DraftKings’ WSOP Poker Tournament Details Revealed: Only Kind Of A 50/50 Contest

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The World Series of Poker revealed the payouts of the DraftKings-sponsored tournament this summer in Las Vegas, but the event will not really mirror the “50/50” daily fantasy sports contests that it is named after.

When a 50/50 isn’t really a 50/50

Some assumed when the DK-WSOP event was announced that it would follow the payout structure for the 50/50 contests held at DraftKings, where half the field doubles its money, and the other half gets nothing (i.e. a 50-50 split)

That’s not the case, however, for this $1,500 buy-in tournament, which is set to start on June 27 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Here are the payouts:

  • Top 50% get $1,000
  • Top 25% get $1,500
  • Top 10% normal payouts with the remaining prize pool.

In essence, that means half the field receives no money, 25 percent of the field loses $500, and 15 percent of the field will break even. A normal WSOP tournament divides the prize pool up among just the top 10 percent of the field.

You can see the entire structure sheet for the tournament here. The initial details of the tournament were released in February, but the final payouts of the tournament were just announced.

The latest in poker plus fantasy

It’s not clear that this tournament structure is necessarily going to excite poker players at the WSOP, and it’s not really pushing the true 50/50 concept in DFS. But it does provide branding for DraftKings in one of its target markets. Last year, DraftKings was the “exclusive fantasy sports sponsor” of the WSOP. 

The tournament sponsorship is just the latest in the divergent strategies of DraftKings and FanDuel in linkage to online poker. While DraftKings actively tries to market directly to poker players and play up the similarities between the games, FanDuel doesn’t value such a marketing strategy.

And one more interesting sidenote: ESPN/Disney has a pending deal with DraftKings which has apparently not yet been finalized. ESPN is the television home of the WSOP. In the deal as reported last month, Disney would invest $250 million in DraftKings in exchange for $500 million in ad buys across networks owned by Disney, including ESPN.

Intersection of gambling and DFS

The DraftKings-WSOP deal is not an overt gambling-fantasy intersection; both poker and DFS tout themselves as skill games, even though only the latter really enjoys that status legally in the U.S.

But the increasingly complicated relationship between online gambling and DFS has seen a few new twists, in recent weeks and months:

Coupled with the idea that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act carveout allowing fantasy sports wasn’t intended by the law’s author, and the links between iGaming and DFS continue to pop up in the news.

Photo by Images Money used under license CC BY 2.0.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.