Poker fanatics in New Jersey can now take advantage of a merged player and prize pool
Since 1 May, poker players in Nevada and New Jersey have been able to play online poker side by side for the first time since the US poker industry was ring-fenced some seven years ago. The shared liquidity will also include players resident in Delaware, with this tri-state agreement creating the first pool of online players to start competing against one another for places at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). It is hoped that, if this tri-state merging of player pools proves successful, it could encourage more states to follow suit in the months ahead.
Prior to the merger, there were six online rooms in operation across the three states that have since merged to become one unified network. The WSOP is the only Nevada-based operator and had previously shared liquidity with Delaware’s racino online rooms. This quartet of rooms will join forces with the WSOP and 888 rooms that operate in New Jersey, both of which are powered by the fastest-growing online poker brand. Pennsylvania also passed a new bill to legalize online poker throughout its state, but they were not included in this latest player pool merger.
Undoubtedly the biggest and most exciting piece of news for New Jersey-based poker fanatics is that they will have the chance to battle for a WSOP gold bracelet from their own state throughout the 2018 WSOP. There will be four new online WSOP tournaments, each of which will offer a WSOP bracelet for the winner. Should a player from New Jersey prevail in winning a WSOP gold bracelet from outside of Nevada, they will become the first person in poker history to do so. The first of the quartet of online WSOP tournaments will be event number ten on the WSOP roster, which will be a $365-entry online no-limit hold’em tournament.
There will be a string of additional benefits for New Jersey-based poker players being part of this new tri-state pool. $100,000 guaranteed tournaments will be held every Sunday, with a host of other tournaments with larger guaranteed prize pools for many years. A revamped and improved player loyalty program will also help to better reward players for solid online play. It is certainly hoped that this merger will be the shot in the arm that online poker needs in the Garden State, with numbers of active players having dwindled in recent months to just over 100 per week.
How has the WSOP fared in recent times?
Last year, 7,221 entrants took part in the WSOP Main Event, laying down the $10,000 entry fee to try and get a shot at the game’s richest annual poker tournament. It was the third-highest field in the event’s 48-year history, which suggests that the annual WSOP is very much alive and kicking in Las Vegas. With an eye-watering $68 million prize pool up for grabs, the eventual 2017 Main Event winner, Scott Blumstein, scooped $8,150,000 and the title of poker world champ.
The WSOP has continued to work hard to innovate and keep its player base engaged throughout the annual events. The ‘Colossus’ is one of the newest initiatives that the WSOP has introduced and it will be making its fourth appearance in 2018. This $565 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament offers a guaranteed $1,000,000 first prize and a highly coveted WSOP gold bracelet. The three-day tournament has two flights per day, with one re-entry allowed per flight. The ability to have multiple shots at the first prize certainly captured the imagination of 2017’s players, attracting 22,374 entrants. During the first three years of Colossus, the average prize pool per tournament has been well over $10,000,000.
A look at the upcoming WSOP bracelet events
This year, there will be 78 official WSOP gold bracelets up for grabs with a number of monster events planned in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, based just off the main Las Vegas Strip. Although the Main Event is still the headline act of the annual WSOP, in 2018 there will be a record 13 live events scheduled after the Main Event kicks off. Of the events of note to have already taken place this summer, the inaugural WSOP online tournament was won by a French journalist, scooping a $154,995 first prize from his $365 buy-in. William ‘twooopair’ Reymond outfought the largest online field in WSOP history of 2,972 entrants to claim his first ever WSOP gold bracelet following 12 gruelling hours of online poker action.
Of course, the WSOP Main Event has been and probably always will be the headline attraction throughout this two-month festival. Winning the Main Event is regarded as the pinnacle of the game and there are many fantastic professionals that have been unable to defeat the thousands of semi-pros, celebrities and amateurs that attempt to make their own slice of poker history. The biggest first-prize loot was bagged by Jamie Gold in 2006. The Canadian won $12,000,000 at the height of the online poker boom. Unfortunately, rumours abound that Gold is nearing bankruptcy since his life-changing win. It must be difficult to know what to do with that sum of cash, apart from buying an amazing supercar of course, which is said to be a smarter move than most believe. Gold is reportedly encountering a string of tax issues, forcing him to auction off his prized WSOP gold bracelet. It’s probably important to note that since the entry field has grown in the post-Millennium era of poker, no player has managed to win the Main Event twice. Modern-day poker greats such as Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu are just two of the super-talented pros to have made an incredible living from the game without making their mark on the WSOP Main Event. Both Ivey and Negreanu are favorites with the sportsbooks to finally break their duck and add an elusive Main Event bracelet to their poker resume.
Interestingly, despite the lack of online poker action in the United States in recent years, five of the last six Main Event champions have derived from the U.S. Furthermore, 90% of Main Event champs in the last decade have been aged 27 or younger. This suggests that the likes of Negreanu and Ivey will be up against it again this July with the mental and physical endurance proving tougher for the older generation of players. Speaking of the older generation, an icon of poker during the last five decades has hung up his cowboy hat for the final time. Doyle Brunson has ten WSOP gold bracelets to his name, including two Main Event titles when the field sizes were far smaller. His decision to retire due to his wife’s ill-health is tinged with sadness, but Brunson has done so much to accelerate the poker industry into the 21st century.