WSOP Poker from the US
The WSOP is open to real money poker for NV, NJ and DE citizens ONLY. If located (permanent or temporary) within those boundaries you can play by visiting www.wsop.com. It’s not necessary to live in the state, you simply must be within the state border. Only NV can play with DE residents, New Jersey is segregated. For verification you must have three (3) strong wireless connections in your wifi network.
Segregation and Alternatives
WSOP Online, due to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 (UIGEA) and the 2013 Clarification Act, is not yet available for US players outside of Nevada, NJ or DE. This has caused small player pools and amounts of tables open are low – with sit and go’s and tournaments hardly running.
Playing on WSOP.com in the USA
WSOP.com is in a prime position to become the biggest site on the internet but only if state segregation is lifted. They will be competing with Borgata and primarily PokerStars as the new Big Three. Our estimates put them at approximately 10,000 peak players per day if all states are legalized. They currently do a few hundred. For comparison, PokerStars does over 40,000 players playing at one time and earns an estimated $4 million per day in rake on international territories. Despite this, it appears Harrah’s Entertainment, the company which owns the World Series of Poker brand is on record as only breaking even at their poker room despite being open in three states.
As you might already be aware, in July 2011 the 2006 UIGEA was lawfully manipulated to allow poker games, which would allow license and regulated online poker in the US on a State level, passed the House Financial Committee by a 41-22 vote. If this or a similar bill passes the full House, the Senate, and then is signed into law by the President, the US would soon after issue their first ever batch of gambling licenses on a Federal level, note the word “Federal” not state. We are only on a state by state level at the moment. Harrah’s, owner of the WSOP, based in Nevada is the largest gaming company in the world and is in prime position to benefit when and if new law is passed.
Who’s Behind The WSOP Poker Room
In addition to the World Series of Poker and the WSOP online poker room, Harrah’s Entertainment owns several dozen land-based casinos. Their highest concentration of casinos is in Las Vegas where they own: Harrah’s Casino, Caesars Palace, Imperial Palace, Planet Hollywood, Flamingo, Rio, Oshea’s, Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, Bally’s and Paris. Their casinos spread much further than Las Vegas. They own 17 Harrah’s branded casinos, 7 individually branded casinos, 6 Horseshoe Branded Casinos, 3 Caesars branded casinos and 2 Bally’s Casinos spread across the US. They also own 11 casinos in the UK, 2 in Egypt and 2 in South Africa. As far as online poker goes, the biggest asset in this category is their World Series of Poker brand.
World Series of Poker History
In 1969, the first ever poker tournament was held at the Holiday Hotel in Reno and attracted big name bookies, casino owners and card sharks. A partial list of the tournaments participants includes Johnny Moss, Doyle Brunson, Crandell Addington, James “Longgoodie” Roy, Aubrey Day, Benny Binion, Amarillo Slim, Puggy Pearson, Jimmy Casella, Minnesota Fats, Bill Boyd, Jack Straus, Felton “Corky” McCorkindale, George Barnes, “Sailor” Roberts,. This event was a huge success and the following year Benny Binion purchased rights to the event, moved it to Binions Horseshoe Casino, and renamed it the World Series of Poker.
This event would go on to attract attention to the game Texas Hold’em; and perhaps if the WSOP never existed, the Venetian, the Bellagio, the Borgata, and the Mirage would have slot machines where their poker rooms stand today; and if any poker could be found, it would be in a couple $1-$5 spread limit stud tables tucked away in some remote corner of their casino. Perhaps we’re using our imaginations too much here, but the WSOP is the brand that put Texas Hold’em on the map.
The first two World Series of Poker Main Events (1970 and 1971) saw Johnny Moss elected by his peers the champion. In 1972, the WSOP Main Event switched to a $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em freezeout tournament for the first time (which is the format still used today) and the event was won by Amarillo Slim. This is when poker first started getting press, as Amarillo Slim appeared on several talk shows, including the Tonight Show where he was introduced as the World Champion of Poker. This caught players interest and each year there since, members of the media attended the event, it received television coverage, and the number of entrants grew.
Doyle Brunson would go on to become the next major promoter of No Limit Hold Em (NLHE) and the World Series. After winning back to back WSOP Main Events (1976 and 1977) he released a book eventually retitled Super System which would spend many years as the top authority on poker strategy. This is a book many pros, even those who just got their starts just a few years ago, partially credit for their success. After California legalized Hold Em in 1988, it took just a few years for the WSOP Main Event to break the 200 entrant mark. This came in 1991 where Brad Daugherty outlasted a field of 215 players to claim the title.
Internet Poker and the WSOP
The World Series of Poker and online poker sites have been helping each other grow since the early days of online poker. In 2002, “hole card cams” were introduced to the ESPN broadcast of the WSOP Main Event final table. An unexpected spike in ratings prompted ESPN to air this event over and over again. With all the added exposure to the WSOP, the following year poker sites upped their promotion of it, really pushing the opportunity to win seats via online satellites. The 2003 WSOP attracted a record 839 entrants which was 209 more than the record set the previous year.
In 2003, the World Series of Poker Main Event was won for the first time by a player who qualified via an internet satellite. This player, a 27-year old accountant from Tennessee named Chris Moneymaker (and yes, that’s his birth name), put on a dominate performance while wearing a beige PokerStars hat and a black t-shirt (one of the only few players decked out with online poker gear). In the end he completed his Cinderella run getting through the final table of ten that included big name players Phil Ivey, David Singer, David Grey, Amir Vahedi, Jason Lester, Dan Harrington and Sam Farha. While the table was stacked with pros, it was Moneymaker that stole the show.
The 2003 WSOP Main Event final table broadcast would go on to be the most aired televised poker tournament in history with reruns often running more than once per day. It didn’t take long for everyone and their grandmothers to start logging into online poker sites hoping to become the next Chris Moneymaker. The number of players at online poker sites spiked to unprecedented volumes, as did the number of entrants to the World Series of Poker.
Keep in mind there were 839 entrants in the 2003 Main event when Moneymaker won. The numbers of entrants in the years to follow were 2576, 5619, 8773, 6358, 6844 and 7,319 and in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009 the winners of the World Series of Poker Main Event each won their seat via the same online poker site Moneymaker did, PokerStars.com. In part, due to this exposure, the average number of simultaneous players at PokerStars grew from 6,500 in 2003, to 50,000 in 2004, to 100,000 in late 2005, and over 200,000 by 2007. In the past few years, as the result of promotions, their site has eclipsed 500,000 simultaneous player mark on more than one occasion.
The effects the World Series of Poker has had on internet poker, and (vice-versa) internet poker on the World Series of Poker, can’t possibly be overstated. The two have worked hand and hand to take poker out of the dark as gritty pastime for middle-aged men and a recreational game played for pocket change with friends, to the highly competitive and heralded sport it is today.
So where does this leave Harrah’s?
Harrah’s as the largest gaming company in the world and owners of the WSOP brand are more or less in the driver seat to become the biggest name in online poker once it is completely legal for them to do so. Is Harrah’s interested? You bet! In late 2009 Harrah’s contracted with Dragonfish (the B2B arm of 888 Holdings) to launched their own online gambling platforms. Service began first in the UK, then they closed the online doors in Europe ( because they weren’t successful) and opened strictly for the US customer base. After HR2267, the bill which legalized and regulated online poker in the US passed House Committee, Harrah’s immediately began advertising their gambling site in the US. Right now, players can get play money accounts in 47 of the 50 states. It looks like Harrah’s is making a smart gamble that legal poker in the US is coming to most of the states such as with the lottery (44 of 50 states). They are pouring major money into their future existence, evolve or die.