GGPoker’s WSOP Online Bracelet Series highlighted by record-setting Main Event

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 09/08/2020

The GGPoker version of the WSOP Online Bracelet Series comes to an end Tuesday. Although there were some bumps along the way (canceled event due to technical issues, anyone?) the series went through with only few hiccups.

WSOP.com first hosted 31 bracelet events in the US (Nevada and New Jersey). Play then shifted to GGPoker’s international poker site, unavailable in the US, for the final 54 tournaments, all awarding gold WSOP bracelets.

During the GGPoker series, multiple online poker and World Series of Poker records weren’t just broken, they were shattered. Thousands competed in a $50 no-limit hold’em tournament, the cheapest in WSOP history. More than $27 million was awarded in the Main Event, an online poker record. And that same championship event awarded the largest prize in history for an internet poker tournament — $3.9 million to Stoyan Madanzhiev.

Madanzhiev beat out a field of 5,802 entries to win the historic event. He is now yet another example of how online poker can turn Average Joes into millionaires. The champion had just $30,000 in live tournament cashes and no recorded major online cash game scores.

In the aforementioned $50 buy-in tournament — Big 50 — a total of 44,576 entrants competed, a 51-year World Series of Poker record. Huahuan Feng ended up outlasting that massive field to win $211,282.

In most years, at least one player wins a pair of bracelets. Although this summer’s series took place online instead of in Las Vegas, that trend continued. Alex Stasiak, a Canadian, took down Event #33, $1,111 Every 1 for Covid Relief (charity event) for $343,204. He then shipped Event #52, $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em for $273,505.

Coronavirus forces WSOP to adapt

The 2020 World Series of Poker was scheduled to run from late May until the middle of July at the Rio in Las Vegas, like it has since 2004 (Binion’s Horseshoe Casino the previous 44 years). But then a pesky global health pandemic struck, forcing the postponement, and likely the eventual cancellation, of the 51st annual WSOP.

That led to the series being converted to an online poker series, of which GGPoker hosted the lion’s share of the events. Although millions of dollars were awarded, along with 54 bracelets, the poker community simply didn’t give the online series the same kind of attention it gives the live WSOP every year.

Online poker just isn’t considered as glamorous as competing on television for bracelets. When Madanzhiev won the Main Event last weekend, few on poker Twitter seemed to care.

That’s a stark contrast from the poker community’s reaction to the Main Event winner every other year. But the WSOP was backed into a corner and didn’t want to lose out on every bit of revenue due to COVID-19. So, the organizers adapted and created an online series that was better than nothing.

During the GGPoker WSOP Online Bracelet Series, five tournaments had over 10,000 entries, and 45 events had a prize pool that exceeded $1 million. So, there was definitely a great amount of interest in the series.

Caesars Interactive Entertainment, the WSOP’s parent company, also used the Online Bracelet Series as a means for raising money for charity. More than $350,000 was raised during the series by the Caesars Cares non-profit organization, including $96,000 donated by GGPoker.

Featured image source: Flickr