Nevada Update: Early Real-Money Online Poker Returns for WSOP.com
Regulated online poker in Nevada stopped being a monopoly last week Thursday with the live launch of Caesars Interactive’s new WSOP.com online poker site, which is now open for real-money Internet play to all of Nevada. The site launched at 9:19 a.m Pacific Time on Thursday morning — get it, 09:19 on 09/19? — thereby becoming the second live real-money site to be authorized by state regulators.
WSOP.com, which is powered by 888 Holdings software, thus joined Fertitta Interactive’s Ultimate Poker in the market. Ultimate had enjoyed a monopoly of nearly four and a half months while its competitors (including the WSOP.com site), have struggled to complete the testing phase; in the case of WSOP.com, a hoped-for debut during late June or early July was somewhat torpedoed by a programming gaffe that very briefly allowed a couple of beta-phase, play-chip players to seemingly play for real money, even though that play was cancelled and no real money actually changed hands.
Hiccups aside, the debut of the new WSOP.com site was accompanied by plenty of Caesars-driven hoopla, and frankly, a lot of it is well deserved. The new WSOP.com is going to be the only official outlet for US-based online qualifiers to the WSOP, which haven’t really existed officially since the 2006 series. Online WSOP qualifiers are available in Europe via the sites of Caesars and its corporate partners, but for US players, this is a welcome return for online qualifying.
Another plus for the new WSOP.com is that, unlike Ultimate Poker, the site is offering more than just plain old no-limit hold’em. In addition to NLHE, the new WSOP.com will offer fixed-limit HE, Omaha and Omaha-8, plus seven-card stud, making it look very much like a typical market-leading site would have back in 2003 or so (e.g., Party, Pacific, Paradise), albeit with a decade’s improvement in software that includes such ease-of-use add-ons as “Quick Seat” capabilities.
One neat thing about the WSOP.com site is that despite being Nevada-only, that does not bar visitors to the state from creating an account during their visits, then playing on the online site during their stays. As with regular Nevada-resident players, proof of identity (with an age-21 minimum) is required, along with an initial deposit to the site.
The new WSOP.com is also starting up with a handful of promotions, including freerolls for early registrants and chances to qualify for the 2013 World Series of Poker Europe, which will be held in Paris, France, next month.
There are plenty of other bells and whistles as well. Here’s just a sampling:
- Cash games, sit-‘n’-gos (SNGs), satellites and multi-table tournaments (MTTs);
- Buy-ins for cash games starting at $0.01/0.02 and tournaments that start at $1.10;
- Daily $100 and $25 freerolls for players of all levels;
- Full-table and short-handed games;
- Deposit methods including ACH (e-Checks), Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards and withdrawal methods including ACH and paper checks;
- PC and MAC platforms are both enabled.
Perhaps the biggest promotion, though, will be the WSOP.com site’s new WSOP.com Online Championships, a series scheduled to debut in October that promises $500,000 in added money. That’s a steep enough promotional bonus to draw plenty of player of traffic, and it should allow WSOP and Caesars to quickly cut into the market lead enjoyed right now by Ultimate Poker.
According to WSOP.com’s General Manager of Online Poker, Geoffrey Stewart, “This opens up a whole new category for the WSOP brand, enabling us to connect with consumers year-round and reach them where they are most today – on digital devices. We have high standards, we know our players do as well, and we believe everyone will be impressed with WSOP.com once they get the chance to play and experience its exceptional benefits and rewards.”
Technically, the WSOP.com remains in a “field trial” state pending final Nevada regulatory approval, which will likely be signed off on in a couple of months and will be invisible to the site’s players. All indications are that the WSOP has returned to the US online poker market, this time for good.