WSOP and APL Take Poker Tournament Action Online

The poker boom in the early 2000s brought people to poker in droves. Online poker soared in popularity, as did live poker in casinos like Crown Melbourne. And when Aussie Joe Hachem won the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event in 2005, Australia began its own micro-version of the poker boom. From poker tours stopping at every card room and many online poker sites from which to choose, Aussie players had poker everywhere.

And then it stopped.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 passed in August of 2017 and made online poker illegal in all forms.

In truth, the bill allowed for regulated online poker in Australia by companies based in Australia. The problem was that no companies were based in Australia AND there were no regulators equipped or regulations in place to issue licenses for legal online poker. In reality, online poker was prohibited for Australians.

In late 2017 and early 2018, all major online poker sites exited the Australian market, refusing accounts to players in Australia. This happened with PokerStars, PartyPoker, and 888poker. And Australian players were left with a handful of offshore sites.

Pandemic Hurts Players Further

As Aussies were left with few online poker options after 2017, those who wanted to continue playing poker for a living – or even in semi-pro status – had to make it work with live poker. And there were poker rooms in Melbourne and Perth, on the Gold Coast and in a few other locations that made it possible.

However, when the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia in February and March 2020, it led to the Aussie government closing all non-essential businesses. Casinos were some of the first to close, as their settings were ripe for a virus spread. And that left poker players with no options sanctioned by the law.

While poker players in other parts of the world could turn to online poker for their favorite tournaments – World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour – Aussies could not do so.

There were some who relocated to other Asia-Pacific countries to play online. Others used VPNs from Australia to access online poker.

For those players, there are options in the works to compete in major online poker events.

WSOP Circuit Option

The World Series of Poker may have only headed to Australia occasionally, but players knew that option was no longer available in the age of the coronavirus. Even more, the many Australians who planned to spend time in Las Vegas in June and July for the 2020 WSOP found out that was no longer an option either when the series announced its official postponement.

Subsequently, the WSOP found an online poker partner in the GGNetwork. For many around the world, the site would be GGPoker, though in Asia, the skin on that network would be Natural8.

Australians, however, are not allowed to play on the site.

That became even more frustrating when Natural8 and all sites on the GGNetwork announced that the WSOP Super Circuit Online Series will be offered from May 3-31 as a part of a massive 595-tournament schedule with $100 million guaranteed.

That will be the largest series in the history of online poker.

The WSOP Circuit events will only comprise 18 of those events but will feature a $1K buy-in Main Event with $5 million in guaranteed prize money alone. Buy-ins for the 18 events will range from $50 to $25K, and event winners will walk away with prize money and a coveted WSOP gold Circuit ring.

Further, Natural8 will also be awarding WSOP prize packages for Las Vegas (for the delayed series that may be rescheduled for September or October in the US), including a Main Event seat worth $10K.

APL Plans and Hopes

The Australian Poker League has been anxious to get some of its 800 weekly poker tournaments on the calendar again. The APL has kept as many members of its staff working as possible, all while keeping in touch with fans via social media.

Last week, the APL made a big announcement. It introduced the Clash of Leagues, an online poker tournament for play money. Satellites began on April 27, and the actual 10 events will run May 7-11 with a 100M Gold guarantee.

Apparently, the app uses a currency rate of US$1 for 1000 Gold.

The series will begin with a 2K freeroll on May 7, as well as tournaments for all participating leagues, such as the Korea Series of Poker (KSOP), Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association (CTP), Hong Kong Game Club (HKGC), Singapore Poker League (SPL), Vietnam Series of Poker (VSOP), and Wild Aces Poker. The events will then take place as follows:

  • May 7: 33 buy-in KSOP
  • May 7: 22 buy-in CTP
  • May 8: 55 buy-in APL Main Event (Day 1A)
  • May 8: 44 buy-in Wild Aces
  • May 9: 55 buy-in APL Main Event (Day 1B)
  • May 9: 44 buy-in VSOP
  • May 10: 55 buy-in APL Main Event (Day 1C turbo)
  • May 10: APL Main Event (final day)
  • May 10: 33 buy-in SPL
  • May 10: 220 buy-in APL High Roller
  • May 11: 22 buy-in HKGC
  • May 11: 44 buy-in APL Freezeout
  • May 11: 550 buy-in APL Super High Roller

The Main Event will feature a 100 Gold guarantee, equal to approximately US$100,000)

On Hold Awaiting ACMA Approval

Just after launching satellites this week, the Australian Poker Tour had to put its cash satellites on hold. APL CEO David Miles said they submitted a sample to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to obtain approval. They explained the workings of a satellite in the hopes of moving forward with that approval.

Miles told Poker Media Australia that some shareholders were not comfortable with cash satellites, so he decided to work with the ACMA and the Department of Communications in Canberra. “We’ve received a legal opinion that there is a section in the Act which prescribes that what we are doing, just offering satellites, can be justified.”

That section of that Interactive Gambling Act allows for the promoting of a trade via a “game of chance or mixed chance or skill,” and Miles claims the satellites support the company’s trade.

PMA also obtained a brief statement from the ACMA. It is aware of the app, monitors it, “and will take action as necessary.” This doesn’t acknowledge Miles’ submission but may indicate that there is no immediate opposition to the satellites.

 

 

Rose Varrelli

Rose Varrelli has always been passionate about online casinos, as she's been a player at a variety of places for years. Rose turned her personal knowledge and insight into a writing career. She aims to provide readers with the most up to date, informative news in the world of online casinos!

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