The official schedule for this summer’s 2017 World Series of Poker (WSOP) has been finalized, per a press release issued January 25 by event organizers.
And among the 74 tournaments awarding a gold bracelet to the winner this year, a trio of online-only events is generating quite the buzz within the poker community.
The 48th annual running of the WSOP takes place between May 30 and July 17, at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
For the series’ first 45 editions, the coveted gold bracelet which crowns WSOP champions could only be earned on the felt through live play. That all changed in 2015 with the introduction of the WSOP.com Online No Limit Hold’em event, which returned the following year sporting the same $1,000 buy-in.
This year, the WSOP is tripling up on the online integration, with two new price points added to the mix.
The first is Event #8: $333 No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) Online, which takes place on June 3. Of note, this tournament will represent the lowest buy-in for any bracelet event in WSOP history, and players will have a $333,333 guaranteed prize pool for which to play.
In designing Event #61: $3,333 NLHE Online High-Roller, to take place on July 1, event organizers took a risk by offering the highest buy-in for any tournament since Nevada’s regulated online poker era began in 2013.
The original $1,000 NLHE Online event returns as Event #71 on July 7.
All online events are single-day affairs, and as WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini told Online Poker Report, the three final tables will be played out online as well – a departure from the live final tables that capped things off the last two years:
“Yes, we’ll be playing out all three events entirely online. We’ve received feedback going both ways on this. Some players love the fact that they can come down to the Rio and face their opponents across the felt and others have said that they prefer to finish play online.
We decided to try the all online format this year and, as we always do, listen to the feedback from the poker community.”
The WSOP schedule as a whole is highlighted by eight new additions in all, with a focus on affordable buy-ins, multiple starting flights, and massive prize pools.
In a unique format, beginning on June 9 players will have five “heats” – one every Friday until July 7 – to bag up a big stack in Event #19: $365 “Giant” NLHE.
In the press release, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart pointed to the Giant event as being emblematic of the schedule’s overall focus:
“This 2017 schedule reflects our continuing goal to broaden poker’s appeal and encourage first timers and recreational players to come experience the WSOP for themselves. With the new $365 buy-in Giant anchoring Friday nights, alongside a tent pole event awarding millions every weekend, we believe we have the offering to be well worth the trip.
Plus, for the serious and high-stakes player, we remain committed to having the most diverse schedule of events of any tournament in the world. Whatever your game or bankroll, let the bracelet chase begin.”
Jack Effel, WSOP Tournament Director and 13-year veteran of the series, echoed Stewart’s sentiments:
“The focus of the schedule remains squarely on two core principles: the biggest prize pools possible and diversity in offerings to provide something for everyone. The 48th running of the globe’s biggest poker series promises to deliver on these core principles and ensure another action-packed summer at the Rio.”