GGPoker and WSOP Admit to Fudging Numbers for Upcoming Bahamas Guarantees

  • WSOP and GGPoker’s upcoming Bahamas festival will compete with EPT and WPT
  • They are deducting money from “guaranteed” prize pools for lunches and hotels
  • GGPoker Tweeted to confirm it was taking $650,000 from a $5m side event pool
  • Various poker pros have responded negatively to the news on social media
Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas
GGPoker and WSOP have admitted they are deducting $650,000 from a supposedly-guaranteed $5m prizepool event in their Bahamas tournament. [Image:]

When is a guarantee not a guarantee? 

In August, GGPoker and World Series of Poker (WSOP) made some headlines with the promise of a $50m festival in the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas in November and December. Now we learn that they are reneging on that promise thanks to some creative accounting and fine print jiggery-pokery.

Initial interest in the festival was low, mostly down to the popularity of two already big festivals on both sides of the pond. The European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague is a staple of the European poker scene, normally the second biggest festival of the year, and last year broke records. The World Poker Tour (WPT) World Championships, meanwhile, obliterated its own record-setting live guarantee by almost double last December and boldly announced an even larger guarantee this year. 

They are relying on attendees having the appetite for a $40 hotdog or $12 banana

Up against this stiff competition, the WSOP and GGPoker are relying on players wanting to be the 230th bracelet winner of 2023. They are relying on the allure of water slides when it will probably be raining. They are relying on attendees having the appetite for a $40 hotdog or $12 banana. And now they are relying on the poker community turning a blind eye to some shenanigans that effectively lower the guarantees. 

No such thing as a free lunch

Last week, GGPoker created a lobby for an online Day 1 to their “$15m (it turns out not) guaranteed” Main Event. The action of creating online flights is telling in and of itself but what was more immediately interesting was what was written in the tournament description: 

“This is an Online Day 1 to the #10: MAIN EVENT CHAMPIONSHIP. Surviving players will jump straight to the ITM stage on Dec 12. Qualifiers will receive an 11-night stay (Dec. 3-14) at the Atlantis Bahamas, with a daily free lunch buffet, deducted from the prize pool. Qualifiers who cannot attend the LIVE EVENT in the Bahamas may forfeit their stack and package and receive a min-cash.”

Firstly, online Day 1s will automatically make this tournament a lot tougher and overall a bad proposition for recreational players. Secondly, the idea of deducting money from a guaranteed prize pool to pay for hotel costs and ‘free’ lunch buffets is unprecedented. 

GG induced into a response 

GGPoker is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to making public statements, usually preferring to leave criticism unanswered, but on Monday, the operator acknowledged the deductions to the prizepools outlined in my last article entitled ‘GGPoker and WSOP Want to Eat Your Lunch.’

GGPoker explained that it was actually diddling the prizepool by $650,000

In the end, GG was induced by a comment from poker pro Erwann Pecheux who responded inaccurately to a post of mine. He suggested that they were reducing the prizepool of their “$5m (again not actually a) guarantee” side event by 20%. Keen to correct the record, GGPoker explained that it was actually diddling the prizepool by $650,000 and not $1m. 

You can say a lot about GGPoker but having the temerity to put out a public statement like that is next-level condescension, shamelessness, and disdain. Poker’s Kat Arnsby certainly thinks so:

English poker pro Mark Rubbathan wasn’t impressed either:

The Ryanair of Poker

GGPoker and WSOP have chosen a venue that is notoriously expensive. They have enjoyed the positive publicity of a promise to the poker community that they are now breaking. Add to that the legitimate concerns that players trying to bring winnings out of the Bahamas will be stopped at the border and forced to miss flights or worse.

acting like an operator who is scared and trying desperately not to eat overlay

From the outside, it looks like GGPoker and WSOP have bitten off more than they can chew and they now realize it. An effective disruptor brand, GGPoker has taken the poker world by storm with a grey market poker app sensibility and business strategy. It would have had notions of disrupting things for EPT and WPT this Winter but is now acting like an operator who is scared and trying desperately not to eat overlay. 

GGPoker and WSOP have earned their reputation as the Ryanair of poker – offering a no-frills experience and one reminiscent of a cattle drive for players. Buyer beware: high rake, low-quality customer service, long queues, and now short prizepools are par for the course. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *