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.
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.