For most online poker networks, May and June is a time of decreased player volume and falling revenues.
Not in Nevada.
Thanks to the presence of the 45th annual WSOP, the who’s who of poker professions, wealthy businessmen and prominent members of the poker community have made their way to Vegas. Apparently at least some of them are taking time to check out WSOP’s online counterpart – WSOP.com.
It doesn’t hurt that WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini and the gang have rolled out the red carpet for the poker community, offering them a multitude of chances to either strike it rich online or win their way into a live WSOP event.
So while the rest of the online poker community reels, it appears that volume on the virtual felt in Nevada is just heating up – and not a moment too soon.
Online poker revenue down in April
Month-over-month revenue across Nevada’s three major poker networks was down 14.5% ($792,000) last month. April’s disappointing revenue figures are the lowest reported by the state since it started releasing online gaming reports in February.
Throughout the month, cash-game volume dipped an alarming 11.7 percent, exceeding the percentage loss suffered by the global market by a wide margin.
In hindsight it appears that WSOP.com resigned itself to a poor April showing, instead focusing its efforts on the cross-promotional opportunities afforded by the live WSOP. Suffice to say, its strategy worked.
Cash-game volume on WSOP.com surges upwards
Due to its brand association with the WSOP, aggressive marketing campaign and the presence of the High-Roller Series, cash-game traffic on WSOP.com has reached its highest point since mid-March.
According to data collected on PokerFuse Pro via PokerScout, 7-day cash-game averages on Nevada-based poker sites are as follows:
- WSOP: 113 – Traffic is up 13 percent since last week, and climbing rapidly.
- Ultimate Poker: 58 – UP also benefits from the WSOP effect, up from 53 a week prior.
- Real Gaming: 0 – Real Gaming has officially become the Betfair of Nevada.
With traffic numbers expected to rise even further, the bitter taste left in the mouths of Nevada’s iGaming operators by April’s lackluster results appears to have all but vanished.
Other factors that may have contributed to the recent traffic surge include a new rule at the Rio that allows players to mix it up online while participating in a live WSOP event, the presence of the Grind Room, and a new depositing method that allows players to fund their WSOP.com account from the Rio’s casino cage.
High-roller events exceed guarantees
Four out of WSOP.com’s seven scheduled High-Roller events have reached their end. Thus far, turnout numbers for the series have been respectable, if not fantastic.
Event #1, a $10k Guaranteed, $215 buy-in NLHE tournament drew 62 runners in exceeding its guarantee by 24 percent. That positive trend would continue, as Event #2 & #3 would crush their already lofty guarantees by $2,800 and $4,800, respectively.
Even Event #4, the first to feature a $30,000 Gtd. managed to inch into the black, surpassing its minimum benchmark by $200. Hey, a win is a win.
The High-Roller Series will continue on until May 31st, when it will be replaced by the more casual friendly WSOP Online Championship.
On a more dour note, both of Nevada’s Sunday Majors exhibited week-over-week losses, with WSOP’s $15k Guarantee managing to only draw 85 participants ($17,000 prize pool) and Ultimate Poker’s $10,000 Sunday failing to hit its guarantee by a rather significant margin – $1,810.
Predictions for June
Although the recent traffic bump probably won’t be enough to propel revenues back to the levels enjoyed in March, Nevada’s poker sites will likely experience month-over-month monetary gains in both May and June.
And with more players showing up at the Rio by the minute, many of whom will be in town for the WSOP’s smaller buy-in events, I expect cash-game and tournament traffic on WSOP.com to trend upwards at an accelerated pace. Surely, this traffic will only level off once the Online Championship comes to a close.
Ultimate Poker should also experience a modest traffic boost, but nothing compared to the tear it went on during last year’s WSOP, when it was the only game in town. During June 2013, traffic on the network held steady above 200 concurrent cash–game players for the majority of the series. Should it eclipse 80 during the 2014 iteration, I’d be impressed.