The 2018 World Series of Poker is a week old and so far, it’s what you would expect: lots of tournaments, lots of players, lots of money at stake. The opening week also featured a couple of the more “special” events of the WSOP, each of which is trending in a different direction: the $365 No-Limit Hold’em Online event and the $565 No-Limit Hold’em Colossus.
Online Bracelet Event – Smiley Face
There have been official gold bracelet events held online for a few years now, but this is the first year where players from outside Nevada can participate. New Jersey recently began sharing player liquidity on WSOP.com with Nevada* and thus players situated in the Garden State can play in the bracelet events. Previously, even though there was a WSOP.com in New Jersey, it wasn’t linked to the one in Nevada and the bracelet events were only contested on Nevada’s WSOP.com.
As a result of the shared liquidity, the first online bracelet event of the 2018 WSOP drew 2,123 players and 2,972 entries, making it the largest field for an online poker tournament in the history of United States regulated online gaming. The prize pool of $974,816 also topped last year’s number.
It wasn’t perfect, as some players had problems entering the tournament. It is thought that they were international players who were in Nevada or New Jersey; fortunately there were only 19 such players, so the issue was fairly limited. The start time of 6:00pm ET wasn’t ideal for people in New Jersey, either, but when two time zones three hours from each other are involved, it will never be ideal.
Colossus – Frowny Face
Then there is the Colossus, which debuted in 2015 at the bargain basement price of $565. The idea was to provide an ultra-affordable bracelet event (affordable is a poker-relative term here) that would draw a record crowd. And it did. With 22,374 entries, it was the largest live poker tournament ever. The prize pool eclipsed $11 million.
Each year since, though, attendance in the Colossus has fallen. This year, there were just 13,071, nearly 42 percent fewer than in 2015. Now, that’s not to say that the tournament is a failure; that’s still a massive event, one which people clearly enjoy. But WSOP organizers probably aren’t too happy to see the downward trend.
Part of the problem may actually have to do with the online bracelet event. The Colossus began on Saturday, June 2nd and had starting flights through Monday, June 4th. The online event was held on Sunday, June 3rd (and ran into the early morning hours). Those who may have otherwise played in the Colossus may have opted for the online event, as it was cheaper and shorter.
On top of that, another inexpensive tournament – the $365 Giant – had starting flights on Friday and Sunday. Again, this may have gotten in the way of the Colossus.
The decline of the Colossus may also just be a natural part of the tournament’s life cycle. It was new and exciting a few years ago, so people flocked to the tables, but as time has gone on – even though it hasn’t been a very long time – the novelty has worn off. And with other tournaments in the same price range that won’t require as much of a time commitment around town, many people might not find the Colossus as attractive as it once was.
*Technically, the player pool sharing doesn’t have to just be on WSOP.com, but that is the only site the two states have in common.