AOL, the nation's leading online service, has decided that conquering the online universe is a doable reality, as it continues to expand its services to provide live music concerts, sports action, and now, online gaming. AOL has signed an exclusive deal with the World Series of Poker to create an online poker environment for card players.
AOL's poker action is free and will offer 12 winners in the different online AOL private poker rooms and tournaments a seat to play in the 2006 or 2007 WSOP main event. Valued at $10,000, the WSOP seats are AOL's way of making an enticing offer to get players to its new site. If that's not enough to get players interested, one visitor to the poker room each year will get a free seat at the annual tournament of champions. Only one thing stopping players from winning these amazing prizes; they have to be at least 21 years old.
Broadcast exclusively by ESPN and held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the WSOP is the pinnacle of the poker world with players of its main event vying for more than $52 million in prizes.
According to Harrah's Entertainment programming head, Jeffery Pollack, this unique relationship is a perfect fit. The AOL service will provide news and behind-the-scenes reports of the various tournaments as well as "poker tutorials for people who want to learn more about the game."
Ralph Rivera, vice president and general manager of AOL games believes there is another key reason why this venture will pay off. "We've never done anything like this before. People don't have to be a monthly AOL subscriber to gain access to the poker rooms," Rivera said in a recent Variety article.
AOL and Rivera are hoping that the legions of poker fans will come to populate the new sites and bring new economic opportunity with them. While at the sites, players will be forced to look at major amounts of online advertising which has grown to a $12-billion-a-year industry.
Only time will tell if the marriage of these two industry heavyweights will lead to a big payout.
Ed Note: Playing at Poker Blue will lead to a big payout. Check them out.