The $5,000 Main Event in the WSOP Online 2020 Series has come to an end, with a record-breaking four millionaires crowned. Throughout the 23 starting days, a total of 5,802 entries generated a prize pool of $27,559,500, setting a new record for the biggest prize pool in an online poker event.
All that cash was shared among the top 728 finishers, with Day 2 whittled down to the last 38 hopefuls. It was an endurance challenge of over 12-and-a-half hours to determine which player would be one step closer to making history.
The Day 2 field was led by two-time WSOP bracelet winner Kahle Burns. On Day 1, Burns had turned his 50,000 starting stack into a massive 1,387,282 after topping eight survivors out of 88 entries in the heat.
Nobody would be able to top that in all the other flights and the Aussie took the early spotlight for the flagship event of the festival. As the field raced to the money bubble and beyond, Burns remained in contention whereas other big names such as Phil Hellmuth, Fedor Holz and Felipe Ramos all departed without anything to show for.
Among the hundreds of poker enthusiasts that locked up a cash on Day 2 were former WSOP Main Event champion Ryan Riess, Ari Engel, Gianluca Speranza, Dan Smith, Marty Mathis, Manig Loeser and Chris Moorman. Two-time WSOP bracelet winner and Team Bling member Anson Tsang was in notable company when he hit the rail midway through the day, as David Peters, Adrian Mateos and Mark Radoja all departed shortly before or after.
The 2019 WSOPE Main Event champion Alexandros Kolonias made it even further and bowed out in 155th place for $24,886; his predecessor Jack Sinclair received the same payout for finishing in 151st place. Down to the final seven tables, Burns then ran out of chips and had to settle for 52nd place and another WSOP cash of $39,214.
The aim was to play down to the final 40 players, and that bubble was the only tedious affair in an otherwise action-packed day, as it took some time for it to pop. Several short stacks survived and then, all at once, three players were eliminated within a minute to reduce the field to the last 38 contenders before the players were sent on a six-day break.
Bryan Piccioli was the chip leader when all was played and done, with the American no doubt looking for a second WSOP Main Event final table appearance after finishing 6th in Las Vegas back in 2017. Other notables such as Michael Kane, Dinesh Alt and Benjamin Rolle were also in the overnight top 10.
Raise Your Edge coaching platform founder and online poker streamer Rolle was one of seven Natural8 players still in contention. The first of the seven to hit the rail was Australia’s Joshua McCully in 29th place. Shortly after, Natural8 Team Hot member Phachara Wongwichit finished in 27th place and Martin Arce joined the rail in 25th place, right before the final three tables were set.
Wongwichit had scored an early double when his eights cracked aces and made quads to remain in contention. The Thai national eventually suffered a bad beat of his own when ace-king failed to hold against king-queen as four hearts appeared on the board. For Argentina’s Arce, the end came when he ran with ace-king into the kings of Stoyan Madanzhiev, who took over the lead on the last three tables.
Start-of-the-day chip leader Piccioli hit the rail in 23rd place when he lost all the chips in back-to-back hands as Rolle scored the knockout with ace-queen versus ace-seven. Other big names that followed right after were Julian Stuer and Dinesh Alt, and the elimination of Michael Kane in 17th place set up the final two tables.
Madanzhiev had dropped back into the middle of the pack after doubling three opponents in as many hands, but when the field was down to the final 12, he doubled Samuel Vousden to get all those chips back. Eventually both clashed again as Madanzhiev held ace-trey and was trailing against ace-nine. However, a miracle three appeared on the turn and Vousden was gone – two players showed a mucked trey which made it a one-outer.
Rolle’s run good was over by then too, and he found no miracles with ace-jack against the pocket aces of Tyler Rueger to bust in 11th place. Luxembourg’s Mariano Martiradonna became the bubble boy for the final table when queen-nine suited had a kicker problem as Madanzhiev’s queen-jack scored another knockout and brought the field down to the final nine.
Rueger and Madanzhiev held the two biggest stacks, with three Natural8 players still remaining in the mix. But in the third hand of the final table, Natural8 player Samuel Taylor flopped a set of nines in a battle with Wenling Gao and called a check-raise when an ace appeared on the turn. Taylor jammed the river with his set but Gao snap-called with aces for the superior stack.
Tyler Cornell then came up short with ace-jack versus queen-jack and Natural8 player and No Limit Gaming founder Stefan Schillhabel then lost a race with pocket tens against the ace-king of Gao to depart in 7th place. Brazil’s Joao Santos would be next to fall as ace-deuce could not get there to beat ace-king.
Satoshi Isomae was the last Natural8 player with a shot at the $100,000 Team Bling sponsorship but a big bluff with ace-queen high failed as Madanzhiev called with jack-nine for two pair on a four-card straight and possible flush board.
Short stack Thomas Ward had made several pay jumps thanks to the heavy action on the final table and hit the rail in 4th place when sixes were dominated by sevens. And even though nobody expected another quick elimination with a lot of big blinds in play, Tyler Rueger then ran ace-queen into kings to set up the duel for the title.
Only around 20 minutes passed as Madanzhiev pulled into a bigger lead and then flopped the nuts with seven-six. Gao moved all in after an eight-high turn with pocket aces and was called right away by the Bulgarian to end the tournament, as no card could change the outcome anymore. And just like that, the heads-up battle finished much earlier than most people on the rail would have expected.
Gao’s runner-up finish was the deepest run of a female player in the WSOP Main Event and her payday of $2,748,605 was the biggest cash for a female player in both WSOP and poker history to date. Madanzhiev earned his maiden WSOP bracelet in dominating fashion with the $3,904,685 prize, the largest individual prize in online poker history.