The 2019 World Series of Poker broke numerous records over the summer but one overlooked aspect of the festival was the breakout success of its online tournaments.
The $3,200 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event on WSOP.com became the biggest U.S.-licensed online tournament in history thanks to its 593 entries and $1.8-million prize pool.
Online tournaments are a relatively new addition to the WSOP and have only existed since 2015 as they take place exclusively on Sportsbook’ proprietary WSOP.com software.
The first year only offered a single tournament with a $859,750 prize pool. It’s taken a bit of time but players have started to connect with online tournaments and this year’s nine online events generated over $10 million in prizes for players.
Official gold bracelet tournaments on WSOP.com are available to any player residing in New Jersey or Nevada.
WSOP.com Gets Huge Boost from New Jersey
For nearly 50 years, Nevada was the only U.S. state where it was possible to win a WSOP gold bracelet.
That changed last year when WSOP.com began sharing players between New Jersey and Nevada during the physical WSOP in Las Vegas. Matt Mendez won $135,000 and a gold bracelet from the comfort of his own home in rural New Jersey.
This year traffic truly exploded for WSOP.com with players from New Jersey and Nevada flocking to the online tables in an attempt to win a gold bracelet. Players from any state are allowed to play on WSOP.com but they must be physically located in Nevada or New Jersey while they are playing.
Nevada became the first state to legalize online poker in 2013 but New Jersey and Delaware quickly followed suit in the coming years.
This year’s nine online events was a new record for the WSOP and players responded in a big way, generating record prize pools. Many of the biggest names in poker actually played the online events on iPad or mobile devices while seated in the physical WSOP at the Rio in Las Vegas.
Interestingly, iconic poker player Phil Hellmuth, who is not known for his online abilities, finished fifth in the $400 buy-in online event. It was the closest he came to winning a bracelet this summer.
Here’s a look at the complete results from this year’s online component of the World Series of Poker:
|Event||Entries||Sportsbook||1st Place Prize||Total Prize Pool|
|$400 No-Limit Hold’em||2,825||Yong Kwan||$165,263.00||$1,017,002.00|
|$600 PLO 6-Max||1,216||Josh Pollock||$139,470.00||$656,640.00|
|$600 NLHE Knockout Bounty||1,224||Upeshka De Silva||$98,263.00||$673,200.00|
|$500 NLHE Turbo Deepstack||1,181||Dan Lupo||$145,274.00||$795,180.00|
|$1,000 NLHE Double Stack||1,333||Jason Gooch||$241,493.00||$1,266,350.00|
|$1,000 NLHE Championship||1,750||Nicholas Baris||$303,739.00||$1,662,500.00|
|$3,200 NLHE High Roller||593||Brandon Adams||$411,561.00||$1,802,720.00|
|$800 NLHE 6-Max||1,560||Shawn Buchanan||$223,119.00||$1,170,000.00|
|$500 NLHE Summer Saver||1,859||Taylor Paur||$149,241.00||$836,550.00|
Will Pennsylvania Join WSOP.com?
With Nevada and New Jersey producing record numbers for WSOP.com, it’s tantalizing to think about the prospect of more states coming on board.
The biggest potential player is Pennsylvania, which officially launched online gaming earlier this summer. Online poker is expected to be right around the corner, although no official launch date has been set.
When online poker launches in Pennsylvania, it will instantly become the biggest market for the game thanks to its population of more than 13 million people.
Currently there are no plans for Pennsylvania to join the intra-state compact between New Jersey and Nevada but history has shown that having a large player base is crucial for the long-term success of online poker.
Sportsbook owns and operates a casino in Pennsylvania (Harrah’s Philadelphia) so it’s expected to bring WSOP.com to Pennsylvania-based players this year.
The WSOP is the 600-pound gorilla in the poker world and it just keeps building momentum. The 2019 WSOP set a number of long-standing records including most entries, biggest prizes and the single most well-attended tournament ever held.
If Sportsbook is able to let Pennsylvania players into the quest for WSOP gold bracelets next summer, then it could set some truly spectacular records for online poker.