Biggest guaranteed prize pool in U.S. online poker history: The Venom sets a new bar

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 01/28/2021

$8 Million Guaranteed Venom continues this week

The Winning Poker Network reached for all-time highs with its currently-running $8 Million Guaranteed Venom tournament. The $8 million in promised prize money gives this edition of the Venom the distinction of offering the largest guaranteed prize pool of any U.S. online poker tournament in history.

The $2,650 buy-in tournament continues this weekend, with the final two of four Day 1 flights playing out on WPN. Day 1A and Day 1B both wrapped up over the weekend, with a total of 1,431 entries registering for the two flights combined.

That attendance puts the player-contributed prize pool at the $3,577,500 mark, with still two flights to go. Day 1C plays out on Jan. 29, while Day 1D offers the final chance to enter the Venom on Jan. 31.

Day 1D will likely produce the biggest turnout of any of the four opening flights. With the prize money already almost halfway to the guarantee, this edition of the Venom stands a good chance of far surpassing the $8 million mark.

Putting the $8 Million Guaranteed Venom in perspective

The current edition of The Venom marks the fifth time WPN has offered the $2,650 buy-in tournament. All of the previous four offered at least $5 million guaranteed, making all five chapters of the Venom among the largest guarantee online tournaments in the history of online poker in the U.S.

The winner of the $8 Million Guaranteed Venom will come away with at least a $1 million first-place prize. The winner’s purse could go well over that mark, however.

ACR Team Pro Michael Loncar

Americas Cardroom Team Pro Michael Loncar sees the escalating prize pools offered on WPN as a sign of further growth for U.S. online poker in the 2020s.

“This indicates that online poker is only growing and that we can only expect to see even BIGGER prize pools over the next decade!” Loncar wrote in an email interview with Poker.org. “America’s Cardroom has been growing every year and I definitely expect that trend to continue as more people are realizing they’re only a click away from being able to play multiple tournaments from the comfort of their own home.”

WPN’s The Venom at a glance

 Guaranteed Prize PoolActual Prize PoolEntriesFirst Place Prize
The Venom (July 2019)$5,000,000$6,382,5002,552$1,050,559
The Venom (December 2019)$6,000,000$6,740,0002,696$1,039,982
The Venom (August 2020)$7,000,000$9,680,0003,872$1,394,821*
The Venom PKO (October 2020)$5,000,000$6,777,5002,711$752,067**
The Venom (January 2021)$8,000,000TBDTBDAt least $1 million
*reflects the terms of a heads-up deal **first-place prize plus progressive bounties

Can The Venom reach the $10 million mark?

WPN introduced The Venom in July 2019, guaranteeing $5 million. The most ambitious tournament ever put on by the network at the time, it shattered expectations with 2,552 entries, a $6,382,000 final prize pool, and a $1,050,559 winner’s prize.

Each of the following two editions of the Venom reached for an even higher guarantee. Both the December 2019 Venom ($6 million guaranteed) and the August 2020 Venom ($7 million guaranteed) stood as the biggest guarantees ever offered at WPN at the time.

October 2020 saw WPN run a progressive knockout version of the Venom. The Venom PKO Main Event played out as the biggest PKO tournament in online poker history, with the prize pool going well past the guarantee and hitting $6,777,500 by the tournament’s end.

The August 2020 Venom smashed expectations again, with the final prize pool ending up at $9,680,000. Can the current edition of the Venom become the first-ever U.S. online poker tournament to eclipse the $10 million prize pool mark?

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it hit the $10 million mark,” Americas Cardroom Team Pro Ebony Kenney said. “I’d be ecstatic actually.”

The Venom setting the bar for U.S.-facing online poker tournaments

WPN operates as an international online poker network, with three skins (Americas Cardroom, Black Chip Poker, True Poker) allowing access to U.S. players. 

All five editions of the Venom offered some of the largest guaranteed prize pools ever seen in the US. If the current edition of The Venom surpassed the $10 million prize pool mark, that would put well above the biggest prize pools ever offered anywhere in the world.

Successful recent online tournaments in the U.S. include the WSOP Online Bracelet Events $1,000 NLH Championship, which produced a $2,019,700 prize pool. 

The U.S. side of the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event ran on WSOP.com for the first time this past December. The prestigious $10,000 buy-in tournament drew 705 players, with the prize pool finishing at $6,780,000.