In poker, aggression is better than passivity.
Apparently, the same holds true for online poker rooms.
Last weekend, WSOP.com NV would hold what would amount to the biggest online poker satellite accessible to U.S. players in over three years. As implied by the name, the 25 Seat Scramble awarded the top 25 finishers a $10,000 entry into the most prestigious annual event in tournament poker – the WSOP Main Event.
In the short history of U.S. regulated online poker, tournament guarantees of $200,000 or more have failed to hit the mark, often forcing hosts to cover massive overlays.
Why just a few weeks ago, the WSOPOC Main Event in New Jersey drew less than half the number of entries necessary to fulfill its ambitious $200k guarantee. But that wouldn’t stop its West Coast counterpart from upping the ante even further. And as we’ll see, this time WSOP.com‘s gamble would pay off in spades.
25 Seat Scramble boasts record breaking turnout
Despite coming up just short of its unwritten $250,000 guarantee, the 25 Seat Scramble attracted more participants than any other high buy-in tournament since legalized online poker went live in April 2013.
In total, 1,235 players would pony up $215 for their shot at Main Event glory. That was still 15 runners short of WSOP’s target number, but more than enough to ensure a modest $15,525 profit for the network. It also gives WSOP.com that many more chances to say that the Main Event winner won their seat online – something that would bode exceedingly well for traffic numbers come next year.
As a mode of comparison, last April’s NJCOP $200,000 Guaranteed Main Event on PartyPoker NJ brought in a disappointing 895 players, creating a nearly $35,000 overlay. And keep in mind, New Jersey has the added advantage of a much bigger population and proximity to two major cities in Philadelphia and New York City.
Thus, qualifying the 25 WSOP Seat Scramble as a mere success would be a gross understatement, at best.
Traffic levels experience another notable spike
Just when I thought Nevada’s iPoker market couldn’t sustain another traffic surge, 7-day cash-game averages on WSOP NV reached another all-time peak on Saturday.
But perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they jumped nearly 6.3 percent in a single day (July 4 – July 5). Considering 7-day averages are recorded on a rolling basis, it’s conceivable that cash-game averages were up somewhere around 30 – 40 percent from Friday to Saturday.
Going further, traffic levels typically dip over holiday weekends, but I suppose the presence of the now underway WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas has the power to transcend even our nation’s Independence Day.
- WSOP: 152 (142)
- Ultimate Poker: 60 (65)
Overall, Nevada’s cash-game traffic grew 2.4 percent, in the process outperforming the global market by 2.6 percent.
After rebounding last week, Ultimate Poker suffered a modest hit, but is still drawing more runners than it was pre-WSOP. However, UP’s moderate upswing was more likely attributed to a significant software patch than the influx of players stationed at the Rio.
WSOP crushing it on the tournament front
It was an all around stellar week for WSOP.com, as all of the network’s major tournaments and special events crushed their overlays.
Here’s a look at the most notable:
- Mini Fest Event #13 – $11 buy-in, $2,000 GTD NLHE R & A: 115 entries, 161 rebuys, 63 add-ons: total prize pool of $3,390
- Mini Fest Event #14 – $55 buy-in, $4,500 GTD NLHE R & A: 95 entries, 84 rebuys, 65 add-ons: total prize pool of $12,200
- Mini Fest Event #15 – $27.50 buy-in, $5,500 GTD NLHE R & A: 108 entries, 88 rebuys, 72 add-ons: total prize pool of $6,700
- $15,000 Weekly Sunday: 104 entrants, amounting to a prize pool of $20,800
Enjoy it while it lasts
I suspect that traffic on WSOP NV will hover at or around its current levels for the next few days, taper off during the latter days of the Main Event and plummet early next week. Ultimate Poker will also likely sustain some losses, although I doubt they’ll be as drastic.
With that being said, I believe WSOP did enough cross-promotional marketing to significantly raise online poker awareness in Nevada, and possibly elsewhere. Given this and the fact that online poker traffic begins to rise organically in August, I’d be hard pressed to believe that traffic margins will revert back to their piddling pre-live WSOP levels (mid-90s).
Instead, expect traffic to hold pat around 110 – 115 for the duration of the summer, and depending on how WSOP handles its promotional schedule, rise throughout the fall.
And as far as next June, I expect WSOP NV to perform even more admirably.
Now, go enjoy the Main Event.