The Nevada online poker market has had a week to remember and celebrate. Not only is traffic on its two primary online poker sites at a high point, but those numbers have exceeded those of the New Jersey sites for the first time.
The biggest story in Nevada poker is the World Series of Poker live tournament series and the start of the WSOP Main Event, but even the success of that tournament can be attributed in no small part to WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey. With seats having been awarded from the online site for months to the $10K buy-in Main Event, online poker has been integral in growing the biggest live tournament in the world.
Another reason to toast the market in Nevada is the Gaming Control Board decision to approve a shared player pool between 888 and WSOP. The move has many implications, all good for the burgeoning market in the desert.
Who Knew Nevada Had the Potential?
The executives at WSOP.com will say that they knew it all along. The convergence of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and WSOP.com online poker had the potential to soar. And it’s finally starting to show.
PokerScout’s tracking numbers of the US regulated sites revealed that the seven-day average of players on WSOP in Nevada was 160 players, while industry leader PartyPoker / Borgata in New Jersey had just 140. It was the first time that PartyPoker / Borgata lost its lead since it launched. WSOP New Jersey was in third place with 130 players, which proved that it is gaining substantial ground on the state’s leader.
Ultimate Poker suffered in Nevada, especially with the promotions surrounding the WSOP on its online site. Numbers in New Jersey for Ultimate Poker are almost insignificant, and its Nevada site suffered at the hands of the WSOP in the last two months as well.
Online Plus Live Equals Success
WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey worked hard to promote a synergy with the live summer series. There were online poker satellites for the last few months that awarded seats to a number of the live WSOP events, with at least one $10K Main Event seat awarded each week.
Toward the time of the Main Event, there was a five-seat scramble in New Jersey and a very successful 25-seat scramble in Nevada. The latter proved to be the most successful online tournament in the short history of online poker in Nevada. Having guaranteed prizes worth $250K, they needed 1,250 players to get even. They saw 1,235 players in the tournament.
Yes, there was an overlay for WSOP.com. Even so, it was a substantial turnout in an industry that constantly scrambles – so to speak – for players.
Meanwhile, the WSOP Main Event started with somewhat nerve-wracking numbers. There were only 771 players in the first of three starting days, far below the 943 player of the previous year. With a special $10 million first place prize guarantee this year, WSOP officials needed a bigger turnout.
Luckily, the second starting day was more positive, and the third saved the day. The 2014 Main Event ultimately brought in 6,683 players, as compared to just 6,352 last year. In fact, the 2014 tournament became the fifth largest in the series’ 45-year history.
It must be noted that the success of WSOP.com satellites in Nevada and New Jersey directly contributed to that Main Event success. By all accounts, a minimum of 30 players took their winning online seats to the live tournament, and the number was likely bigger due to all of the satellites in both states. That undoubtedly made a difference.
Not all of the WSOP.com efforts to bring live and online poker together in Las Vegas worked as planned. The “grind station” set up at the Rio didn’t attract players as planned, and the numerous site representatives at the Rio to sign people up for the online site was deemed more annoying to players and fans in the hallways than anything.
Nevertheless, some of the efforts worked. Enough players created new accounts, logged in, and played online during the WSOP to send the site to the top of the US regulated site rankings.
Baby steps are still steps.
Bigger Things to Come with 888
Thus far, 888poker has not had a presence in the Nevada market with a live online poker site. That is set to change when 888’s partnership with Treasure Island and Golden Gaming takes shape with a site set to launch in the near future.
Now, it may happen on a bigger platform.
Just this week, the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved a recommendation to allow 888 to pool its players for the sake of liquidity with WSOP.com. The Nevada Gaming Commission will hold its own hearing on the matter July 24, and its likely approval will set in motion some much-needed liquidity for the small market.
The implications of the deal are even greater, however. Nevada signed an agreement back in February with Delaware to share liquidity. While that has yet to come to fruition, the 888 and WSOP agreement might spur it along. 888 powers all three of the connected online gaming sites in Delaware, so the melding of 888 and WSOP could create even greater liquidity with both of those sites in Nevada and the three Delaware sites.
Players have waited patiently for bigger prize pools, tournament fields, and more substantial cash game options. Nevada may be finally taking the steps to solve that problem and make the online poker industry more marketable and eventually successful.
The Little Tournament Called the Main Event
Oh yes, THAT tournament. The aforementioned WSOP Main Event is the talk of the town in Las Vegas and the poker community around the world.
With the preliminary tournaments wrapped up and just one major tournament left on the WSOP schedule, all eyes in poker are on the Main Event. What started with 6,683 players was reduced to just 746 on Day 3, which was Thursday, July 10.
Players like Phil Ivey and Martin Jacobson have led the field on various days, but Day 4 will begin with relative unknowns atop the leaderboard, though quite a few recognizable faces remain in the crowd.
With a prize pool of $62,820,200 looming, Day 4 is one of the most exciting of the tournament. The money bubble will burst to begin payouts for the top 693 of the players, and sad eliminations will be replaced with happy players with more money than they started with.
As most poker fans watch what happens at the Rio, Nevada online poker sites are banking on them logging on for a little Internet poker action of their own. It has worked thus far.