Ontario poker players now have a fifth regulated online poker site to choose from.
WSOP.ca launched on Friday, nearly six months after the new market opened. Although overdue, its arrival is no surprise, nor is the technology partnership behind it.
WSOP.com, a US poker brand affiliated with Caesars and the World Series of Poker, operates in four US states through a partnership with 888poker. In Canada, however, the new site runs on software provided by GGPoker.
888poker was a big name in poker’s boom years but has been bleeding market share for the past decade. Conversely, GGPoker is a newcomer but has a lock on the top spot for international poker room traffic since PokerStars pulled out of Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
In other words, it’s a pairing of the world’s most prestigious live poker brand with the technology behind its currently most popular online poker site.
GGPoker’s parent company NSUS received approval for the WSOP.ca domain name from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) just before the market opened. However, promises of a swift launch never came to fruition. The good news is that wait is finally over.
WSOP.ca joins three major competitors already operating in the market:
- BetMGM Poker (plus Partypoker & Bwin as skins)
That makes for more options than any US state currently has in practice. (New Jersey technically has seven brands but only three distinct, viable products. Several brands are skins on the WSOP and BetMGM networks, while Pala Poker typically has zero players online and therefore doesn’t count.)
No More International Access in Ontario
The downside to the arrival of WSOP.ca is that it means GGPoker must immediately cease all gray market operations in the province. To continue allowing Ontarians to play on its international site would mean repercussions from AGCO. These wouldn’t just apply to GGPoker, but also WSOP and Caesars because of their business relationship.
AGCO made the unfortunate decision to disallow local Ontario sites from sharing poker traffic with other jurisdictions. As a result, Ontario players have been losing access to international sites one by one as their regulated counterparts launch. Until last week, GGPoker was the last and biggest such option they had available.
There are still black market international sites available – the same ones that serve the US market illegally. However, we don’t recommend them. Unlike sites operating out of well-regarded international regulatory jurisdictions like Malta or Isle of Man, unregulated black market sites have no oversight and are, therefore, unsafe to play on.
New Online Poker Tournament Series for Ontario
The most unfortunate part of Ontario’s ring-fenced market is that it means Ontarians can’t play in big international tournament series like the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker or gold bracelet WSOP Online events at GGPoker.
The silver lining here is that the legal operators are all lining up to create brand new series just for Ontario.
WSOP.ca came strong out of the gates, with the inaugural WSOP Online Circuit Ontario having kicked off on October 1, the day after the site opened. Although Ontarians will have to wait for their chance to compete for WSOP bracelets as their US peers did last month, the series does feature 12 Circuit rings up for grabs and $2.5 million in guaranteed prize money.
GGPoker’s hallmarks are already apparent. WSOP Online Circuit stops in the US are tightly-focused affairs, with no tournaments besides ring events. Not so with WSOP.ca, where the inaugural Online Circuit series features more than 100 events over 16 days. Many of these are small, with only a few thousand dollars guaranteed.
However, the dozen ring events are all big deals, some with multiple flights and most with six-figure guarantees.
- #1: Big $500 Kickoff ($100k Gtd., multiple flights)
- #2: $55 Fifty Stack Bounty ($50k Gtd., Oct. 2)
- #3: $400 Monster Stack ($100k Gtd., Oct. 4)
- #4: $1,050 Bounty High Roller ($100k Gtd., Oct. 6)
- #5: $315 Bounty Giant ($100k Gtd., Oct. 8)
- #6: $365 Giant ($125k Gtd., Oct. 9)
- #7: $50 Housewarming ($100k Gtd., multiple flights)
- #8: $777 Lucky Sevens 7-Max ($100k Gtd., Oct. 11)
- #9: $210 Double Stack Bounty ($100k Gtd., Oct. 13)
- #10: $840 Deepstack Bounty PLO ($100k Gtd., Oct. 15)
- #11: $100 Hundred Stack ($100k Gtd., Oct. 16)
- #12: $525 Main Event ($300k Gtd., multiple flights)
And if that’s not your thing, PokerStars is also running its inaugural Ontario Championship of Online Poker simultaneously. It also features over 100 events, including a pair of Main Events on Oct. 16. The High tier Main Event has a $500 buy-in and $200,000 guaranteed, while for those on a budget, the Low tier has a $50 buy-in and $40,000 guaranteed.