Paving the Way for the First WSOP Bracelet Awarded Outside of Nevada

Written By Robert DellaFave on February 6, 2015

One of the most noteworthy additions to this year’s WSOP schedule is the inclusion of an online-only bracelet event.

Event #64, a $1,000 NLHE tournament to be held on July 2 will take place almost exclusively on in Nevada. I say “almost” because the final two combatants will battle it out live under center stage at the Rio.

The WSOP’s decision to launch such an event is a stroke of cross-promotional genius that will undoubtedly facilitate the legitimization of legal, regulated online poker in the United States.

There’s only one problem: players on in New Jersey will not be permitted to directly compete for the bracelet. Yes, they’ll probably be able to satellite their way in, but should they want to procure WSOP gold, they’ll still have to pack their bags and gravitate towards the Rio.

There has to be a better way. With all this forward thinking going on behind the scenes in Nevada, isn’t it high time the powers that be at least consider allowing players located outside of Nevada to compete for a bracelet?

The most obvious means by which this can be accomplished is for Nevada to enter into a liquidity sharing compact with the Garden State. In all likelihood, that isn’t going to happen in 2015, leaving only one other alternate solution: Hold simultaneous events in both Nevada and New Jersey, where the winner from each state meets up the Rio to determine a victor.

Remember last year, when traffic on WSOP NV skyrocketed during the live Series, but remained relatively static in New Jersey? The allure of a bracelet event in the Garden State could extend the poker media hoopla that envelopes Las Vegas from late-June to July to the East Coast, helping to raise iGaming awareness and in turn attracting wannabe poker players to regulated New Jersey sites.

Going further, should WSOP NJ feature the bracelet event as the Main Event of an extended online series, it may inspire out-of-state players from Pennsylvania and New York. many of whom can’t necessarily make it out to Vegas, to shack up in the Garden State for a week or two, driving cash liquidity upward during a season when it’s typically at its lowest.

Alright, so what does this have to do with California? Simple. There’s no good reason why once (if) California introduces online poker into its already diversified swatch of gambling options, that bracelet participation cannot be extended to the Golden State, in so long as has established a presence therein – which seems a near inevitability.

Picture a final table consisting of one representative from each state where poker is legal, each of whom won their way in online. Better yet, envision a scenario where offers a special rakeback, or other lucrative promo to the state from which the winner qualifies. Now that’s cross-promotion at its finest.

Which is really the entire point. There’s simply no stronger vehicle for promoting online poker than at the live Series, and what better way to do it than to have players from each state where online poker is regulated to represent their site. It could prove a game changer, that is at least until Gov. Sandoval and Christie reach terms on a liquidity sharing pact.

Considering just how long PokerStars reentry into the United States has been delayed, I won’t be keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

In any case, the WSOP’s decision to host an online-only event is a bold maneuver, and one that could pay dividends later on if fully realized.

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Robert DellaFave

Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

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