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Uncertainty surrounds WSOP online satellite entries

17 October 2006

The World Series of Poker is still legal. But the status of online satellite tournaments, which have driven participation in poker's premier event to record levels, is uncertain at best.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act, which President Bush signed into law Friday, has dramatically altered the landscape for online poker players. More than 350 sites have stopped accepting American bets.

Jim Davenport, who qualified for the 2005 Main Event via online satellite and played in the 2006 event through a PokerRoom.com promotion, estimates that 75 percent of the 2006 Main Event players were there thanks to online satellites.

But Harrah's, which runs the WSOP, says they have not been accepting third-party payments from online casinos for the past two years.

"We did not accept third party registrations from online poker sites that do business with U.S. residents in 2005, nor in 2006," said Harrah's spokesman Gary Thompson. "The World Series broke every record in 2006, and we're planning for continued growth in 2007."

In the past, online qualifiers have generally not seen the $10,000 WSOP buy-in. Officials from the online room where they qualified paid it for them. Exactly how that happens -- and is not considered a third party registration -- is unclear.

"A number of (businesses other than online casinos) did register players in 2005 and 2006," Thompson said, but added that Harrah's is "reviewing registration policies."

Phil Gordon discussed the legislation and its possible impact on the WSOP on his ESPN Radio show "The Poker Edge" last week.

Gordon, who endorses FullTiltPoker.com theorized that sites will send the buy-in to a player's account instead of to the WSOP. Once a player has access to that money, Gordon said, the chances that he will actually use it to buy into the target tournament are greatly diminished.

"It's a completely different thing for you to win a seat on site X and for them to send you a check for say $12,000," Gordon said. "There's a lot of stuff that can intervene in between the time that you get that check and the time that you actually go to Las Vegas."

Gordon predicted that participation in the Main Event would plummet to about 2,200 from this year's all-time high of 8,773.

And former online-qualifier Davenport agrees. "If they put $12,000 in my account, I would pay $3,000 trying to qualify in live satellites," Davenport said. "If I didn't qualify by then, I wouldn't deserve to play."


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Uncertainty surrounds WSOP online satellite entries is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.