The inaugural World Series of Poker Online 2020 festival on GGNetwork wrapped up last week. It all kicked off back in mid-July, with the last of 54 coveted gold bracelets awarded on September 8th, and multiple records set in between.
It was the first time that players outside of the United States could compete for a WSOP bracelet online. This international portion of the series followed in the footsteps of the WSOP.com festival, which featured 31 tournaments in as many days in the month of July but was available only to players in Nevada and New Jersey.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the records that were set over the past seven weeks:
The spotlight of the entire festival for all poker enthusiasts was certainly the $5,000 Main Event which had at least $25 million up for grabs, the biggest guarantee of any online poker tournament to date. Only 12 out of the 56 events had a guarantee, yet the chance to win a WSOP Online bracelet from the comforts of home ensured that players from 166 countries took a shot at being a part of poker history.
This record was broken no less than three times this festival. Right at the start, Event #32: $100 The Opener drew a staggering 29,036 entries. It was quickly eclipsed by Event #84: $100 WSOP MILLION$ with 34,787 entries. However, it was eventually Event #71: $50 BIG 50 which held the title with a massive 44,765 entries.
A total of $5 million in giveaways were promised throughout the entire festival, and poker fans from all over the world had the chance to win satellite seats in various promotions. Especially for the Main Event, satellites would be crucial as 3,150 seats were awarded in MTT qualifiers. Players could win multiple seats, with the unused ones turned into tournament dollars at the end of the festival.
Ultimately, a late surge in the last few out of 23 starting days ensured that the guarantee was met with 5,802 entries (which included 3,470 unique players). The outcome was a new record prize pool of $27,559,500 for an online poker tournament, which beat the previous record set by the partypoker MILLIONS Online in 2018 which drew $21,385,000 in prize money.
Bulgaria’s Stoyan Madanzhiev dominated the final table with aggressive play, and his victory came with the biggest individual prize awarded thus far in an online poker tournament. With four seven-figure cashes awarded in the same event, the Main Event also holds the record for the biggest turnout for a $5,000 buy-in on the virtual felt so far.
The entire tournament series created a total prize pool of approximately $147,808,535 and 45 out of the 54 events boasted seven-figure prize pools. An average prize pool of ~ $2,737,195 is the biggest seen to date in a major online poker festival and a total of 239,754 entries emerged, making for an average of 4,440 entries in each event.
As can be expected, the range for buy-ins and entries was quite large. Players on a budget had the chance to compete for a WSOP Online bracelet from as little as $50, and 25 events featured a buy-in of less than $1,000.
Various satellite success stories contributed to a memorable series. Alek Stasiak, for example, started for as low as $10 and succeeded in two qualifiers before taking down Event #33: $1,111 Every 1 for Covid Relief for $343,204. It was his maiden victory at the WSOP, and he even added a second bracelet to his collection by topping a field of 2,006 entries in Event #52: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em to become the only two-time champion of the festival.
While the international part of the festival was not available to players on American soil, many poker pros traveled to Europe, South America or the Caribbean to compete for poker’s most sought after prize. Subsequently, the United States emerged as the most successful country with nine winners, followed by Canada with six and Brazil with four champions.
Players from 31 different countries (if counting Wales and Hong Kong as separate entities) won a bracelet, and Turkey, Estonia, Lithuania, Croatia and Vietnam appeared with first-time victories throughout the festival.
Among the bracelet winners were also three female players: Kristen Bicknell won her third career bracelet, while Thi Truong and Melika Razavi triumphed for the first time. Nahrain Tamero won the Main Event of the WSOP.com series, making four female winners in open events and tying for the most of any WSOP festival in history thus far.
There was almost another female champion in the Main Event as Wenling Gao finished second for $2,748,605, the biggest individual prize of any female player in poker to date. Michelle Shah, Ronit Chamani and Yuan Yuan Li also recorded runner-up finishes, with Shah’s 20 cashes putting her in the top five overall.
UK-based French poker pro Arnaud Enselme cashed in 23 events, followed by Kazuki Ikeuchi and Jose Severino with 21 cashes each. Ami Barer cashed in 20 tournaments, while another seven players cashed 19 times including Daniel Negreanu, Sparrow Cheung, Natural8 Team Bling member Anson Tsang and Team Hot ambassador Pete Chen.
Across the entire festival, 11 players earned seven-figure prizes and another two players crossed more than $1 million in cashes thanks to their performance at the online tables:
|Tyler Rueger||United States||$1,928,887|
|Thomas Ward||New Zealand||$1,362,682|
|Chris Hunichen||United States||$1,343,478|
|Caio De Almeida||Brazil||$1,086,739|
This festival was a very successful one for players on Natural8, as eight of them won a bracelet and thus earned Team Bling sponsorships worth between $7,500 to $15,000. Canadian poker pro Daniel Dvoress headlined the team with the biggest cash of $1,489,289 in Event #48: $1,500 MILLIONAIRE MAKER.
Japan’s Shoma Ishikawa was the first Natural8 player to win a title, and he was quickly followed by Hun Wei Lee and Marcelo Jakovljevic Pudla. The third final table proved to be a charm for Malaysia’s Paul Teoh who won Event #47: $1,000 Short Deck No Limit Hold’em to become the fourth member of the team.
One day after Dvoress dominated his final table on the road to victory, the second Brazilian player to win a bracelet in this series did so on Natural8. Luis Eduardo Assuncao Garla defeated a field of 3,247 entries in Event #55: HK$8,000 NLHE Asia Championship to take home HK$3,551,611 and also hold onto his lead in the Asia Time Zone Events Leaderboard, earning the unique Pure Gold Dragon trophy.
Hong Kong’s Anson Tsang topped another Asia Time Zone Event and claimed his second career bracelet in Event #68: $500 Deepstack No-Limit Hold’em. A few days later, Thi Truong emerged victorious in Event #74: $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha to cement the final squad of eight.
In the flagship Main Event, seven Natural8 players out of 38 contenders made it to the final day. A trio reached the final table as Samuel Taylor (9th place), Stefan Schillhabel (7th place) and Satoshi Isomae (5th place) narrowly missed out on a potential $100,000 Team Bling sponsorship and the opportunity to be captain of the team.
This wraps up a very successful online poker festival on GGNetwork, with further exciting promotions and tournaments already scheduled for non-stop action on Natural8, one of poker’s fastest growing online poker platforms.
Players who missed out on WSOP Online 2020 will be pleased to hear of the GGSOP (Good Game Series of Poker) tournaments, aimed to recreate the WSOP experience but for lower-stakes players. Buy-in start at only $2.50! There will also be the signature GGMasters on Natural8 (with events happening every single day), and the MILLION$ series (with a total of $6 million in guarantees each week).