WSOP Motivates Ultimate Poker To Add Promotions, Sign Pros
On Tuesday the Nevada-based online site Ultimate Poker marked six weeks of operation as (still) the only legal and licensed online poker site operating within the United States. With the WSOP having kicked off, Ultimate Poker has introduced a couple of WSOP-related promotions as well as signed more team pros in an effort to increase its profile during a time when thousands of players are visiting Nevada for the Series.
Only players physically located within the state of Nevada are currently allowed to play on Ultimate Poker, thereby creating a unique situation for the site during the WSOP as players in Las Vegas are unable to play on the majority of online poker sites.
Among the new promotions are satellites on the site enabling players to win their way into the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event in July, with the first seat having already been won.
The satellite tournaments first began to appear on Ultimate Poker last Thursday, with the schedule including daily “super” satellites with buy-ins of $1, $5, and $10, each of which guarantees at least one seat into the once-a-day $50 satellite tournaments.
Those $50 tourneys in turn guarantee at least one seat into the weekly “$500 MAIN EVENT” scheduled for every Sunday night until the WSOP Main Event arrives. Those $500 satellite tournaments each then guarantee one $10K WSOP Main Event.
As mentioned, the first satellites began playing out a week ago today. So far the $1 tourneys have attracted fields as small as 52 players and as large as 162. Meanwhile, the $5 tourneys have ranged from 22 to 78 entrants, and the $10 tourneys had as many as 32 on one occasion and as few as four (last night). The daily $50 satellites have had a high of 20 players to take part last Sunday, and a low of eight enter last night.
By the time the first $500 MAIN EVENT satellite into the WSOP ME played out last Sunday, three players had earned seats via the satellites, although none chose to play last Sunday. Meanwhile 19 players bought into the $470+$30 tournament, which added up to an overlay as players contributed a total of $8,930 to a tourney with a $10K WSOP ME entry as a first prize.
That tournament took a little over two-and-a-half hours to play out, with Rick “Shoveitrick” Alvarado ultimately winning to claim the WSOP Main Event seat. Alvarado’s win in fact marked the first WSOP Main Event seat won by a player playing online in the United States in nearly seven years, as the WSOP stopped accepting entries from online satellite winners playing on U.S.-facing sites once the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law in October 2006.
Ultimate Poker rolled out a second “Patch M.E.” promotion on Monday as well. That promotion involves players wearing UP patches (available at some of the Station Casinos’ poker rooms in Las Vegas) and tweeting pictures of themselves in order to have a chance to be picked to win $100 cash prizes and entry into an exclusive freeroll offering a first prize of a $10K WSOP Main Event seat plus $5,000 more in cash prizes for the other final tablists.
Finally, the site has also begun to build a roster of team pros, dubbed “Team Ultimate,” a group that currently includes Brand Ambassador Antonio Esfandiari, Jonathan Little, William Reynolds, Jason Somerville, Gavin Griffin, Dan O’Brien, Lauren Kling, Phil Collins, Randy Dorfman, and Terrence Chan, with Chan additionally serving as Director of Player Operations.
Ultimate Poker remains the only game in town thus far when it comes to Nevada-based online poker. Caesars has yet to offer real money games on its WSOP.com site after having launched a play money-only client on May 29.
Players were teased somewhat by a welcome message sent by WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart on June 6 to players who had signed up for accounts. That email had included a line announcing “Today, it is with great pride that we enter a new era in World Series of Poker history as we bring over 40 years of prestige and tradition into the online space with the launch of the WSOP.com real money poker platform.”
However it was soon clarified that the message did not intend to announce the offering of real money games just yet, with a follow-up email from Stewart further communicating that the current WSOP.com platform is “only available for play for fun.”