With the 2014 WSOP’s biggest tournament events still to come, the energy emanating from the Rio’s casino floor couldn’t be more electric. But now that nearly all the attention in Nevada’s poker scene is focused on the Big One for One Drop and the looming Main Event, how is the state’s regulated online poker market faring?
The answer, my friends, is “Quite well.”
With the novelty of playing online poker while stationed at the Rio wearing off, and WSOP NV’s most concentrated cross-promotional efforts a thing of the past, ring game traffic levels on the network have mostly stabilized.
Yet overall, the numbers are still rising. And the reason as to why has little to do with WSOP.com.
In fact, it’s WSOP’s all but forgotten rival – Ultimate Poker – that’s driving the market towards its yearly high point.
Who would have guessed?
Nevada Cash-Game Trends
Both ring game and tournament traffic in Nevada outperformed yearly averages.
- WSOP NV: 145 (down 2.7 %)
- Ultimate Poker NV: 64 (rises 18.5 %)
Nevada thoroughly outperformed the global market, which dipped another 4.8 % to 41,413. The drop-off saw international figures fall to a more than two year low.
On a side, traffic on New Jersey sites also rebounded, surging 5.7 % since June 17. Is this a sign of things to come, where the U.S. regulated market regularly flourishes during the summer months while the rest of the industry suffers?
Unraveling the Mystery Behind Ultimate Poker’s Resurgence
While Ultimate Poker‘s gains are certainly not unfathomable (it is WSOP time after all), the fact that UP exhibited notable gains while WSOP.com lost ground is initially baffling.
Compounding matters further, UP has not rolled out any new promotions of note over the past two weeks. And of its current promotional roll-out, the most lucrative (Chase the Dream) is geared towards tournament junkets, not ring game players.
So what’s the deal?
After further examination, the most likely explanation for UP’s resurgence has to do with it becoming a better, more accessible poker site – plain and simple.
The next day, volume began to rise. Coincidence? Probably not.
Among the notable features implemented via the patch include:
- Wifi Only Geolocation Flow – In other words, players no longer need to rely on their cell phone to connect. That in and of itself is huge.
- Prepaid Card Option – Provides a much needed alternative payment processing option for those struggling with Visa/MasterCard transactions.
- Time Bank – It’s about “time.”
- Cash at the Casino option at Peppermill / El Cortez
- Bug fixes
You can find the full patch notes here.
The most notable facet of the patch is that it encourages players who may have previously experienced difficulties creating an account and wagering real-money on Ultimate Poker to give it a second look. Compared to that, any aesthetic or bug fix seems largely inconsequential.
Tournaments Also Make the Grade
Nevada’s iPoker sites also performed admirably on the tournament front, with nearly every MTT of note surpassing its guarantee.
WSOP NV‘s largest weekly Major, a $15,000 guarantee, would attract 106 runners in creating a $21,200 prize pool.
The weekly WSOP Main Event satellite also eclipsed its minimum benchmark, drawing 55 players and awarding one ticket.
Even last Sunday’s $27.50 R&A $3,000 guarantee would absolutely shatter the mark. Thanks to 111 re-buys and 62 add-ons, the total prize pool for the MTT would surpass $6,400.
While Ultimate Poker’s nightly Friday and Saturday tournaments would beat their guarantees by over 20 %, the $10,000 Sunday fared less respectably, with 83 runners creating an overlay of $2,447.
And for what seems like the umpteenth week in a row, Chase the Dream would also grossly underperform expectations ($9,252.30 overlay). On a more positive note, Sunday’s iteration still beat out last week’s abysmal showing by nearly two grand.
WSOP.com launches Mini-Fest
For the third time in nearly a month, WSOP.com has launched an exclusive tournament series in Nevada.
Catered towards players on a somewhat limited budget, Mini-Fest – as the name implies – is for all intents and purposes the recently concluded WSOPOC’s little brother.
A series of 16 tournament events with buy-ins ranging from a paltry $5.50 all the way up to a still affordable $109, Mini-Fest will run from now until July 7 and reward over $40,000 in guaranteed prize money.
Thus far, Mini-Fest has outperformed the WSOPOC – relatively speaking of course. Here’s a quick look at the turnouts for the first three events:
- Event #1: NLHE $2,500 Guarantee R&A, $16.50 buy-in: 163 runners, 201 re-buys and 122 add-ons created a $7,290 prize pool.
- Event #2: NLHE $1,500 Guarantee R&A, $11 buy-in: 132 entrants, 124 re-buys and 79 add-ons – $3,350 prize pool.
- Event #3: PLO $1,000 Guarantee R&A, $11 buy-in: 68 entries, 91 re-buys and 33 add-ons made for a $1,920 prize pool.
It appears that in terms of tournament turnouts, size doesn’t always matter.