Caesars and 888 Holdings decided to combine their player pools at select cash game and tournament tables earlier this year, and the combination of US.888Poker.com and WSOP.com is already paying dividend. The new network has left PartyPoker/Borgata in the dust, with WSOP/888 now leading Party/Borgata by 35%, according to the tracking site PokerScout.com.
PokerScout.com lists 888/WSOP as having average cash game traffic of 260 players (over a 7-day period), with peak traffic of over 650 players. Party/Borgata’s average cash game traffic has remained relatively static at 170 players, with peak traffic in the 400 player range.
Both WSOP.com and 888 NJ are the result of the partnership between Caesars Entertainment and 888 Holdings, but the two sites had operated independently since New Jersey launched their online gaming industry in November of 2013.
As the calendar flipped to 2015 the company announced partial liquidity sharing was in the works, with the following games and limits being pooled:
- No Limit Holdem cash games up to $.25/$.50
- Fixed Limit Holdem cash games up to $.50/$1
- $5,000 Nightly tournament
- $10,000 Nightly tournament
- $10,000 Sunday tournament
- $25,000 Sunday tournament
Both sites were apparently able to build strong, unique player pools during their first year of operation, allowing for the merger to benefit both sites. As WSOP.com Head of Poker Bill Rini stated, “In reviewing data with 888 we both felt that there was more than enough uniqueness between our player bases that this was a win all around.”
Rini’s comment was echoed by All American Poker Network CEO David Licht, “Shared liquidity will help create a better player experience that we hope will attract a diversity of players and begin to bring poker to a broader audience once again.” The AAPN is made up of 888 Holdings and Avenue Capital Group, designed to create online poker networks in legalized U.S. markets through intrastate and interstate networks.
So why now?
The recent partial merger of their player pools is likely a result of several forces:
- A lack of liquidity in New Jersey
- The failure to overtake Party/Borgata
- An eye towards a potential interstate compact with Nevada and Delaware – and further liquidity sharing through the AAPN
- The expected arrival of PokerStars
- The current lack of a third competitor in the market following the closures of Ultimate Poker’s and Betfair’s online poker rooms
- The desire to increase tournament guarantees
So far so good for the new online poker network, as they have established themselves as the clear #1 in the New Jersey market, although it should be noted that Party/Borgata still has more tournament players than WSOP.com/888.