There are plenty of reasons to celebrate May 1. It’s known as May Day, International Worker’s Day, and Worthy Wage Day. For online poker in the U.S., however, May 1 will go down as Shared Liquidity Day.
Since Black Friday, the quest for regulated online poker in the U.S. has struggled to find momentum. The combining of player pools is a huge step forward for the market and may be the answer for the industry to gain some traction.
Tri-state online poker
The new combined network of sites between WSOP.com and 888poker merges the players from six online poker rooms into one player pool.
Prior to May 1, WSOP.com in Nevada shared liquidity with three racino online poker rooms in Delaware whose network was hosted by 888poker. On May 1, WSOP.com and 888poker in New Jersey joined the other four sites to complete the interstate network.
Before the merge, Nevada and Delaware saw a seven-day average of 140 weekly players, with a peak of 245 players, according to PokerScout.com.
New Jersey poker has been declining of late. Even so, the WSOP/888 network in the Garden State averaged around 100 players with a peak of 215.
WSOP.com and 888poker by the numbers
The early numbers are in and on May 1, the first full-day of online poker on the merged network, 381 players were online at its peak. The peak players across both sites for the previous Tuesday, April 24, equaled 481 players.
Looking solely at the numbers, 381 combined players might seem like a disappointment. And to many it was. Let’s not forget one crucial fact, though — online poker is finally happening across state lines.
New Jersey-based poker pro Michael Gagliano said it best.
As many know, there are some things that I think aren't being done as well as they should be, but overall I have to say, it's pretty cool that @WSOP @WSOPcom has completed interstate player pooling. Happy to be battling with people across the country for the first time in 7 yrs!
— Gags30 (@Gags30poker) May 2, 2018
Technical glitches and time zone considerations
As expected with any software launch, there were some glitches. Players in Nevada experienced some difficulties with the downloading and launching the software, the geo-location security check, creating a new account and depositing money.
Another topic of discussion on Twitter as the software rolled out was time zones.
While Nevada players suffered the majority of technical issues, New Jersey players were questioning the start times and registrations periods of the tournaments.
Haven’t heard anything but complaints from NJ players, no one wants to play until 4am. Should be 6PM 3 hours late reg not 7PM 4 hours late reg. This is coming from a good place I really want wsop to crush it but the start times heavily favor west coast.
— William (@WilliamJLH) May 2, 2018
Three hours separates New Jersey and Nevada. Finding a time zone that makes everyone happy will be a challenge. Splitting the difference seems logical, but other considerations may come into play.
It is in everyone’s best interest, including WSOP.com, to figure out the times that allow the maximum number of players to play.
The technical issues and time zone differences might help explain the lower-than-expected peak number. Rest assured, WSOP.com and 888poker are working overtime to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.
How shared liquidity affects online poker going forward
Larger player pools will have a ripple effect on online poker. More players generate larger prize pools. Larger prize pools attract more players. And the cycle continues.
WSOP.com has already increased the guarantee for its Sunday Major tournament to $100,000 in anticipation of a massive turnout this weekend.
Shared liquidity may also have an impact on potential legislation in other states.
Pennsylvania, the sixth largest state, is already in the process of launching online poker and will likely join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association when it goes live. Without having historical ties to gaming like Nevada and New Jersey, it has the potential of making a considerable impact on future legislation across the country.
Watching the successes of states with online poker, especially regarding revenue, may give otherwise reluctant legislators a reason to consider online poker.
The bottom line is the combining of player pools is good for online poker. And while some might be frustrated today, those frustrations will be long forgotten when they are sporting a shiny gold bracelet or taking home their share of a weekly $100,000 guaranteed tournament.
Technical glitches aside, WSOP.com and 888poker moved online poker forward and that is worth remembering.