Poker website 888poker has revealed that it will be sponsoring the world’s largest poker event, the World Series of Poker (WSOP), for a third consecutive year. The announcement came as the qualifiers for the 2017 WSOP kicked off at 888poker’s website. Thousands of poker players are taking part, eager to win a spot at this year’s contest at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Vegas, which starts on Tuesday 30 May.
Like the games held by the Romans in the Coliseum, these cash games and poker tournaments will run for 49 days straight, culminating in the WSOP Main Event, with the final table of players due to face each other on 17 July. Itai Pazner, 888poker’s Senior Vice-President and head of B2C, cemented his company’s commitment to the game when he stated:
"As part of our wider mission to empower all players and in the interests of giving everyone a shot at winning big, we’ll once again offer our members the incredible opportunity to enter the world’s biggest and most prestigious live tournament, from as little as 1¢. I’m confident that this year we’ll introduce another record-breaking number of players to the WSOP and look forward to seeing some of them on the final table."
Back in 2015, 888poker took over the sponsorship of WSOP from fantasy sports league DraftKings, who had been the main sponsor the previous year. Although well known in the US, DraftKings is not a recognisable brand in countries where WSOP operates its satellite tournaments overseas, so it made sense to bring in a bigger name. As part of the ongoing agreement, 888poker has exclusive rights to run official satellite qualifiers and WSOP-themed promotions.
During its first year as sponsor, 888poker invited 128 players to the WSOP Main Event. As a good omen at the start of this partnership, the 2015 WSOP title was won by poker professional Joe McKeehen, himself sponsored by 888poker. It also featured British ex-pat Tommy Yates, who managed to win his way to the main event through a one-cent satellite game, eventually winning $19,500. As 888poker’s Itai Pazner said back in 2015:
"As a true partner with the WSOP on the B2B side where we power their real-money gaming in the United States, this was a logical next step for us to carry the power of the WSOP to our players across all other major markets we serve. This broad package gives 888poker players a great opportunity to win their way to WSOP events on our online poker site, plus gives us terrific content and assets to market our brand."
888poker made good on the deal with a renewal in 2016, where it almost doubled the amount of players it sent to the Main Event, with 250 players in total, including November Niners Fernando Pons, who managed to qualify through a €30 satellite game. During the 2016 WSOP, 888poker launched Event #54, a four-day tournament that earned the nickname “Crazy Eights”.
Pushing the 888 brand in this no-limit hold’em eight-handed tournament, Event #54 featured a $888 buy-in and a guaranteed first place prize of $888,888, as well as the prestigious gold WSOP bracelet. Both were eventually won by American poker player Hung Le.
The new sponsorship deal between WSOP and 888poker comes with an additional two-year option, which could see the poker brand maintain those rights into 2019. WSOP executive director Ty Stewart spoke of the new deal in glowing terms.
"WSOP is delighted to have renewed our agreement with 888poker. We’ve seen 888poker really up the stakes in the past few years, with a refreshing new online and offline approach, which aims to give the power back to the players. This shared vision and love of the game means it’s a natural partnership for both our brands. I believe this mutually beneficial approach will continue to enhance our user experience and wish our players the best of luck in the tournament."
This time, the two organisations welcomed back 888poker ambassador Kara Scott to host ESPN’s continuing coverage of the WSOP. She and 888poker will carry on as exclusive telecast partners alongside fan favourite presenters Lon McEachern and Norman Chad. With the 48th WSOP taking place this year, it's going to be exciting to see what 888poker can cook up for the 50th anniversary games. Visit the topnotch poker site today for more info!