 10 times higher than any other online poker network in the world, truer words have never been spoken. Scheinberg exhibited confidence in Rationals new owners, also taking a moment to recount Rationals many accolades. These achievements were on full display further down in the release. Of particular note:
In 2013, PokerStars held an online poker tournament boasting 225,000 participants a Guinness World Record.
PokerStars holds a majority share in nearly every poker market it has entered.
The Rational Group was named one of the best workplaces in the United Kingdom.
Oldford Group boasted revenues of $976 million and $1.1 billion in 2012 and 2013, respectively. PPA executive director John Pappas also chimed in with his thoughts: Again, from the vantage point of the U.S. poker player longing for the pre-Black Friday days when PokerStars reigned supreme, truer words have never been spoken. What does it mean for Nevada? In the short-term, probably not too much. Much of the immediate focus will inevitably fall on New Jersey, where PokerStars already has a land-based casino partner (Resorts in Atlantic City). PokerStars license application was suspended for a two-year period by the Garden States regulatory committee. However, with the subtraction of Isai Scheinberg from the equation, its presumed that Pokerstars case will be reopened. Attention will also fall to California, where proposed legislation features a bad actor clause, which would prohibit PokerStars and FTP from operating in what would likely be the nations largest online poker market. Whether Amayas acquisition of Rational will soften CAs stance is currently unknown. Nevada would benefit from PokerStars reentry in more subtle ways. For one, just the mere presence of PokerStars will undoubtedly spread regulated iGaming awareness. PokerStars will pose an immediate threat to the USs iGaming operators, who risk extinction once it arrives. That alone should be reason enough for U.S. iGaming operators to up their game, which thus far the recent efforts of WSOP.com withstanding has been mediocre. Looking further, should New Jersey enter an interstate compact with Nevada, its conceivable that players from the Silver State would one day gain access to the revered poker network. Imagine the traffic during the World Series of Poker. Otherwise, I cant see PokerStars pursuing an arrangement in Nevada that vigorously, if only because the Silver State features a relatively small population compared to New Jersey.
As more and more hopeful bracelet winners flood the Rios casino floor, traffic on WSOP NV continues to soar. The enviously branded site is now averaging 146 cash-game players over the past seven days; good enough for first place in the US regulated market. This marks the first time WSOP has topped the charts since last December. Back then former champion PartyPoker NJ had the excuse of only being a week old. But after surging to nearly 280 in early-January, traffic on the often criticized network has dropped precipitously, reaching a new five month low of 141 on Sunday. No excuses anymore. WSOP NV has fared considerably better, forgoing only approximately 21 % of its cash-game traffic in the two-and-a-half months leading up to the live WSOP. While that doesnt sound all that impressive, consider that most international networks regularly cede 15 20% of their traffic during the spring. In this weeks Nevada Traffic Report we take a detailed look at how WSOP NV is performing on both the cash-game and tournament fronts, analyze the WSOP effect on the networks fiercest (and for all intents and purposes only) rival, and do our darnedest to predict traffic trends for the two weeks ahead. WSOP NV owns the virtual felt Both cash-game and tournament traffic on WSOP NV is trending sharply upward. 7-day cash-game averages across all Nevada iPoker networks, with two week percentage changes in parenthesis, as follows:
WSOP NV: 146 (+31.5%)
Ultimate Poker NV: 54 (-1.8%)
Real Gaming: 0 (no change) (As an aside, I will no longer report on Real Gaming until they generate something resembling real cash-game traffic) Data provided by PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout. Interestingly, traffic on Ultimate Poker has held relatively steady since the onset of this years WSOP. Several factors could be accountable:
Players are inherently drawn to the site that brandishes the same name as the crown jewel of tournament poker. (I.e. not Ultimate Poker)
WSOP NV has launched a multi-faceted marketing campaign.
WSOP NV offers a better promotional schedule.
Ultimate Pokers software is not on par with WSOPs. #4 and to an extent #1 certainly account for why WSOP NV fares better than Ultimate Poker under normal circumstances. While Im inclined to believe that a few out-of-state players were drawn to WSOP.com just because its spelled W-S-O-P, thats not the primary reason traffic on the site is excelling. Same goes for the temporarily augmented poker playing population in Nevada (although its certainly helping). #2 and #3 are the more relatable variables, in that they both could explain why WSOP is killing it while UP hasnt budged. So which one is the most telling? The propelling forces behind WSOP NVs promotional schedule are its 100% match reload bonus up to $1,000 and the currently running WSOP.com Online Championship Series. However, both of these promos are also running in New Jersey, where traffic has only climbed nominally. So that rules #3 out. Were left with #2 WSOP NVs marketing roll-out. Ive already covered the many ways WSOP.com has raised online poker awareness (insert shameless plug here), but suffice it to say, by practically shoving the words WSOP and online poker down poker players throats, Id be shocked if the Rios poker playing guests werent fully cognizant of the recent changes to Nevadas iPoker climate. And while #2 and #3 work in tandem, if it werent for WSOP NVs marketing campaign, far fewer players would be aware of the networks promos. Conversely, its Ultimate Pokers distinct lack of a marketing campaign thats preventing out-of-state players from visiting its site. Whether or not UP is currently running cool promotions becomes a moot point. Details here In short, carefully constructed and well-timed marketing campaigns work. Are we taking notes New Jersey? WSOPOC events in Nevada outperform those in NJ Heres a quick look at how this weekends WSOPOC events fared:
Event #6: $55 NLHE, $5k Guaranteed 185 entrants, $9,250 prize pool
Event #7: $109 R&A NLHE, $20k Guaranteed 75 entrants, 58 rebuys, 50 add-ons, $1,700 overlay
Event #8: $530 R&A NLHE, $100k Guaranteed 101 entrants, 23 rebuys, 71 add-ons, $2,500 overlay
Event #9: $55 R&A NLHE, $10k Guaranteed 152 entrants, 123 rebuys, 96 add-ons, $18,550 prize pool While two of this weekends events failed to reach their minimum benchmarks, overall the WSOPOC has outperformed its New Jersey counterpart. Notably, Event #8 in New Jersey featured an $11,000 overlay $8,500 more than its equivalent in Nevada. Thats good news for players, bad news for WSOP NJ. Well, at least they know now what Ultimate Poker NJ feels like on a weekly basis. Predictions for the two weeks ahead In so long as players continue to filter into Vegas, traffic on WSOP NV should continue to rise. However, once the Online Championship comes to a close this weekend, I suspect that the large day-to-day increases will become less commonplace. That being said, most European players are expected to arrive in NV by next week. With the prospect of European degens taking to the virtual felt, theres an off chance that volume on WSOP.com will surge at an unheard-of rate. Just dont count on it. By the time the Main Event reaches its halfway point, traffic will invariably start to stumble. How much it drops is dependent of a few variables, but thats another article for another time. To conclude, enjoy the next couple of weeks WSOP NV its going to be a wild ride marked by unprecedented new highs and the biggest guaranteed tournament in your brief history.
While most online poker networks are anxiously awaiting the inevitable traffic uptick that comes with Fall, WSOP NV is taking full advantage of its intimate ties to the worlds most exclusive tournament series. And so far, the results have been outstanding. According to data collected on PokerFuse Pro and PokerScout.com, cash-game traffic on WSOP.com Nevada is about to eclipse its all-time high. This, during a time when traffic across the global market is tumbling down towards its annual low. Well highlight a few of the primary reasons why WSOP NV is bucking the seasonal cash-game trend, and examine how the WSOP.com Online Championship series is faring compared to its equivalent counterpart in New Jersey. Counting down the reasons behind WSOP NVs traffic surge #5 New laptop friendly rules at the Rio To date, only a few players have been caught grinding it up online while physically seated at one of the Rios poker tables. This might have something to do with the fact that live World Series of Poker events typically require at least some measure of concentration. Or it may just be that lugging an unwieldy laptop around is too inconvenient for most players. The Rios Grind Room hasnt exactly been a huge hit either, but all told, the online poker-friendly casino floor has done something to facilitate WSOP NVs growth. #4 B&M Marketing WSOP.com logos adorn the Rio. From lighted displays to banners and branded tables, players cant walk 15 feet without some reminder that WSOP.com is live in Nevada. And while most WSOP veterans are accustomed to seeing all sorts of blatant advertisements during their stay at the Rio, I have to imagine that all the glitz and glamour is having some sort of residual effect on WSOP.com traffic levels. #3 David Tuchman As someone who lives on the East Coast, I often have to live vicariously through players lucky enough to play at the WSOP. And thanks to the (nearly) live streams hosted by David Tuchman, Im able to do so. But this years play-by-play differs somewhat from lasts, in that Tuchman cant go more than two minutes without interjecting some WSOP.com related tidbit. Whether its general talk about regulated online poker, a direct plug or a reminder that a satellite or Online Championship event is about to start soon, Tuchman is one of WSOP NVs most vocal advocates, and his reach is undoubtedly helping to spread awareness. #2 WSOP.com Online Championship and online qualifiers. The Rio has this Deepstack tournament that runs daily at 3 p.m. Always a popular draw, the $235 buy-in tourney is known to regularly attract 1,000 or even close to 2,000 runners during the WSOP, amassing six-figure prize pools in the process. Why? Because poker players who bust from WSOP events early, in the words of John Malkovichs Teddy KGB, feel so unsatisfied. That, and some players participate in smaller tournaments to build a Main Event worthy bankroll. The currently running WSOP.com Online Championship offers similar incentives in that its a series of mid-priced tournaments featuring top prizes in the $10,000 range. Then theres the WSOP online qualifiers, which allow players situated at the Rio to win their ticket to a $1,500 or $10,000 event online, go downstairs and parlay their good fortune into hundreds of thousands of dollars or at least thats the plan. #1 The WSOP For all its cross-promotional hoopla, the main reason players are mixing it up online is because anything associated with the WSOP right now is a win. That, and Las Vegas poker community probably tripled in the past two weeks. Last year, even Ultimate Poker experienced significant gains during the series? Could we really expect anything less now that a site brandishing the same name as live tournament pokers crown jewel is available to the masses? Notable facts about WSOP NVs traffic surge
For the first time since December, cash-game traffic on WSOP.com NV is greater than it is on WSOP.com NJ. Also, Nevadas Online Championship events are outperforming those in New Jersey by a significant margin.
7-day average cash-game volume on WSOP NV is hovering around 140, breaking the all-time high of 135 set in early November, 2013.
Traffic has increased a staggering 37% since May 20th.
Most satellites into the $215 2014 WSOP Main Event 25 Seat Scramble are offering incredible value for poker players.
WSOP NV is nipping on the heels of PartyPoker NJ for first place among US regulated poker sites.
Traffic on Ultimate Poker NV has remained relatively flat since the WSOP began. A Rundown of the WSOP.com NV Online Championship Thus Far To date, five of the 15 scheduled WSOP.com Online Championship events are in the books. Ill be the first to admit that I thought most would have trouble meeting their lofty guarantees, but the proof is in the pudding:
Event #1: $215 NLHE, $50k Guaranteed: 196 runners, $10,800 overlay
Event #2: $109 NLHE 6-Max, $10k Guaranteed: 177 runners, $17,700 prize pool
Event #3: $109 PLO, $10k Guaranteed, 97 runners, $300 overlay
Event #4: $109 R&A NLHE, $25k Guaranteed, 168 entries, 121 rebuys, 109 addons, $39,800 prize pool
Event #5: $109 NLHE $10k Guaranteed, 142 entries, $14,200 prize pool
The 2014 World Series of Poker is officially underway which means we are about to get our first look at what is possible in terms of online and live poker cross-promotions, as the WSOP and the Rio are going all-in with their marketing efforts to spread the word about their online poker product WSOP.com. In this installment of the Nevada Online Poker Review well take a look at the early happenings at the 2014 WSOP and see if we can extrapolate anything from this small sample size, both for the WSOP itself and for WSOP.com. Well also update you on the latest Nevada online poker revenue data that was just released by the state; take a look at a very disturbing story that is developing regarding thefts at the Rio hotel; and as always go over the latest traffic data and tournament results from the Nevada online poker market. Nevada Revenue Drops like a stone The Nevada online poker revenue numbers for April are in, and theyre not very good. According to the states numbers, Nevadas online poker industry dipped nearly 15% month-over-month, as revenue dropped from $926k to $784k from March to April. The dip comes after a nice increase from February to March where revenue jumped from $824k to $926k, which makes Aprils revenue numbers all the more troubling considering February with its 28 days outperformed April with its 30 days by some $50,000. WSOP off to a very strong start Heading into the first weekend (when the action really picks up) the 2014 World Series of Poker has already produced a number of interesting stories, and judging by the opening events this could very well be one of the most successful WSOPs of all time. In Event #2, we have Vanessa Selbst playing heads-up for her third WSOP bracelet. Selbst is already the most decorated female player in the games history and a third bracelet (all in open events by the way) would cement her legacy as the greatest female poker player of all time, and one of, if not the best tournament players in the game, male or female. In Event #3 the WSOP was able to break the previous record for the largest non-Holdem field in WSOP history, when the $1,000 PLO events registration hit 1,128 players. This is a good indication of the types of fields we can expect this year in my opinion, with a lot of the thanks going to the online satellites and of course the near $100 million the Garden City Group has sent out to former Full Tilt Poker players in the past few months. In Event #5, the $10,000 2-7 Championship, all the big names and poker legends came out, including Doyle Brunson. Doyle originally said he was retiring from tournament play, but it seems the allure of the 2-7 Championship was too much for him
Doyle did make Day 2 of the tournament, but will need some help to make Day 3 as he is sitting on one of the smaller stacks in play. And of course, for the first time, players can hop on WSOP.com and play legal, real-money online poker while theyre in Vegas, and can even plat at the WSOPs custom table in the Grind Room. Unfortunately, it hasnt been all positive for the WSOP and the Rio thus far, as youll see at the end of this column. Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada WSOP.com Sunday $15K Guaranteed The turnout was way down in WSOP.coms $15k guaranteed week-over-week, as just 85 players registered for the event, a far cry from the 105 players the tournament attracted last week. Still, the tournament easily surpassed its guarantee, with a final prize-pool tally of $17k. We also had a high-profile player sighting at the final table as Christina Lindley (lindeyloo at WSOP.com) finished in 3rd place. Here is a look at the complete final table payouts from this past weeks tournament:
ValueBet $459 WSOP Main Event Satellite No overlay this time around as 53 players competed for yet another 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event seat at WSOP.com this past Sunday, which was eventually won by Who_Is_Ivey after he defeated Guypie in heads-up play. While $600 is a far cry from a shot at $10 million in the WSOP Main Event Guypie is only the second player from these satellites to receive any type of consolation prize.
Who_Is_Ivey 2014 WSOP Main Event Seat
Guypie $600 The $10K Guarantee tournament at Ultimate Poker Ultimate Poker also saw a sharp decline in attendance, as their $10k guaranteed Sunday Major drew just 90 players after exceeding 100 (101 to be precise) last week. The smaller turnout also meant a larger overlay, as UP had to kick-in $1,890 to the prize-pool. Here are the final table payouts from the tournament:
Kristin $248.02 Traffic trends in Nevada Average traffic hasnt moved in either direction over the past week, with Ultimate Poker still at 55 average cash game players and WSOP.com sitting at about 110 according to www.pokerscout.coms data, but it looks like both sites might soon be trending upward thanks to the WSOP. The reason I say this is, while average traffic hasnt moved yet (pokerscout.com uses a 7-day rolling average and the WSOP has only been in town for a couple days) peak traffic has certainly increased, especially at WSOP.com, which had peak traffic of 289 players on Thursday. It will be interesting to see just how many of the visiting players sign-up and play at the site, and I expect tournament traffic on Sundays to be the biggest beneficiaries. The word on the street Thefts at the Rio As mentioned above, there has been a bit of early controversy at the 2014 WSOP, but it has nothing to do with the tournaments. According to at least three poker players, their rooms at the Rio were broken into and cash and computers were stolen. The details of these stories are strange to say the least, and while nothing has been confirmed or sorted out every poker player in town should take great care in safeguarding their money and valuables. As WSOP tournament director Jack Effel told PokerNews.com: We take these allegations very seriously and are meeting with security/hotel management this morning to have a comprehensive discussion. We will report back to everyone soon. Thank you.
When the World Series of Poker brass announced all of the different ways they would be integrating their WSOP.com online poker room with the 2014 World Series of Poker it was music to a lot of peoples ears. Several of the ideas were well received (the Grind Room and Next Day satellites), while other ideas, specifically the WSOPs decree that it was perfectly fine to play online while playing in a WSOP tournament were met with more skepticism. When push came to shove and it was to time to make all the visions a reality there were quite a few problems beyond the initial fears of slower games and even less interaction between the players. However, it should be noted that even with these minor problems and annoyances traffic is up at WSOP.com in Nevada, and trending upward (more on that below). Setting aside the absurdity (in my opinion anyway) of promoting something that is almost certainly going to slow down play and that makes the game even less social than it has already become, players have run into two other problems, which Ill detail below. Playing at the tables In the lead-up to the 2014 WSOP, the WSOP was encouraging players to participate in online poker games (at WSOP.com of course) while playing at the Rio, saying online play would be permitted during live tournaments so long as it didnt interfere with the pace of the game. But they were leaving out one pretty important detail: WSOP.com NV does not have a mobile app at this time. In order to play at the table you would have to bring your laptop with you. Laptops are not only more cumbersome and awkward, but the battery life is much shorter. So far there has only been sporadic online play at live tournament tables, and a big part of this is likely due to the lack of a mobile app. Collusion policy Another issue with playing in the Rio has just come to light this week on the poker forums, as players are reporting they cannot sit at the same table with people using the same IP address and if you are playing in the Rio and using their wi-fi network (which apparently has a limited number of IP addresses) there is a chance you will not be permitted to sit at certain tables. According to Caesars Interactive CEO Mitch Garber the policy stems from a Nevada regulation, and with the thousands of players at the RIO there simply arent enough IP addresses to go around: The policy is a needed one, and it is in place for a very good reason; to prevent collusion by players sitting right next to one another, and to prevent people from multi-accounting. Normally this isnt a very big deal, but at the WSOP there will be thousands of potential poker players at the Rio, and considering the small player pool at Nevada online poker rooms, chances are at least a few players will try to sit at the same table and run into this issue. In the forum thread linked to above, poker journalist Haley Hintze recommended using an air card as a workaround to the IP problem, as she has done so at past WSOPs when the Rio attempted to block certain sites on their wi-fi network. However, this may not work for most people as your laptops air card might flag you as being outside of Nevada even if youre sitting smack dab in the middle of the Rio. Traffic numbers up Despite the issues, traffic at WSOP.com has increased significantly over the first week of the WSOP. Average traffic is up close to 20% and peak traffic numbers have jumped even higher according to www.pokerscout.coms data. WSOP.com Nevada is well on its way to catching Party / Borgata in New Jersey as the most heavily trafficked licensed online poker room in the US. Whether the increase is happening because of the new policies at the WSOP tables or simply from the influx of players in Las Vegas for the WSOP is unclear. So despite my personal distaste for the policy, and the hiccups I mentioned above, it appears the WSOPs incorporation of their online poker room is already reaping huge dividends, and is likely to become more and more successful as the WSOP rolls on.
The WSOP.com promotions during the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas are heating up, much like the temperatures outside. But from the comfort of ever-present air conditioning, its time to fire up that laptop and get crazy about Multi-Table Madness. Online poker players are known for their ability to multi-table. The pros often play four to ten tables at a time or more, in some cases. But even the most recreational players often pull up two tables at once. With the ability to toggle back and forth between tables, its a great opportunity to make more money. Multi-tabling erases that extra time between hands and increases the odds of profit-making exponentially. And it is an incredibly fulfilling challenge for any player. Multi-Table Madness Bonuses WSOP.com is giving away a cash bonus of up to $100, depending on the stakes of the tables being played, between 6pm and 11pm each night. The hand and cash game table will be picked at random, so it can be at any of the many stakes available on the site. Multi-tabling gives players more chances to win, obviously. But theres more to it. For those at that winning table, they will be awarded up to $100 more (again depending on stakes being played) for every additional table they are currently playing. For example, if Seat 1 at the winning table wins $100 but is also playing three other tables at the same time, the win is a total of $400. Its free. Its bonus money. Free, bonus money! The payouts will be $100 for NL or PL games at $1/$2 or higher, or FL games at $2/$4 or higher. Lower stakes will receive $50 payouts. When and Where WSOP.com players must be playing in Nevada to win. The promotion is already underway and will continue through July 14, 2014. Coincidentally (or not), that is the last day of the WSOP Main Event at the Rio in Las Vegas. Online poker from WSOP.com is available to all players over 21 years old in the state of Nevada, whether a resident or visitor. Play from anywhere with an Internet connection, including the Grind Room at the Rio. Keep in mind that new players are eligible for a massive 100% deposit bonus any first-time deposit of up to $1,000. This is available throughout the World Series of Poker, and along with that bonus comes five tickets to a $1,000 freeroll. More free money! It doesnt come along every day, except through July 14 on WSOP.com.
For most online poker networks, May and June is a time of decreased player volume and falling revenues. Not in Nevada. Thanks to the presence of the 45th annual WSOP, the whos who of poker professions, wealthy businessmen and prominent members of the poker community have made their way to Vegas. Apparently at least some of them are taking time to check out WSOPs online counterpart WSOP.com. It doesnt hurt that WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini and the gang have rolled out the red carpet for the poker community, offering them a multitude of chances to either strike it rich online or win their way into a live WSOP event. So while the rest of the online poker community reels, it appears that volume on the virtual felt in Nevada is just heating up and not a moment too soon. Online poker revenue down in April Month-over-month revenue across Nevadas three major poker networks was down 14.5% ($792,000) last month. Aprils disappointing revenue figures are the lowest reported by the state since it started releasing online gaming reports in February. Throughout the month, cash-game volume dipped an alarming 11.7 percent, exceeding the percentage loss suffered by the global market by a wide margin. In hindsight it appears that WSOP.com resigned itself to a poor April showing, instead focusing its efforts on the cross-promotional opportunities afforded by the live WSOP. Suffice to say, its strategy worked. Cash-game volume on WSOP.com surges upwards Due to its brand association with the WSOP, aggressive marketing campaign and the presence of the High-Roller Series, cash-game traffic on WSOP.com has reached its highest point since mid-March. According to data collected on PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout, 7-day cash-game averages on Nevada-based poker sites are as follows:
WSOP: 113 Traffic is up 13 percent since last week, and climbing rapidly.
Ultimate Poker: 58 UP also benefits from the WSOP effect, up from 53 a week prior.
Real Gaming: 0 Real Gaming has officially become the Betfair of Nevada. With traffic numbers expected to rise even further, the bitter taste left in the mouths of Nevadas iGaming operators by Aprils lackluster results appears to have all but vanished. Other factors that may have contributed to the recent traffic surge include a new rule at the Rio that allows players to mix it up online while participating in a live WSOP event, the presence of the Grind Room, and a new depositing method that allows players to fund their WSOP.com account from the Rios casino cage. High-roller events exceed guarantees Four out of WSOP.coms seven scheduled High-Roller events have reached their end. Thus far, turnout numbers for the series have been respectable, if not fantastic. Event #1, a $10k Guaranteed, $215 buy-in NLHE tournament drew 62 runners in exceeding its guarantee by 24 percent. That positive trend would continue, as Event #2 & #3 would crush their already lofty guarantees by $2,800 and $4,800, respectively. Even Event #4, the first to feature a $30,000 Gtd. managed to inch into the black, surpassing its minimum benchmark by $200. Hey, a win is a win. The High-Roller Series will continue on until May 31st, when it will be replaced by the more casual friendly WSOP Online Championship. On a more dour note, both of Nevadas Sunday Majors exhibited week-over-week losses, with WSOPs $15k Guarantee managing to only draw 85 participants ($17,000 prize pool) and Ultimate Pokers $10,000 Sunday failing to hit its guarantee by a rather significant margin $1,810. Predictions for June Although the recent traffic bump probably wont be enough to propel revenues back to the levels enjoyed in March, Nevadas poker sites will likely experience month-over-month monetary gains in both May and June. And with more players showing up at the Rio by the minute, many of whom will be in town for the WSOPs smaller buy-in events, I expect cash-game and tournament traffic on WSOP.com to trend upwards at an accelerated pace. Surely, this traffic will only level off once the Online Championship comes to a close. Ultimate Poker should also experience a modest traffic boost, but nothing compared to the tear it went on during last years WSOP, when it was the only game in town. During June 2013, traffic on the network held steady above 200 concurrent cashgame players for the majority of the series. Should it eclipse 80 during the 2014 iteration, Id be impressed.
Venture with me for a moment to the last Golden Age of online poker in the US: Its Spring 2010. After a string of unfathomable bad beats you find yourself with only a solitary dollar in your online poker account. With your last virtual pennies, you sign up for a Step 1 WSOP satellite. Against nearly insurmountable odds, you win and from that moment forward, you continue winning. Fast-forward nine months later, and youre sitting on top of the poker world as proud owner of a WSOP Main Event bracelet. Such was the dream of many an online poker player residing in the US pre-Black Friday. But those dreams would quickly evaporate when nearly every poker site welcoming players from the states was abruptly shut down. For the past three years, online grinders have had to play their way into the World Series of Poker via other, less attractive means. Some forwent their aspirations of playing in the worlds most prestigious live tournament series altogether. But now, thanks to the legalization of online poker in Nevada and WSOP.com, a new era of online poker is upon us. And Id argue that its going to be even better than the last. The WSOP.com edge If it wasnt already immediate apparent, WSOP.com possesses deep ties to the crown jewel of live tournament poker. This grants it the unique ability to offer a host of cross-promotional events, many of which will afford players the opportunity to convert their online cash into live WSOP entries. And unlike in years past, players trying to win their way into the Main Event or one of many other WSOP events neednt worry about having their funds locked up or their favorite site shut down by the Department of Justice, as WSOP.com is completely legal in the states of Nevada and New Jersey But enough logistics. Lets illustrate how WSOP.com is changing the game through its full palate of exemplary promotions. Qualifiers, qualifiers and more qualifiers Already seven lucky players have parlayed their $16.50 buy-in into an entry into what some have affectionately christened the Mini-Main Event. From May 22 29, WSOP.com ran nightly qualifiers with the winner receiving entry into Event #8 $1,500 Millionaire Maker. Those online qualifiers are all guaranteed a shot at a seven-figure first place prize. If you missed out on the fun, fear not, as WSOP.com has just rolled out a swatch of new WSOP-focused qualifier events. In fact, from now until July 1, players on Nevadas industry leading poker room can click their way into nearly every WSOP event. Compare that to the days when PokerStars reigned supreme in the states. Despite its massive following, PS players could rarely sign up for anything but a WSOP Main Event qualifier. Speaking of which, on July 5th the site will be rolling out a 25 Seat Main Event Scramble, which as you may have guessed, will award more than two-dozen players entry into pokers grandest stage. In only its first year in the regulated market, WSOP.com has effectively managed to bridge the gap between online and land-based play in unprecedented ways. And it has its status as a legal poker operator and enviable brand association with the WSOP to thank. Player incentives Until now, poker operators conducting affairs in the regulated US market have yet to full take advantage of their affiliations to land-based casinos and events. Weve already discussed one way in which WSOP.com is breaking down the boundaries between online and live poker. But through its celebratory, player-friendly promos it exhibits a level of commitment yet unseen in the regulated iPoker industry. A quintessential example of the networks increased commitment to its patrons is illustrated through the Multi-Table Madness promo, which awards lucky cash-game players a $100 bonus just for simply sitting at a table. As an added incentive, should winning players be situated at other cash-game tables, theyll receive an additional $100 for each table. Talk about money for nothing and the chips for free (pun intended). Going further, SNG Leaderboards gift the sites best grinders their share of $5,000 in weekly prizes, and the soon to launch WSOP.com Online Championship will grant players the opportunity to duke it out for $560,000 in guaranteed prize money, spread out over 15 events. Think of the Online Championship as WSOP.coms way of offering players who bust from a live WSOP event a second chance at glory. A new day for US online poker After scouring WSOPs promotional schedule Im reminded of the days when PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker would continually surprise me with their exceedingly attractive promos. Only this time around, I have little trepidation depositing funds onto a poker site. Yes poker fans, it appears that a new era in online poker has begun.
Every year the poker world descends on Las Vegas to participate in the spectacle that is the World Series of Poker, and every year they are welcomed by Caesars, the Rio, and the WSOP staff. This year they were also welcomed by WSOP.com, Caesars online poker room in Nevada, and the company is hoping the WSOP can revitalize the sluggish online poker industry in the state. So far so good, as traffic is up significantly since the WSOP began last week. In this weeks Nevada Online Poker Review well take a look at the WSOPs impact on the online poker numbers in the state, well rundown the biggest stories of the past week at the Rio, well let you know who is winning in the federal online gambling fight according to one reporter; and a whole lot more. WSOP Boosting Online Traffic Caesars decision to cross-promote the WSOP and their WSOP.com online poker room in Nevada has seemingly breathed some much needed life into the site. This is due mostly to the fact that average cash game traffic is up significantly after just one week of WSOP action. As good as the results have been there is still a lot of room for even more growth. If Caesars can iron out a few nuisance issues players have encountered (such as a lack of IP addresses at the Rio) the results will keep rising. Furthermore, as we have seen historically, the more players a site has the more players it attracts. I expect WSOP.coms traffic to continue its upward climb as the WSOP plods along. Traffic at WSOP.com is already up nearly 20% since the World Series kicked off (more on the traffic trends in Nevada can be found below). If the company could somehow manage to launch a mobile app at some point during the WSOP traffic would likely skyrocket. Hellmuth Denied, Parker Wins Third, and More from WSOP Last week it was the Vanessa Selbst show at the Rio as she kicked-off the 2014 WSOP in style, booking a win in the prestigious $25k Mix-Max event, and picking up her 3rd WSOP bracelet in the process. Since then, several players /events have tried to dethrone her as the early star of the WSOP, including Phil Hellmuth and the Millionaire Maker tournament. Hellmuth Denied #14 Phil Hellmuth may have put Doyle and Johnny Fing Chan in his rearview mirror, but he does have some young guns starting to breathe down his neck on the all-time bracelet list. As most of you know, the all-time bracelet lead is the most important poker metric in Phil Hellmuths eyes. When youve accomplished as much as Phil has, its the close calls (the near-hits) that probably sting the most. Thats precisely what happened to Hellmuth when he lost heads-up for the bracelet in the $1,500 Razz tournament to Ted Forrest. #14 is still on hold, and well have to see if Hellmuth can make good on his goal of getting to 25 before he calls it a career. Parker wins #3 While Phil couldnt book #14, Brock Parker did win his third bracelet in the $10k Limit Omaha 8 Championship. Parker, known as one of the best limit holdem players in tournament poker (won his first two bracelets back in 2009), recently won the 6-max limit and no-limit tournaments. Milly Maker Nearly a Record Maker Ho-hum, Event #8 was just your average 7,970 player field, falling short of the 8,773 runners the 2006 WSOP Main Event delivered. The Millionaire Maker did beat every other Main Event, and also became the largest non-Main Event tournament in WSOP history. Kudos to the WSOP staff for pulling this tournament off considering both starting flights happened on the same day. Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada WSOP.com Sunday $15K Guaranteed This tournament is on a temporary hiatus as WSOP.com hosted several smaller events over the first weekend of the 2014 World Series of Poker. From here on out (during the WSOP that is) the weekly guarantee will be accompanied by a number of different tournaments from the WSOP.com Online Championships. Those results will be posted by us as well. WSOP Main Event Satellite Despite the World Series of Poker being underway, the turnout for the WSOP Main Event seat this past Sunday featured one of its worst turnouts to date as just 36 players registered for the satellite tournament. Just a week after exceeding the one-seat guarantee and awarding a small second-place prize, WSOP.com had to juice the pot to the tune of a $2,800 overlay this week. But Im sure PongPong doesnt mind!
PongPong 2014 WSOP Main Event seat The $10K Guarantee tournament at Ultimate Poker Another slight dip for Ultimate Poker as the $10k guarantee attracted just 86 runners (down 4 from last week) forcing UP to pony up over $2,000 towards the prize-pool. You may recognize the 4th place finisher as the player who had some harsh words for Ultimate poker Willaim Reynolds earlier this year when Reynolds messed around with the sites Draw for the Button policy to needle money beets. More on that story can be found here: Draw for the Button Affair Shines the Light on Nevada iGaming Policies Here are the final table payouts from the tournament:
Money Beets $1,000
lvlioness $300 Traffic trends in Nevada WSOP.com has moved the needle considerably thanks to the WSOP jumping from average traffic of 110 cash-game players to 130 cash-game players in the last week, according to www.pokerscout.com. Peak traffic is up even more: WSOP.com Nevada is now nipping on the hells of Party /Borgata in New Jersey as the largest licensed online poker provider in the US. The traffic spike hasnt reached Ultimate Poker at this point, with cash-game traffic in the 50 player range. The Word On the Street Forbes Nathan Vardi Says Adelson is Winning Forbes Nathan Vardi made his poker bones during Black Friday when his coverage was must read material. Vardi was considered one of the few mainstream journalists who got the industry and did online poker justice in his coverage. So when Nathan pens an article that reads Sheldon Adelson Is Winning His War Against Online Gambling I, of course, got very nervous and raced over to read it. Fortunately the headline had a minor case of hyperbole as Vardi detailed the gains Adelson has made in derailing online gambling expansion (prominently giving the AGAs recent decision to back out of the fight a level of importance I for one do not feel it deserves). However, he neglected to mention that his proposed ban has barely gotten a mention since it was introduced.
A strange story appeared on the Internet late last week when PokerFuse and several other outlets reported that PokerNews.com was barred from reporting on the Mid Stakes Poker Tour (MSPT) at the Venetian. What makes this story all the more strange is that PokerNews is the primary sponsor of the tournament series, and what is considered a very non-controversial website. The immediate question that people had was whether this had anything to do with Adelsons efforts to ban online gambling considering PokerNews is one of the biggest online affiliates in the world and a widely read outlet for online poker news and information Im sure there are a few anti-Adelson articles on there as well. The early indications were yes, but the Venetians initial no comments, along with PokerNews initially saying they did not know the cause of the ban, left people speculating on whether the barring of PokerNews came down from the top, or if the outlet was sent packing for another reason. I for one was not convinced, as it seemed like a very petty reason to bar the outlet from reporting on the MSPT, almost unreasonable in a Im taking my ball and going home kind of way. Well, we now have our answer as both PokerNews and the Venetian have confirmed that they were barred from reporting because of the online gambling relationships between PokerNews and providers. So chalk up another one in the I was wrong column. Given our Chairmans clear position on the matter of online gaming, the Venetian / Palazzo made a business decision to not allow an online blog during the Mid-States Poker Tour event, Kathy Raymond, Executive Director of Poker Operations at The Venetian, told PokerNews in a statement. It is now clear this was another political stiff arm against our industry that Sheldon Adelson is behind, said PokerNews Editor-in-Chief Donnie Peters on Saturday. It is unfortunate that one mans stance against poker holds such strength and yes, I do mean poker as a whole and not just online poker, because Adelson is without a doubt hurting the overall growth of the game the more he fights against the virtual variant. Poker world torn over how to handle Venetian So why do poker players continue to frequent the Venetian? Several boycotts have been hinted at / attempted, but the Venetian is considered one of the nicer poker properties in the world (which is a shame) with an excellent room and excellent staff. Some people feel a boycott only hurts the staff in the poker room, while others feel a boycott sends a very clear message even if it doesnt hurt Adelson and the Venetian financially. Needless to say, this is a tough spot for poker players to be in. Here is my previous take on a Venetian boycott. Is this a misstep by Adelson? As mentioned above, the move itself reeks of pettiness, and in my opinion will likely have some unintended consequences for Adelson and his cohorts Its a move that I would have advised against for several reasons:
It paints PokerNews as the victim, and Adelson and the Venetian as using bully tactics. If you want public support one of the best ways to gain is to appear as the victim. Adelson has been trying to paint online gambling advocates as wanting to impose their will on the rest of society. With his recent actions against PokerNews it now appears that Adelson is the one trying to force his beliefs down everyones throats and will stoop to petty tactics such as this to get it done.
The MSPT is a small scale poker tour that would have garnered little attention, especially while the WSOP is taking place down the road. Honestly, the MSPT coverage is not widely read and is barely a blip on the poker radar when its the only tournament series taking place. PokerNews coverage of the tournament at the Venetian would have come and gone like a ship in the night. Instead he turned it into a fiasco that garnered a lot more press, and made his property look quite unreasonable.
From an outsiders point of view this is the move of an aggrieved person who feels he is losing the fight; nobody, and I mean nobody has sympathy for the Im taking my ball and going home guy. Want to know who is winning a fight? Just look to see which side starts making desperate, illogical actions. This move by Adelson and the Venetian seems akin to a boxer coming out in the 10th round and needing a knockout, swinging wildly.
It opens up Adelson to new lines of attack. Its not lost on anyone that Adelson once hosted PokerStars branded tournaments at the Venetian, so once again his current stance on online gambling appears to be more fiscal and less moral, while Adelson claims otherwise. So thank you for giving poker advocates yet another avenue of attack to use against you. Its ok for PokerStars to come into the Venetian in 2011 (when they are for all intents and purposes afoul of US law) and plaster their brand all over the place, but its not ok for PokerNews (who in 2014 has not a single online advertisement that runs counter to current US law) to report on a tournament series they sponsor. Notice Sheldon didnt boot the MSPT, just PokerNews.