A mere three days after World Series of Poker Event #64 shattered the record for largest tournament prize pool in the US regulated online poker market, WSOP.com in Nevada notched a second historic achievement.
On Sunday, the 25 Seat Scramble, a $200 buy-in event slated to award a minimum of 25 seats to the WSOP Main Event, attracted 1,260 players and 1,667 total entries en route to creating a $308,395 prize pool.
The tournament set a new precedent for online satellites in Nevada, crushing the previous marker – set last year by the same tournament – by a nearly $62,000 margin.
The secret of the Scramble’s success
Clearly, the inclusion of re-entries was the primary facilitator that pumped the prize pool for this year’s Scramble. Re-entries accounted for $75,295, or about one-fourth of the total prize pool.
Yet, that doesn’t neatly explain why player counts were slightly up over last year, when if anything online re-entry tournaments tend to attract fewer players than freezeouts.
For further answers, I turned to WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini, who attributed the following to the Scramble’s success:
- Extended late registration: As per Rini, this allowed the tournament “to start early in the afternoon” while still giving late risers or players who were out at the tournament’s onset plenty of time to jump in. Late registration for the Scramble lasted three hours.
- Buzz: Rini stated, “I think last year took everyone by surprise. A lot of people didn’t think we could pull off a tournament that big and when we did, it really put the event on the map for players.”
The lower, more player-friendly admission price of $200 (as opposed to $215 last year) may have also had a marginal impact on turnout figures.
Although it should be noted that despite the lessened price point, the entry fee remained the same ($15), meaning that this year’s Scramble offered slightly less value.
Online qualifiers well represented at this year’s live Series
WSOP.com significantly increased the vehicles by which players could qualify for live WSOP events. In addition to the Scramble, the operator hosted a wide array of satellites, many of which awarded tournament lammers that could be spent however the winner desired.
$3 R&A qualifiers into the popular Rio Daily Deepstack tournaments were also held on a consistent basis.
Even players from New Jersey were not entirely left out in the cold, as throughout the Series, WSOP.com awarded one seat per week to players hailing from the Garden State. As an added bonus, New Jersey satellite winners received an extra $2,000 to cover their expenses.
Rini estimates that the operator “awarded over 500 seats” in total – a significant uptick over the approximately 200 seats awarded in 2014.
What’s in store for the 2016 WSOP?
I’d be hard pressed to believe that the 25, or even a 30 or 35, Seat Scramble won’t be making another appearance next year, as it was both successful as a standalone tournament and at driving cash game traffic to the site.
According to PokerScout.com, cash game player counts on Sunday peaked at 454; their highest mark of the 2015 Series up until the very next day, when liquidity peaks surged to 463.
Looking further ahead, if California legalizes online poker, it represents an ample opportunity for WSOP.com to expand its WSOP satellite schedule even further, as California’s close proximity to Nevada and high prevalence of poker players will harmonize with WSOP’s aims.
Until then, expect the operator to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in a niche market.