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 youre 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 dont 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 werent obligated to determine where a players 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 Adelsons 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. Attorneys 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.
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 worlds 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 networks 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 Nevadas three online poker rooms (as of May 11) are summarized below:
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 Ultimates much maligned software couldnt have come soon enough, as since peaking at around 200 cash-game players last August, the USs first regulated poker site has seen its volume slowly dissipate. Side note: According to Real Gaming CEO Lawrence Vaughan, the sites performance is meeting expectations. Apparently, his expectations arent very lofty. In Real Gamings defense, it has yet to launch a real marketing campaign. Still, given Ultimate Pokers inability to sustain market viability, its 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 its difficult to fathom the average WSOP player wanting to grind low buy-in online tournaments during their spare time. Less sagacious was the networks decision to position its guarantees so low. To illustrate WSOPs 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. Wouldnt 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 Mothers Day). Turnout totals for NVs 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 WSOPs $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 USs regulated iGaming market, who really knows.
On Wednesday Ultimate Poker celebrated its First Anniversary. UP became the first licensed online poker room in the United States on April 30, 2013 and has now reached the historic one-year mark. While it seems like only yesterday the 2+2 forum exploded with the news that Ultimate Poker had gone live for real money play, it has in fact been a full year since online poker arrived in the United States (on a limited basis anyway) and its been quite the year, filled with ups and downs for the nascent industry. Here is a look at what I consider to be the most important things online poker players and the online poker industry have learned over the past 12 months. Regulated poker rooms are not just unregulated rooms repackaged I think a lot of people expected licensed online poker sites to simply pick up where the unlicensed sites left off, and this simply was not the case. You can see why people were of this mind, after all, companies like 888 and Party Poker are well known commodities in the iGaming world and have been providing a solid product for years. But a funny thing happened on the way to the NGCB for their licenses; regulators imposed some strict thresholds that needed to be crossed (some for the first time ever) including all manner of testing. Add to this the geolocation, payment processing and registration hurdles that needed to be cleared and what we got looked more like the birth of online poker back in the late 1990s and less like the crisp clean graphics and seamless game play we had grown accustomed to by 2011. Basically, its going to take some time for the sites to iron everything out, but eventually I feel we will be back to complaining about insignificant things like tournament structures, and not about mid-game disconnects, by the time online poker turns 2 in the US. Poker players follow the money As much as the poker community has whined and cried for legal online poker over the years a huge swathe of players still frequent black market sites now that they have it. I understand they think they are getting better value and the illegal sites have more and better games, but its just delaying the time it takes for the legal rooms to overtake them so the poker community is putting short-term gains in front of long-term gains. Dont launch if youre not ready Online poker is a hyper-competitive market and what weve seen so far is that inferior products are getting absolutely stiff-armed by players. In Nevada, Ultimate Poker, despite a six-month head start, a lot of advertising, and an excellent team and staff has watched WSOP.com slowly suffocate them to use a UFC analogy, they are stuck in a triangle choke and it seems like its only a matter of time before they either do something big to get out of it or have to tap out. The situation is even worse in New Jersey where UP didnt get a head start and had to compete right out of the chute. In New Jersey the company has been unable to generate any type of loyal customer base and is turning into a nonfactor in the market. If Ultimate Poker is stuck in a triangle choke than South Points Real Gaming in Nevada and Betfairs poker product in New Jersey have had their arm snapped and been asphyxiated, as neither site is even registering on the online poker radar. To me the message seems crystal clear: Dont launch your product unless youre ready, as youll probably do irreparable harm. The future is yet to be determined Were just now getting a grasp on the amount of money sites are spending marketing (which equates to millions of dollars being pumped into the local economies) and the number of real jobs being created by the online poker industry both in-house and in ancillary industries like yours truly. What this tells me is the entire industry is still surrounded by an opaque cloud that is preventing even the best prognosticators from understanding precisely what will happen. On top of this we are also facing down a potential federal ban (unlikely) and more and more states exploring iGaming expansion. We have the pending interstate agreement between Delaware and Nevada set to launch this summer, with New Jersey now being floated as a potential partner as well. So when someone tells you, xyz is going to happen and anyone who doesnt think so is daft just remember that nobody has been able to predict this burgeoning industry so far. Looking ahead to Year 2 Think of the US online poker industry like an episode of Restaurant Impossible. The place was a dump, one employee was stealing, and the owner was too stubborn to listen to anyone. The place needed to be gutted and thats exactly what licensed online poker has done. Regulated online poker is our Chef Robert Irvine. Year 1 (like Day 1 of Restaurant Impossible) was certainly a struggle, but it feels like the heavy lifting is now done. The place has been cleaned and remodeled, the owner has seen the light, and the thieving employee is gone. All thats left is to clean it up a bit and reopen the doors. Sure, there will still be hiccups as people are retrained, and the owner may revert back to old habits every now and then, but the foundation is in place to build on.
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. Winnings 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 Nevadas 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 Nevadas iGaming market in March, traffic on that states 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 WSOPs sudden struggles, the departure of Merge did little, if anything, to offset them. That being said, Merges 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 Winnings exit, Im hard-pressed to believe that it will drive traffic towards Nevadas regulated poker rooms at least in the short-term. And heres why: According to PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout, the average number of cash-game players on the Winning network is approximately 350. Given that Nevadas population is roughly 0.9 percent of the USs total populace, it can be assumed with some reliability that only a smattering of its players were logging in from the Silver States 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 states 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 its a pretty safe bet that traffic on Nevadas regulated iGaming sites will barely be affected by Winnings 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. Its 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, Winnings stance was nothing more than a ploy to appease the US government. It wouldnt be the first time US-facing networks have tried to save face.
Since staking its claim as the first provider to offer online poker in Nevadas newly-minted regulated market, Ultimate Poker has taken its fair share of slack. For those accustomed to playing on pre-Black Friday sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, UPs initial roll-out came across as shoddy and second rate, lacking many of the baseline features players from the states had come to expect. In turn, as more established operators began filtering their way into the states, Ultimates traffic would ultimately suffer. And now, more than one year after online poker went live in the Silver State, Ultimates attempt at a poker client is still lacking in several key areas. A recent software patch addresses a few of its more glaring issues, while creating a new (albeit temporary) one of its own. But is the patch enough to reignite UP rivalry with Nevada front-runner WSOP.com? Ultimate Poker patch addresses several key deficiencies The most notable (and least visible) change comes in the way of more accurate location verification. As evidenced on its dedicated thread on Two Plus Two, UPs faithful have experienced their fair share of disconnects. And while Director of Player Operations Terrence Chan and his Aces have taken a very personalized, hands-on approach to customer care, in many cases there was simply not much they could do beyond ensuring that players were taking the necessary steps to be geolocated. Those who followed all the rules and still couldnt connect were, as they say, SOL. Its unlikely that a single patch will provide a blanket solution to the geolocation issues that plague UP and all state regulated sites for that matter but at least it offers the prospect of hope. And thats something the regulated market sorely needs. Also introduced via the software patch are wait lists. A feature that has existed on most credible sites since Windows XP was all the rage, wait lists are a much-needed change that could facilitate the growth of UPs dwindling cash-game traffic. Side note: Of the recent changes to UPs Nevada client, wait lists are the only major feature that have yet to go live in New Jersey. Auto top-up/reload was also added. As implied by the name, this feature will allow grinders to start each hand at a minimum preordained threshold, regardless of whether they fall below it or not during the previous hand. Furthermore, the lobby now boasts an Omaha tab. Unfortunately, players still must use workarounds to readily find PLO/O8 SNGs, as the Omaha tab only lists cash-games. Lastly, the software allows players the option to save their names and passwords. With the new patch comes a celebratory $100 reload match bonus. The offer is available until May 9th, so act quickly. The full patch notes can be found here. Geolocation error message resolved As is the case with most software updates, UPs patch did not go off without a snag. Players who logged in would be unceremoniously treated to a banner informing them that their location could not be verified even though it likely was. Chan suggested to players encountering this error to try sitting at a table. But for those who didnt bother to read the patch notes, they would have little way of knowing that the error was in fact a small error, and not a glaring geolocation disaster. Luckily, the issue has since been resolved. Players that are still having trouble are encouraged to contact UP via live chat. Is Ulitmates patch too little, too late? The fact that its taken over one year for Ultimate Poker to introduce what the majority of the poker community considers to be standard features is a bit disjointing. Chan admits himself that there is still a ton of work to be done including: time bank, synch break, notes, showing rebuys in the the lobby, deal speed, turn off animations/avatars, hand history replayer etc. That wouldnt be so bad if sites like WSOP.com were not already sporting many, if not all, of these features since launch. Which begs the question, Why did Ultimate release a half-baked poker product in the first place? My guess was so it could reap the rewards of being first in the market a strategy that may have paid dividends last April, but is suffocating the team now. However, should Ultimates software at least get on par with WSOPs by late-summer, it will position itself nicely for the fall season. By then, the current hype associated with the most recognized four letters in poker will have died down (outside of a few days in mid-autumn). With improved software and the same exemplary levels of customer care that Chan and his team have provided since day one, Ultimate might make another run for Nevadas top spot. But Ultimate, do hurry up. Poker players are not always the patient type.
Ultimate Pokers 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 pokers 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 whats so impressive about a $52,000 tournament score? Somervilles 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 Kampmanns 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 wasnt some small buy-in nightly tournament either; Kampmanns 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 OBrien, 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 OBrien $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 Im 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 didnt 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 Somervilles 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.
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 its an exciting time for sure, and the 2014 World Series of Poker could very well be a game-changer for Nevadas 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 well fill you in on the recent stories that relate to Nevada and the larger national fight for legalized online poker, starting off with Ultimate Gamings Tom Breitling year one review of the Nevada online poker industry. UPs 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 Pokers 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 isnt 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 weeks tournament:
dicma $441.00 WSOP Main Event Satellite There was just a small overlay in this weeks 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:
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.coms 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 Nevadas 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 drivers 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:
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 USs regulated poker sites have only had a select few opportunities to cash in on benefits afforded by cross-promotional tours Aprils NJ Championship of Online Poker and its ties to the WPT Championship at the Borgata being the most notable example. Thats 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 arent enough to satiate your poker appetite, heres 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 Holdem 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, dont. 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 its way better than waiting 20 minutes while one of todays 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, theres 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 cant necessarily make the 2,500+ mile trek out to Vegas (::raises hand::). Predicting the High-Roller and Online Championships effect on cash-game traffic There are several indications that cash-game traffic in Nevada will reach an all-time high during this years WSOP. During last years 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 WSOPs 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 Nevadas 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. Whos to say that they wont 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.
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 years 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 WSOPs Grind Room and play online poker. When you hop on WSOP.com you can play cash games, multi-table tournaments or sit & gos, or you can try to qualify for tomorrows 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 doesnt interfere with the live tournament of course) but theyve 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, its
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 youll 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 youre new to WSOP.com you can also take advantage of the sites 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 sites usual 100% up to $600 bonus. Youll also receive
Five tickets to a $1,000 freeroll tournament On top of the first time deposit bonus youll 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 youll receive five during your WSOP visit. Here is what youll 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 youll also be able to compete in WSOP.coms 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.
While Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com battle for market share in Nevadas regulated online poker regime, a third player in the market, Real Gaming, continues to plug away with its soft launch. Real Gaming went live in mid-February with a field trial that is being closely monitored by Nevada Gaming Control Board officials. The test period may last 180 days, which would conclude in August and presumably be right on time for the launch of an interstate partnership agreement between Nevada and Delaware. South Point Hotel Casino & Spa is operating the Real Gaming brand and astute observers will recall that casino owner Michael Gaughan had visions of being the first online poker site to launch for real-money in the Silver State. The casino had already been first to market with a free-play online poker room since 2011. Gaughan anticipated beating the competition in turning on the real-money virtual switch, vocalizing his intentions toward the end of 2012 and well before UP eventually took the honor on April 30, 2013. As it turns out, Real Gaming shifted gears and instead put a major focus on creating software that was technologically superior to other offerings on the market and had the the future in mind. Any Device. Anywhere. Anytime. That future is in mobile gaming and Real Gaming took the time to develop a web-based application that allows for online poker to be played on every conceivable platform, from PCs and Macs to tablets, iPhones and iPads. A download is not required and permits players to access the site through the browser and play from anywhere within the borders of Nevada. In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Real Gaming CEO Lawrence Vaughan indicated that in the almost three months of the test period, the website has lived up to the performance expectations that both he and Gaughan had envisioned. Vaughan went so far as to say that he is glad that Real Gaming waited on launching in order to be available on every mobile device. It really doesnt matter if you were first or not and it doesnt matter if you trip out the door, Vaughan said. New customers will come out and define a different type of experience. I think over time were going to see the casual gamer become primarily mobile. Real Gaming Traffic Gains Cash game traffic in the Nevada market saw a mild increase as of late. As of this writing, PokerScout reports that UP and WSOP combine for a seven-day average of 165 players. The boost may be at least partially attributable to UPs $100 reload bonus that is due to expire on May 9. Once the Real Gaming soft launch concludes, it will be interesting to see how much of the market the upstart can grab from the two veteran sites. A marketing campaign is in the works at Real Gaming that will include the South Point casino. However, Real Gaming appears to be banking more on the mobile market, which means that a customer base will likely take a bit more time to develop. The upcoming pooling of players with Delaware may also benefit Real Gaming, as it is likely that a hard launch will have commenced by then and the sites marketing activities will be in full swing.