First-ever WSOP Online Circuit awards $1.65 million in prizes

Huge WSOP Online Circuit Sends Ryan Leng To Casino Championship

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The first-ever Online Circuit concluded this past weekend after awarding 13 gold rings to poker players in Nevada and New Jersey.

The series extends the WSOP’s recent history of hosting major tournaments online, with appetite expanding under the multi-state poker agreement. Organizers offered up the first online bracelet in 2015 and followed suit with rings from the traveling tour earlier this year.

This was the first WSOP-branded series hosted entirely online, though, and it appears to have been a big success.

Turnouts bigger than expected?

The series guaranteed a total of $692,500 across the 13 events which, in retrospect, was pretty unambitious. Look at the final totals:

  • Entries: 3,528
  • Rebuys: 1,770
  • Prize pools: $1,645,103

All 13 events surpassed their individual guarantees with ease, some four or five times over.

The opening event, for instance, paid out more than $70,000 on its $12,500 guarantee. Event #2 awarded a larger first-place prize ($27,081) than than the total amount guaranteed ($25,000). That’s not a bad thing, of course, as long as it raises the bar going forward.

The $525 Main Event drew 439 players and 243 rebuys, nearly doubling its guarantee, too. Shawn “SayGoodNight” Daniels won it, earning $83,545 for his day of work. His victory also secured his seat into the WSOP Global Casino Championship, one of two available during the series.

Nearly $1.65 million in total prizes were awarded across all events, which is a huge number for US online poker. chief Bill Rini said the exceptionally strong turnout, “validates that there’s a significant demand for events like this.”

Both PokerStars NJ and PartyPoker NJ are running their flagship tournament series this month, too, with the NJCOOP guaranteeing more than $1 million across 47 events.

Familiar faces atop the results

The Online Circuit pooled WSOP NJ and WSOP NV players together, so it’s no surprise to see the results filled with standouts from the brick-and-mortar scene on both sides of the country.

Look no further than the opening event, where Vinny “ALLinVin” Moscati narrowly missed out on what would have been his eighth Circuit ring. The Hudson Valley native finished as the runner-up to Steven “freshcakes” Grybas, remaining four wins off the tour’s all-time record.

Bracelet winner Ryan “Adopt_aDogg0” Leng had himself a whale of a series.

A few days after streaming his High Roller win on Twitch, Leng just missed in the Main, losing heads-up to Daniels. He cashed a total of six times during the series, made three final tables, and won $113,199 to snag the other ticket for the tour’s championship.

Daniel “juice” Buzgon was another near double-dipper, backing up his victory in Event #7 with a third-place finish in Event #10. Incidentally, he beat Eric “circleball” Baldwin heads-up to claim that Turbo title, who himself cashed seven times across the 13 events.

Chance “bingshui” Kornuth is one of the few players with an online bracelet in his display case, and he notched a fifth-place finish in the WSOPC Online Main. Fellow bracelet winners Ankush “rickrosstheb” Mandavia and Ryan “protential” Laplante made two final tables apiece during the series, though neither found a win.

Katie “azulciel” Stone and Ian “APokerJoker2” Steinman did win rings, the latter in the other Turbo.

Alan Sternberg will take two, thanks!

Leng had a mammoth series, rivaled only by the performance of Alan Sternberg.

Fans of the World Poker Tour might know the name from Sternberg’s televised victory at the Bay 101 Shooting Star in 2011. He came close to touching WSOP gold this past summer, too, falling in third place as Phil Hellmuth won his record-extending 15th bracelet.

Playing as “kazuomatsui” on WSOP NJ, Sternberg took down the $320 Monster Stack for more than $42,000 and his first Circuit ring last week. Six days later, he ripped off another win in Event #12, adding another $30,000 or so to his bankroll.

The pair of rings and the bankroll boost make good WSOP consolation prizes for Sternberg, a couple months removed from the Hellmuth encounter. He finished second behind Leng on the series-long points leaderboard.

Apart from Sternberg, Anthony “casedismised” Spinella is the only other two-time WSOP online winner to date. Spinella quite remarkably claimed both the first-ever bracelet and the first-ever ring awarded in the virtual realm.

- Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.
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