It seems that with each passing year, the World Series of Poker sets new records. It did so on Saturday, as the $3,333 WSOP.com Online No-Limit High Roller bracelet event built the largest prize pool in Nevada online poker history. By extension, of course, the $1,335,600 prize pool was also the largest online prize pool in World Series of Poker history. Thomas “FLOATZ” Cannuli won the 424 entry event (320 unique entries and 104 re-entries) to earn his first WSOP bracelet and the $322,815 first prize.
The tournament that held the record going into the weekend was last year’s $1,000 WSOP.com bracelet event, whose 1,247 entries generated a $1,184,650 prize pool. The two tournaments are the only internet tourneys in Nevada poker history to have prize pools top a million dollars.
The World Series of Poker debuted an official online bracelet event in 2015 with a $1,000 buy-in event that attracted 905 players. It was a controversial move by the WSOP, as many poker players had already become disillusioned by the constant expansion of the Series, feeling that the more events that were added, the less meaningful a bracelet became. Now the WSOP was going to host an ONLINE bracelet event? Blasphemy!
That first online WSOP bracelet event was even odder than just being held on the internet. Originally, the plan was when the tournament got down to heads-up, the two players would meet at the Rio in a live match to determine the winner. Before the tournament, it was adjusted to have the final six players play it out live at the Rio.
The schedule for the end of the event was altered, as well. The tournament was originally scheduled for July 2nd, with the final table held at the Rio on July 3rd. Players expressed their concerns, though, that it would be difficult for players qualifying for the live portion to travel from spots in Nevada that were far away from Las Vegas on such short notice. It was a valid concern, too – imagine playing all afternoon and into the night only to have to then jump in the car and drive several hours on no sleep and then play in the final table on little sleep (or get little sleep, drive, and almost immediately play live poker). WSOP officials agreed that this would be tough, so they moved the final table back a day.
In 2016, there was again one WSOP.com bracelet event, but instead of a freezeout, it was a re-entry tournament, which is why it was able to eclipse 1,200 entries (927 unique). This one was to be completely online, but it was changed to again have the final six players compete live.
This year, there are three online events, all being held in their entirety online. The $333 and $3,333 buy-in online events have already been completed. The final online event, the “Classic” $1,000 tournament, is slated for this week, Friday, July 7th.
“In just four short years WSOP.com Nevada has gone from no online bracelet events to three this year with millions of dollars in guarantees and bonuses,” said WSOP.com head of online poker Bill Rini in a press release this spring. “As awareness of our offering has grown, we have seen continued growth. It is our mission to keep growing our selection of games and believe players of all levels and from inside and outside Nevada will find something to their liking while in town for the WSOP.”