DraftKings Brings DFS, Poker Closer With Sponsored World Series of Poker Event

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DraftKings is partnering with the World Series of Poker for the second straight year, this time to sponsor a 50/50 tournament in which half the field gets paid.

The World Series of Poker officially announced its 2015 schedule today for the largest poker tournament series in the world.

The festival will run from May 27 through July 14 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, with hundreds of millions of dollars in prize pools set to be handed out. This year, one of the 68 tournaments will be a special tournament presented by DraftKings.

Here are the details:

The event features a unique payout structure for a poker tournament and for the WSOP — the format mimics the 50/50 contests that DraftKings runs on its daily fantasy sports site. Last year, DraftKings was the “exclusive fantasy sports sponsor” of the WSOP. The tournament will likely be used as a marketing tool for DraftKings, although other details about its presence at this year’s WSOP have not yet been released.

The sponsorship is a continuation of DFS market – at least DraftKings – aggressively trying to cross over with the online poker market; American poker players have precious few options to play online in the wake of Black Friday in 2011. But for online poker players looking for action, DFS is a natural fit, with many of the skills of the two games meshing with one another.

Joint DFS / poker series next?

The next natural progression for the DFS industry and the WSOP (and poker in general) could be some sort of joint event, where poker tournaments and daily fantasy sports contests take place at the same time and venue.

In the summer, when the WSOP takes place, that would likely limit the possibilities to Major League Baseball, mixed martial arts and golf. But one would imagine that speculation of a winter poker/DFS series could gain traction, with the NFL, NBA and NHL all going on at the same time.

Clearly, DraftKings views poker players as a good target, and is keen on capturing the poker market. Where its relationship with the WSOP and poker goes from here will be interesting to follow.