The international portion of the 2021 WSOP Online over on GGPoker got underway Sunday and with it came one of the largest fields in World Series of Poker history. Bartlomiej “chester20o” Swieboda won the very first event, outlasting a field of 30,810 entries to win Event #1: $50 The Return No-Limit Hold’em and $161,111.

“The Return” was the third-biggest tournament ever for the WSOP, in terms of total field size. It lined up behind two of last year’s WSOP Online events and just ahead of another. Here is what the top five of all-time look like:

  1. 2020 WSOP Online BIG 50 $50 No-Limit Hold’em – 44,576 entries
  2. 2020 WSOP Online WSOP MILLION$ $100 No-Limit Hold’em – 34,787 entries
  3. 2021 WSOP Online ‘The Return’ $50 No-Limit Hold’em – 30,810 entries
  4. 2020 WSOP Online $100 The Opener – 29,306 entries
  5. 2019 WSOP Big 50 – 28,371 entries

It is no secret why so many people played in the event. At $50, it tied for the cheapest-ever World Series of Poker buy-in, something even I could afford. It’s also online, making it immensely more accessible than the traditional WSOP in Las Vegas or WSOP Europe, even if online bracelets might be considered less prestigious than their live counterparts. And, of course, it was a re-buy event, with 24,587 unique entries and 6,223 re-buys.

Now imagine outlasting over 27,000 entries and STILL not being guaranteed of making the money. After Day 1, 3,584 players remaining, but the money wasn’t until the final 1,600, so there was still a ways to go for anyone to make a profit (and the minimum cash was only $179, so playing into Day 2 wasn’t much of a profit – better than zero profit, though).

One fun thing about such a massive event is that the chip stacks get ridiculous. Going into heads-up play, Swieboda faced a 3-to-1 chip deficit against Cuong Trinh; Trinh had over a billion (BILLION) chips. As happens heads-up, Swieboda took a few hands in a row to grab the lead. Naturally, Trinh came back to retake the lead, but Swieboda turned the tables once more.

It was a bit of a cooler of a final hand, as both players got all their chips into the middle after a 3-3-2 Trinh had 7-7, an extremely strong overpair heads-up. But Swieboda had Kings, crushing Trinh’s hand and leaving him little hope to win.

WSOP Online on GGPoker is slated to run through September 12, with 33 bracelet events in all. It is open to players in outside of the United States (not all countries, but many), a complement to the portion of the WSOP Online that just finished up for players in New Jersey and Nevada.

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