And as Las Vegas, Nevada prepares for an influx of poker players, the players themselves are busy charting out their schedule, preparing packages and reserving poker houses.
The 2018 WSOP schedule chatter
Most of the chatter to date has been about two of the most notable changes to the schedule.
The first being the addition of several high-rollers. The second being the dozen of events that begin AFTER the WSOP Main Event begins.
As you can imagine, there are opinions in both the pros and cons column.
The one thing we don’t hear much about, though, is the online event schedule.
It was 2015 when the WSOP.com first awarded a bracelet for an online event attracting 905 players. It also offered an online bracelet event in 2016 which drew a healthy 1,247 players.
In 2017, the WSOP.com awarded not one, but three bracelets for one-day events played entirely online.
Those three events welcomed a total of 4,245 players and had buy-ins of $333, $1,000 and $3,333, and by all accounts, the events were a success.
Online bracelet events are back
For WSOP.com, holding online games is a win as they were able to register new players to their online platform and keep players playing. And for players, it has been a win as it allowed many of them to get back to their roots, online poker.
It came as no surprise to see online bracelet events back on the schedule this year, with one noteworthy addition, a $565 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed event. It will join the $365, $3,200 and $1,000 Championship events, making four bracelets awarded on the virtual felt.
What was surprising is the fact that only one of the four additional bracelet events on this year’s schedule is an online event.
The addition of pot-limit Omaha
The popularity of no-limit hold’em seems to have reached its peak. Yes, it’s still the game played in the majority of tournament events, but you can see the rise of PLO, not only with the addition of the online event but with additional live events as well.
PLO continues to grow and is bringing a steady influx of new players to the game. It’s the next step for players looking to expand their skills and enter the world of mixed-games.
Many players say no-limit is solved (or pretty close), but there are still spots in PLO where you can be a winning player.
While it’s a more complicated game, it’s also action-oriented which helps alleviate the some of the boredom from sitting at a table for hours one end.
PLO was a good choice with which to expand the online schedule. PLO is giving no-limit a run for its money in popularity. Who knows, maybe a mixed game variant is on tap for 2019.
The popularity of online events
There is a demand for more online games among the players. Because of that demand, one might have expected to see more online events in varied disciplines added to the schedule.
Online tournaments are not in competition with other tournaments on the schedule. Players love the fact they can multi-table by playing an online tournament while sitting at their live tournament table.
Now, you might be thinking that more events will only dilute the value of a bracelet. Well, ten years ago, there were 55 bracelet events, this year there are 78. That’s a 41% increase over the last decade.
The reality is, every year the value of a bracelet is diluted as the schedule continues to grow. Yet, it is still the most desirable trophy in poker. And the value lies in the perception.
Smart scheduling and an opportunity
Since the WSOP.com is in the business of bringing people to tables for the summer, whether virtual or live, it only makes good business sense to include more online tournaments.
Online events with lower buy-ins attract big fields, and they also attract players to the WSOP brand that may not be able to afford to play otherwise.
The WSOP.com strategically placed their online events in conjunction with their big draw events, The Colossus, The Giant and Crazy Eights. It is smart scheduling on the part of the WSOP and is likely to increase new players to their online platform and grow the player pools for the tournaments as a whole.
There is one more obvious opportunity where an online bracelet event would fit nicely into the schedule. The weekend of the Seniors Event and the $50k Players Championship seems like an ideal place for an online event.
Typically, that weekend loses the younger player base because Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is in town. But this year, EDC is held before the WSOP opening its doors.
With the halls full of scootering speed demons, most younger players that can’t afford $50k might tend to stay away. What better way to keep them from going to the competition, then to offer an online event?
The WSOP.com online bracelet event schedule
There was a 369% increase in online players from that very first tournament in 2015 to last year’s three bracelet events. With those numbers, it stands to reason that there will be huge players logging on to take a shot.
You won’t want to miss out on your opportunity to virtually chase gold. Remember, if you are in Nevada, you can add one of these online bracelet events to the schedule.
- June 3rd: $365 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold’em
- June 22nd – Event #47: $565 WSOP.com ONLINE Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed
- June 29th – Event #61: $1,000 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold’em Championship
- June 30th – Event #63: $3,200 WSOP.com ONLINE No-Limit Hold’em High Roller