Because of the COVID-19 outbreak and the inability for many to travel, Caesars Entertainment utilized one of their biggest assets – the name of the World Series of Poker – and went online (for its part, Caesars has given lip service to having a live schedule in the U. S. in 2020, but time is running out). So how did those online tournaments work out? It’s difficult to compare it to the “live” numbers, but it appears that the online version of the WSOP was a rather successful effort.
Largest Online Tournament, Online Prize Awarded in Poker History
The 2020 online WSOP “Main Event” certainly drew in the crowd. Tagged with a $25 million guarantee, GGPoker ran 22 different flights (at $5000 a pop) to build up the numbers to reach that magical figure. In addition to the multiple flights, players could buy in three times, meaning that a player could shoot $15,000 from their poker gun to try to make the money.
The multiple Day Ones and the re-entries did the trick. In the end, the prize pool totaled $27,559,500 for the “Main Event,” as 5082 entries eventually were tallied. This became the largest ever prize pool in the history of online poker, topping the previous record holder, the partypoker MILLIONS Online event in December 2018. The tournament also awarded the largest online poker tournament first place prize when Stoyan Madanzhiev took down the $3,904,685 first place prize.
The numbers and prize pools for the WSOP.com leg of the 2020 online WSOP may have been fairly good, but the GGPoker international numbers trounced that segment of the schedule. Of the 54 tournaments put on by GGPoker, roughly $147.8 million in prize pools were generated. This broke down to an average of slightly more than $2.7 million for each event on the GGPoker schedule.
The players are the thing at the WSOP, however, and there were some impressive performances. Alex Stasiak was able to win two 2020 online WSOP bracelets, with five players earning three final tables during the run of the event – Michael Watson, Paul Teoh, Ajay Chabra, Bruno Albuquerque and the winner of the $25,000 final event of the WSOP on GGPoker, Connor Drinan. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that 281 players cashed at least ten times during the 54-tournament run.
An Excellent Event, Considering…
“Obviously, the events of 2020 have been unprecedented and hosting the WSOP Online series at GGPoker wasn’t in our plans at the start of the year,” Ty Stewart, the Executive Director of the World Series of Poker, stated at the conclusion. “But going online has been a wonderful experience, with tens of thousands of new players all over the world able to experience some of WSOP magic that they might have been otherwise unable to – we’re delighted that the series has been such a resounding success!”
Similar excitement came from the folks at GGPoker, who have seen their online poker site rise to become the third largest online site in the industry due to the influx of play from the WSOP. “For 50 years, the WSOP has been the gold standard in the industry,” said Steve Preiss, Head of Poker Operations at GGPoker. “GGPoker’s entire team worked tirelessly to bring our players a fun, unique experience just like they’d expect at the live WSOP.”
The face of GGPoker, Daniel Negreanu, had a few prop bets out for the WSOP (losing one to Drinan) that didn’t come home, but he was generally happy with the way his home base performed. “I’m personally very proud to be part of the effort that brought such a special WSOP series to the entire world,” Negreanu said. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and we even got to break a lot of poker records along the way!”
It wasn’t the way that anyone wanted the WSOP to be but, in the end, it turned out it would work well. For one unexpected year, the 2020 online WSOP served the necessary ends. But it shouldn’t be looked at as a continual event – it is best to let the live game decide the champions of poker. Congratulations to the WSOP, GGPoker and Caesars Entertainment for a good event – we’ll see you LIVE in 2021.