The official announcement for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Online series coming this July brought in a variety of reactions from the poker community sharing a multitude of concerns for the number of gold bracelets to be awarded. With live poker still somewhat on pause, major operators are left with no choice but to push their brand through online poker platforms.
Currently, leading networks are taking advantage of the ongoing increased traffic across multiple sites and are more motivated to run extensive series after series. The WSOP on the GGnetwork platform is no exception as its online circuit event last May was a smashing success posting a combined prize pool of more than $134 million.
Too Many Bracelets – WSOP May No Longer Seem Special
As many may know, WSOP bracelets are highly coveted in the poker community, putting the esteemed prize at a pedestal above the rest. Having the global brand title under a participant’s belt ultimately raises the player’s reputation and overall standing but with the primary operator ramping up the aspired prizes in recent years, some are concerned of the value these titles may eventually bring.
WPT champion Dylan Linde was one of the few who shared his concerns on the multitude of bracelets to be awarded but at the same time, highlighted positive attributes the series may bring to the table. Waiting to win an esteemed bracelet himself, the Las Vegas resident and top poker pro will be joining the games and is looking forward to the larger prize pool possibilities to be won.
“I certainly will play them but I’m not certain of my feelings on them,” said Linde. “On one hand, I think keeping people’s interest in the WSOP alive is good and that helps the health of the game.
“On the other hand I’m worried that the buy-ins and number of events will dilute people’s awe of a bracelet. I think that awe drives many recreational players to play – as well as pros. Although, until last month no one had won a circuit ring for $3.2 million.”, he added.
Additionally, two-time bracelet winner Brandon Shack-Harris shares his experience on Twitter upon winning the ultimate trophy and how important it is now to him. He revealed a backstory on how his perspective flipped from not caring at all about winning the bracelet to appreciating it even more so at present. The American pro however, also noted that a large summer series could still attract a great turn-out regardless of the bracelets to be awarded judging from recent events held across online platforms.
Very slowly catching up on replies still, but I wanted to throw this out there even if it might seem dumb, and the topic itself feels self aggrandizing, which puts me off. This is why the value of a bracelet is important to me pic.twitter.com/QDb3PYjmMD
— 🎈Brandon Shack-Harris (@Oscillator_WSOP) June 9, 2020
“I’ve had nothing but great interactions with WSOP chairmen and staff, and take pride in competing on their platform. I’m not trying to create heat for them, but I have concerns about the quality of their product and potentially how they view the quality of their product given the decision to go ahead with a large online format that awards a trophy with a prestigious history attached to it.”, Shack-Harris commented.
“My assumption is that a chance at a bracelet is what people feel is necessary to generate traffic, but I think it’s short sighted and only hurts the overall health of the product,”, said the pro. “I also feel people are always happy to compete in online series in general – I would and I’m not a no limit grinder.”
A Great Opportunity to Open the WSOP Experience to New Players in this Special Circumstance
Given that the series marks the first time players outside the United States will have a chance in competing for an official WSOP bracelet online, the prestigious festival will give way to an extended player pool considering the current public health situation. New players as well as regular poker enthusiasts will have a great opportunity to take part in the prestigious WSOP experience where they may not have thought possible before.
WSOP bracelet winner and WPT champion Mike Leah likewise relayed his thoughts on Twitter, explicitly revealing his personal reasons on how the upcoming festival is “good for poker”.
On the first of his list he wrote, “Growing the game: Players from all around the world, likely most importantly Asia will be able to chase WSOP glory from home. It should bring many new players to the game & to the WSOP brand. Hopefully those players will get a taste and travel to Vegas in the following years.”
The Canadian poker pro also mentioned how most Canadian players fail to participate in WSOP live events in Vegas due to the withholding taxes imposed and how this opportunity allows them to play as many bracelet events they wish.
He also added the benefits this summer festival may bring to the online poker market noting “Competition is good for the consumer; Partypoker has been doing great things lately and now add in GG and PokerStars finally has real competition in the market which should be very positive for all poker players. Last month instead of just the usual SCOOP events there was also the WPT online series on Party & the WSOP super circuit series on GG.”
Olivier Busquet: Bracelets All about Ego, Sees it as a “Bullshit Branding Scheme”
While a bulk of poker enthusiasts all over the world are keen on becoming a WSOP champion, American poker pro Olivier Busquet sees the coveted awards as an ego boost and a branding scheme to encourage people to jump in the action.
On a twitter post he noted,
Bracelets are about ego. “Glory” is about vanity. You can pretend you care about “the history of the game” but you really just got tricked into wanting to protect your exclusive place in some bullshit branding scheme of “people who got insanely lucky for 3 days one summer”.
— Olivier Busquet (@olivierbusquet) June 10, 2020
Although his negative views toward the desired bracelets were made known, many were quick to reply in defense of the sportification of tournament poker and the overall prestige of the WSOP.
Conversely, American poker pro Faraz Jaka also chimed in on the Twitter talk and shared his sentiments over the arising issues regarding the upcoming WSOP online festival. In a direct reply to Busquet’s post, he said “Agree bracelet hunting is a branding scheme & doesn’t define who’s top dog. But why call it a “BS branding scheme”? Creating a successful brand/community drew more ppl into the industry, got poker on @espn, & got the public to respect poker for more than just a game of gambling.”
“For everyone so worried about the @WSOP diluting their brand offering online series w/ Bracelets: These bracelets are a hell of a lot harder to win than a lot of the small field live events (mix games, big buy-ins that have been running for years)”, Jaka priorly posted.
“The whole “It’s so easy to buy a bracelet, every1 has a bracelet, these small buy-in bracelets are stupid” are convos mainly had in very pro heavy bubbles so it’s easy to feel like every1 thinks that when in reality the desire/prestige of a bracelet are still VERY strong imo”, he further added.
Biggest Names Already Confirmed: Negreanu and Hellmuth Getting Ready
With the WSOP Online summer series coming up in a few weeks, top names in the industry are already preparing to jump in the two-month long festival and scoop up a big score. GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu will definitely sign up for the latter half of the series to be played on his representing platform. The poker icon is already actively seeking for rentals to settle in for the upcoming games.
In a twitter post, he expressed his excitement posting “Much like the NBA/NHL doing their best to finish a modified season, we are making the best of it with a WSOP online. It’s not a perfect substitute that will make everyone happy obviously, but it’s better than no WSOP at all. I’m excited to play!”
It’s looking like playing online @WSOP July 1-31
Fly to Cabo August 1-Sept 7 for @GGPokerOfficial portion of the Wsop.
Going to be quite a grind!
WSOP VLOG is unlikely but possible along with Twitch streams.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) June 10, 2020
15-time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth has also confirmed his participation in the prestigious festival, sharing his plans for the next couple of weeks. “I’m looking forward to battling tens of thousands of poker players for WSOP gold this summer.”, the well-known pro said in a statement.
“I’ll either go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, or Vancouver, Canada. I’m hoping that if it’s Vancouver, I’ll be close to other poker players playing in tournaments. If Cabo, I’m already set up well down there.”
Additionally, WPT champion Brian Altman who is still situated in Las Vegas given the ongoing pandemic, will also be jumping in the WSOP action. “I’m not sure of my exact schedule, but I plan on playing some of the events,” says Altman. “I think it’s great the WSOP is adapting to these unique times and running online events across two different sites.”
Overall, we can expect numerous notable players gracing the virtual felt with their presence in the anticipated bracelet events. A massive series might be one for the books as many would say, given the changing times and unexpected circumstances continuously emerging.