Venture with me for a moment to the last Golden Age of online poker in the US:
It’s Spring 2010. After a string of unfathomable bad beats you find yourself with only a solitary dollar in your online poker account. With your last virtual pennies, you sign up for a Step 1 WSOP satellite. Against nearly insurmountable odds, you win – and from that moment forward, you continue winning.
Fast-forward nine months later, and you’re sitting on top of the poker world as proud owner of a WSOP Main Event bracelet.
Such was the dream of many an online poker player residing in the US pre-Black Friday. But those dreams would quickly evaporate when nearly every poker site welcoming players from the states was abruptly shut down.
For the past three years, online grinders have had to play their way into the World Series of Poker via other, less attractive means. Some forwent their aspirations of playing in the world’s most prestigious live tournament series altogether.
But now, thanks to the legalization of online poker in Nevada and WSOP.com, a new era of online poker is upon us.
And I’d argue that it’s going to be even better than the last.
The WSOP.com edge
If it wasn’t already immediate apparent, WSOP.com possesses deep ties to the crown jewel of live tournament poker. This grants it the unique ability to offer a host of cross-promotional events, many of which will afford players the opportunity to convert their online cash into live WSOP entries.
And unlike in year’s past, players trying to win their way into the Main Event or one of many other WSOP events needn’t worry about having their funds locked up or their favorite site shut down by the Department of Justice, as WSOP.com is completely legal in the states of Nevada and New Jersey
But enough logistics. Let’s illustrate how WSOP.com is changing the game through its full palate of exemplary promotions.
Qualifiers, qualifiers and more qualifiers
Already seven lucky players have parlayed their $16.50 buy-in into an entry into what some have affectionately christened the “Mini-Main Event.”
From May 22 – 29, WSOP.com ran nightly qualifiers with the winner receiving entry into Event #8 – $1,500 Millionaire Maker. Those online qualifiers are all guaranteed a shot at a seven-figure first place prize.
If you missed out on the fun, fear not, as WSOP.com has just rolled out a swatch of new WSOP-focused qualifier events. In fact, from now until July 1, players on Nevada’s industry leading poker room can click their way into nearly every WSOP event.
Compare that to the days when PokerStars reigned supreme in the states. Despite its massive following, PS players could rarely sign up for anything but a WSOP Main Event qualifier.
Speaking of which, on July 5th the site will be rolling out a 25 Seat Main Event Scramble, which as you may have guessed, will award more than two-dozen players entry into poker’s grandest stage.
In only its first year in the regulated market, WSOP.com has effectively managed to bridge the gap between online and land-based play in unprecedented ways. And it has its status as a legal poker operator and enviable brand association with the WSOP to thank.
Until now, poker operators conducting affairs in the regulated US market have yet to full take advantage of their affiliations to land-based casinos and events.
We’ve already discussed one way in which WSOP.com is breaking down the boundaries between online and live poker. But through its celebratory, player-friendly promos it exhibits a level of commitment yet unseen in the regulated iPoker industry.
A quintessential example of the network’s increased commitment to its patrons is illustrated through the Multi-Table Madness promo, which awards lucky cash-game players a $100 bonus just for simply sitting at a table.
As an added incentive, should winning players be situated at other cash-game tables, they’ll receive an additional $100 for each table. Talk about money for nothing and the chips for free (pun intended).
Going further, SNG Leaderboards gift the site’s best grinders their share of $5,000 in weekly prizes, and the soon to launch WSOP.com Online Championship will grant players the opportunity to duke it out for $560,000 in guaranteed prize money, spread out over 15 events. Think of the Online Championship as WSOP.com’s way of offering players who bust from a live WSOP event a second chance at glory.
A new day for US online poker
After scouring WSOP’s promotional schedule I’m reminded of the days when PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker would continually surprise me with their exceedingly attractive promos. Only this time around, I have little trepidation depositing funds onto a poker site.
Yes poker fans, it appears that a new era in online poker has begun.