When most people think of high stakes competitive gambling, there will be few who don’t immediately conjure up images of the World Series of Poker. Now 58 years later, the World Series of Poker shows no signs of slowing down. Since 2004, thousands of competitors have applied to take part in the $10,000 no-limit Texas hold ’em main event, with poker stars’ careers and fortunes being made in the game.
The World Series of Poker has humble origins – but ones that would still replicate the strong results that are associated with the competition today. In 1970, Benny Binion invited seven of the best poker players for a single tournament to the Horseshoe Casino. The game would have a set start and stop time and would involve a secret ballot of the players. From then on, the WSOP has expanded dramatically and is often considered to be the Olympics or World Cup of professional poker playing.
Competitors train year round for a chance to win big at the tournament and the event is the veritable who’s who of the professional poker world. The initial seven-player invite of 1970 would likely draw great media attention even today due to the publicity stunt nature and the intriguing proposition. This is in part what has allowed the WSOP to continue to grow.
Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware Merge
One of the reasons for the continued sustainable growth for the WSOP is the World Series of Poker and 888poker merge of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware. The merger is just the latest in the shared liquidity progression, which will pool players from the states. Online gambling by way of regulated online poker looks set to see the dawn of a new era as the merger makes a huge regulatory step which looks set to make the game a more immersive experience for the end user, the player.
The six rooms across three states have formed a single unified player pool network. The merger offers players that have joined the interstate games, including four bracelet opportunities, including Event #10: $365 Online No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, which will mark the first time New Jersey residents will be able to try for a bracelet from their home state.
The players will have opportunities to take part in loyalty programs and be open to bigger guarantees than ever before. Plus, BLAST poker will enable players to play for up to 10,000x their buy-in, and players can take part in $100k Sunday Tournaments.
WSOP Online Play
The World Series of Poker hasn’t just maintained its position in the world of the game through its main events and bracelet opportunities. In order for any business to succeed, they have to be able to move with the times and adapt to the pioneering technologies present in their industries. As rival tournaments cropped up throughout the country and the world, the WSOP were able to diversify their offering and move in the direction poker playing was taking by moving their poker online.
By positioning themselves in a space that didn’t just proliferate the latest poker events, coverage, and news, but offered a way for people to engage with their brand of poker year-round, WSOP are able to continue their sustainable growth. New fans are encouraged to get involved with playing if they never have before through the use of promotions, which entice a lot of players and break down some of the barriers to entry that people might have up before they play.
Online poker has grown considerably since the growth of the internet and the technological advancements that have added a new degree to the game. By playing online, players are able to master the strategic aspects of the game before tackling the interpersonal aspects of bluffing and not allowing your opponent to predict your next moves. The accessibility of online poker means that those who might not have had chance to practise their poker game before can do so now. The more people playing online poker with the WSOP, the more likely they are to enter the physical tournament and win.
Live Tournament Tours
Another way in which the World Series of Poker have managed to stay relevant and contribute to their growth is through the live tournament tours. By taking the WSOP to various casinos and establishments throughout the world, more players will have the chance to connect with the game and brand, and more will fix their poker playing around the WSOP.
Already a formidable name in the poker sphere, this wouldn’t benefit middling poker players if they had no real chance of ever getting involved with the WSOP. But, by having the tour come near enough to them for the cost of going to it being easier to win back, there will likely be more engagement. By being mobile, players who wouldn’t usually become involved in person may have chance to get involved, and the WSOP can speak to a completely new generation of poker players and poker fans. The wider their reach, the greater their reward in terms of engagement of the relevant audiences. In the USA, circuit events take place in late July/early August and give fans a chance from far and wide to get involved in different cities across the country.
As with many businesses, ensuring that the brand values and imagery continue long after the initial engagement with the brand has ended is key to a lasting legacy. Licensed merchandise allows fans to engage with the WSOP and for the WSOP to utilise key poker players who may not be fully professional yet to act as ambassadors in their branded merchandise. Merchandise also includes a clothing range for both men and women to spread their love of the WSOP, as well as items such as keychains, mugs, and commemorative chips.
Players can also purchase books written about poker, from ‘how to’ guides to playing the best game, to anecdotal information from top poker stars. The World Series of Poker even has a licensed pair of Bluetooth headphones for fans of poker to showcase their love of the game and the brand while out and about. Ultimately, the goal of licensed merchandise is to spread the brand message, while the fact licensed merchandise exists shows that the brand is continuing its success and growing. Keeping the brand at the forefront of people’s minds helps this happen.
The World Series of Poker has been a staple in the poker circle for decades, and it doesn’t look set to be fading from memory anytime soon. With the continuous push to stay relevant and important to poker players, as shown by the latest merger of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, the WSOP looks set to continue its reign. Plus, the dedication to opportunities for online poker play, as well as licensed merchandise, and tours that offer poker players across the world the chance to engage with the poker brand and to try to make a name for themselves in the world of a tournament they have followed for nearly 60 years will help.