Get ready, WSOP 2015 players, for a brave new world where online and live play meet up and hopefully don’t collide. Because this year, you’ll be able to play one tournament on your tablet and another on the felt, simultaneously, with a few caveats.
Online poker in Nevada may not be big business at the moment, but it certainly gets a major boost when the World Series of Poker rolls into town. And this year, there will be more integration between the worlds of live and online tournament play than ever before.
During the annual WSOP Media Conference Call on Tuesday, WSOP officials noted that WiFi Internet access would be available to players throughout the tournament series in all playing areas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, a setup that will allow players to “multitable” by playing both a live event and an online tournament at the same time.
This will be made easier than last year, as there is now a mobile version of the WSOP.com software in Nevada, allowing players to take their phones or tablets to the table rather than a laptop, if they so choose.
Officials “Won’t Interfere” With Online Play at Live Tables
How easily this integration will take place is still unclear, and it may not be something that will become apparent until the WSOP is actually underway.
While at times event officials today appeared to suggest that players should only play online poker while not in a live hand, WSOP Tournament Director and Vice President of International Poker Operations Jack Effel also said that dealers and floor personnel “won’t interfere with the process” if someone is caught in the middle of playing out an online hand when they are also playing live.
Of course, most of that online play will be taking place at WSOP.com, as the site is now the only major regulated competitor remaining in Nevada. And for the first time, the WSOP will award one of its bracelets in an online event, with only the final table taking place at a live table in Las Vegas.
Online Bracelet Event Scheduled for July 2
The $1,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament will begin on July 2, with players competing from their computers or mobile devices anywhere in Nevada. After playing down to the final six, the players will then travel to the Rio to play for the bracelet: July 3 has been designated as a travel day so that players outside of the Las Vegas area can have plenty of time to arrive, with the final table being played on July 4.
With Independence Day traditionally pretty bottlenecked in Sin City as the Strip closes off early to allow for crowd control, it’s an interesting choice of days for such a big event.
Satellites Outside of Nevada
While players will have to be located within Nevada’s borders to play in the championship event, qualifying satellites for the online bracelet tournament are being held elsewhere. Bill Rini, head of online poker for the WSOP, noted that WSOP.com is running satellites for the tournament in New Jersey, while partner 888.com is running satellites throughout the rest of the world.
Given how widely used smartphones are today, it seems likely that many players will take advantage of the ability to grind online while they’re also competing in bracelet events, cash games, or satellites during the WSOP. Such a situation is a unique one that has required some special planning from the WSOP.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has rules in place that only allow one player per IP address to be seated at an online poker table, or to play in the same tournament. That rule would have caused endless headaches if hundreds or thousands of players were attempting to use the Rio’s WiFi simultaneously, but Rini says that the property has been whitelisted by regulators, lifting that restriction on players at the WSOP.