Despite the decreased hype and attention compared to the past 50 years, the World Series of Poker Main Event is underway. But comparing this year’s version to past world championship events is apples to oranges.
The 2020 edition, for the first time, is being played online and isn’t available to players in the United States. Also for the first time, the buy-in costs $5,000 instead of $10,000 and players are permitted to enter multiple times. So, if you go bust on Day 1, you can take up to two additional swings at it on future Day 1 starting flights. But, like in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out.
Daniel Negreanu, GGPoker’s top ambassador, swung and missed on his first $5,000 buy-in on Monday. The six-time bracelet winner, still desperately trying to win his six-figure bracelet bets, live-streamed his Day 1 action on his YouTube channel. Things didn’t go his way all day, especially in one pot where he lost a large chunk of his stack to a runner-runner flush draw after flopping the nut straight.
He busted short of the session’s completion, but still has two additional reentries to use for the remaining 20 Day 1 starting flights.
Main Event off to a strong start
Day 1a had 464 entries all hoping to get a share of the online poker record $25 million guaranteed prize pool. Only 99 of them bagged chips. Samuel Vousden left the game with the biggest stack of them all – 717,497 chips. Christian Jeppsson was in 2nd place at 602,774, and he was followed closely by WSOP bracelet winner and 2019 PokerStars Players Championship runner-up Julien Martini, who finished his session at 576,965.
As is customary in the WSOP Main Event, most of the top pros avoided the Day 1a flight. On Monday’s Day 1b, however, more big-name players registered. That includes Dan Smith, one of the top poker players in the world, who bagged the second largest stack during the session — 421,653. Smith’s poker resume is almost flawless, with $36.7 million in cashes, but he’s still chasing that first World Series of Poker bracelet.
Day 1b had a much smaller field than the opening session. Just 114 players entered and 25 advanced to Day 2, which begins Aug. 30 on GGPoker. Negreanu, of course, hasn’t yet earned his way to Day 2. Smith has, however, and he’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Day 1c begins at 7 pm UTC on Tuesday.
Kristen Bicknell, Mikiti Badziakouski, Brian Rast, Daniel Negreanu, and Luc Greenwood were among the big name pros who entered but didn’t advance beyond Day 1b.
Is this the real Main Event?
There’s been some discussion on social media as to whether the winner of GGPoker’s WSOP Main Event should be considered world champion in the same way we’ve crowned the previous 50 Main Event winners. And it seems like everyone has a different opinion.
As it stands, the WSOP is still hoping to host a fall live bracelet series in Las Vegas. Or, at the very least, a WSOP Europe series at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. If the Vegas series happens — an unlikely scenario given the continued spread of COVID-19 in Nevada and throughout the US — there will be a $10,000 Main Event.
So, perhaps we’ll just have to wait until the end of the year. If the live series in Vegas doesn’t occur in the fall, we’ll then crown the GGPoker Main Event winner as the 2020 world champion.