The 40th annual World Series of Poker is set to kick off in about two weeks. Aspiring champs are putting in extra hours at work to make up for the time off they will need. Travel plans are being finalized all over the world. And online players are playing satellite after satellite, trying to get into events on the cheap.
If you are fortunate enough to win a WSOP seat from an online poker room, be sure to do your homework. For most sites, there is a laundry list of rules that you must abide by, lest you anger the powers that be.
PokerStars is by far the most restrictive of the online poker rooms, almost to a fault. As recently as a couple years ago, the main requirement by many poker sites was to wear their logoed gear while playing at the WSOP. And that wasn’t even a requirement much of the time. If you wanted to wear your own clothing, you just had to pay for your own lodging. Wear the poker room stuff, and you get put up in a hotel for free.
If only it could be that simple nowadays. Check out some of the items in the Terms and Conditions for PokerStars’ WSOP qualifiers:
•    You must wear the PokerStars branded clothing that they give you at the WSOP.  You are not allowed to wear your own clothing and just slap on a logo patch.
•    If you wear a hat, it must be a PokerStars hat.
•    You can’t wear any other logo, even if it’s not for a competing company.
If you win the bonus million dollars from PokerStars for winning the Main Event, PokerStars essentially owns you for a year. The company will dictate which live tournaments you get to play in, as well as which online tournaments you must enter.  Break any of the terms and PokerStars can close your account.
Full Tilt Poker also requires its players to wear Full Tilt gear, but only to qualify for bonus money for reaching the Main Event final table. And even then, the terms say that Full Tilt gear must be worn “whenever possible”, not “all the time and no exceptions.” If you win the bonus ten million dollars for winning the Main Event, Full Tilt will run your life, but, for a one million dollar check every year for ten years, I think most of us would be ok with that.
You should also be aware of the rules when it comes to winning more than one Main Event seat. For example, a poker room may give you tournament dollars for your second seat, rather than cash. Seats are typically non-transferable as well, although a few years ago, it was possible in some instances to give your seat to someone else if the poker room is consulted first.
Oddly, Party Poker does not post its WSOP terms and conditions on its website, only its standard promotional rules. When I contacted Party Poker for more information, the customer service representative said that they only give out the info specific to the WSOP promotions to those who win the prize packages. I suppose the reason for this could be that Party Poker does not want players comparing its terms and conditions to those at other sites and then possible playing at a different site because Party Poker’s rules were too strict. Personally, I don’t like this way of doing business. It’s not only customer unfriendly, but it also opens the door for problems down the road if someone doesn’t like the rules once they win a WSOP seat. It would much easier if customers could read up on the rules ahead of time.
Regardless of what site you win a WSOP from, regardless of what tournament you are going to play in, and regardless of what your aspirations are, do yourself a favor and make sure you understand the terms and conditions set forth by the poker room. It is going to be stressful enough to play in the WSOP – you don’t need to complicate matters by violating any rules.

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