The 2020 WSOP Online Bracelet Schedule Is A Complete Shambles

WSOP Online Bracelet Disaster

The novel coronavirus isn’t the only thing putting a severe damper on this year’s World Series of Poker.

Shortly after postponing the live Series, WSOP announced that it was moving its annual celebration of poker entirely online. Anticipation was high, but a look at the schedule reveals little more than an ill-conceived cash grab.

Note, we’re not talking about the international version of the WSOP on GGPoker, which at the very least will support some very hefty prize pools. No, we’re speaking specifically about the U.S. version, or should we say the two-state version, as WSOP.com is only available to players in Nevada and New Jersey.

Players can only hope that WSOP.com comes to its senses in the week between now and the kickoff event.

What’s with the rake?

What better time than one of severe economic hardship to price gouge customers? At least that’s the thinking over at WSOP.com, where the rake on lower buy-in bracelet events is approaching horseracing levels of awfulness.

For every event up to $600, the rake is 11.1%. It then dips a tad to 11% at the $777 buy-in level, before dropping off precipitously at the $1k and higher levels, down to an almost reasonable 5.26%. Here’s the full picture:

For perspective, the industry standard at the $215 buy-in level is 7.5%, dipping to roughly 6% when the buy-in reaches $500.

Even WSOP.com only takes $33 in rake (7.1%) for its $500 buy-in Tuesday Showdown. Could it be that it’s charging players a tax for the privilege of playing for a bracelet? If that’s the case, so much for goodwill.

On a side, did anyone at WSOP.com stop and think about how odd it looks to charge a $50 rake for both its $500 and $1,000 buy-in MTTs? What kind of operation are they running over there?

Get ready for an all-nighter New Jersey

All 31 online bracelet events begin at 3 p.m. PST. For Nevada residents, that’s going to lead to some really late nights. In New Jersey, which runs three hours behind Nevada, players that run deep will lose an entire night’s sleep.

Even if turnouts are modest, the long late reg periods and slower structures all but guarantee that tournaments will run until 4, 6, or maybe even 8 a.m. on the east coast.

In previous years, the 3 p.m. starting times were at least somewhat justifiable.

      • The online and live series ran concurrently, so most New Jersey pros were already parked in Nevada for the summer.
      • Later starting times gave players who busted early from live events a second lease on life,
      • Players at live tables could grind online and live events simultaneously, killing some of the boredom of early-stage live tournament poker.

This year, it was like somewhat overlooked the fact that circumstances were vastly different. 11 a.m. or noon starting times would have made a world of sense. Or how about implementing a multiday structure for some of the more prestigious events? Does the ancient software not allow for that?

Then there are the payout structures, which are just bizarre. They start off extremely flat, only to accelerate when the field consolidates to one table. Fair enough, but then they decelerate midway through the final table, before becoming extremely top-heavy.

WSOP Payouts

What sense does this make?

We’ve rarely (never?) seen an online poker site support bigger pay jumps from 9th to 8th than from 5th to 4th, but at the WSOP.com operational center, it’s the norm.

So much for Poker Sundays…and Main Events

The big theme of this year’s online WSOP is that it will award one bracelet for every day in July…and only one. While having a fancy tagline is nice and all, it now means that 23 of the 31 events will be held on weekdays.

The schedule all but ostracizes players that have to go to work in the morning, practically mandating that they be ready and willing to play until all hours of the night on weekdays. It also fails to capitalize on the popularity of online poker on Sundays. Adding even one or two early events on Sunday would have gone a long way toward fixing this mess.

And where’s the Main Event? If this truly were a substitute for the live World Series of Poker, then surely WSOP.com would want to do something extravagant to mimic the hype associated with the biggest event in all of poker.

Nope. Instead, the final event is just another $1,000 buy-in MTT, with the same 15-minute blind structure, same starting chip count, and same late reg period as some other $1k events on the schedule. The difference? WSOP.com is calling it the No Limit Hold’em Championship.

Oddly, on July 26th there’s a $500 buy-in MTT called the No Limit Hold’em Grande Finale, which we guess could also be a lame attempt at the Main Event? Like the Championship, the FInale has few defining features, unless you consider a name change groundbreaking. WSOP.com apparently does.

WSOP.com has even bigger problems

WSOP.com has been something of a disaster since it launched all the way back in 2013. Strip away the name, and you’re left with a third-rate online poker site with middling prize pools, lousy customer support, and poorly thought out lobbies.

Worst of all is the software, which is based on an older version of 888poker’s platform. The software was antiquated when it launched in 2013, and hasn’t been significantly updated since. In 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised if a team of C+ Comp. Sci students and an orangutan couldn’t do better.

Of course, WSOP is not entirely to blame for its shameful state. The reason prize pools pale in comparison to so many other sites is the sorry state of affairs that is regulated U.S. online poker. Although online poker is legal in six states (Michigan, West Virginia, New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania), it’s only live in four, and WSOP.com is only operational in two.

Delaware supports interstate liquidity with WSOP.com in New Jersey and Nevada but doesn’t support the WSOP brand, meaning Delaware players cannot play for online bracelets.

The climate for online poker in the U.S is improving, but at such a snail’s pace that it’s little wonder customers continue to take their business elsewhere.

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Written by Robert DellaFave
Robert DellaFave is the Head Chief of The EV Chief. Previously, he worked for a variety of gambling publications, but got tired of being yelled at by casino reps for being too honest. Hobbies include a healthy mix of advantage gambling and being a degenerate, and tending to his lovely 1-year old daughter.