Online players will have four opportunities to bag a bracelet at the 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Per the official schedule for the 49th annual WSOP, which was released earlier this month, the summer series will run from May 29 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Over the span of seven weeks, 78 tournaments will crown champions in various poker disciplines – including four played entirely online via WSOP.com – before the series concludes on July 17.
In a press release announcing the dates and details, WSOP tournament director Jack Effel commented on the schedule’s diversity:
“We feel very good about the multitude of offerings on the 2018 World Series of Poker schedule and look forward to welcoming everyone to the Rio in Las Vegas this summer.”
But while the bulk of the action will take place at the Rio, anybody in the state of Nevada can log on to WSOP.com to take their shot at poker immortality.
The first online bracelet event – a $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) tournament which attracted 905 entries – was held on WSOP.com in 2015. Touring pro Anthony Spinella took it down, earning $197,743, his first career bracelet, and a footnote in the WSOP history books.
The $1,000 NLHE online event returned to WSOP.com in 2016, drawing 1,247 entries to increase the field size by more than 37 percent.
And last summer, the WSOP tripled up by adding $333 and $3,333 buy-in NLHE online events. Each proved to be a hit among players, while the original $1,000 NLHE event grew once again to 1,312 entries.
In an interview with veteran poker reporter Eric Ramsey of Online Poker Report, WSOP head of online poker Bill Rini addressed the popularity of online bracelet events:
“We attribute a lot of that [growth] to increased awareness.
Obviously the WSOP at the Rio is the main attraction of the summer, but as players increasingly become familiar with the online offering, they are starting to view the online and offline as a more integrated schedule of events.”
For the 2018 edition, online action kicks off on Sunday, June 3 with Event #9: $365 NLHE.
The WSOP’s first non-Hold’em tournament to be played online – Event #47: $565 Pot-Limit Omaha Six-Handed – begins on Friday, June 22.
The following Friday, Event #61: $1,000 NLHE returns for the fourth time.
And one day later, the online component of the schedule is capped off by Event #63: $3,200 NLHE High-Roller.
All online bracelet events are scheduled as one-day tournaments, and players are offered unlimited reentries through the opening levels. And following last year’s model, the entire event will be played out online, rather than bringing the final table to the Rio as in 2015 and 2016.
For now, the fields will be limited to players who are physically located within the state of Nevada during tournament hours. But that could change if WSOP organizers can clear regulatory red tape between now and late May.
Back in October, Governor Brian Sandoval signed a long-awaited compact with his counterparts in New Jersey and Delaware. The three states agreed to share online poker player pools, a deal which will eventually permit players on the WSOP.com platform to compete against one another across state lines.
Speaking with Ramsey and Online Poker Report, Rini was reluctant to provide details on player sharing as it pertains to the WSOP:
“We fully anticipate NJ players being able to compete for WSOP bracelets.
It’s always been our desire to allow players to compete for WSOP bracelets on WSOP.com in any jurisdiction where it’s legal to do so. That’s why the interstate liquidity-sharing agreement is such a game changer.
Although it’s still too early to determine one way or another whether or not interstate shared liquidity will be available before the WSOP, we should be able to make an announcement in a couple of months.”
For now, WSOP.com players in the Garden State must settle for satellite events.