Marcin Dziubdziela was 2020’s GGMasters Player of the Year. The Polish resident edged out Greek pro Paraskevas Tsokaridis for the prize.
For his efforts, he wins an enormous prize package. That’s on top of whatever he scraped together from knocking down GGMaster’s events one after another.
The package is perhaps a little self-serving. In the absence of live events or real cash, Dziubdziela wins fifty entries to 2021’s GGMasters High Roller events ($1,050 each), fifty entries to the $150 GGMasters, and $50,000 worth of tournament dollars to spend on other GGPoker events. That’s well over $100,000 worth of tournaments, and with the POY title under his belt, who knows what his markup price will be when he sells his action.
The GGMasters is one of the flagship properties GG runs. But in a year when the site hosted a (highly controversial) WSOP, it’s small change.
What’s most striking about the comfortable way in which GGPoker throws out six-figure prizes for a second-tier POY award (they ran the WSOP this year), is how far the site has come.
But GG knows that even their second tier events will rake a mountain of dollars in 2021 that put Dziubdziela’s prize in the shade. He’s less than a decimal rounding error in their marketing budget after the year they’ve had.
After the snow-globe settled down post-Black Friday, poker entered another of its equilibrial periods. By the end of 2019, things seemed to be building towards another shake-up. Hold’em fatigue had fully set in, but the much-lauded short deck wasn’t taking off the way Ivey and Dwan promised. Stars was bought and sold and bought again.
There were regulatory shifts in India. There was increasingly weak enforcement of gambling law in China. The wire act’s teeth had been pulled enough that Americans were playing online in significant numbers again.
In 2019, GGPoker was viewed as a mostly Chinese-focused site with Natural8 as its biggest asset.
The elastic was stretched as tight as it would go. And COVID ended up wielding the scissors.
By April of 2020, the world’s economy had slowed so fast that the smog clouds over London and Beijing had all but dissipated. People were trapped at home. Without work. Side hustlers, time-wasters, and live pros with no place to go caused an enormous spike in online poker activity.
By May, the WPT was trialing online events. By July, the first fully online WSOP was underway. And by December, the WSOP were pretending they’d planned to do just one little live event after all.
And GGPoker were the team that snagged the World Series. Suddenly they were the biggest game in town.
No such thing…
The WSOP on the face of it was a PR nightmare. Delayed events, mass refunds, server crashes, RTA scandals, unjustified confiscations, hiring Dan Bilzerian — GGPoker’s customer service team faced them all. But there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
By June 2020, GGPoker was fielding three times the concurrent cash tables it was running the same time in the previous year.
And that was before PokerStars pulled out of some of GG’s biggest markets to make nice with the U.S. and E.U. regulators.
If the GGMasters POY awards demonstrate anything this year, its that GGPoker is expecting an even bigger 2021. We have no reason just now to think that they’re wrong.
Featured image source: Twitter