WSOP online graphic

PocketRocketsAA420 won’t win a bracelet

If this was any other year, we would be firmly in the midst of the World Series of Poker right now. But alas, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging and the live WSOP in Las Vegas has been postponed. In its place is the World Series of Poker Online, to be held on both WSOP.com in the United States and the GGPoker internationally. Though the schedule for GGPoker’s side of things has yet to be announced despite starting less than a month from now, the network has said that players’ real names will be used at final tables.

GGPoker has been testing out a real name policy since last month, giving players the option to use them at VIP high-stakes cash game tables and high roller tournaments. Players have been asked to officially verify their accounts to play in the VIP games, but not all have.

“We think it’s [referring to real names] a good thing for online poker,” said GGPoker Network’s top dog, Jean-Christophe Antoine, on the pokerfuse podcast. “We don’t know yet if it’s good to do it for everyone [in] every format, every game type, et cetera, so what we’re doing is we are trailing it. We’re starting testing the waters, starting step-by-step.”

Though the online poker industry has trended toward anonymous tables in order to make it more difficult for pros to track lesser-skilled novices, some sites have tried real name tables. partypoker began its trials last summer, but again, it’s optional.

Real names could work great

The general idea behind requiring players to use their real names is to reduce toxicity at the tables. It is assume that players will generally be nicer to each other if their actual name is on full display. But then again, if you have ever been on Facebook or Twitter or, heaven forbid, have visited the comments section of an online newspaper article, you know that this doesn’t always stop people from being assholes.

For the World Series of Poker specifically, it is thought that having players use their real names can give reaching a final table or winning an online bracelet more prestige. It might help a player make a name for themselves in the poker world, as it has for players in the traditional WSOP. It could also reduce the frequency of cheating, as things like multi-accounting will get harder if players need to verify their real identities.

But there are drawbacks

On the flip side, one of the draws of online poker for many is the ability to hide behind a screen name. Some people don’t want attention, even if it is positive. They don’t want the world knowing they just won a bunch of money. Maybe they would rather hide their gambling hobby from their employer. And heck, if a person does poorly, even though they made the final table, they don’t want everybody knowing what a donk they really are. I know I don’t care if someone views my online poker persona as a fish, but I might not be thrilled with them knowing who I really am in that case.

Anonymity can also be important to women, in particular, who, even in 2020, are often treated differently (read: negatively) at the tables in a world that has long been dominated by men. Of course, women could certainly take advantage of a male player underestimating them if they knew their real name, but for many, real name tables is better as an option rather than a requirement.

GGPoker’s portion of the World Series of Poker Online will run July 19 through September 6 and will feature 54 gold bracelet events.

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