On April 16, online poker operator WSOP.com announced that they would be combining the player pools for all three states (Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware) where online poker is currently legalized and regulated in the United States. The combined player pool is set to begin on May 1.
The announcement comes with less than two months before the WSOP flagship event, the 2018 World Series of Poker which will contain four different online bracelet events.
“We hope to break records in all of our events this year,” said Bill Rini, Head of Online Poker for WSOP. “We started off with the $1,000 WSOP bracelet event (in 2015) and the next year we had two events, last year we had three and this year we’re hosting four online bracelet events and we expect they’ll all perform spectacularly.”
His hopes are warranted with players from New Jersey being able to participate in bracelet events for the first time from over 2,500 miles away. Though players in Delaware will be wrapped into the new player liquidity agreement, WSOP.com doesn’t operate those online poker rooms, keeping players from that state from participating in a sanctioned WSOP-specific tournament.
The timing of the announcement is no coincidence according to Rini, it was important for the online arm of the most recognizable poker series to have liquidity happen before the start of this year’s WSOP. Then again, it’s been something of importance for quite some time.
“We started working on this as soon as the multi-state agreement was announced by regulators in October of 2017,” Rini said “It was very important to us to get pooled liquidity out there before the WSOP. We really wanted to have New Jersey players eligible to play in our online bracelet events. And, of course, players were anxious to start playing interstate as well. I can’t think of a week that has gone by since last year where someone hasn’t asked me about it.”
One of those players eager to dive into the new player pool is Jed ‘JCHAK’ Hoffman, a one-time #1-ranked player in Nevada and consummate grinding online player at WSOP.com.
“A six-figure score will once again be possible in legal online gaming in the U.S. so that’s going to be pretty sweet,” Hoffman said. “I just hope that WSOP.com realizes that keeping poker relatively pure is extremely important and valuable moving forward.”
As Hoffman looks forward to swelling prize pools and improved customer support, Rini promises that there will be some tweaking in the tournament schedule in the near future, even if he cannot expand on that just yet.
“We’ll take advantage of the increased prime-time resulting from two time-zones to have a really powerful lineup of tournaments and guarantees are being tweaked accordingly. We also have a lot of other things in the works worth getting excited about, but you’ll have to wait for further announcements on that.”
As players look forward to logging more hands with more players, the issues access of hand histories once again has risen to the surface with New Jersey’s #1-ranked player Michael ‘Gags30’ Gagliano recently voicing concern over player security.
“Big unanswered question is what is happening with hand histories,” Gagliano tweeted on April 16, shortly after the initial announcement. “Players need access to downloadable hh (hand histories) to ensure game integrity and security. Removing huds is fine, however downloadable hand histories are vital to a safe gaming environment.”
Understanding the need for game security, Rini addressed the topic of hand histories and the current state of reviewable hands.
“Players can replay their hands in the hand re-player that is in the client. That covers the last thirty days of hands played. We will, on a limited basis and within certain limits, provide hand histories over thirty days old. While the hands can’t be imported into tracking software, it does allow players to review their gameplay which we, of course, recognize is a valid need,” Rini said.
“We’re aware of the arguments made for unfiltered access to hand histories in order to audit game fairness but there are other mechanisms to deal with those concerns. This has worked for the Nevada market for close to five years now without incident and there will be additional regulatory bodies monitoring the integrity of the games with shared liquidity. If players are concerned about game integrity they can contact us or the relevant regulators to conduct an investigation.”
In addition to integrating the three player pools, WSOP.com is gearing up for another wave of poker tourists ready to fire up their online client for another summer grind when the official WSOP starts on May 29. While players in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have discovered a couple items that need attending such as the need for re-creating screen names and the removal of HUD’s for players in New Jersey, Rini anticipates a fairly smooth re-integration of anyone playing on WSOP.com during the series.
“For the most part it will be business as usual, except that they will have to create a new account if they had one previously,” Rini said. “The only thing that we want to make players aware of, and this applies to new players also, is if we have difficulty verifying identity we may need you to upload some documents like a recent utility bill or bank statement. We have always had this policy but if someone is coming to Vegas for the WSOP and has done this already, we will not be migrating that data over to the new multi-state platform, so they may have to do that again.”
“That’s especially important for anybody visiting us from outside of the U.S. as it is often a little more difficult to access those documents after they leave.”
Though not yet enabled, the shared player pool is being looked at as a major step forward in the progress of online poker in the U.S. When additional states like Pennsylvania finally get online, WSOP.com is Rini is hoping that they’ll be able to bring them into the fold as soon as possible.
“Obviously, we’ve been encouraged by what we’ve seen so far and we’re hopeful that Pennsylvania will allow shared liquidity from the start.”
Players located in both New Jersey and Nevada will be available to register and vie for all four of the official WSOP online bracelet events beginning on June 3.
- June 3 – Event #10: $365 No Limit Hold’em
- June 22 – Event #47: $565 Pot Limit Omaha 6-Max
- June 29 – Event #61: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em
- June 30 – Event #63: $3,200 High Roller