WSOP NV managed to cauterize the bleeding that has been plaguing its cash game traffic since the live Series culminated in early-July by rolling out a series of anniversary themed promos that gave both ring game and MTT aficionados something to cheer about.
But now that the party favors have been tossed in the trash, will the strength of the network’s October promotional schedule be enough to keep the good times rolling, or will the recent upward trend take a decisive turn?
While the answer to that question is yet to be determined, what we do know is that every time WSOP ups the ante, closest (and by all accounts only) rival Ultimate Poker seems to take one on the chin. The past two weeks were no exception, as traffic on the fledgling network is once again trending downward.
Another poor showing in October could prove catastrophic for UP, which has recently resigned from the New Jersey market after only a brief 10-month stint.
But UP has no plans on giving up its stake in Nevada without a fight.
Cash game traffic: WSOP recoups early-September losses
Not coincidentally, traffic on WSOP.com began picking up right around the time the network launched the first of its late-September flash promos.
Here’s where 7-day averages across all Nevada sites currently stand, with figures from two weeks prior in parenthesis:
Overall, Nevada’s market would grow by a modest 4.6%, more than enough to outpace New Jersey and the international market, both of which suffered nominal losses.
WSOP NV would experience its most notable gains from the 18th through the 23rd (12.5%), right around the time it kicked off its September reload bonus and two other player-friendly promos, one of which awarded players with double player loyalty points from the 19th through the 27th.
Apparently it pays to give back.
Anniversary Series a mixed bag
The only aspect of WSOP’s celebratory efforts that did not prove an overwhelming success was its $70,000 GTD Anniversary Series. A sequence of nine events featuring buy-ins running the gamut from a paltry five bucks all the way up to $200, the Series was WSOP’s most ambitious effort since it hosted multiple cross-promotional events during the live WSOP.
Only problem was, back in June, Nevada’s poker community was significantly larger than it is now, and turnout figures for the Anniversary Series reflected the discrepancy.
That’s not to say all was gloom and doom, only that the Anniversary Series was more a modest success than one of the rousing variety.
Here’s a glance at how some of its biggest events fared:
- Event #2 – $10,000 GTD NLHE, $50 R&A: Drew 83 runners, 55 rebuys and 60 add-ons en route to a $991 overlay.
- Event #3 – $25,000 GTD NLHE, $200 Freezeout: The biggest event of the series also proved the most successful, attracting 150 grinders in creating a $27,750 prize pool.
- Event #10 – $15,000 GTD NLHE, $100 Re-entry: Attracted 91 runners and 12 re-entries, culminating in a gigantic $5,627 overlay.
Other events typically either barely scraped by their GTD or fell short by a smallish margin.
Perhaps the most optimistic takeaway from the series was that WSOP NV can host bigger guarantees with greater frequency and still expect reasonable turnouts. Could a weekly $25,000 GTD Sunday Major be in the Silver State’s future?
Probably not, but WSOP can reliably host one-off $25k events without having to worry about spending house money.
Ultimate Poker committed to Nevada market
In a statement to PokerFuse earlier this week, Ultimate Gaming Chairman Tom Breitling reiterated the company’s commitment to its Nevada patrons.
While that’s all well and good, UP is currently in a precarious spot. Over the past several months it’s shed a good portion of its employees, including key figures Terrence Chan and Joe Versace, lost well-liked and charismatic pro Jason Somerville as its ambassador, and barely managed to flee New Jersey with its integrity still intact.
Compounding matters further, UP has failed to exhibit growth in Nevada since first losing its top dog status nearly one year ago.
So forgive me if the promise of a long overdue software upgrade and mobile roll out doesn’t quite inspire fist pumping grandeur.
That being said, now that Ultimate Poker is done hemorrhaging money on its failed New Jersey experiment, it can conceivably dedicate greater resources towards improving its poker product. This could bode well for the company should it decide to enter new markets such as Pennsylvania and California.
My advice to UP: pour every nickel you can muster into your poker client until it can pass for something released post-2005. If that means cutting back on marketing and promotional roll-outs in Nevada over the short-term, so be it.
Prediction: WSOP’s October promos will make the grade
Momentum is paramount to any business, and online poker is no exception. Thankfully, WSOP.com is following up its late-September promotional push with an October effort that juxtaposes some of its most vaulted promos from months past with a swatch of special tournament events.
Here’s the most notable of the pack:
- October Reload Bonus: Good news for players who missed out on September’s bonus, as WSOP is once again offering returning players a 100% match bonus, up to $400. The eligibility period runs from October 12 – 19.
- Sit & Go Leader Boards: I, like most WSOP.com fans, wish that WSOP would just bite the bullet and integrate the SNG Leader Boards into its loyalty program. For now, the popular promo is back, this time awarding a total of $18,000 to players who grind out the most points.
- Fall Poker Festival: WSOP is following up its Anniversary Series with an exclusive MTT promo offering $60,000 in guaranteed prize money spread out over eight events.
Taken together, WSOP’s promotional efforts should be enough to facilitate the network’s further growth, although realistically the network is going to be hard pressed to achieve the same success it did in June until…well, next June.
But given the strength of October’s schedule, cash game averages that hover around 110 – 115 are not out of reach.