888 Holdings, operator of 888poker and software provider for WSOP.com, announced last month that it would roll out a new poker client, Poker 8. The new client is in conjunction with 888’s plans to launch in new, legal, and regulated markets throughout the United States.
The announcement came alongside the signing of a multi-year extension for 888’s sponsorship with the World Series of Poker held annually in Las Vegas, a sponsorship that dates back to 2014.
This partnership between Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) goes back even further, to the earliest days of legal online poker in the US. In 2013, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey launched online poker industries, with 888 providing the software for the WSOP.com platforms in Nevada and New Jersey and supplying Delaware with its online poker client.
The Poker 8 Software
888’s new Poker 8 software serves as an upgrade to the WSOP.com platform, which hasn’t seen any significant updates since it launched over seven years ago.
New features to the software include a left navigation bar that has replaced the former two-tiered structure, a beginner’s lobby with quick launch tables, and a revamped overall lobby design and tournament filtration system.
These changes decrease clutter throughout the platform, offering a more appealing visual appearance that will improve usability and improved mobile play – which may be the most impactful change.
And speaking of mobile play, Poker 8 also has Android and iOS apps available rife with improvements. Players on mobile will now be able to play up to four tables simultaneously (previously, the limit was one) and can do so in the more user-friendly portrait mode instead of having to turn their device sideways to play in the landscape setting.
The mobile versions will also feature Pot-Limit Omaha, which was previously only available via the desktop client.
Another major change is the new software’s allowance for multi-flight tournaments. This feature is currently unavailable on the desktop clients of Nevada and New Jersey. It brings with it the possibility for even larger prize pools in future tournaments. 2020’s single-flight online $10,000 WSOP Main Event drew 705 entries, a number already greater than the 674 combined entries over three flights for GGPoker’s international version for the rest of the world.
For an in-depth review of the Poker 8 software you can visit PokerFuse.com.
Plans for Rollouts Into New and Existing Markets
As it stands, 888 has its sights set on expanding into the Pennsylvania and Michigan markets after being granted an operating license last October in the former, and with the latter having opened its doors on January 29, 2021.
With a population of 12.8 million, Pennsylvania is the primary target for 888’s expansion as it will roughly double the number of players 888 serves from its current combined tri-state market. However, there is still no anticipated date for launch in the Keystone State.
In an interview with Betting USA in late 2019, 888’s head of commercial development Yaniv Sherman confirmed Pennsylvania’s potential value:
“From a B2B perspective, we want to get poker up and running in Pennsylvania in the future … So far we’ve been doing very well in the US, looking at the first few days of PokerStars, there’s a healthy market out there, and we would be happy to participate in it.”
888 says it will roll out the Poker 8 software in new markets before shifting focus to its three existing markets. This seems to align with the slow and steady approach they’ve taken towards market expansion in general, one that differs from PokerStars, who has been the first into both legal markets of Pennsylvania and Michigan in addition to operating in New Jersey.
The Future of 888poker and WSOP.com In The United States
Upon gaining a share of the Pennsylvania and Michigan markets, the focus for 888 will then turn to the possibility of unifying those player pools with the MSIGA-aligned markets of Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
As previously mentioned, Pennsylvania’s addition will double the player pool in and of itself. Michigan’s 10 million residents would only provide even more of a boost to that number should all five states agree to terms regarding shared pools.
Michigan would also serve as a haven of sorts for the 65 million residents in the Midwest states of the country that may not be able to travel to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Nevada as easily to get in on the action. That could be a big draw for major online tournament series.
Of course, all of this brings the potential for even more competition in future WSOP Online Bracelet Events. It could also pave the way for more states to legalize online poker and further increase the number of players with access to the platform from the comfort of their own homes.