Stoyan Madanzhiev claims he is the 2020 poker world champion

Stoyan Madanzhiev WSOP champ
Jon Sofen
Posted on: November 16, 2020 11:14 PST

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart recently announced the need for a "true world champion." But Stoyan Madanzhiev, this past summer, won what was then dubbed the WSOP Main Event on GGPoker. He even has the bracelet and a note from the World Series of Poker to prove it.

Madanzhiev, however, isn't considered the world champion like the past 50 Main Event winners. He won't find his picture hanging atop the Rio wall in Las Vegas next summer along with past champs such as Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, and Chris Moneymaker. And he clearly feels slighted by that decision.

The World Series of Poker announced last week an upcoming hybrid Main Event scheduled for next month. Play will begin online at both GGPoker (internationally) and (U.S.). The buy-in is $10,000 and both poker sites will play down to a final table of nine, which will be played at King's Casino in the Czech Republic (GGPoker) and the Rio in Las Vegas ( After those two final tables are complete, the winners will face-off at the Rio on December 30 to determine who wins the bracelet and gets to be crowned poker's 2020 world champion.

But Madanzhiev, who won a historic online poker Main Event, was of the impression he already did that. It appears, however, that Hossein Ensan, who won the 2019 Main Event in Las Vegas, is still the reigning champion. The GGPoker $3.9 million winner is understandably confused. He shared a picture on Twitter of the bracelet along with a letter from the WSOP proclaiming him as the Main Event champion at the 51st annual World Series of Poker.

Who is the real poker champion?

Madanzhiev won the $5,000 buy-in online Main Event at GGPoker in September and was apparently under the impression that, by doing so, he became poker's 2020 world champion. Many other poker players also consider him to be the champ. You can put high-stakes star Sam Greenwood in that category.

Greenwood called out Stewart on Twitter for seeking a "true" world champion. He said there is one already, "his name is Stoyan Madanzhiev. The Canadian poker pro also doesn't approve of the hybrid online-live format planned for the upcoming "real" Main Event and called the format "stupid."

The December Main Event differs greatly from the one hosted during the summer. Although they're both played online, the upcoming version costs twice as much to enter ($10,000 versus $5,000) and is of the freezeout variety, similar to the Main Event in Las Vegas the past 50 years. The GGPoker version won by Madanzhiev was a rebuy event, a format heavily criticized by poker traditionalists.

But there's also one major difference between the September Main Event and the tournament scheduled for next month. The GGPoker event was played online in full, but the upcoming Main Event will have some live play, with the final tables at King's Casino and the Rio. Still, most of the tournament will take place online.

Regardless of the poker community's thoughts on this issue, Stewart and his staff is ready to go ahead with what they deem a "true" 2020 WSOP Main Event. On December 30, we will have a new world champion crowned and Madanzhiev, fair or not, will only be the world champ in his mind. On a positive note for the online Main Event winner, the $3.9 million he won from that tournament isn't just in his head.

Featured image source: Twitter