Last week, the World Series of Poker’s online poker room broke into the Pennsylvania online poker market as it launched its Pennsylvania client on July 12.
Now, the company is bringing bracelet events to the Keystone State with an eight-event WSOP online bracelet series for those within the state’s borders. The series will last a week with one event daily starting on Sunday, August 8 and the final event taking place on Sunday, August 15. Every event on the schedule will start at 5:30 pm ET.
All eight events will be no-limit hold’em, but the second and sixth event of the series will be a progressive knockout tournament. The Pennsylvania main event will run on August 15 with $1,000 buy-in and the $3,200 no-limit hold’em high roller will be the biggest buy-in of the series and is scheduled for August 10.
The series will mark the first time that a player not located in Nevada or New Jersey will win a domestic online WSOP bracelet.
While it is historic, some players commented that the newly announced series waters down the value of WSOP gold. Giuseppe Pantaleo, a German pro that won a bracelet in the $1,000 tag team event in 2018, was one of the louder voices echoing this sentiment.
Omg instead of handing out circuit rings they decide to give bracelets to Pennsylvania only! The new bottom of wsop bracelets is in
— Giuseppe Pantaleo (@Pantaleooo) July 16, 2021
Two-time bracelet winner Kevin MacPhee, who won the WSOP Europe main event in 2015 for €883,000, also chimed in with similar thoughts to Pantaleo.
— Kevin MacPhee (@KevinMacphee) July 16, 2021
The online events started out as a novelty designed to embrace all forms of poker at the world’s largest poker festival with the first-ever online event in 2015. At that time, WSOP.com was only operational for players that could be geolocated within the Nevada state lines and the field was made up mostly of players who were already in Las Vegas for the live portion of the series.
Once the field was trimmed to the final six players, the tournament was paused and those final six came to the Rio the following day to play down to a winner. Ultimately, it was Anthony Spinella that bested the 905-entry field and won $197,743 in the $1,000 buy-in event.
The same structure of the tournament was used in 2016 before online events began their expansion in 2017. That year, there was a $333 buy-in no-limit hold’em event and a $3,333 no-limit hold’em high roller added to the online schedule, to go with the traditional $1,000 championship event. For the first time, the events were played to completion online.
New Jersey was added to the interstate compact with Nevada and Delaware in the spring of 2018, which allowed the four online events on the schedule for the 2018 series attracted an entirely new market of players.
Matt Mendez won the $565 pot-limit Omaha six-max event in late June that year to become the first player to win a WSOP bracelet from outside Nevada.
There were nine online events in 2019 before the entire series was put online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. There was an international-facing series on GGPoker, while the domestic events were available to those in New Jersey and Nevada on WSOP.com.
In 2021, with the live portion of the WSOP delayed until the fall, organizers decided to split it up and hold an entire online series in New Jersey and Nevada in July and an entire international-facing series running from July 19 through September 6.
Just like in 2020, there was originally supposed to be 85 bracelets awarded online in 2021, but that number jumped to 93 after the addition of the Pennsylvania events. This year, there will be more bracelets won online than at the Rio this fall, which will have 88 events.
There were similar discussions as the WSOP expanded outside of the United States and started running WSOP Europe and _WSOP Asia Pacific. However, those series never got remotely close to the size of the Las Vegas-based series.
By comparison, this year’s WSOP Europe will run from Nov. 19 – Dec. 8 and have 15 bracelets up for grabs. The WSOP Asia Pacific series hasn’t run since 2014.