The licensed U.S. online poker market sprang into being in 2013, and by the end of that year, three states had launched a half-dozen licensed online poker sites.
With the above-board return of online poker many people expected the World Series of Poker would once again flourish.
But only a single site, Ultimate Poker in Nevada, was up and running when the WSOP took place in the early summer months of 2013. Because of this, the impact of legal online poker on the 2013 WSOP was for the most part negligible.
With the launches occurring after the 2013 WSOP had concluded, the poker community would have to wait until the 2014 WSOP to get a taste of how Caesars would leverage its online poker products to enhance the WSOP.
And leverage them they did.
Every year the WSOP does a better job integrating its online products into the World Series of Poker, not only bolstering the Main Event’s numbers, but creating exciting new tournaments and promotions that originate online.
The history of the WSOP’s online assimilation
In 2014, the WSOP threw a bunch of things against the wall to see what would stick, as the company implemented a number of online-friendly policies.
Most notably, for the first time in its history, the WSOP encouraged tournament players to play online poker while sitting at World Series of Poker tables at the Rio. The only hiccup was a lack of a mobile product, which meant players had to use their laptops, which proved to be a logistical issue for most.
The WSOP also tinkered with a dedicated online area, dubbed the Grind Room, where players could hook up their laptops and play online poker.
And there were the expected online poker satellites to WSOP tournaments.
In 2015, the WSOP further increased its online poker presence.
The ineffectual Grind Room was gone, but players could now play at WSOP.com on their mobile devices, eliminating the need to lug around a laptop. That year also saw a huge increase in the number of online satellite events, and most notably, the creation of an online bracelet event.
For the 2016 WSOP, Caesars has further refined WSOP.com’s presence and role at the WSOP, as it continues to build on the successes of 2014 and 2015.
Here’s a look at what WSOP players can expect to find on the online poker front.
Online bracelet event returns
In 2016, players will see the return of the $1,000 No Limit Holdem online bracelet event.
This time around the event will feature one notable tweak, as the entire tournament will now take place online. Last year the tournament was paused when the final table was reached, with the players having a couple days off before meeting up at the Rio to finish the event in a live tournament setting.
Last year the online bracelet event attracted a sizable field of 905 players; a number the WSOP is looking to eclipse in 2016.
A live event that requires online play
There is a second event on the 2016 WSOP schedule that effectively requires players to put in some time at the WSOP.com online poker tables. That tournament is Event #4 on the WSOP schedule, the Turbo Top Up.
The Turbo Top Up is a typical $1,000 buy-in tournament with one exception: Anyone who has finished first, second, or third in a WSOP.com Sit & Go between May 1 and June 4 starts the event with twice as many chips.
While it lacks a mandate to play online poker at WSOP.com, the structure of the event will almost guarantee the vast majority of entrants have played at WSOP.com, especially since there isn’t a stakes threshold to meet.
Online satellite schedule
There are already a plethora of satellite options running at WSOP.com.
With online satellites now available, players looking for a cheaper way to enter WSOP events now have two options to choose from:
- They can play in one of the satellites at the Rio;
- They can go online at WSOP.com and find a variety of satellite options.
WSOP.com is hosting Main Event qualifiers in Nevada and in New Jersey every Sunday, from now through the Main Event in July. And on July 9, WSOP.com Nevada will host a 25-seat Scramble, where at least 25 seats will be awarded to the WSOP Main Event.
Daily online satellites will also run during the series to a number of WSOP tournaments, including the online bracelet tournament, the $888 Crazy Eights event, and signature events like the Ladies Championship, the Millionaire Maker and the Casino Employee Event.