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The WSOP Online Super Circuit Series is into the second week of its 18-day run, and turnouts so far have been utterly remarkable.
Social distancing, increasingly seen as instrumental in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, is driving players in regulated markets to online poker sites like WSOP. Riding that surge, all Super Circuit events to date have at least doubled (and in most cases tripled) their guaranteed prize pools.
The series, which guaranteed just over $1.2 million total, has already paid out more than $1.8 million with several big events yet to come — including the Main Event. It could easy surpass $4 million by the time the dust settles.
Events are all single-day affairs, with one running each day for the duration of the series. Buy-ins range from $215 to $1,000 and guarantees from $50,000 up to $200,000 for the Main. You can find the whole schedule at the bottom of this article.
In New Jersey, PokerStars generally only goes that high for the Main Events of its annual NJCOOP and NJSCOOP series.
And yet, almost every Super Circuit event so far has cleared that bar.
The only exception was Event #7, a Pot-Limit Omaha event with a $30,000 guarantee that pulled in almost $91,000. Already, four of nine events have exceeded even the $200,000 that will be guaranteed for the Main Event. In fact, WSOP could have doubled guarantees across the board and we still wouldn’t have seen an overlay yet.
Sunday’s High Roller had the “worst” performance of the completed events and still beat its $150,000 guarantee by 112%. The biggest success was Event #6 last Thursday, which drew 720 entries at $320 apiece to produce a $217,800 prize pool — more than quadruple its guarantee.
So far, the average event has beaten its guarantee by a factor of 3.3. Applying that trend to the Main Event suggests we could potentially see a prize pool over $650,000.
That’s not far off from some of last summer’s WSOP online bracelet events and far more than the regulated US market has seen outside of that context.
The WSOP announced the series on March 13, the same day that it called a temporary halt to its live WSOP Circuit events.
The reason for the decision, beyond common sense, was the wave of casino closures accompanying the outbreak of COVID-19.
A total of eight Circuit stops were affected, including four that had already begun. Six were being held on US soil and two in Europe:
As with everything else affected by the outbreak, it is unknown if or when these events will resume.
For the time being, at least officially, the company expects that its summer 2020 WSOP will proceed as planned in Las Vegas. That could presumably change if attempts to mitigate the virus’s spread prove ineffective.
The series is officially part of the WSOP Circuit, and the events award rings just like their live counterparts. That means that one interesting feature of the series is that the results are published on WSOP’s website using the players’ real names.
The coronavirus has prevented both live play and travel outside the country to play on major dot-com sites. As a result, a number of big names have been making appearances at the tables during the Super Circuit. A few have even picked up rings, including Matt Stout, Brian Altman, and James Carroll.
Stout, who has close to $4 million in recorded online cashes, won Event #2 for $43,286 and his fourth Circuit ring. Altman claimed his second ring and $32,781 in Event #3. Carroll took his first in Event #6 along with the $53,361 top prize.
Former WSOP Main Event finalist Joseph Cheong is also having a good series, having already racked up three cashes and two final table appearances. Other well-known names to have appeared at final tables so far include Jeff Gross, Kathy Liebert, and Dylan Wilkerson.
WSOP Online Super Circuit events are available to players in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
The effects of social distancing aren’t only apparent in tournament attendance. Cash game and sit-and-go player counts in the US have been soaring as well.
PokerStars PA has seen daily peaks in excess of 2,000 players every day since March 16. The number hit nearly 3,500 this past Saturday, and Friday and Sunday were both over 3,000 as well. Overall, traffic has more than doubled over the past few weeks.
The story has been similar elsewhere in the world. Global cash game traffic, which had been dropping every year since Black Friday, is suddenly at its highest levels in years. Traffic in Italy, the country hit hardest by the virus, has more than doubled and is back to 2014 levels.
PokerStars.com celebrated the 14th anniversary of its Sunday Million this weekend with a guaranteed prize pool of $12.5 million. With almost 61,000 unique entries and over 32,000 re-entries, however, it ended up producing a prize pool of over $18.6 million. That’s a record for the tournament, for PokerStars, and for online single-flight events.
The overall record for online prize pools remains with the partypoker Millions Online, which beat its $20 million guarantee in both 2018 and 2019. That said, it required multiple flights, a full year’s worth of satellites, and a $5,300 buy-in to do so.
|Date||Time PST||#||Buy-in||Event||Guarantee||Prize Pool||Entries*|
|Mar. 14||4 PM||1||$320||Double Stack||$50,000||$171,000||570|
|Mar. 15||2 PM||2||$215||Monster Stack||$50,000||$188,200||941|
|Mar. 16||4 PM||3||$215||Deep Turbo||$50,000||$133,800||669|
|Mar. 17||4 PM||4||$1,000||High Roller (6-Max)||$75,000||$276,950||290|
|Mar. 18||4 PM||5||$215||NLHE||$50,000||$171,800||859|
|Mar. 19||4 PM||6||$320||NLHE||$50,000||$217,800||720|
|Mar. 20||4 PM||7||$215||PLO 6-Max||$30,000||$90,800||454|
|Mar. 21||4 PM||8||$320||Double Stack||$75,000||$247,800||826|
|Mar. 22||2 PM||9||$525||Monster Stack||$150,000||$318,000||636|
|Mar. 23||4 PM||10||$250||Freezeout||$30,000|
|Mar. 24||4 PM||11||$500||BIG $500||$75,000|
|Mar. 25||4 PM||12||$215||NLHE||$50,000|
|Mar. 26||4 PM||13||$320||6-Max||$75,000|
|Mar. 27||4 PM||14||$250||Turbo||$50,000|
|Mar. 28||4 PM||15||$320||NLHE||$75,000|
|Mar. 29||2 PM||16||$525||Main Event||$200,000|
|Mar. 30||4 PM||17||$300||Knockout||$30,000|
|Mar. 31||4 PM||18||$1,000||Grand Finale HR||$75,000|
* Including re-entries