The World Series of Poker event (WSOP) usually features a range of poker tournaments in Las Vegas every year. WSOP is the most significant and wealthiest gaming event across the globe. And the objective is for players to enter and compete in a selection of poker games in pursuit of a WSOP bracelet and a large cash prize.
WSOP Makes Moves Online
However, due to the pandemic, disrupting every corner of life, including travel, WSOP, owned by Caesars Entertainment, had to postpone regular poker tournaments in Las Vegas, much like other gaming events across the US and the world. Due to the need for social distancing, the WOSP tournaments in Las Vegas were not possible this year. As a solution to keep the WSOP show going, its officials decided to feature the event online exclusively.
There was a total of 85 games. The initial 31 tournaments began early July, and one took place each day on the WSOP website. Fifty-four of the remaining events took place on GGPoker.
As expected, the transition was anything but smooth sailing, with various implications surrounding the US’s gambling laws, which vary across each state. Coupled with a few technical issues during the tournaments, a few rules needed to be followed for players to gain access to the game legally. This required eager players one of two options in the first half of the series of WSOP: players had to travel to New Jersey or Nevada to be able to play online.
Players improvises to play In WSOP
Not all US states allow poker tournaments within their territory; thus, players needed to set their geo-location to one of two locations that did. This posed a few challenges for people who prefer the in-person event. On the other hand, people like poker player and vlogger Ryan DePaulo were happy to oblige and made the new rules work for them!
One of the gamblers in WSOP this year was Ryan DePaulo. He rented a car in New York City and headed over the Hudson River to a parking lot in New Jersey, where he used a nearby shopping mall’s WIFI to take part in the WSOP event.
Poker player Ryan DePaulo, comically self-proclaimed “Degenerate Gambler,” succeeded during the 12.5-hour tournament and won the BIG 500 No-Limit Hold ‘em event. As champion, the New Yorker secured a WSOP bracelet and $159,000. He also documented this experience in his vlog on Youtube.
Other winners in the WSOP 2020 event include Ron (McDaddy15) Mcmillen, aged 70, who won a whopping $188,14.57 for beating 1,026 opponents and his first bracelet. McMillen is an avid live poker player; however, this was his first tournament online.
The World Series of Pokers’ remaining 54 tournaments presented a new challenge for aspiring poker players yearning for a bracelet and a chance to compete for the prize money. As players needed to use GGPoker, which isn’t accessible in the states, players had to travel to Mexico or Canada.
Pennsylvania’s Poker Players Await WSOP Access
Joe McKeehen, poker player from Pennsylvania, also had to travel to be able to play in WSOP. Committed to one of the most expensive games in the series with a $3,200 buy-in, his effort fortunately paid off; against 496 high rollers, McKeehen earned a whopping $352,985.34.
In 2017, a gambling expansion bill was legalized in Pennsylvania, granting citizens and visitors an opportunity to play casino games in the state, including poker online. With authorization for poker gaming companies to apply for a Pennsylvania gaming license, gamblers are hopeful that WSOP will be granted access, avoiding the need for them to leave the state and undergo almost a 4-hour drive to New Jersey.
The future looks promising as WSOP representatives alerted USPoker they are applying for access in the Pennsylvania online poker market. At present, PokerStars monopolize the poker market in PA and have done so since its creation in November last year. However, it appears PokerStars may be enduring some competition from WSOP in the near future.
While the pandemic ensued across the US and land-based casinos closed to the public, territories that permit online casino games like Pennsylvania have experienced an increase in traffic. Although multiple casinos are now open to the public, as per the CDC and the PA Department of Health’s advice, poker rooms must remain closed for the foreseeable future.
WSOP 2020 Concluded
The Executive Director of WSOP, Ty Stewart, concluded the event’s exclusivity online. By explaining although they were in new and unexpected territory, Ty believed the online tournament made it possible for thousands of new players all over the world to experience some of the WSOP magic that they might have been otherwise unable to, and was pleased with such a resounding success.
The World Series of Poker event prospered online where other gaming activities couldn’t, although its transition presented a few predicaments for poker enthusiasts, requiring them to journey across states and, in some cases, to another country to join the WSOP games. Despite the minor issues, the tournaments were a huge success. Overall, WSOP remained resilient and innovative in times of uncertainty. And as WSOP expands, it shall eventually be accessible in more locations across the US.