The World Series of Poker may not be a possibility this summer, but one group of friends is already planning for next year. The Luckbox Poker Club uses online poker for players across the country to take part.
The club includes 15 players from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, and New Jersey. Like a traditional live poker club, players battle it out over a series of weeks with players earning points in the Luckbox standings.
The prize is a $12,000 package to play the WSOP Main Event in 2021. In this case, however, a free online poker site has replaced meeting at a friend’s house for a regular game.
Converting an online meeting place to a poker club
The Luckbox Poker Club isn’t new. Andrew Langston, 27, formed the group three years ago on Facebook. Originally, the concept was meant simply to bring friends together and discuss poker.
A production planner from York, Pennsylvania, Langston also used the group to promote area tournaments. A little poker boasting also became part of the activity.
“Over the years it has turned into a great place to go and see players’ big tournament wins or big cash nights,” he says.
The Coronavirus pandemic brought extra challenges for players and the Facebook group. With no tournaments to promote, Langston transitioned.
“I wanted to find something to get everyone excited about poker again,” he says. “We had some cash game nights on apps, but I wanted to do something a little bigger and meaningful.”
The Luck Box WSOP Seat Series was born and players will be battling out in tournaments over 10 months. Each event features a $100 buy-in with half going to the prize pool and half to the WSOP seat pool.
“Obviously running the series as a live event wasn’t going to happen,” he says. “That’s when we decided to use a free online platform to host the tournaments.”
Some added incentives for poker club members
Things have been going well for the Luckbox Club with players enjoying the virtual action. The WSOP seat goes to a single player, but the competition is organized so everyone has skin in the game.
The seat winner will be playing with 60% equity in Las Vegas. The remaining 40% will be distributed among the other qualifying players with:
- 10% for the second-place finisher
- 5% for third, fourth, and fifth
- 15% distributed to all remaining qualifying players
Langston enjoys the camaraderie among the Luckbox group, which wouldn’t be possible in a big online tournament. Club members enjoy the social aspect of poker.
“What I found to be nice is that I know everyone in the tournament,” says Langston, who also plays at PokerStars in PA and is eager for partypoker to arrive. “It really makes it feel like a live game even though it’s online. In this series we have a group chat going almost everyday trash talking about the previous week or future tournaments.
“Everyone is just happy to be able to play meaningful poker again. Some of the non-Pennsylvania and New Jersey players don’t have any other option of playing. So they really look forward to the series tournaments each week.”
Temporary replacement for live poker
While online poker might not be quite like playing live with friends, it also has some advantages. Players from anywhere can get together for some safe and secure online poker at any time. There’s also no need for tables, chairs, and chips. There’s also no post-game cleanup.
Mitch Smith, 30, is an entrepreneur and real estate investor in Tampa, Florida. He says group texts and chat at least simulate the interaction of a live game.
“It’s definitely not the same as having a buddy right beside you, but in my situation living in a different state,” he says, “it actually allows me to play with people I would have never been able to consistently play with and even meet new people from different states.”
A casual player since he was a kid, Smith began visiting casinos when he turned 21. He progressed from $1/$2 cash games in those early days to $10/$25 and $25/$50 now. He has live tournament winnings of $145,000.
Now playing more online, Smith found some adjustments have definitely been needed when playing online with buddies.
“Online poker is completely different than live,” he says. “You lose the reading abilities of facial expressions, chip movement, breathing patterns, etc. It definitely makes it tougher for me.”
What would it be like to win a seat to the WSOP through the club?
“I’ve never been to the WSOP Main Event so being able to win a seat and have the whole club watching and cheering me on would be such an adrenaline rush,” Smith says.
“I can just imagine making it to the final table and flying out everyone from the club to be at the rails while trying to take home the bracelet and huge prize money.”
Plenty of fun but some serious poker
One aspect of the Luckbox Poker Club stands out for 46-year-old Tony Moyers – the level of play. There may be lots of laughs, but club members are out to win.
“Although there are only around 15 people in some events, you can tell they are taking it seriously and trying to play their best poker,” says Moyers, a barber from Charles Town, West Virginia.
While he may not be able to stare down players in the eyes, Moyers picks up on other tendencies. He says each player has his own style and pattern with some easier to detect than others.
Moyers was attracted to poker during the Chris Moneymaker boom and began playing at a casino about 10 years ago. Those trips usually included low-stakes cash games and he later added tournaments in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
Most casinos that have reopened poker rooms are requiring limited numbers of players, mandatory mask usage, and plexiglass partitions. Moyers says the current look of live poker doesn’t look like the most enjoyable or welcoming experience.
While that makes him question the game’s growth, Moyers is glad online poker can at least fill the void. The Luckbox Club has been a welcome distraction from pandemic talk.
“Rumors of casinos keeping their poker rooms shut down for a long time or closing them permanently will be a big blow to the industry,” he says. “If that’s the case, then online is where players will be forced to retreat for their poker fix.”
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