Last month, it was confirmed that the 2020 World Series of Poker that is usually held in Las Vegas would take place online – an announcement that was met with divided opinions among poker players around the world. While plenty of players were pleased just to have the chance to take part, others voiced plenty of concerns about various aspects of this year’s online WSOP, and the event’s organizers are now responding to the criticism.
Shaun Deeb, the 2018 WSOP Player of the Year, was among the most vocal of the critics. He put it plainly:
“I’m gonna play, but I’m gonna hate it.”
He echoed the sentiments of many poker players, panning the lack of diversity and the low buy-ins. Another concern of Shaun’s was the limit of just one event per day in the American leg of the WSOP.
When you look at the 2020 WSOP schedule, what is immediately obvious is the abundance of NHLE games – with some PLO sprinkled in. This is a major difference from previous years, which had a fair mix of many different poker variants.
In the 2018 and 2019 World Series of Poker tournaments, there were plenty of games on offer – not just the most popular variants. These included:
- Dealer’s Choice
- Seven Card Stud
There are also usually more types of tournament formats on offer, as well. In previous years, there would be plenty of opportunities to take part in double stack and bounty events but these aren’t on the schedule for 2020.
WSOP Ty Stewart has addressed the criticism about this issue by stating that the software simply isn’t equipped to handle having all of these games available. It’s true that the WSOP’s online poker client has a somewhat limited selection of poker variants, so that has carried over to this year’s tournament.
Up until a few months ago, it was still unclear as to whether or not the WSOP would hold it’s 2020 event online. So, there likely wasn’t enough time to get new games up and running to a high standard on the online software.
Fortunately, for international players, GGPoker has a wider range of events on offer. There are bounties, short deck tournaments and super turbos, which provides a bit more selection. However, the games are still limited to NHLE and PLO.
Buy-ins are another concern for WSOP hopefuls. You’ll notice that nearly half of the American events have a buy-in of $500 or less – while these types of buy-ins would be pretty hard to come by in previous WSOPs.
This worries players because they don’t want the player pool to be diluted with less experienced competitors. A game with a $10,000 buy-in will have a vastly different group of players to one with a $500 buy-in, which completely changes the dynamics of the game.
Stewart has also commented on this issue, stating that it is simply logistical. It is difficult for the WSOP online poker software to accept large buy-ins, which is why the American leg of the tournament has so many buy-ins that are small in comparison to all other WSOP events.
International players benefit here, as well. At GGPoker, players can make bigger deposits so larger buy-in events are available. The NLHE high roller event costs $25,000 to enter and there is a $10 million prize pool, while its main event has a $5,000 buy-in.
Making Lemonade Out of Lemons
While a large portion of the poker community is disappointed with many elements of the online WSOP, the event’s organizers are working hard to ensure that it is still a fun event. These really are unprecedented times, and Stewart is confident that his team has done its best. He says:
“We’re ready for a unique chapter in our history with an ambition as great as anything we’ve done, period”.
He also states that this is a “wake-up call” for the gaming industry and lawmakers. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to loom, it’s important for poker players to stay safe – and, the ideal situation would be for more states to permit online poker games.