The WSOP now runs online satellites in New Jersey and Nevada, allows online play while participating in live WSOP tournaments, and created an event that rewarded online play — the somewhat controversial Turbo Top Up.
The boldest change occurred in 2015, when the WSOP added an online bracelet event to the schedule. The event, a $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament, wasn’t a guaranteed winner for the WSOP, but in the end it was a rousing triumph:
- First, attendance numbers were solid in 2015, as 905 players registered for the tournament. Keep in mind, unlike a live event that requires space and dealers and staff, an online event has very little overhead for the WSOP.
- Second, the WSOP and its online poker platform powered by 888 proved it could handle such a large-scale event, as the tournament went off without a hitch.
- Third, and perhaps most importantly, the online tournament was yet another positive step in the assimilation of online poker into the WSOP tournament series. Players loved it, and it was a successful tournament for the WSOP.
Online bracelet returns in 2016
Trying to build on the success of the inaugural online event, the WSOP brought the online tournament back for an encore in 2016. And the tournament didn’t disappoint.
Attendance was way up this year, as 1,247 registered for Event No. 66, thanks in large part to a new wrinkle added for the 2016 online tournament: reentries. The breakdown for the tournament was 927 unique entrants (a small uptick from 2015) and 320 reentries. Overall, entries for the $1,000 NLHE online bracelet event were up over 27 percent.
And once again, the tournament went off without a hitch.
Final table slated for Monday
Originally, the WSOP said the entirety of the 2016 online bracelet tournament would take place online. However, there was a late change, and as was the case last year, the tournament played down to the final table online on Friday. Then, with six players remaining, the tournament was paused.
The final six players left in the tournament will now get a much deserved break before they head to the Rio on Monday to play for the bracelet, live on the main stage.
Here’s a look at the final six players still in the hunt for the online bracelet:
- Clayton Maguire (SLARKDUCK) – 7,157,023
- Simeon Naydenov (FeelGoodInc) – 6,203,740
- Marc-Oliver Carpentier-Perrault (mariovideo) – 2,520,809
- Park Yu Cheung (Sparrow) – 1,118,408
- Spencer Taylor (TheGoat21) – 943,029
- Richard Tuhrim (jklolz) – 761,991
Will WSOP add more online events?
With the success and growth of the online tournament, I’d expect WSOP and Caesars brass to discuss expanding the number of online events on the schedule for the 2017 series.
That said, it will require a quite a bit of restraint to not go too far with this. Part of the appeal of the online event is its uniqueness and scarcity.
My suggestion would be to keep the current online bracelet tournament as is, and add a second and third online event on the same day (lord knows online players love to multi-table).
These other events would work the same as the popular PokerStars SCOOP series, where there is a low, medium, and high buy-in for each tournament.
Since this is the WSOP, I would suggest the price points be set at:
- $1,000 buy-in
- $10,000 buy-in
- $25,000 buy-in
I would guarantee that the vast majority of the players registering for the $25k tournament would also play the other two as well.
Another possibility to expand the online footprint is to add an online pot-limit Omaha day to the schedule. It would probably be best if this occurred much earlier in the series (scheduled around a major live PLO tournament on the WSOP schedule).
I think it would work either by holding a single online PLO tournament with a buy-in of $500 or $1,000, or using my NLHE SCOOP model from above, with a little tweaking to the price point:
- $500 buy-in
- $2,500 buy-in
- $10,000 buy-in