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The World Series of Poker has reached the end of the US-facing portion of its unprecedented 2020 WSOP Online. The series produced $26,871,065 in combined prize pools across 31 events, making it far and away the largest in the history of legal US online poker.
The month-long festival concluded with Friday’s $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship, the online equivalent of the WSOP Main Event. It drew 1,455 entries, 671 re-entries, and produced a prize pool of just over $2 million.
This portion of the series was only available to players physically located in Nevada (WSOP NV) and New Jersey (WSOP NJ), while GGPoker is hosting a parallel series for players in other parts of the world. A total of 85 gold bracelets will be awarded across the two sites, nearly as many as there were on the original WSOP schedule.
This events were announced in early June as a partial replacement for the annual summer series in Las Vegas, which was postponed amid the nationwide casino shutdown brought about by COVID-19. The jury is still out on whether a land-based WSOP will happen this year at all.
Online bracelet events aren’t new for the WSOP. It held its first such event in 2015 and has been building on the concept ever since. Last year’s series included what was a record nine online events, and this year’s was initially slated to have 14.
Of course, it’s hard to make last-minute changes to an event the size of the WSOP without problems. What was perhaps most surprising about the US online bracelet series, then, was how few surprises there were.
Everything seems to have gone according to plan, with neither significant mishaps nor unexpected successes. The majority of events produced impressive prize pools between $500,000 and $1 million.
These are huge numbers for the regulated US market, where $1 million is typical for the combined guarantees for an entire series. It’s clear from the turnouts that WSOP bracelets remain a big draw.
Prize pools weren’t quite up to the standards set by online bracelet events in previous years, though. Big-ticket events saw the biggest drop, with an average prize pool of $1.18 million for buy-ins $1,000 and up this year compared to $1.58 million in 2019.
There are a couple probable causes.
It’s somewhat surprising there wasn’t more of a drop.
The international series has had comparatively larger ups and downs. It was more of a risk from the start, of course, as WSOP and GGPoker have a short history together. They’ve only teamed up once before for an international version of the Online Super Circuit in May.
Having never hosted a bracelet event, GGPoker was apparently underprepared for the crowd that turned out on opening weekend. A previously undiscovered bug and a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack by outside parties compounded the early issues.
That’s what GGPoker says happened on July 19, the first Sunday of the series, forcing it to put two events on hold until the following week.
Such attacks have become relatively commonplace in the international market, and operators are therefore generally prepared to mitigate them. When they coincide with increased server load during a tournament series, however, they can end up taking a site offline or making it unusable.
Though the mishap created some negative press, it hasn’t seemed to hurt the performance of the rest of the series. Prize pools for most events so far have been in the $1 million to $2 million range thanks to the larger player pool in the international market, and there has been no repeat client issues.
As time goes on, it looks less and less likely that there will be any sort of reasonable solution for a land-based WSOP in 2020.
Even under normal circumstances, it would be a huge task to reschedule and relocate a 10-week event attended by tens of thousands of people. And with the way things are going with the coronavirus, it’s hard to see how even a massively scaled-back series would be possible.
The social distancing and hygiene measures required of casinos make it very difficult to offer poker, since the game requires players to interact with one another and to handle shared cards and chips. Some card rooms have reopened for cash play and the occasional daily tournament, but nothing even close to the scale of a WSOP event.
It’s clear at this point that the virus isn’t going anywhere for the time being. US cases are on the rise once again, and cool weather in the fall will likely make matters worse.
As much of a shame as it will be if there is no live series at all, these unprecedented times provide valuable learning opportunity for the WSOP. It has shown a growing inclination to make online events a more important part of its rotation, and its experience this summer may help it move more quickly in that direction than it has up until now.
The consistency of the prize pools in the US series is promising.
Although past online bracelet events drew big fields, turnouts largely depended on the live series. Even with a record number of events on the schedule and no live series to support them in 2020, average attendance dipped negligibly and showed no signs of a mid-series slump.
The partnership with GGPoker also holds a lot of promise. Though the international series got off to a rocky start, it’s been progressing at a good clip since then. It’s reasonable to presume that WSOP Europe will eventually come to include online bracelet events as well — and that GGPoker will provide the platform.
|#1: $500 Kick-Off||1,715||$772k||Jonathan "Art.Vandelay" Dokler|
|#2: $1,000 8-Max Deep||919||$873k||Louis "PokeThese" Lynch|
|#3: $400 NLHE||2,091||$753k||Robert "bustinballs" Kuhn|
|#4: $500 Super Turbo||1,179||$531k||Matt "Bodeyster" Bode|
|#5: $1,000 Freezeout||854||$811k||Allen "Acnyc718" Chang|
|#6: $600 PLO 6-Max||883||$450k||Nathan "surfbum" Gamble|
|#7: $800 KO Deep||989||$732k||Joon "jykpoker" Kim|
|#8: $500 Freeze||1,479||$666k||Alan "GladiusIII" Goehring|
|#9: $1,000 6-Max||1,026||$975k||Ron “MacDaddy15” McMillen|
|#10: $600 Monster||2,074||$1.12M||Ryan "Im.sorry" Torgerson|
|#11: $500 Turbo 6-Max||1,691||$761k||Raman "Acrogum" Afanasenka|
|#12: BIG $500||2,427||$1.10M||Ryan "joeyisamush" Depaulo|
|#13: $1,500 Freezeout||649||$925k||Michael "miguelfiesta" Lech|
|#14: $3,200 High Roller||496||$1.51M||Joe "fanofdapoker" McKeehen|
|#15: $1,000 PLO 8-Max||663||$630k||Guy "PhilLaak" Dunlap|
|#16: $500 Turbo||1,528||$688k||Terrell "Heezahustla" Cheatham|
|#17: $777 NLHE||1,382||$967k||Pat "IchiiKawawa" Lyons|
|#18: $1,000 Turbo 8-Max||987||$938k||Scott "BudLightLime" Hempel|
|#19: $400 NLHE||2,545||$916k||Kenny "Chopuh" Huynh|
|#20: $500 PLO 6-Max||1,137||$512k||Kevin "therealkg" Gerhart|
|#21: $777 6-Max||1,361||$953k||Tony "Panoramic" Dunst|
|#22: $500 Turbo Deep||1,579||$711k||Allan "Treeoflife" Cheung|
|#23: $500 Knockout||1,452||$668k||Raymond "avant9201" Avant|
|#24: $400 8-Max||2,408||$867k||Nick "samadhi" Binger|
|#25: $500 Summer Saver||2,155||$970k||Nicholas "mrfinalt" Kiley|
|#26: $500 Grande Finale||2,502||$1.13M||Ethan "RampageP" Yau|
|#27: $400 Freezeout||1,940||$698k||Ian "ApokerJoker2" Steinman|
|#28: $1,000 PLO8 6-Max||525||$499k||William "SlaweelRyam" Romaine|
|#29: $2,000 Deepstack||747||$1.42M||Nick "shadowjacker" Guagenti|
|#30: $500 Seniors||720||$324k||Jonathan "SugarJ" Lessin|
|#31: $1,000 Championship||2,126||$2.02M||"2Rivers"|