888poker and the World Series of Poker (WSOP) are teaming up for the second straight year. In a deal that’s being labeled a “broad sponsorship pact,” 888 will hold the exclusive rights to marketing and online satellite qualifiers for poker’s biggest annual tournament.
Astute observers of the WSOP festival schedule released last week surely noticed the hint of 888 doubling down on its sponsorship due to event #54, the $888 Crazy Eights 8-Handed No-Limit Hold’em that comes with a guaranteed $888,888 first-place payout.
“The World Series of Poker is the pinnacle of the poker calendar,” 888 Senior VP Itai Pazner said in a statement. “The sponsorship is fantastic for the 888poker brand, for 888 players, and for the poker community in general.”
888 on Draft
The continued partnership between 888 and WSOP is important for the tournament’s overall brand identity. The series received plenty of press last fall when DraftKings severed ties with the tournament amidst continued scrutiny from state attorneys general over the legality of daily fantasy sports (DFS).
While DraftKings’ branding was still visible leading up to the November Nine during ESPN’s broadcast, its commercials were stripped from the television coverage during the live three-day Main Event finale.
November Niner Max Steinberg was one of the finalists, the poker-turned-DFS pro making his way to the $10,000 buy-in through a $27 NBA DraftKings satellite. Steinberg’s roster largely consisted of bench players as the season was late and frontrunners like the Golden State Warriors were resting their starters.
“It was awesome, it was the easiest sweat in the world,” Steinberg told PokerNews in September.
The DFS and poker marriage seemed like a perfect fit, but the fantasy sports leader opted out in an attempt to distinguish its games as ventures of skill instead of being related to poker, a game that is, perhaps unjustly, synonymous with gambling.
Partners in Poker
For those without a spare $10,000 or perhaps not convinced their poker skills warrant such an investment, 888poker will once again provide players with the chance of entering the WSOP Main Event through a substantially lower entry fee. 888 will offer satellites worldwide with exceptions in the United States, Canada, France, and Italy.
888 and the Caesars-owned WSOP have long been allies.
In New Jersey, one of just three states with legalized online gambling, 888 provides the software for the shared WSOP/888 room. Together, the two companies represent the largest online poker destination in the Garden State.
“888 is an important part of the WSOP family, both domestically and around the globe,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said.
At the 2015 WSOP, 888 sponsored three of the final nine contestants. The iPoker brand certainly got its money worth by backing heavy big stack and eventual winner Joe McKeehen.
888 is hoping its patronage of the World Series of Poker once again pays off. With PokerStars arriving in New Jersey on March 21, the more the brand is seen the better, and there’s no better ad space in poker than the World Series.