The consequences of what took place on April 15th 2011, also known as Black Friday, are still being felt all across the online poker industry. Many poker players, particularly in the States, have not yet had funds returned to them, and with every passing day this is looking less and less likely. Due to this scenario, reports have arisen that many, form amateurs to seasoned poker professionals, may not be able to fields the costs of this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP).
The WSOP has always been a display of the world’s poker playing elite; flaunting their talent in order to win one of the coveted WSOP bracelets, not to mention millions of dollars worth of prize money. Direct entry fees, however, have always been notoriously high. For many industry professionals, their bread and butter is online cash games, and they may have several million sitting in online accounts at any one time. For some, the fact that these funds are not yet accessible is a serious blow to any WSOP 2011 hopes they may harbour.
This was a large concern for Executive Director Ty Stewart. During a conference call he told reporters that he had doubts of whether many players this year would be able to front standard buy in prices. “Whether or not it’s a large enough majority of their bankrolls to impact any of our events – it’s a complete unknown” he said, “but that is a very salient factor right now. I’m optimistic because again, in the face of every obstacle to date, we’ve continued to see big growth.”
A positive outlook to be sure, but it is hard to argue with the numbers. The World Series of Poker consists of a field of some 38 separate events, with buy-ins starting at $1000 and progressing to $50,000; it is the largest and most publicised event of its kind. It is commonly accepted that the winner of the annual $10,000 WSOP Main Event, which takes place in Las Vegas, is the World Champion of Poker. Due to the indictments against PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker, ESPN have now shied away from sponsorship deals, not wishing to be associated with the poker sites after their reputations were smeared following the events of Black Friday, causing the companies further loss of money. Since then, the poker world has been in a state of constant ambiguity and anxiety.
For any poker players, both in the live and online circuits, playing at the WSOP is the ultimate dream. Many potential entrants, who could not afford the direct entry fees, relied on the benefit of online Satellite games which awarded seats as prizes. Without those, they must either grind their way on the live circuit or forfeit the chance of a lifetime to live out their dreams.
Series tournament director Jack Effel stated that the WSOP are making room for more cash games due to the indictments, but they do not plan to change in terms of tournament capacity.
That statistic, however, may be out of their control.