There is a lot to cover in this weeks look around the licensed Nevada online poker market, from WSOP.coms online satellite schedule to the World Series of Poker, to a new poker variant that will soon be available on Ultimate Poker. Well detail both of these stories plus take a look at the results from the Sunday Majors in Nevada, breakdown the latest traffic numbers in the state, and fill you in on the latest gossip on who might be joining UP and WSOP.com in 2014. The WSOP.com Scoop: World Series of Poker satellites now running Nevada online poker players can now find a robust World Series of Poker Main Event satellite schedule at WSOP.com, which I guess is not all that surprising when you think about it. Every Saturday WSOP.com will be hosting a $215 buy-in satellite where at least one Main Event seat will be up for grabs, and on July 5th the site will host what it is calling the WSOP 25 Seat Main Event Scramble, where at least 25 seats to the Main Event will be given away. You can find more details about WSOP.coms satellites to the WSOP Main Event as well as information on how you can qualify for these satellites for as little as $1 here. The best guesses at this point have WSOP.com in Nevada sending at least 50 players to the WSOP Main Event via online satellites, and if WSOP.com in New Jersey can do the same (they will probably send close to double the number Nevada does considering the larger player pool) there will be at least 100 US poker players in the Main Event courtesy of legal online poker in the United States. The Ultimate Poker Scoop: Two Street Holdem In the coming days Ultimate Poker will unveil its latest innovation, a new poker format called Two Street Holdem. Two Street Holdem is expected to debut in test/beta form on February 14th (Valentines Day) from 7 PM to 11 PM, and on February 15th and 16th from 1 PM to 5 PM. A special invite only testing period is set to take place on February 10th. www.USPoker.coms John Mehaffey will be in attendance and you can expect a write-up sometime on the 11th at the site. As the name implies, the game will feature only two betting rounds, one preflop, followed by a second and final betting round after all five community cards are dealt. The game should create some very loose pre-flop play for two reasons:
Two Street Holdem will feature larger blinds and antes
With 72% of your cards revealed on the flop only the very worst hands become unplayable The games creator, Chris Danek gives a complete rundown of it in this blog post at Ultimate Poker. Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada WSOP.com Sunday $15K Guaranteed WSOP.coms biggest tournament of the week, the $215 buy-in, $15k Guaranteed easily eclipsed its guarantee, with the final prize-pool topping off at over $20,000 thanks to the 103 entries. Here is a look at the final table payouts from the tournament:
Mikelos $432.60 A pair of $10K Guarantee tournaments at Ultimate Poker Meanwhile, at Ultimate Poker, the site hosted a pair of $10k guaranteed tournaments with a $100 buy-in and rebuys and add-ons available. Both tournaments just squeaked past their guarantees, but it was the second of the two that would be the more interesting due to the big names at the final table. The final table of the tournament featured Dan OBrien, former November Niner Phil USCphildo Collins, and WSOP bracelet winner Brent bhanks11 Hanks. Here is how they fared at the final table:
Dan OBrien $1,313.40
M. Kampmann $437.80
BHanks11 $262.68 Traffic trends in Nevada Total traffic in Nevada was fairly static this week, with Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com combining for an average of roughly 200 cash-game players according to www.pokerscout.com. After a slight uptick Ultimate Poker Nevada is once again losing ground to WSOP.com which now controls about 60% of the traffic in Nevada. Peak traffic is also stagnant at both sites (which can be seen as good or bad), with WSOP.com peaking somewhere between 240 and 270 players and Ultimate Poker in the 140 to 190 player range. The word on the street The poker world is still waiting for more online poker rooms to join the fray in Nevada, not because the online poker industry can support three rooms (it really cant based on the traffic numbers I listed above) but to bring some fresh blood into what is becoming a stale environment, with New Jersey stealing the lions share of the iGaming headlines. But just who these new players in the market will be is still up in the air. Some companies that have indicated theyd like to launch in 2014 include the Siena Casino and Z4, which hopes to launch their HDPoker Room in 2014; South Point Poker, which at one time had designs on being the first online poker room in the state; and 888, which would become the first site on the All American Poker Network in Nevada.
There was a lot of wheeling and dealing going on in Nevada this week as Caesars Entertainment did a little restructuring of some assets (and by little I mean four casinos), while the latest revenue reports from the state show a fairly significant dip in January revenue compared to last year, but its not as bad as it first appears. In this weeks Nevada Online Poker Review well get you up to speed on both of these stories and a whole lot more, including the latest results from the Sunday Majors at Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com, as well as the latest online traffic trends in the state. Caesars sells 3 LV properties, 4 overall The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a very interesting story this week, detailing the sale of four Caesars Entertainment properties to a subsidiary company of the gaming giant, Caesars Growth Partners. What makes this story so intriguing (restructuring and cash shuffling aside) is the potential impact it will have on Caesars Growth Partners, which prior to taking on the four brick & mortar casino properties was mainly invested in Caesars online operations. With the addition of four B&M properties to their balance sheet it will be interesting to see if investors are still as bullish about CGP as they have been in the past. Make sure you check back later this week as well have an in-depth look at this story later up in the next couple of days. Nevada casino revenue down Nevadas gaming revenue was down nearly 3% in January (compared to last Januarys numbers) but according to analysts who took a closer look at the figures the decline isnt as big of a cause of concern as it first appeared. According to the analysts, a significant amount of the decline came from players running above EV on the tables. It was a strong month, Mike Lawton, a senior control board analyst was quoted as saying. Volumes were up both for slots and tables, but we were impacted by hold issues, mainly table games and baccarat. Still, the decline was felt across Las Vegas as revenue dipped on the Strip as well as in Downtown Vegas, while halfway around the globe Macau had a record-setting month according to PokerNews.com, which has many wondering if Vegas can once again rise as the gambling capital of the world. All that being said, everyone is now eagerly awaiting the next revenue numbers which are expected to include online poker revenue numbers for the first timeRegulators wanted three online poker rooms up and running in the state before revealing any data, and a couple weeks ago, with the launch of South Points Real Gaming website, the criteria was met. Ultimate Poker launches Big 25 promotion From March 2nd through the 9th players at Ultimate Poker in Nevada can take part in the sites Big 25 promotion. UP will host 10 separate $25 buy-in R&A tournaments over the course of the promotional period, each with a $2,500 guaranteed prize pool. In addition to the tournament prize-pool there will also be a separate leader-board where the Top 10 finishers throughout the entire promotion will split up $2,500 in cold hard cash. You can find out more about this promotion by visiting www.UltimatePoker.com. Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada WSOP.com Sunday $15K Guaranteed The $15k Guaranteed at WSOP.com made a nice comeback after a disappointing turnout last week (just 82 entries) as 106 players registered for the $200+$15 tournament, generating a prize-pool of over $21,000. Here is a look at the final table payouts from the tournament:
mnbass1 $445.20 The $10K Guarantee tournament at Ultimate Poker Ultimate Pokers $100 buy-in ($91+$9) $10k Sunday Guaranteed went the opposite way of WSOP.coms as traffic dipped this week to 96 players, compared to last weeks 115 runners. WSOP.coms 24 player increase seems to have come almost entirely at the expense of UP, whose attendance declined by 19 players this week. Here is a look at the final table payouts from the tournament:
Stink Palm $2,900
Rick2007 $300 Traffic trends in Nevada The needle barely moved this past week, as both WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker ended the week right where they started, with an average of 120 and 70 cash-game players respectively, according to www.pokerscout.com. There is some hope on the horizon for a traffic uptick however, as the World Series of Poker (which starts at the end of May) will bring an influx of potential online poker customers to the state, and by the end of the year Nevada and Delawares interstate compact might be up and running. The word on the street Caesars cutting back on live poker A very interesting article appeared at USPoker.com on Tuesday as John Mehaffey took an in-depth look at the brick & mortar poker industry in Las Vegas, and specifically, Caesars downsizing of their live poker offerings. John drew several conclusions from the data, and offered up several interesting fixes for Caesars, including the creation of WSOP branded poker room something Caesars recently unveiled at Ballys in New Jersey. You can check out Johns other suggestions as well as his breakdown of the live poker industry in the city at USPoker.com.
Earlier this week Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a column indicating that Caesars Entertainment had sold four of its casino properties to one of its subsidiary companies, Caesars Growth Partners. The move has many people wondering if the restructuring is Caesars way of preparing for a bankruptcy filing down the road or if its just creative accounting to keep the company afloat and far away from bankruptcy court. While a bankruptcy filing, and even the talk of bankruptcy for a company with an estimated value of over $20 billion that is the owner of the most recognizable brand in poker, the World Series of Poker, may come as a shock to the average personconsidering that if you live in the United States there is a good chance you are within driving distance of a Caesars propertyfor followers of the industry it has been a matter of when not if Caesars will undergo a restructuring with a possible Chapter 11 filing. The sale According to Howard Stutz, Caesars Entertainment will transfer ownership of Ballys Las Vegas, The Quad, the under-construction Cromwell, and Harrahs New Orleans to Caesars Growth Partners for $2.2 billion. Caesars Growth Partners will also take on over $400 million in debt and obligations. The sale of the four properties saw Caesars stock prices dip slightly, $.39 a share, but shares are still selling at over $25 a piece. Investors and analysts were skeptical that the sale would help either company in the long-run, and the move seems to be more of a short-term band aid by infusing Caesars Entertainment with some operating capital. In the LVRJ article Moodys felt the sale is likely the first in a series of steps to address (the companys) unsustainable capital structure. Needless to say the companys financial sheets dont exactly instill many people with confidence that Caesars can dig itself out if its hole. Dont misunderstand what a Chapter 11 filing would mean A lot of people hear the world bankruptcy and immediately think of seized property, auctions, and shuttered doors. But dont think that Caesars and its properties are just going to be auctioned off if the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Chapter 11 allows the business to continue operating, under court supervision, while it restructures its debts. While Im definitely not an expert in bankruptcy law, my understanding of the situation is that by selling the four properties to their subsidiary, Caesars has effectively removed these properties from any restructuring by the courtwhich could force Caesars to liquidate certain assets to meet its debt obligations. Caesars problems are their own doing Caesars is a very fitting name for a gaming company whose empire stretches far and wide, and while I dont expect the companys downfall to come at the hands of an insurrection during the Ides of March as befell the historical Caesar, their end may be caused by the same failings that brought about the decline of the Roman Empire, namely being spread too thin. When gaming was booming, Caesars / Harrahs was very active in acquiring properties in the run-up to the financial meltdown, and just before the economy took a turn for the worse the company went private. So yes, external factors (the economic collapse of 2008) exacerbated Caesars problems, but the companys business plan shoulders the brunt of the blame. With the numerous purchases and takeovers of rivals, the company may hold some $20-something billion in assets, but Caesars has also racked up an unbelievable $20-something billion of debt, and now owns a number of properties worth a fraction of what Caesars paid for them prior to the real estate bubble bursting. Caesars future While they are in a tough spot at the moment, it would be extremely premature to write Caesars off. Here is why:
Caesars is the only casino operating a relevant online gambling site in both Nevada and New Jersey, and the company has been at the forefront of the online gaming industry.
Caesars is also the most prominent company in Atlantic City gambling, owning four of the 11 casinos in the city, and owning the now-closed Atlantic Club property.
Caesars is also the only major casino corporation with properties in multiple states from Iowa, to Mississippi, to Missouri, to Louisiana, to Ohio. Having a presence in so many states should make Caesars path to interstate online gambling much easier than their competitors. Basically, Caesars is primed to be a leader in the online gambling market in the US, and if thats where the company sees the future of industry (which is an arguable point) than they have positioned themselves perfectly.
Ultimate Poker has been very busy in Nevada over the past week, as the nations first licensed online poker room inked a deal that will bring five new casinos under the Ultimate Poker umbrella; announced a new $25 freeplay offer available to all new players at the site; and launched a new web series starring UP Pro and brand ambassador Antonio The Magician Esfandiari. So, if you havent been keeping up with the latest goings on at Ultimate Poker here is what youve missed. UPs deal with Peppermill At the tail end of last week Ultimate Poker announced it had added Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, Nevada to the UP brand, along with the companys four other casino properties in northern Nevada, the Western Village Inn and Casino in Sparks, Nevada and the Rainbow Hotel Casino, Peppermill Hotel Casino and Montego Bay Casino all located in Wendover, Nevada. While the deal isnt exactly in the earth shattering categoryPeppermill and its four other casino properties will be something more akin to affiliate sites of Ultimate Poker and not skins for the online poker roomit should be quite beneficial to Ultimate Poker on two separate fronts. First, Ultimate Poker can now use Peppermills extensive player list databases to market directly to a whole new group of players. Secondly, with all of the payment processing issues US players are currently facing the addition of the five Peppermill properties gives Ultimate Poker five new locations throughout Nevada where players can deposit and withdraw funds from their UP accounts. This is especially helpful considering the Peppermill properties are in Reno, Sparks, and Wendover, as Station Casinos (the owners of Ultimate Poker) already have the Las Vegas area covered. The deal still needs the approval of Nevada regulators, but there is nothing out of the ordinary or controversial that is likely to prevent it from being finalized. For more information on the deal you can read Howard Stutzs excellent column. Ultimate Pokers new $25 Freeplay offer Ultimate Poker is looking for new players and they are rewarding prospective customers with a free $25 to get them started. This offer is available to all first-time players at the online poker site, and does not require the player to make a deposit of any kind. As the Ultimate Poker website states: Strip Magic with Antonio Ultimate Pokers chief spokesmen and best known sponsored pro is Antonio The Magician Esfandiari, and if youre wondering how Antonio got his nickname it wasnt because he could make his opponents chips disappear and reappear in his own stack (although he is pretty proficient at that as well). No, Antonio got his nickname because in his pre-poker days he was a budding magician and judging by the first installment of the Strip Magic web series released by Ultimate Poker he has been keeping up with his sleight of hand tricks. The videos not only show Antonio performing impromptu street magic on the Las Vegas Strip, but also delve into his background, including his time as a magician and how he worked his way up through the poker ranks. All in all, its a very well done video. At two and a half minutes its not so long as to be unwatchable and just long enough to leave you thirsting for more episodes. Filming street magic takes me back to a special time in my life, remarked Ultimate Poker Brand Ambassador and magician Antonio Esfandiari. I was a kid with a dream to be the next David Copperfield. That is all I cared about until I discovered poker. To succeed at poker and go back to magic as a hobby on the streets of Las Vegas was very fun for me. For more episodes of Strip Magic and to see UPs other YouTube clips you can visit their YouTube page at youtube.com/ultimatepoker.
As we patiently await the first batch of iGaming revenue numbers from the state of Nevada (which should be coming in the very near future) lets see what else is going in the Nevada online poker market. This week weve got several interesting stories to cover including some perspective from 888 CEO Brian Mattingley on the interstate online poker deal between Nevada and Delaware. Well also discuss how Locaid will play an integral part in the interstate compact with the addition of its player verification and geolocation services to the two states. Well also take a look at the potential overcrowding on the horizon for Nevada, bring you the results of the latest weekly tournaments, take a look at traffic trends, and see what story is making the rounds at the Nevada rumor mill. 888s Mattingley discusses interstate deal 888 CEO Brian Mattingley has been a very busy man when it comes to the emerging US poker market, and his company will likely be the biggest beneficiary of the new deal that will see Delaware and Nevada combine their player pools. 888 is the only operator in Delaware, where they have a monopoly, and already boasts one product in Nevada (WSOP.com) and are likely to launch several others this year. 888 is also very active in New Jersey as wellas I said, a very busy man. Mattingley spoke about the new interstate compact with NorthJersey.coms John Brennan and made some interesting comments; perhaps the most notable being that its not out of the realm of possibility that different companies (such as Ultimate Poker in Nevada and 888 in Delaware) could pool players. While this is unlikely to be the case as software compatibility issues would surely arise, it shows how forward thinking many people are being in the burgeoning US industry. Locaid teaming up with NV and DE In other interstate online poker news, iGamingBusiness.com is reporting that Locaid has been selected to handle the geolocation duties for the new interstate online agreement between Nevada and Delaware. The President and CEO of Locaid, Rip Gerber issued the following statement on his company being selected to handle the landmark duty, saying, Potential for 6 online operators in 2014 Nevadas online poker market could become a wee bit crowded this year, as there is potentially three more operators looking to launch, which would bring the total number of online poker sites in the state up to six. This was first reported by Chris Grove at OnlinePokerReport.com and was somewhat corroborated at Tuesdays Massachusetts Internet Gambling Panel when Jim Barbee of the Nevada Gaming Control Board explained that 888s WSOP.com online poker room is nearly finished with its field trial, which is expected to conclude at the end of March, and when they are officially approved they will be permitted to start launching some of the other poker sites along with their Nevada partnersmost notably TI and Wynn. Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada WSOP.com Sunday $15K Guaranteed 91 players registered for this weeks tournament, creating a prize-pool of $18,200. While its unconfirmed, it looks like Kathy Liebert may have finished 3rd in the tournament.
MSAHM4 $491.40 In addition to the Sunday $15k Guaranteed, AstroBoy won the $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat in this weekends satellite tournament. The $10K Guarantee tournament at Ultimate Poker Attendance was way down this week at Ultimate Poker as just 88 players took part in the tournament, creating an overlay of over $1,800 in the $10k Guaranteed tournament. Tournament pro Brent Hanks made the final table, finishing 5th place, while one of Nevadas top online tournament players Butters finished in 4th place.
The Agnostic $2,900
bulldog53 $300 Traffic trends in Nevada Traffic ticked up ever so slightly over the past week in Nevada, with the three (one of which, Real Gaming, has average traffic of ZERO players) online poker sites in the state totaling average cash-game traffic of 200 players, about a 5% increase over last weeks tally. It was Ultimate Poker that accounted for the gaining, as the sites average traffic rose from 70 to 80 players. WSOP.com still has the lions share of the traffic with 120 players on average, while Real Gaming is struggling to gain any traction with average traffic of 0, and peak traffic of 2 players. All traffic data courtesy of www.pokerscout.com. The word on the street UP making headlines Earlier this week we shined the spotlight on Ultimate Poker, bringing you three separate stories related to their Nevada product. If you missed this article you can read it here, as we discussed the sites new freeplay promotion, the recently launch Strip Magic web series featuring UP Ambassador Antonio Esfandiari, as well as the companys deal with Peppermill Casino.
Nevada Online Poker Review: Reno CEOs About-Face on Internet Gambling, Revenue Numbers Finally Released
Even though the debate over online gambling continues to rage on (Sheldon Adelson was apparently very sincere when he proclaimed he was going to fight online gambling to the bitter end) the most talked about stories coming out of Nevada over the past week has been in regards to the recent revenue numbers for February, which for the first time included the states online poker numbers. In this installment of the Nevada Online Poker Review well breakdown those revenue numbers for both land-based and online gambling; well also discuss the CEO of the Atlantis Reno, John Farahis newfound opposition to online gambling; and well fill you in on the latest tournament results, traffic numbers and gossip coming out of Nevada including potential strike by a union with 37,000 members. Farahi explains new stance on online poker Last week we brought you the news via Jon Ralston that Atlantis Reno owner John Farahi had come out against online poker in the state. In detailing Farahis opposition I brought up the interesting angle to the story explaining how the Atlantis Hotel and Casino (under the name Monarch Casino and Resort) had applied for and received an online poker license in Nevada. As Ricky Ricardo would say; someone has some splaining to do! Farahi was willing to explain his new position, as he spoke with the Reno Gazette Journal recently, and in an article published on Monday explained his flip-flop on the issue. We used to be for it, but we found out poker is being used as a tool to jar the door open to wide-open online Internet gaming, Farahi told the newspaper, right before launching into Sheldon Adelsons talking points almost verbatim: How do you control a person who comes home from work and blows the paycheck? Farahi said. Or someone not 21 years old? Farahi isnt the only casino owner to change his stance on online gambling. Earlier this year Steve Wynn came out against online gambling, but unlike Adelson and Farahi, Wynn wasnt worried about the morality of the industry, his concerns were almost purely economic, as he said he just didnt see a feasible revenue stream from the fledgling industry. Nevada casino revenue plummets in February The most recent revenue figures for Nevadas gambling industry showed a steep decline in year-over-year revenue for the month of February. Actually, a decline is probably not a strong enough term to describe the near 14% drop the report revealed. The hardest hit area was the Las Vegas Strip, where revenue was down some 20% year-over-year (nearly $700 million in 2013 and just over $550 million in 2014) while Downtown Vegas showed a slight boost in revenue, with revenue increasing about 3%. The revenue figures may not have been what the industry was hoping for, but it may not get quite as much negative attention as it normally would as the report also contained Nevadas much anticipated online poker revenue for the very first time. Online poker revenue numbers As mentioned in the previous header, for the first time since its launch in April of 2013 we are finally able to see the revenue numbers from Nevadas online poker industry. The reason for the long wait was because Nevada regulators came up with the arbitrary threshold of needing three online poker sites before they would release the revenue data, and with the recent launch of South Point Pokers Real Gaming in February the Nevada market reached three providers WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker being the other two. As far as the numbers went, they were pretty much in line with what analysts expected to see, as total revenue since launch was $8.5 million. Unfortunately, the NGCB did not break down the revenue by operator, so the best we can do is speculate based on the information in the report and the traffic data available. Weekly Guaranteed Tournaments in Nevada WSOP.com Sunday $15K Guaranteed 89 players registered for the $215 $15k Guaranteed at WSOP.com this past Sunday, creating a total prize-pool of $17,800, with a player using the screen-name cantfakeit taking home the largest share, pocketing just over $5,000 for the win. There was one well-known player at the final table, as Christina Lindley finished in 6th place.
Christina lindeyloo Lindley $1,050.20
jchak $480.60 WSOP Main Event Satellite Another Nevada online poker player has punched their ticket to the World Series of Poker Main Event, as the WSOP.com player orono won this weeks satellite tournament. There was an even larger overlay ($1,600 compared to last weeks $1,400) than last week as one less player registered for WSOP Main Event qualifier this week.
orono $10,000 WSOP Main Event seat The $10K Guarantee tournament at Ultimate Poker This week the $10,000 guaranteed at Ultimate Poker saw a nice increase from last weeks 88 registrants, as 103 players showed up this past Sunday to partake in the event. the 103 entries still wasnt enough to reach the guarantee, but fell short by only about $600.
Honey Badger $910.90
allinallen $190.10 Traffic trends in Nevada Over the past week traffic at WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker ticked up ever so slightly, as average cash-game traffic at WSOP.com rose from 95 to 100 players, while Ultimate Poker had a similar increase, going from 65 to 70 players according to www.pokerscout.com. South Points Real Gaming online poker site continues to be a non-factor with average traffic still sitting at 0. The word on the street Culinary Union OKs strike One of the strongest unions in Nevada, the Culinary and Bartenders Union, has voted to strike against 10 Las Vegas casinos according to multiple outlets. All 10 of the casinos are located in the Downtown area, and includes landmarks like the Golden Nugget, Binions, El Cortez, and the Four Queens. The Union has reached an agreement with Las Vegas Strip properties. What is the reason for the strike? It seems the two sides are at an impasse (the current contract expired in June of 2013), and the union has now cut off contract talks with the sticking point being health care.
Last week the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) granted six casinos an extension for their online poker licenses according to the Las Vegas Sun. None of the six casinos have launched an online poker product at this point. Under Nevada law, companies that are approved for online poker licenses were required to launch their software within a set amount of time. These recently granted extensions give the following six companies an additional six months to submit their software to the NGCB for testing:
Boomtown Reno Truckstop
Grand Siena (Reno)
LV Golden Nugget
Boyd Interactive Gaming Even with the extensions dont expect a sudden rush of sites to launch in the coming months, as the extensions do not necessarily mean all of these companies are even working towards launching online poker sites in Nevada anytime soon. The extensions will give a site like Z4 (which has been working towards launching an online poker site) the additional time it needs, and it will also allow the other companies a few extra months to observe the industry, including how the interstate compact with Delaware affects the Nevada industry when it is expected to go into effect this summer. Whats the holdup? Given the small market size and the muddied waters brought on by the possibility of a federal ban on online gambling, it now appears that most companies in Nevada are now taking a wait and see approach, evidenced by the words of Ellen Whittemore, an attorney representing MGM Resorts, who told the Las Vegas Sun that the MGM, was continuing to monitor the industry. Jeff Silver, a lawyer for Carson Station and Max was a bit more blunt in his remarks, stating that an online poker room needs 500 players to be viable (Im not sure where Silver came up with this number) and called the Nevada online poker industry a loser according to the Las Vegas Sun article. Online poker traffic in Nevada The Nevada market has proven to be small even taking into account the states small population of 2.8 million and barely capable of supporting Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com at present. The average online cash-game traffic for all three online poker rooms in Nevada is hovering below 200 players according to www.pokerscout.com; a number that would rank Nevadas online poker industry in the low 30s worldwide, below online poker providers like Sky Poker, Enet, and OnGame France. For comparisons sake, PokerStars average cash-game traffic over the same period of time is 21,000 players according to PokerScout.com, and sites like iPoker, Full Tilt, partypoker, and 888 have 15-20x the traffic of the entire Nevada industry. Revenue reports dont support further growth Beyond the small market and limited room for growth, there is also the matter of the long-awaited revenue reports released by the NGCB in March which showed the Nevada online poker market generating less than $1 million a month in revenue; $824,000 in February 2014, and $8.5 million since launching in April of 2013. This number that will likely further frighten other potential providers, considering the initial cost of an online poker license in Nevada is $500,000, with a yearly renewal fee of $250,000. That expenditure is on top of the 6.75% tax on gross revenue they must pay. Considering the current cumulative traffic of the three online poker rooms operating in the state and the current revenue being generated, it doesnt appear that Nevada has the liquidity to support more than one online poker room, let alone a half-dozen more, so these extensions may be more for show than anything.
The highly anticipated 2014 World Series of Poker tournament schedule was revealed on Tuesday and this years schedule not only featured a number of interesting changes but it also contained something we have never seen before; direct links to online satellites at WSOP.com. As a poker lifer, its incredibly exciting to see online and live poker come together in this way, and I was thrilled to find that every event with an online satellite at WSOP.com is clearly marked on the schedule. It would seem that we are truly entering a new age of poker. The 2014 WSOP schedule Before I get into the crux of this column (online satellites at WSOP.com), lets take a look at some of the key aspects of the schedule itself.
There will be 65 bracelet events at the 2014 World Series of Poker
The $1,500 Millionaire Maker is back with its $1 million guarantee for first place
There will be 10 Championship events (not including the Main Event) with $10,000 buy-ins
The $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop is back after a scheduled one year hiatus
The $1,111 Little One for One Drop will return for the second straight year
The Main Event will feature a $10,000,000 Guarantee for first place
Several scheduling tweaks have been made including expanded late registration Check out the Complete 2014 WSOP Schedule with Online Satellites Read the Official 2014 WSOP Schedule Press Release Why links to online satellites are a game changer Even during the Poker Boom, when the WSOP and online poker had a very strong relationship, the official online schedule of events at the WSOP website never featured links directing players to online satellite tournaments for specific tournaments. But now, thanks to legislation in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey we have entered unchartered waters in what is possible between live and online poker, and getting a glimpse at the mutually beneficial relationship the two industries can form, and how a company like Caesars can play one off the other. It should be pointed out that these online satellites are currently only available in Nevada and New Jersey, but think about the future potential for a moment? Imagine a scenario where there is legal online poker in the United States (ok, quit smiling and daydreaming and get back to reading), where the WSOP.com online poker room is available to every aspiring poker player. In this scenario, qualifying for the WSOP Main Event (or some other event on the schedule that tickles your fancy) is now incredibly simple, but more importantly, so is finding where you can qualify: Its right there on the WSOP schedule! What to expect this year Even though its just Nevada and New Jersey offering satellites to the 2014 WSOP, I for one do not think that the number of qualifiers from the WSOP.com website will be negligible. Not only will the two sites combine to send 100-150 players to the WSOP based on their current satellite schedules (which will likely pickup as the WSOP nears) but think about the around the clock satellites WSOP.com can offer in Nevada during the World Series of Poker tournament series? Think about all of those poker players from around the globe in Nevada for weeks on end leading up to the Main Event; all wanting to play in the Main Event, but maybe not in the live satellites for whatever reason price or simply because they are online players. Well now, there is the WSOP.com online poker room, with around the clock direct entry satellites. You can deposit by going to the casino cage and if you win an entry you can buy-in directly from your WSOP.com account instantaneously, with no hassle and no fuss it couldnt be simpler. When all is said and done I wouldnt be surprised if several hundred participants in the WSOP Main Event won their seat via a WSOP.com online satellite. Maybe somebody named Carol Tournament winner can take home the title and kick start another Golden Age of poker bringing thousands of women into the game? A guy is allowed to dream right?
Recently the junior senator from Nevada, Dean Heller, made some very interesting and contentious comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal with regard to online gambling. Echoing many of Sheldon Adelsons and the Coalition to Stop Intern Gamblings talking points (and referencing Adelson by name) Heller told the LVRJ that a bill banning all forms of online gambling with the exception of online poker would be introduced into the Senate in the near future. Heller also spoke for his fellow Nevadan who also happens to be the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, telling the LVRJ that, There is no daylight between where Senator Reid and myself are on this particular issue. If this is indeed the case it is a very worrisome statement for online gambling advocates. But are these two really on the same page when it comes to online gambling? The answer could be yes and no, as Ill explain below. What you would like vs. what you will do There is a big difference between what you would personally do and what you think should be done in general, and this is especially true in politics where you see people who are pro-life in their personal lives voting pro-choice, and this may be along the lines of what Harry Reid is playing at here. Reid might completely agree with the premise of the bill, that online gambling sans poker should be banned, but he may not think this is the right move for Nevada or for the country. Furthermore, it could all be phooey; little more than politicking 101. To me, this entire Wire Act Fix proposal is little more than effort to appease Sheldon Adelson while at the same time appeasing the already launched online poker industry in Nevada. And the best outcome for all involved is for nothing to happen on the federal level, which is why the proposed bill is designed the way it is (more on this at the end of this article). If you want to know what will likely happen with this legislation you can read my thoughts in this column, but if you just want the cliffs version: The bill will be stymied at every step during the legislative process to keep it from coming to the floor for a vote. Amendments in committee; amendments on the floor; filibustered for cloture; filibustered for a vote. Assuming the bill even gets introduced it will face so many roadblocks and the 100 US Senators will make it unrecognizable and unpassable simply to avoid taking a vote on something that puts them between States Rights advocates and Christian Conservatives. Ive used this analogy in the past and it still fits quite perfectly: Federal online gambling legislation is like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. The 2012 Reid / Heller Bill is a good indicator of the muddy process This is precisely what happened to a similar bill back in 2012, where it didnt even clear the first hurdle. In 2012 Harry Reid was very vocal about his desire to pass an online poker bill, and became a public cheerleader of the proposed bill that never came to be. Reid initially laid the failure at the feet of Senator Heller, saying he was unable to muster any Republican support, later changing his tune to the more diplomatic, we have simply run out of time in this legislative calendar. Now this time around its Heller who is the public face of the potential bill (which would certainly resemble the previous incarnation from 2012) while Reid stays on the sidelines without making a peep, letting Heller speak for hima complete reversal of 2012. One of two things may be going on here.
Harry Reid may have told Heller if he wants to introduce the bill he will have to do the cheerleading this time around, as the failure in 2012 was attached almost exclusively to Reid. UNLIKELY.
The two of them may be putting on a nice dog and pony show for Sheldon Adelson in order to court his favor for upcoming election campaignsor at the very least to not draw his ireand at the same time keep the other Nevada casinos happy with their online poker carve out. HIGHLY LIKELY. If the answer is #2, then yes, both senators are on the same page, but the bill still has virtually no chance of making it to the senate floor for a vote And even if it does it then has to go through the House of Representatives, where any changes made (assuming it then passes) would send it back to the Senate, and so on and so forth. Basically, its an ugly process, and when you have a contentious bill that delves into debates over states rights vs. the morals of gambling, with the added headache of a carve-out for a particular type of gambling; its a vote very few lawmakers are going to want to take. Interestingly, it looks as if it will be South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who will introduce the Wire Act Fix bill but without the online poker carve-out! Obviously Reid and Heller will quickly try to amend this and youll have your first battle lines drawn, and you can expect many more before an online gambling (pro or con) ever gets a vote in the Senate.