The World Series of Poker held its annual conference call on Wednesday to promote the 44th annual poker party at the Rio in Las Vegas that gets underway May 29. But Caesars Entertainment, which owns the WSOP brand, had something extra to pimp this year: a launch date for Caesars Interactive’s WSOP-branded Nevada-licensed online poker site.
WSOP spokesperson Seth Palansky didn’t have a specific date to offer those listening in on the call, but said the launch should happen sometime during this year’s event, preferably before the main event gets underway on July 6. Palansky said that timeline “would be our druthers, but we don’t remain totally in control of the process and timing of it all, so it’s hard to know.” Caesars has yet to receive the ‘go’ signal from Nevada gaming regulators, but Palansky says “it won’t be too much longer.”
Caesars is hoping to run online satellites that would allow Nevada residents and those players who plan to travel to Vegas for the WSOP a chance to earn their main event buy-in via an online satellite tournament. Eternal bragging rights await the first Nevada-licensed site to send an online qualifier to WSOP glory, à la Chris Moneymaker, who qualified online in 2003 via Caesars’ nemesis, PokerStars. Moneymaker is to be honored by the WSOP on this, the 10th anniversary of his main event victory.
WSOP executive director Ty Stewart couldn’t help taking a shot at Ultimate Poker (UP), which chose to rush out a barebones product in order to be able to go into the history books as Nevada’s first licensed online site, by stating his belief that “the market is ready for a first-class product.” Stewart took another dig at UP via a reference to a screenshot making the rounds of a UP table with a flop featuring two nines of spades. “There’s only one nine of spades in our deck.” There are, however, three eights in the software that will be powering WSOP.com. Caesars’ partner 888 Holdings has already received preliminary approval from Nevada regulators on its suitability to play in Nevada’s online pool, but Caesars ultimately plans to switch over to the software platform it’s developing with Barriere Digital.