Nevada Online Poker Review: WSOP Kicks Off and Thefts at Rio

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 we’ll 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. We’ll 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 they’re not very good. According to the state’s numbers, Nevada’s 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 April’s 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 WSOP’s 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 game’s 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 event’s 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 they’re in Vegas, and can even plat at the WSOP’s custom table in the Grind Room. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been all positive for the WSOP and the Rio thus far, as you’ll see at the end of this column. Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada WSOP.com Sunday $15K Guaranteed The turnout was way down in WSOP.com’s $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 week’s tournament:
zentrain $4,845
CindrllaMan $2,805
lindeyloo $1,700
legum $1,360
Guypie $1,173
FMyWife $1,003
allprowi $833
ship_ou $578
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:
MattZman $2,500.68
Upay4MyHJs $1,750.48
TheOtherDave $1,200.30
RedMike99 $900.20
Wealthy360 $700.14
DatDude $550.08
GrnSmoothie $450.06
PottyTrainMe $350.04
Kristin $248.02 Traffic trends in Nevada Average traffic hasn’t 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.com‘s 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 hasn’t 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 Sunday’s 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.

Jason Somerville Helps UFC Fighter Win Nevada Poker Challenge

Ultimate Poker’s Jason Somerville has long been considered one of the top players in the game, but after signing on with Station Casinos’ Ultimate Poker he has also become one of poker’s top ambassadors, acting as one of the conduits between the poker community and Ultimate Poker, as well as being a very public and outgoing spokesperson for the site and poker in general. Somerville has also been prolific as a poker coach, helping pros and amateurs improve their poker game, and one of his better-known students recently took down the $1,100 buy-in Nevada Poker Challenge at the Reno Peppermill Casino for $52,000. So what’s so impressive about a $52,000 tournament score? Somerville’s student is one of the more unlikely tournament winners, UFC fighter Martin Kampmann who is one of the UFC fighters repping the Ultimate Poker brand. Somerville, a huge UFC fan in his own right, was on hand for Kampmann’s win (no word if he had a piece of the welterweight fighter) and seemed more excited for Kampmann than he has been for many of his own poker victories and big scores. The Nevada Poker Challenge Main Event This wasn’t some small buy-in nightly tournament either; Kampmann’s victory came against some pretty stiff competition, as 184 players registered for the NPC Main Event at the Peppermill Casino, including plenty of well-known pros and Nevada locals like Dan O’Brien, Ed Miller, and Shawn Van Asdale, all of whom finished in the money in the tournament. The tournament featured two starting flights on May 16th and 17th followed by the final day of action on the 18th. Here is a look at the final table payouts and notable cashes from the tournament courtesy of Cardplayer.com:
Martin Kampmann $52,740 336
Michael Cooper $30,640 280
Roy Armstrong $19,570 224
Ed Miller $13,790 168
Tony Le $10,640 140
Ian Remmel $8,090 112
Frank Addamo $6,300 84
Tony Chang $4,680 56
Dina Brown $3,320 28
12th place: Dan O’Brien $2,640
18th place: Shawn Van Asdale $1,960 Martin Kampmann Kampmann is a Danish fighter with a 20-7 MMA record, with most of his fights coming in the UFC, making Kampmann a veteran of the Octagon. During his peak years Kampmann was a championship contender. Kampmann won six of seven UFC fights to setup a championship contender bout where he came up short in a match against replacement Paul Daley, who filled in for Mike Swick who had to pull out of the fight. A victory would have propelled him to a title fight against another MMA fighter who reps a poker brand (888 Poker) George St. Pierre. At 32 Kampmann still has plenty of fight left in his body, but if he continues to book $50,000 paydays at the poker tables he may consider switching vocations, choosing to dodge river cards instead of fists – although I’m not sure which one actually hurts more, the physical pain of a blow or the mental anguish of a terrible river beat. Jason Somerville Somerville is considered one of the top tournament players in the game, both in the online and live arenas. In 2011 Somerville won a WSOP bracelet in a $1,000 NLHE event, and in 2012 he just missed out on participating in the Big One for One Drop tournament when he finished 3rd in the $25k satellite tournament held the day before the Big One for One Drop tourney (while he didn’t get a seat into the One Drop he did pocket $400,000). Somerville also made a deep run in the 2012 WSOP, finishing in 69th place before going on to coach one of the final table participants. Jason Somerville’s best known student was 2012 November October Niner Russell Thomas, who would go on to book a 4th place finish, and thanks to his results and his coaching prowess Somerville has become one of the most respected minds in the game over the past few years. Somerville became the first openly gay male poker pro back in 2012, and while few other players have decided to follow his lead, the extremely positive reaction from the poker community has paved the way for future players contemplating coming out.

Reminder: Non-US Residents Will Need 2 Forms of ID to Play in WSOP Events

Big news coming out of the World Series of Poker last week as the WSOP tweeted out that non-US players will need to bring proof of address with them in addition to their Passport. So if you’re travelling to the World Series of poker from outside the United States you had best come prepared with some utility bills and anything else you might think to bring. The WSOP Vice President of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky told the GlobalPokerIndex.com that the new rule “applies to all casinos, all financial institutions, all places that deal with money. International players are just advised to bring something besides a Passport, because a passport does not provide a home address. A cell phone bill, a utility bill, a Drivers License if it has it. A credit card statement. With online banking, bill pay, etc., everyone should be able to have something that documents where they live.” Players have been tweeting to the WSOP and Seth Palansky throughout, and while it appears Passports and Driver Licenses from certain countries will be enough (basically if they contain your address information) I would still bring along another form of ID just to be on the safe side. I can only imagine the nightmarish scenario of arriving halfway around the world only to realize your trip was for naught because you don’t have a cell phone bill with you. Why the change? The new rule almost certainly stems from the recent crackdown by the federal government on potential money laundering in casinos. The new policy first reported on back in March, requires casinos to vet all of their high-rollers, specifically where funds are coming from. Interestingly, the new policies were not supposed to be in place this quickly, but based on the new WSOP rule it would appear that they are already being enforced by the Treasury Department. According to a Reuters article from March 26, 2014, “The rule is likely to require casinos to get more information about certain customers in order to shed light on high-risk transactions such as international wires and large cash deposits, said the sources, who asked not to be named.” Both international wires and large cash transactions are the hallmark of the WSOP. Prior to the new policy being put in place casinos were only required to report suspicious activity, they weren’t obligated to determine where a player’s funds originated, and despite the claims to the contrary by Sheldon Adelson, brick & mortar casinos are easy targets for money launderers as a player can walk in with a boatload of cash and play no questions asked. Also of interest is that the new policy may very well likely stem from the money laundering case brought against Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. after a drug kingpin laundered over a hundred million dollars at the Sands properties. The Las Vegas Sands Corp. reached a $47 million settlement to make the case go away, a case that involved Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese businessman with alleged ties to a Mexican drug cartel who laundered an estimated $125 million at the Sands-owned Venetian and Palazzo casinos and other locales between 2004 and 2007. According to a report at money.CNN.com, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said Ye Gon and his associates wired money from a number of different banks and currency exchange houses in Mexico to Sands accounts in the U.S.” When Gon was apprehended he was in possession of stacks of cash bundled in Venetian money bands.

Nevada Online Poker Review: UP Talks Market’s Slow Start, More WSOP Prep

Nevada is gearing up for the WSOP and gearing up for the biggest influx of online poker players in the one-year history of their industry. So it’s an exciting time for sure, and the 2014 World Series of Poker could very well be a game-changer for Nevada’s online poker industry (a positive change the industry sorely needs right now), and all eyes will be focused on the state for the next several weeks. There is also a lot going on in the world of legal online poker in the US, as California and Pennsylvania continue to consider joining New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, while at the same time the fight at the federal level continues to take some unanticipated twists and turns. In this installment of the Nevada Online poker Review we’ll fill you in on the recent stories that relate to Nevada and the larger national fight for legalized online poker, starting off with Ultimate Gaming’s Tom Breitling year one review of the Nevada online poker industry. UP’s Breitling blames regulations for slow start There has been a lot of finger pointing by the people in charge when people ask about the slow start in the newly regulated markets in Nevada and New Jersey. The first scapegoats (and deservedly so) were the geolocation and payment processing troubles, followed by a lack of awareness (this falls more at the feet of the providers), and now we have yet another culprit, overregulation, which seems like a somewhat strange argument to make when these measures are needed for geolocation and underage gambling detection. Ultimate Poker’s Chairman Tom Breitling recently posted a video blog where he stated, “When regulations enter the picture there are complications that cut into the size of the market.” Adding, “Each computer click you ask someone to make during the e-commerce process turns away about 10-20% of those customers. Looking at it another way, you lose 1 in 10 customers with every click.” Breitling then compared these new regulations players have to deal with to the TSA policies enacted at airports following 9/11, something people are very vocal about in the beginning but eventually become accustomed to dealing with. Still, Breitling sees a light around the corner, and used Amazon and Google as companies that started off slow but grew into mega-corporations. AGA sitting federal debate out The fight for legalized online poker (and to stop certain efforts to ban online gambling) took a bit of a hit this week when the American Gaming Association (AGA) publicly withdrew from the campaign, citing a difference of opinion amongst its members. This decision is not all that surprising for those of us that follow the industry, but was certainly a surprise to many. Fortunately the pullout by the AGA isn’t as big a deal as it first appears, considering the entities who support online gambling regulation in the AGA are still funding the lobbying group Coalition for Consumer Online Protection (C4COP), so while the AGA is no longer picking sides, the same entities within it have not changed their positions. Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada WSOP.com Sunday $15K Guaranteed WSOP.com saw a very solid turnout of 105 players for its $15k Guaranteed this past Sunday, creating a total prize-pool of $21,000. This is a good sign for the site with the WSOP right around the corner, and you can expect the Sunday tournaments during the WSOP to smash any previous records in terms of attendance and prize-pools. It will be interesting to see if WSOP.com raises the guarantee on its Sunday tournaments during the WSOP; perhaps Caesars is waiting to see a week or two of results before deciding on a number. Here is a look at the final table payouts from this past week’s tournament:
zentrain $5,880.00
mnbass1 $3,402.00
waldo4 $1,953.00
Guypie $1,533.00
TEEPS $1,323.00
AK1688 $1,113.00
brokefinger $882.00
allprowi $588.00
dicma $441.00 WSOP Main Event Satellite There was just a small overlay in this week’s WSOP Main Event satellite, as 46 players registered for the $215 tournament, which was won by a player using the screen-name SuGaRaY71, who will join over 100 other online qualifiers in the 2014 WSOP Main Event.
SuGaRaY71— $10,000 seat to the 2014 WSOP Main Event The $10K Guarantee tournament at Ultimate Poker For the first time in recent memory Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com both eclipsed the 100 player mark in their big Sunday tournaments, as UP saw 101 players enter their $10k Sunday Guaranteed, just missing the guarantee by about $800. Here is a look at the final table payouts:
MattZman $2,500.68
Upay4MyHJs $1,750.48
TheOtherDave $1,200.30
RedMike99 $900.20
Wealthy360 $700.14
DatDude $550.08
GrnSmoothie $450.06
PottyTrainMe $350.04
Kristin $248.02 Traffic trends in Nevada As we gear up for the 2014 World Series of Poker, online poker traffic in Nevada has once again remained fairly constant, with WSOP.com right around 100 average cash-game players and Ultimate Poker in the 50-60 range over the past couple months according to www.pokerscout.com‘s data. These baseline numbers will be pretty important as traffic is expected to significantly increase during the six-plus week summer tournament series, but the more important question will be; will traffic levels return to baseline, or will Nevada’s poker sites see a long-term boost from the WSOP thanks to the added awareness and new player experiences? The word on the street “No Ticket” If you want to play in World Series of Poker events this year you best be able to prove you are who you say you are, and in some cases a passport may not even be enough. There is a new policy this year that requires players to prove their address, and some foreign countries do not print address information on driver’s licenses or passports. So the solution is this: Bring a utility or cell phone bill, or some other means to verify your address with you. Otherwise this could happen:

WSOP.com High Roller and Online Championship Series Guarantee to Award Combined $760,000

Cross-promotional tournament series are one of the strongest means by which an online poker provider can spread brand awareness, especially if its land-based counterpart is one of the most respected names in live poker. But until now, the US’s regulated poker sites have only had a select few opportunities to cash in on benefits afforded by cross-promotional tours – April’s NJ Championship of Online Poker and its ties to the WPT Championship at the Borgata being the most notable example. That’s all about to change this Sunday, when WSOP.com kicks off the first of two back-to-back tournament series. For the first time in history poker aficionados playing at the Rio will be able to get their WSOP fix both live and on the virtual felt. Suffice to say, the atmosphere this year in Vegas will have never been more electric. So if the WSOP and its 65 events still aren’t enough to satiate your poker appetite, here’s what you need to know about the WSOP.com High-Roller Series and Online Championship. High-Roller Series Those who arrive in Vegas a few days early can prepare for the annual festivities by participating in the WSOP.com High-Roller Series:
Dates: Sunday, May 25 – Saturday, May 31st
Number of events: Seven
Buy-ins: Range from $215 to $530
Total guaranteed prize pool: $200,000 Other notable facts Each High-Roller event will feature an incrementally larger guaranteed prize pool than the last, leading up to the $530 buy-in, $50,000 Guaranteed Main Event on May 31. All scheduled events will be of the No-Limit Hold’em variety, with five events allowing for reentries, and three permitting add-ons. Tournaments will take place daily at 8 pm. For all you players worrying about missing out on the online fun due to overlap with a live event, don’t. The good news is that this year players seated at a table in the Rio will be permitted to play online poker from their laptop. Sure, it may prove a bit cumbersome to carry a laptop around, but it’s way better than waiting 20 minutes while one of today’s young pros ponders a critical all-in call. Resident writer Steve Ruddock has written extensively about the benefits of playing online poker while at the Rio. Check out his words of wisdom here. WSOP.com Online Championship In true WSOP fashion, there’s little break in the action, as one day after the High-Roller ends, the Online Championship begins:
Dates: Sunday, June 1 – Sunday, June 15
Number of events: 15
Buy-ins: Range from $55 to $530
Total guaranteed prize pool: $560,000 Other notable facts Ironically, the guaranteed prize pools for some Online Championship events will vastly exceed those of the High-Roller series. In particular, two events – Event #8 and Event #15 – will sport six-figures worth of guaranteed cash. Other events are tailored towards players on a restricted budget, such as the $55 NLHE Freezeout (Event #6) on June 6. And Omaha fans will be pleased to note that the Online Championship will boast two PLO events, one freezeout and one rebuy & add on. The Main Event will take place on a Sunday afternoon, and will feature a relatively modest $215 buy-in. Up for grabs will be at least $200k in prize money. On a side, the Online Championship series will also be made available to residents of New Jersey – perfect for those who can’t necessarily make the 2,500+ mile trek out to Vegas (::raises hand::). Predicting the High-Roller and Online Championship’s effect on cash-game traffic There are several indications that cash-game traffic in Nevada will reach an all-time high during this year’s WSOP. During last year’s event, Ultimate Poker – which at the time was the only regulated poker site in Nevada – experienced a traffic surge in June, with 7-day cash-game player averages peaking at 227 on June 27. And that was without any affiliation to the WSOP. Given this, one can presume that the presence of the WSOP’s online brand will result in an even greater influx of players trying their luck online in 2014. Further supporting the theory that June will be the best month to date in Nevada’s newly-minted iGaming industry is the presence of a Grind Room in the Rio, an unparalleled first-time deposit match bonus on WSOP.com and as mentioned previously, the ability to multi-table live and online poker. Lastly, cash-games are notoriously juicy during the WSOP. Who’s to say that they won’t be equally lucrative online? Just the prospect of a sea of tourists logging on to play online poker should be enough to get the pros to at least create an account. Given the aforementioned variables, I predict that cash-game averages during the WSOP will usurp the previous benchmark of 261 set last November – likely by a significant margin.

6 Great Reasons to Play Online Poker at the WSOP

This summer poker players will once again descend upon the desert oasis that is Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, with dreams of gold bracelets and poker immortality running through their heads, and while most will leave with just a story, some will see their dreams fulfilled and some will even have success at the online tables. Ultimate Poker went live just before last year’s WSOP, but in 2014 the industry is more mature and there are more options. So, this year these thousands of dreamers will have more poker options than ever before with legalized online poker up and running in the state, including Caesars’ WSOP.com online poker room. In years past busting out of a WSOP tournament meant a slow walk to your hotel room to sit and stew, but not anymore, now you can power up your laptop or even head over to the WSOP’s “Grind Room” and play online poker. When you hop on WSOP.com you can play cash games, multi-table tournaments or sit & go’s, or you can try to qualify for tomorrow’s bracelet events via one of the numerous satellite options available, and lucky for you… You can play at WSOP.com while at the Rio or anywhere in Nevada Not only is Caesars allowing players to participate in online games while playing in live tournaments (so long as it doesn’t interfere with the live tournament of course) but they’ve also designated a specific area in the Pavilion Room for online play, and have made their wi-fi network available throughout the Rio. The special area is being called the “Grind Room” and features designated computers and a separate dedicated wi-fi network specifically for players who want to play online poker in between tournaments, or perhaps just to get in some hands while they wait to be seated. However, it’s… Laptop or bust, as WSOP.com is not available on mobile devices If you are going to play online poker while sitting at a WSOP tournament table you’ll need to bring your laptop, as WSOP.com is not available on mobile devices in Nevada – perhaps Caesars will debut their mobile platform this summer? It may be a little more cumbersome, but poker is poker, and online poker players have had to make due in worse situations than lugging around a laptop. In addition to the convenience of playing online poker on the floor of the Rio, WSOP.com is also offering some great promotions during the WSOP, including… A 100% up to $1,000 Bonus If you’re new to WSOP.com you can also take advantage of the site’s first time deposit bonus, as all new players will receive a 100% deposit bonus up to $1,000, if they make their first deposit during the World Series of Poker. This is a huge increase over the site’s usual 100% up to $600 bonus. You’ll also receive… Five tickets to a $1,000 freeroll tournament On top of the first time deposit bonus you’ll also receive five tickets to a $1,000 freeroll at the site. This means instead of the usual one entry into a $1,000 welcome Freeroll you’ll receive five during your WSOP visit. Here is what you’ll need to do to cash-in your tickets: And there is also… A Sit & Go leader-board throughout the World Series of Poker For all of you Sit & Go wizards you’ll also be able to compete in WSOP.com’s S&G leader-board. The leader-board prize-money will be split up between the Top 30 finishers in three separate tiers, depending on the stakes you play for:
Low Limit ($5 and below) – $1,000 in weekly prize money
Mid Limit ($20 and below) – $1,500 in weekly prize money
High Limit ($30 and above)- $2,500 in weekly prize money And as I mentioned in the opening… WSOP.com is hosting “Next Day” satellites One of the most interesting additions to the 2014 World Series of poker will be the “Next Day” direct buy-in satellites to WSOP bracelet events. Next day satellites will take place online in a variety of formats with buy-ins starting as low as $11. For a complete satellite schedule you can visit the WSOP.com lobby.

The Winning Poker Network Bids Adieu to Nevada

Online poker competition in Nevada just got a tad less fierce. On Wednesday, the Winning Poker Network became the second offshore network catering to US players to pull out of states where online poker is regulated. The announcement was made to players via email, with Winning citing the presence of the regulated market as the motivator behind its exodus. Players with active accounts on Winning skins will still be able to login and manage their balances, but will be prohibited from playing for real-money. Winning’s exit follows a similar decision by five Merge Gaming skins to ban players from the Silver State. Both Winning and most Merge skins no longer permit real-money play from grinders in New Jersey and Delaware as well. Now with two of the largest US-facing networks sent packing, will traffic on Nevada’s two regulated sites surge ahead, or will their absence have little noticeable effect? Volume on Nevada poker sites unlikely to change When most Merge Gaming skins pulled out of Nevada’s iGaming market in March, traffic on that state’s two regulated sites – WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker – hardly benefitted. If anything, over the two weeks that followed, WSOP sustained heavy losses (26 percent). And while seasonal trends most likely played a role in WSOP’s sudden struggles, the departure of Merge did little, if anything, to offset them. That being said, Merge’s exit strategy from Nevada was two-fold, and therefore less impactful. To elaborate, with the inception of regulated online poker last year, Merge stopped accepting new players. Its decision in March to ban existing players was a mere extension of its previous position – one that players from the Silver State may have anticipated. Winning, on the other hand, took a more aggressive “here today, gone tomorrow” stance towards leaving Nevada. But despite the grandiosity of Winning’s exit, I’m hard-pressed to believe that it will drive traffic towards Nevada’s regulated poker rooms – at least in the short-term. And here’s why: According to PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout, the average number of cash-game players on the Winning network is approximately 350. Given that Nevada’s population is roughly 0.9 percent of the US’s total populace, it can be assumed with some reliability that only a smattering of its players were logging in from the Silver State’s confines. And even if Nevada boasted a particularly high proportion of Winning players relative to other states, not all of them would suddenly start playing on the state’s regulated poker rooms. Compounding matters further, some of them may have already been playing on WSOP or Ultimate, in addition to Winning. Given these variables it’s a pretty safe bet that traffic on Nevada’s regulated iGaming sites will barely be affected by Winning’s farewell. But it could lead to something that will. Bovada biggest competitor to regulated sites Whether the departure of the second and third largest US-facing networks in Nevada will compel US-facing juggernaut Bovada to jump ship is currently unknown. But if it does, it could not only help to bolster traffic on regulated sites, it could spark a trend in which all US-facing networks leave markets where online poker has been legalized. Bovada is the seventh most heavily traveled poker network in the world, boasting an average of approximately 1,500 cash-game players. It’s software suite is set up to allow users to bet on sports, horses, poker and participate in casino games. The network is renowned for its lightning fast payout speeds, exemplary deposit bonus and varied transaction options. In a word, Bovada is ahead of the game. With Bovada out of the picture, poker players looking for an alternative option will likely preference WSOP and Ultimate Poker over the remaining US-facing sites – if only because they allow for comparatively fast cash-outs and the best customer care of the remaining networks accepting Nevada players. Is Winning really abandoning its players? According to Steve Brogan of Pocketfives, the Winning Poker Network only “sent out the email because they felt they had to,” and that it “would affect only new players from Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.” Brogan went onto state that Black Chip Poker would be changing his state of residence from Nevada to California. Looks like the email from Winning could be more folly than fact. Perhaps instead of leaving under the pretense of respect for the regulated market, Winning’s stance was nothing more than a ploy to appease the US government. It wouldn’t be the first time US-facing networks have tried to save…face.

How to Play Poker Online While in Las Vegas for the WSOP

The 2014 World Series of Poker is just around the corner and this will mark the first WSOP tournament series where visitors will have the chance to play at one of Nevada’s licensed online poker rooms. With the WSOP brand also home to the largest online poker room in the state, many players making their annual migration will have a unique opportunity to enhance their poker experience this summer, and the WSOP is welcoming this; allowing players to play online poker while playing in WSOP events, and even setting aside a designated computer area with a secure wi-fi network in the Pavilion Room dubbed the “Grind Room.” So if you are ready to grind, here is what you need to know to create and fund your WSOP.com account while you’re in Nevada. Creating an online poker account Creating an online poker account in Nevada is a fairly simple process, but you’ll definitely want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before getting started. This isn’t the old days where you simply type in a name and click a box saying you’re over 18 and type in “On the river” as your address, in the new regulated market you’ll need to prove who you are and fill out the required information with care and attentiveness. Also, a word of warning, you’ll need to surrender your Social Security number. Expert tip #1: Preregister! One of the nice things about a site like WSOP.com is that even though you can only play for real money in Nevada you can preregister and have your account and identity verified beforehand. The first thing you’ll need to do is download the WSOP.com software, a process that takes just a couple minutes. Once the download completes you’ll be prompted to log-in or create a new account. Expert tip #2: Check and double check your info! If you mess up on even a very minor piece of data your registration process will suddenly become far more difficult and time consuming. Make sure everything matches up precisely before clicking submit. Once you finish the registration process you will be asked to confirm your WSOP.com registration via E-Mail, and you’ll be ready to play once your account is funded, which you can only do once you’re inside Nevada’s borders of course. Payment options when you get into Nevada You can register your account out of state, but as mentioned above, you will only be allowed to fund your account when you are physically in Nevada, so you’ll need to put some thought into and coordinate how you will fund your account beforehand. Expert Tip #3: Have a backup plan! Planning on funding your account via an ACH check or a credit card is great, but you should also formulate a contingency plan in case something goes wrong. If possible, make sure you have more than one funding option available when you head to Las Vegas at the end of the month. Here are your options: Cash at the Cage According to WSOP.com Head of Poker Bill Rini, players will be able to deposit in person at the Rio by the time the World Series of Poker rolls around. This option isn’t available at present an WSOP.com is not guaranteeing it will be ready to go when the WSOP starts, but it’s as close to a guarantee as you can get, short of something improbable occurring like the grid going down. If you can swing it (and by swing it I mean travel with thousands of dollars) this is the way to go, and would be my #1 choice. Neteller The best way to fund your account while visiting Nevada short of walking around with thousands of dollars in your suitcase is by setting up a Neteller account. There will be some small fees you’ll have to pay, but like preregistering your WSOP.com account you can have your Neteller loaded up and ready to go the second you land in Vegas, which makes Neteller a surefire way for out of state players to fund their account. Even if you plan on using another funding source it would be wise to have a Neteller account in your back pocket in case it is needed, and setting it up beforehand is critical. Credit Cards (Visa and MasterCard) Credit cards are a precarious way to fund your online poker account, with MasterCard success rates hovering around 75% while Visa is still about a 50/50 proposition, with Visa transactions declined over 50% of the time. Certain banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo are known to still be declining online poker transactions despite their legal status in Nevada, and many other smaller banks have followed suit. If a credit card is your primary funding method make sure you have a backup plan. ACH (eChecks) One of the most reliable funding options is sending an eCheck, but this could present problems for players whose bank is not in-state, and ACH checks can take a couple days to clear. If you can set it up this is a very reliable method, with few transaction denials, but it will also be one of the more logistically difficult. Expert Tip #4: Withdraw from anywhere in the world! Depositing has to occur within Nevada’s borders but you are able to initiate a withdrawal from anywhere in the world. So fear not, if you go on a nice run at WSOP.com in Nevada you can request a withdrawal when you get back home.

WSOP Conference Call Highlights: The Fusion of Live and Online Poker

On Tuesday Caesars Entertainment held their annual World Series of Poker conference call where they schmooze the poker media with their WSOP hype and remind us all how great last year’s tournament series was and how much better this year will be as WSOP brass like Ty Stewart and Seth Palansky offer up some thoughts on information on this year’s proceedings and answer questions during the Q&A session. All in all the WSOP conference call is usually a pretty uninteresting hour, focused more on minor rule and schedule changes, or who the latest food provider will be. Tuesday’s call certainly had plenty of that, but it also had quite a bit of substance as the 2014 WSOP will be the first one held where the WSOP.com online poker site will be available to all players (local or out of town) in Sin City during the six-plus week tournament series. Because of this the conference call was full of people looking for information on how the WSOP would combine their online and live products, and it seemed the WSOP itself became the second part of the story. The WSOP brass didn’t disappoint as they laid out numerous ways Caesars will be integrating the WSOP tournament series with its eponymously named online poker room throughout the summer: Hint, it goes way beyond running satellites, although there will be plenty of those, which is where I’ll begin. WSOP Satellites According to WSOP.com Head of Poker Bill Rini the site has already awarded 100 seats to the Main Event and is hopeful that an additional 100 could be added to that total before the Main event kicks off in July. Ty Stewart was a bit more pessimistic, saying he’d be happy with 100 plus satellite entries. In the lead up to the Main Event WSOP.com will host everything from small buy-in super-satellites to $5,000 heads-up Sit & Go tournaments. Either way, these direct buy-in satellites have demonstrated just what is possible with legal online poker. If New Jersey and Nevada can produce 100-200 entries imagine what nationwide online poker could do? In the future it’s not out of the realm of possibility that 3,000 players in the WSOP Main event will be from online satellites in the US alone. Main Event satellites aren’t the only ones available either. One of the more interesting announcements was that online satellites to the next day’s bracelet tournaments will be held at WSOP.com. Players will have the chance to win their way into the next day’s event(s) for as little as $11, through either MTT’s or Steps-style S&G’s. The WSOP wants you to play online For the first time players will not only be allowed to play online poker while at the Rio’s tournament tables but will actually be steered towards playing online while at the Rio. Not only will laptops and tablets be allowed at the tables (allowing players to participate in both online and live games at the same time) but there will also be a dedicated “Grind Room” setup at the Rio. The WSOP will allow online play so long as it doesn’t slow down play and while headphones are still banned at certain stages of a tournament or at televised tables, other electronic devices will be permitted. The Grind Room will be a secure and isolated area in the Pavilion Room where players can log on and play at WSOP.com. The Grind Room will have its own dedicated wi-fi network, while the regular wi-fi network will be used elsewhere throughout the Rio. While I think the Grind Room is a terrific idea I’m not 100% sold on players using electronics at the table more than they already do, as it may make the games even less social then they have become in recent years. This is definitely the initiative I’m the most concerned about backfiring. More integration Here are some of the other cross promotions Caesars has cooked up for the WSOP:
Players will be able to deposit at the cage at the Rio
During the World Series of Poker, WSOP.com will be offering a first time deposit bonus of 100% up to $1,000, as well as 5 tickets to a $1,000 freeroll tournament
WSOP ambassadors and customer service reps will be on hand to help players create accounts and answer questions
Dinner break online turbo tournaments for players who haven’t gotten enough poker in already
WSOP.com will run a Sit & Go leader-board throughout the WSOP
There will be random $50 and $100 bonuses handed out to online players
The WSOP.com High Roller Series (online tournaments with buy-ins between $200 and $500) will begin in late May
Caesars might (stress might) run a hybrid online / live tournament And here are some other WSOP conference call highlights:
32 events will be live streamed this summer
New chairs, new carpeting, and other improvements to the venue have been made
Frisbee dogs; enough said

Nevada Traffic Report: As we approach the World Series of Poker

For most of the online poker world, May is a time of falling traffic numbers and planning ahead. But for one poker site, the opportunity to bolster its traffic numbers has never been better. WSOP.com holds the unique distinction of bearing the same name as the most recognizable brand in poker. And in just two weeks, the poker frenzy that is the WSOP will be kicking off at the Rio in Las Vegas, Nevada – the same state in which WSOP.com currently resides as the most frequented online poker site. Already, traffic on the site is gravitating upwards – a trend that is likely to continue as the hype surrounding the world’s most fabled tournament series reaches a fever pitch. Just how many players will visit WSOP.com during their time away from the Rio will ultimately hinge on the network’s willingness and ability to capitalize on its cross-promotional opportunities. Thus far, it appears to be doing a mostly admirable job. Cash-game volume in Nevada bucks the global trend According to PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout, WSOP exhibited moderate week-over-week traffic gains. 7-day cash-game traffic averages for Nevada’s three online poker rooms (as of May 11) are summarized below:
WSOP.com: 108
Ultimate Poker: 54
Real Gaming: 0 Since April 30, volume on WSOP has jumped an impressive 20 percent. Over the same period, Ultimate Poker would see its traffic drop nearly 11.5 percent. However, it should be noted that since going live with a software patch on May 4, traffic is up 8 percent. The updates to Ultimate’s much maligned software couldn’t have come soon enough, as since peaking at around 200 cash-game players last August, the US’s first regulated poker site has seen its volume slowly dissipate. Side note: According to Real Gaming CEO Lawrence Vaughan, the site’s performance is meeting expectations. Apparently, his expectations aren’t very lofty. In Real Gaming’s defense, it has yet to launch a real marketing campaign. Still, given Ultimate Poker’s inability to sustain market viability, it’s difficult to envision Nevada being able to sustain a third poker room. With the WSOP coming to town, WSOP.com pushes the envelop Looks like WSOP.com will be celebrating the 45th annual WSOP by rolling out a prestigious event of its own. Set to kick off on May 25, WSOP.com will be hosting a seven tournament high-roller series. Up for grabs will be $200,000 in guaranteed prize money – a rather pithy amount by high-roller standards, but up there for Nevada. WSOP.com was wise to set the price for entry high, as it’s difficult to fathom the average WSOP player wanting to grind low buy-in online tournaments during their spare time. Less sagacious was the network’s decision to position its guarantees so low. To illustrate WSOP’s conservatism, most high-roller events will only need to draw 100 players at most to fulfill their guarantees. Entry into high-roller events will range from $215 to $530, with the May 31 main event featuring a $50,000 Guarantee. The problem with low guarantees is that they appeal to fewer players. In a few weeks, Vegas will be inundated with young, tech savvy gamblers – many of whom will bust from a live event just in time to log-in and play online. Wouldn’t they feel more compelled to play in a bigger event, especially if they just played for life-changing money? Was WSOP so concerned about overlays that they purposely kept the guarantees low? Considering that a much smaller company in Ultimate Poker reaches into its own pockets on a regular basis, I would think not. Give WSOP credit for the timing and entry point of its high roller series, but the guarantees are about half of what they should be. Tournament volume plunges Oddly enough, online tournament volume in Nevada was down drastically, although it may have had something to do with players leaving town to play in the PokerStars SCOOP (or Mother’s Day). Turnout totals for NV’s biggest iPoker tourneys as follows:
WSOP $15k Guarantee: 78 runners, $15,600 prize pool – down from 104 the week before.
Ultimate Poker $10,000 Sunday: 84 draws, $7,466 entry pool ($2,356 overlay) – 18 less entries than the week prior. On a more positive note, nearly every other weekend major, included WSOP’s $215 qualifier to the Main Event, exceeded its guarantee – some by a more than two-to-one margin. As more Nevada players attempt to grind out a bankroll for the WSOP, I would suspect online tournament entry numbers to rise next week. But given the volatile nature of the US’s regulated iGaming market, who really knows.