When the World Series of Poker brass announced all of the different ways they would be integrating their WSOP.com online poker room with the 2014 World Series of Poker it was music to a lot of people’s ears.
Several of the ideas were well received (the Grind Room and Next Day satellites), while other ideas, specifically the WSOP’s decree that it was perfectly fine to play online while playing in a WSOP tournament were met with more skepticism.
When push came to shove and it was to time to make all the visions a reality there were quite a few problems beyond the initial fears of slower games and even less interaction between the players. However, it should be noted that even with these minor problems and annoyances traffic is up at WSOP.com in Nevada, and trending upward (more on that below).
Setting aside the absurdity (in my opinion anyway) of promoting something that is almost certainly going to slow down play and that makes the game even less social than it has already become, players have run into two other problems, which I’ll detail below.
Playing at the tables
In the lead-up to the 2014 WSOP, the WSOP was encouraging players to participate in online poker games (at WSOP.com of course) while playing at the Rio, saying online play would be permitted during live tournaments so long as it didn’t interfere with the pace of the game.
But they were leaving out one pretty important detail: WSOP.com NV does not have a mobile app at this time.
In order to play at the table you would have to bring your laptop with you. Laptops are not only more cumbersome and awkward, but the battery life is much shorter.
So far there has only been sporadic online play at live tournament tables, and a big part of this is likely due to the lack of a mobile app.
Another issue with playing in the Rio has just come to light this week on the poker forums, as players are reporting they cannot sit at the same table with people using the same IP address – and if you are playing in the Rio and using their wi-fi network (which apparently has a limited number of IP addresses) there is a chance you will not be permitted to sit at certain tables.
According to Caesars Interactive CEO Mitch Garber the policy stems from a Nevada regulation, and with the thousands of players at the RIO there simply aren’t enough IP addresses to go around:
— Mitch Garber (@mitchgarber) June 3, 2014
The policy is a needed one, and it is in place for a very good reason; to prevent collusion by players sitting right next to one another, and to prevent people from multi-accounting.
Normally this isn’t a very big deal, but at the WSOP there will be thousands of potential poker players at the Rio, and considering the small player pool at Nevada online poker rooms, chances are at least a few players will try to sit at the same table and run into this issue.
In the forum thread linked to above, poker journalist Haley Hintze recommended using an air card as a workaround to the IP problem, as she has done so at past WSOP’s when the Rio attempted to block certain sites on their wi-fi network.
However, this may not work for most people as your laptop’s air card might flag you as being outside of Nevada even if you’re sitting smack dab in the middle of the Rio.
Traffic numbers up
Despite the issues, traffic at WSOP.com has increased significantly over the first week of the WSOP.
Average traffic is up close to 20% and peak traffic numbers have jumped even higher according to www.pokerscout.com’s data. WSOP.com Nevada is well on its way to catching Party / Borgata in New Jersey as the most heavily trafficked licensed online poker room in the US.
Whether the increase is happening because of the new policies at the WSOP tables or simply from the influx of players in Las Vegas for the WSOP is unclear.
So despite my personal distaste for the policy, and the hiccups I mentioned above, it appears the WSOP’s incorporation of their online poker room is already reaping huge dividends, and is likely to become more and more successful as the WSOP rolls on.