The official online poker option of the World Series of Poker launched in Pennsylvania on Monday. WSOP.com now gives the state’s online poker players a third option.
By the afternoon, players began downloading the app and getting in the action. The soft launch allowed players to join some cash games and multi-table tournaments during the test period.
The site went live at 2 pm and USPoker spoke with a few players about their experiences on the site.
Details on the WSOP.com launch
Players on WSOP.com in Pennsylvania will initially be in a ringed-in environment. That means they can only compete with others in the state. That could change as more states ink interstate compact deals. The Department of Justice recently let the deadline pass to appeal a ruling on the Wire Act.
In January a federal appeals court ruled the law applies only to sports betting. That paves the way for expanded interstate compacts. In the meantime until those are worked out, Pennsylvania players will have to make do playing others in the state.
WSOP.com is currently running the WSOP Online in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, awarding bracelets to series winners. The site also hosts regular WSOP Circuit events awarding championship rings.
It’s unknown if those will be part of the plans in PA while the state remains a fenced-in market. However, putting together some kind of major tournament series soon seems likely.
This week, WSOP.com will feature limited hours in PA as part of the soft launch. The site was available from 2-10 pm on Monday. Here’s a look at the remainder of the week before a full launch on Friday.
- Tuesday: noon – 10 pm
- Wednesday: noon – midnight
- Thursday: hours not yet announced
Players react to WSOP.com PA
In Pennsylvania, WSOP.com has also launched a new software platform. The WSOP partners with 888poker and makes use of the company’s software.
The platform is debuting the new Poker 8 platform, meant to offer a more modern look. The new platform has received nice reviews so far.
Hunter Miller, 23, lives in Kutztown Pennsylvania, and is a full-time student. He’s been playing poker for two years and has won more than $80,000 on PokerStars and partypoker. He’s excited to see another option in the Keystone State.
“I am thrilled to have a third option as well as a chance to qualify for some WSOP live events,” he said.
On Monday, Miller was one of the early players to download and play. He found a $0.25/$0.50 cash game running when he logged on.
“I believe that the software is a step up from the old WSOP software that I have played in Nevada and New Jersey,” he said. “The software is very clean and easy to use. I am looking forward to the site growing and potentially merging with the other markets.”
Despite not yet having shared liquidity, Miller believes it’s a good time to be an online player in Pennsylvania.
“To be such a young player to the game makes all these new experiences different to those who have been around poker for a while,” he said. “I feel very spoiled to have the option of one, to play legal online poker, and two, to have the different options of three legalized sites to choose from.”
After playing for a bit on Monday, one promotional highlight on the site stood out for Miller. WSOP.com has planned a $50,000 freeroll, including awarding two tickets to the $10,000 Main Event in Las Vegas. A third ticket will also be given out randomly to players.
Taking a WSOP test drive
Jim Stressman, 50, is a recreational player from Philadelphia and enjoys playing some small stakes poker. He works in a supermarket and also jumped in the action on Monday.
To start his foray onto WSOP.com, Stressman played in a $5 tournament, taking sixth for $24. As he played on Monday, the software offered a nice experience, he said.
“The site looks pretty cool … except I don’t see any chat options when you play,” he said. “I really like the Blast poker game, that’s a unique way to play. The bonuses are really good too.”
A Blast tournament is a four-handed super-turbo sit & go. The prize pool is determined based on a draw that takes place at the beginning of each tournament. That varies from 2-10,000 times the buy-in and after the Blast timer runs down, players are then all in every hand.
Beyond those aspects, Stressman also liked the longer registration period at WSOP.com than some other sites.
“It gives more players opportunities to play and builds more to the prize pool,” he said.
Other players on social media have generally given the platform thumbs up so far. Craig Whitby, 42, lives in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, and works as a call center supervisor for a national pest control company. He enjoys playing some online poker at night and weekends.
“It was real easy to fund my account,” he says. “The site took my credit card and had PayPal as well. The software was pretty easy to get used to. But there is no chat box or display to tell you stats on the tournament like position you’re in, how many players until you make the money, et cetera on the actual table.”
Whitby played in two events, a $75,000 freeroll satellite and a $1 tournament with a $100 guarantee. He finished runner-up in the second event, a nice start on the site.
With three operators (WSOP.com, PokerStars, and Partypoker) now in the state, it will be interesting to see how things play out. The state certainly becomes more competitive and it remains to be seen how traffic and monthly revenue will be affected.