It’s right there in black and white
Late last week, the World Series of Poker made the surprise announcement of a new $10,000 hybrid online/live WSOP Main Event. It has drawn mixed reviews, as do most things in the poker world, but the poker community really started rumbling when Stoyan Madanzhiev, champion of this summer’s WSOP Event #77, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event on GGPoker, spoke up about how he feels about it.
On November 14, the day after the announcement of the new $10,000 Main Event, Madanzhiev posted a picture of his bracelet, along with a certificate congratulating him on winning the Main Event. Wrote Madanzhiev: “So if I won the ‘51st Annual World Series of Poker Main Event’ What will the December one be?”
Despite WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart saying in Friday’s press release that “There must be a World Champion in 2020,” Madanzhiev is adamant that he is the Main Event champ. The official certificate does say that the tournament he won is the “Main Event” of the “51st Annual World Series of Poker.” It does not qualify the poker festival as the WSOP Online, it does not call the tournament something else. It very clearly says he is the Main Event winner of the 51st World Series of Poker, the Series that came after last year’s 50th Annual World Series of Poker.
Daniel Negreanu enters the mix
As often happens, Daniel Negreanu got pulled into the controversy, mainly because he signed Madanzhiev’s certificate as an ambassador of GGPoker. He argues that he never said that the GGPoker Main Event was replacement for the WSOP $10,000 Main Event, saying that he said so in several interviews. His primary point: the GGPoker tournament was a $5,000 re-entry tournament, while the traditional (and the newly announced version) is a $10,000 freezeout.
Shane Schleger chimed in, essentially saying that WSOP officials now making up this new Main Event smelled fishy. He added that while the GGPoker tournament was online, it was still a solid “approximation” of the Main Event, as it brought together “thousands of players from around the world competing for a record-setting prize.”
The new Main Event, he argues, is more of a Frankenstein’s monster, with tournaments starting on two different platforms, players traveling for final tables, and then two players meeting in Las Vegas.
After Schleger suggested they just hold the Main Event at the Rio, since people are obviously willing to travel. Negreanu said it was safer to have just a few people travel instead of thousands, at which point Haralabos Voulgaris chimed in, saying it should just be played entirely online.
It was here that the conversation shifted to wanting it live so that the tournament could be televised on ESPN.
Madanzhiev feels tricked
But let’s bring it back to Madanzhiev, who is rightfully upset that he will likely not be considered the official Main Event champion by the World Series of Poker.
“Looking back,” he tweeted, “if I had known I wasn’t playing the ‘actual’ world series of poker, I probably wouldn’t have reentered. Or maybe even played.”
He was happy it worked out for him, but he added that he feels bad that others may have fallen for what he calls a “false advertising trap.”