The start of the 2018 World Series of Poker is less than three weeks away and by all accounts it is poised to be the largest ever series held at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino. A massive schedule featuring 78 gold bracelet events are on tap including the return of fan favorite tournaments the Colossus, the $365 GIANT, the Millionaire Maker and the pro heavy field of the $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop.
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In the past, all of the events would lead up to the culmination of the *$10,000 Main Event, but in 2018 for the first time, the schedule will be expanded to include 13 post-lim events. One of the other new additions to the schedule is an expanded online offering for players on WSOP.com, the online arm of the marquee series.
Since 2015, the WSOP has been offering players the opportunity to play for a gold bracelet from the comfort of their home, hotel room or mobile device. The first two years there was a single tournament on the schedule with the final table taking place live at the Rio. In 2017, the WSOP extended the online opportunities to three with the events taking place entirely online. Now, the series is once again expanding for the second year in a row, adding a fourth event.
“We’re constantly surprised at the numbers,” WSOP.com Head of Online Poker, Bill Rini told pokerfuse. “The prize pools just seem to grow and grow, and we keep introducing more and more online events to meet the demand.”
The prize pools have indeed continued to swell, thanks in part to the WSOP itself. It is a rare occasion that the WSOP places a guarantee on a tournament. The Colossus has had a guaranteed prize pool for several years (in 2017 it was $8 million) and the series has, on occasion, guaranteed a particular place a guaranteed payout, such as in the Millionaire Maker. But for the WSOP, guarantees are a bit of a novelty. When they do offer guarantees though, players usually respond with enthusiasm.
In 2017 WSOP.com placed a $333,333 prize pool guarantee on their $333 online bracelet event. Players flocked to the event, crushing the guarantee and helping post a prize pool of over $750,000.
In 2018, not only is WSOP.com expanding the tournaments, they are expanding the guarantees on the tournaments. Three of the four online events carry a promised prize pool.
• Event #10 – $365 No Limit Hold’em Online Bracelet – $500,000 Guarantee
• Event #47 – $565 Pot Limit Hold’em Online Bracelet
• Event #61 – $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Online Bracelet – $1,000,000 Guarantee
• Event #63 – $3,200 High Roller No Limit Hold’em Online Bracelet – $1,000,000 Guarantee
The only online event without a guarantee is Event #47, the Pot Limit Omaha event, which is also the only one of the four tournaments which cannot be played on a mobile device. Rini suggests that could change as the series grows closer and as data from PLO events from the newly enacted tri-state player pool becomes available.
If history is any indication, these guarantees should be relatively easy to hit. In 2017, the $1000 event registered 1312 runners for a $1.246 million prize pool. The $3333 High Roller scored an impressive 424 players for a $1.335 million prize pool of its own. In 2016, the $1000 event prize pool also surpassed $1 million. Though it is a limited sample size, the history of the online bracelet events makes the 2018 posted guarantees a lower-risk, added-value marketing opportunity.
Another reason for the expanded guarantees is, no doubt, the ability for players in New Jersey to participate in the 2018 online bracelet events. For the first time since WSOP.com has gone live, players from over 2500 miles away will have the opportunity to sit at the same virtual tables as those players in Nevada. WSOP.com is hoping that the guarantees and the chance at a gold bracelet will continue the upward trend of their brand of online poker.
“We’re really hoping that the summer energizes the entire poker market across Nevada and New Jersey,” Rini said. “Summer has always been record-breaking for us while New Jersey follows the more traditional summer slump while everyone goes on vacation or gets out to enjoy the summer. It would be great for the entire industry if we can get some massive prize pools in the big events this summer.”
As part of the celebration of the new expanded player pool, WSOP.com is guaranteeing $1 million over the course of 32 events in its Coast to Coast Classic which runs on WSOP.com for players in New Jersey and Nevada from May 11 to May 20.
The World Series of Poker gets underway on May 29, and the first online bracelet event, Event #10, is set to take place on June 3 at 6:30pm PDT.