A million dollars may not be worth what it use to be, but in online poker it is still the big number which operators want use to headline their promotions.
It is not unfair to suggest that the early lead which partypoker New Jersey and Borgata Poker built up in the newly regulated state market came off the back of the network’s “New Jersey’s Next Poker Millionaire” promotion.
More recently, cash game traffic at 888poker has soared after the poker room introduced a promotion which gave players the chance to win a million bucks by collecting gold coins. The coins were awarded for finishing in the money in daily freeroll tournaments, and any player accumulating ten of them was guaranteed $1 million.
PokerStars remains the only operator big enough to regularly make online poker millionaires. The PokerStars millionaires seem to roll off the production line with such regularity that they rarely make the headlines any more.
The new $5 promotional Spin & Go has made several millionaires on its own, and the big tournament series like the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) and World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) regularly produce first prize money of mind-boggling proportions.
If a $1 million first prize is beyond the budget, the next best thing is a $1 million guaranteed prize pool.
PokerStars is still the only operator to run a weekly Sunday Million, but other poker rooms are getting into the act.
On August 2, the poker rooms on the Winning Poker Network (WPN), such as Americas Cardroom and Black Chip Poker, will be running a $1 million guaranteed tournament. This is the third $1 million guaranteed event that the network has managed to stage, and it will be running more of them in the future.
The event features a $540 buy-in, but many payers will enter via satellites that start at extremely low prices. There is even a Spin to Get In promotion where players can win a ticket for as little as 1 cent.
WPN is available to US players in states which have not specifically licensed online poker or introduced legislation to make it illegal; however, it is questionable whether players that patronize the offshore site are breaking any laws as there have been no known prosecutions. Since the states where poker is regulated are too small to provide a player pool for a $1 million guaranteed event, the WPN Million Dollar Sundays are the only tournaments where US players can compete for such a large sum of money.
Even the online event in this year’s World Series of Poker did not produce a prize pool of $1 million. The $1,000 buy-in tournament offered a WSOP bracelet, a final table played live at the Rio, and big prize money for the winner, but it couldn’t offer the magic $1 million guaranteed. The 905 entries generated a slightly smaller prize pool of $859,000.
Proponents of state regulated online poker in places such as California and Pennsylvania might see the existence of such events as fueling an argument for state regulation. The sums of money are large enough to make politicians’ eyes go green with the thought of potential tax revenues.
At the same time, players in the US are likely to have their eyes filled with the prospects of life changing amounts of green dollar bills if they play the event.
Nothing quite exposes the futility of pretending that US players can be prevented from playing online poker by the lack of legislation than WPN’s Million Dollar Sundays. Online poker is available throughout the US. It’s time it was properly regulated and taxed—preferably at the low rate used in Nevada.