2020 Online WSOP Unmasked

The World Series of Poker has announced an online poker series in July with 85 gold bracelets up for grabs. But instead of considering how the WSOP can attract the most players during a global pandemic, complaints quickly surfaced about the perceived devaluation of the bracelet. 
There are some valid criticisms about the online series, but handing out bracelets shouldn’t be one of them.

Not WSOP's Job to Restrict Bracelet Supply

Bracelets are not like bitcoins, where there are only going to be so many. It is not the job of the WSOP to capriciously restrict the supply of bracelets. It is their job to create a special environment for players and fans, and to drive traffic to the tournaments and cash games.

The WSOP is the greatest poker festival that exists, precisely because it attracts an incredible variety of people from all over the world for a chance to win the most prestigious prize in poker. Professionals can ante up $10,000 or more for a single tournament to compete with a couple hundred of their peers. Amateurs with several hundred dollars can dream about navigating through 10,000 players – or turning $86 into $2.5 million.

Winning a bracelet is an entry into a prestigious club, not an exclusive club. People talk about certain events devaluing a bracelet, but, what is the value of a bracelet? Would they rather come in first for $250,000, or second for $260,000? What’s the line?
I know which one makes for a better story! But there are some things money can buy.

What the WSOP Does Need to Improve

Eighty-five online bracelets do not detract from the almost 2,000 live bracelets awarded to date, but terrible software certainly detracts from players’ experience. At the time of this writing, WSOP.com says, “Currently we only support playing one table at a time on mobile. PLO games and tournaments are not compatible on mobile.”
Really? They can’t fit four cards on your phone’s screen?

This isn’t even a new problem. There have been PLO online bracelet tournaments in 2018 and 2019, and if you’re at the WSOP, you have to drag a laptop around to play them. Just hope you don’t get moved to an interior table without a power outlet nearby.

And don’t even get me started about mixed games. Just like James Harden, WSOP.com has a strict flop-only policy, and there are no mixed game tourneys available. Somehow, the WSOP chose a partner for the international tournaments, GGPoker, that doesn’t offer any mixed games either. Perhaps Chris Ferguson can perform some community service and help bring the software up to date — or at least up to 2010.
There are other suggestions to improve the quality of the online product, including using real names for the bracelet events. Partypoker did a great job by displaying real names for the recent online Poker Masters and Super High Roller Bowl events. You don’t want any confusion about who’s playing online, or who’s the WSOP Player of the Year.

Bottom Line: It's More People Playing Poker

As states in America continue to legalize sports betting, we can only hope more states will continue to legalize poker too. What better way to show lawmakers there is a desire and a market for legal online poker in the U.S. than a successful WSOP online series? It will enhance —not detract from — the live WSOP experience. It will bring poker to more people.
How could more people playing online poker be a bad thing?

It may be the best we can get this summer, but perhaps we will hold cards together again in the fall. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some excitement built up in the meantime? I know a few people who can’t wait to finally wear a mask at the tables!