Playing in the World Series of Poker Main Event represents the pinnacle of poker accomplishments for many players. While a fortunate few are bankrolled deeply enough to simply buy in directly by ponying up the $10,000 entry fee, qualifying via satellite is another popular option.
Online satellites in particular have allowed many thousands of poker players to live their WSOP dreams. Several eventual WSOP Main Event champs won their entries via online qualifiers. That list includes one of the most famed Main Event winners of all time — Chris Moneymaker.
Moneymaker’s improbable run began with an $86 satellite seat on PokerStars, which he parlayed into a 2003 Main Event seat. Moneymaker went on to win that event and its $2.5 million first-place prize. His victory was so stunning it’s been credited with triggering online poker’s famed “Moneymaker Effect”, which drew huge numbers of players to the online game in efforts to repeat one of the game’s most famous tales.
Several sites offer online WSOP Main Event qualifiers
As has been the case every year for two full decades, players virtually anywhere can qualify for the Main Event online. Some of these online qualifiers are directly associated with the World Series of Poker, while others aren’t.
The officially-authorized WSOP Main Event qualifiers are offered within the U.S. by the WSOP itself. Internationally, similar qualifiers are offered by the WSOP’s official online partner, GGPoker. However, the WSOP.com site is available only within a small handful of U.S. states, and GGPoker is available in most (but far from all) international countries.
This partial coverage is mandated by regulatory bodies and widespread online-gambling restrictions. It means, though, that if you live in a restricted jurisdiction but want to try to win your own Main Event seat, you must do so via an “authorized” site. At least two such sites, Americas Cardroom and 888Poker, have already announced such unofficial satellite routes through which online players can win their way to Las Vegas in November.
Let’s run down the list of known online-satellite paths to a Main Event seat as of late August. Additional online-satellite paths from other “non-authorized” sites may appear in the coming weeks.
Official authorized satellite offerings by the World Series of Poker
The following WSOP 2021 satellite paths are fully authorized by the WSOP. Any player who lives in a restricted area must register for the WSOP through one of these official routes:
U.S. domestic-only on WSOP.com:
Real-money play on WSOP.com is available in only five U.S. states: Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Online qualifiers are available in all five states. Players in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware jointly compete in qualifiers. Players in Michigan and Pennsylvania, for the time being, are competing only against other players in their own state for a chance to play in the Main Event.
International via GGPoker
GGPoker is the WSOP’s official online partner, as well as being the host of the WSOP’s online international bracelet events. GGPoker is available in many but not all international countries. Several firewalled European countries, including most of western Europe, are among those where GGPoker is unavailable.
The list of “prohibited jurisdictions” for GGPoker includes these countries, in alphabetical order: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Colombia, Cuba, Curacao, Czech Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Lithuania, Mauritania, Netherlands, North Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Syria, Switzerland, and the United States of America. If you live in one of these countries (except for the U.S. states where WSOP.com is available for real-money play — ie NV, NJ, DE, MI, PA), then qualifying via an unofficial site is your only online option.
Unofficial main event satellites via other sites
As mentioned, sites such as Americas Cardroom and 888Poker have already announced their own unofficial qualifying packages. These satellite packages typically award winnings into a player’s account. That money, in turn, can be used to pay for a WSOP trip. Online sites offering such packages cannot mandate that winning players actually play in the main event, hence the direct-cash payments. They also cannot use internationally branded phrases such as “World Series of Poker”.
America’s Cardroom ‘WSOP Takedown’
ACR was the first online site to announce its unofficial satellite path to Las Vegas. Dubbed the “WSOP Takedown,” the site’s promotion promises to award at least 20 cash packages to hopeful qualifiers. Each $12,500 paid-in-cash package is designed to cover the $10,000 entry fee, travel, lodging, and other incidentals.
888Poker ‘$13,000 Road to Las Vegas’
888Poker is offering a similar package to its players in the form of its “$13,000 Road to Las Vegas” promotion. This promotion is straightforward: an ongoing series of satellites with a $1,050 buy-in whose winners receive a $13,000 cash package earmarked for a Main Event trip. Like the ACR package, 888’s version includes the $10,000 ME buy-in. It supplements the $10K with $1,500 for accommodations, and another $1,500 for travel and expenses.
Other sites may announce similar satellite promotions in the coming weeks. This page is subject to continuing updates.
See the full 2021 WSOP schedule here.
Featured image source: Flickr/radiotrippictures