Recap: WSOP Day 2 breaks records even as it disappoints

Jon Pill
Posted on: August 31, 2020 08:57 PDT

GGPoker and the WSOP held Day 2 of their WSOP Online Main Event yesterday, having finalized the numbers for entrants and prize pools. The poker world is picking over the data with a broken tooth comb. Led by GGPoker’s press releases, much of the focus has been on the $27,559,500 prize pool — an online record. However, there was more going on than just heaps of Scrooge McDucky coin.

We know now that the first place prize money will be $3,904,686, and that second place will get about $1.2 million less than that. We also know the bubble will burst with the elimination in 729th place of some poor sap (just missing Phil Hellmuth by a couple of dozen spots). Min-cash after that was to be $11,834.

These are the vital statistics of a WSOP Main Event.

Unprecedented times moved the event online and this is the moment of truth. The preliminary flights were too plentiful to admit much drama. So the streaming begins now.

The confirmation of the event stats marked the transition to the human drama. It’s the moment when we start picking favorites. Rooting for heroes and against villains.

In other words, this is where we find out if online poker can hold a candle to its live cousin.

Just when you thought it was safe...

With the 23 day-ones played out and a firm chip leader in place, we got the first name to watch. Kahle Burns of Australia maintained his lead from mid-way through the flights. He started Day 2 with 1.4 million in chips. Behind him at a small distance was Jonathan "Serenity" Dokler with just over 1 million in chips. No one else made seven figures.

Daniel Negreanu — the big talking point of this series — missed day 2 with all three of his bullets. Bigger than his busting out the event though was the reveal on a live stream that he reads Danielle Steel novels.

Ditto Elky. These two titans of the game and GGPoker ambassadors were out, but Hellmuth was still in.

Until he wasn’t. Hellmuth retired from this year's main event in around 750th place. Just outside the money, and close enough for it to really sting.

The pro tweeted in his anguish: “Not happy to bust out near the bubble, but I was thinking much bigger than that...Still, ouch!” Time to turn that G4 back around.

Some big names took home a little dough. They included the likes of Mike Leah (128th for $24,886), Isaac Haxton (121st for $24,886), Shankar Pillai (99th for $27,675), Conor Beresford (85th for $27,675), and Chi Zhang (58th for $30,776).

Not with a bang…

What the WSOP’s euphoric marketing copy can’t disguise is how disappointing this actually turns out to be. The entire event — with its 23 opening flights, it’s halved entry fee (from $10k to $5k), and its opportunities to rebuy — was only able to scrounge up 5,802 entries.

They had to put on an extra opening flight — most likely in order to avoid offering overlay in an event that should have sold out many times over.

5,802 entries is a respectable number for a $5k buy-in online tournament. And the prize pool is a record for online events.

But a WSOP Main Event hasn’t been this anemic since Joe Hachem beat a field of 5,619 in 2005. That was two years after Moneymaker’s game-changing victory. Since then, the number of entries hasn’t dipped below 6k.

Thirty-eight’s a crowd

Despite GGPoker’s meticulous security checks, six of the remaining 38 players remain anonymized behind their online handles. Whether this will be cleared up before the next round isn’t clear. So there may be some big names still in the running. They might be hiding behind "TiroGiro" or "kellyyy".

Bryan "smbdySUCKme" Piccioli leads the field with 18.4 million in chips. He already has a WSOP ME under his belt with his 6th place finish in 2017. A win here would almost double his $4.5 million in live cashes to date.

But he'll have his work cut out for him when play resumes. Two players — Stoyan "Nirvana76" Madanzhiev and Michael "All Love" Kane (no relation) are in hot pursuit with over 15 million in chips each.

Play is on ice now until September 5th, when the final 38 will be back, and we'll have another update for you.

Final table payouts

The top nine players will be receiving the following:










Top chip counts going into day 3

Day 3 will begin with the following players in the top nine spots:

1st - Bryan "smbdySUCKme" Piccioli - 18,417,494 in chips

2nd - Michael "All Love" Kane - 15,907,969 in chips

3rd - Stoyan "Nirvana76" Madanzhiev - 15,299,783 in chips

4th - "kellyyy" - 13,108,575 in chips

5th - Craig Timmis - 12,809,181 in chips

6th - Dinesh "NastyMinder" Alt - 11,681,173 in chips

7th - "TiroGiro" - 11,116,489 in chips

8th - Benjamin Rolle - 10,789,181 in chips

9th - "HappyDX" - 10,553,281 in chips