$10M GTD tournaments: Unbelievable success and historic disaster

Blaise Bourgeois
Posted on: July 09, 2023 15:55 PDT

While many of the players in the field consider the $10,500 WPT EveryOne for One Drop the “losers tournament” as Day 3 of the WSOP Main Event rolls on, it’s worth remembering how rare a live tournament with a $10,000,000 guarantee actually is.

If our record-keeping is correct, the $10,500 One Drop is the sixth-ever $10M+ GTD live tournament on record, though there have been many others (ie. WSOP Main Event, PSPC) that routinely and easily break $10,000,000 in the prize pool.

While it’s certainly a big risk for casinos and tournament organizers to put up such a big guarantee, the Field of Dreams quote “If you build it, they will come” usually rings true. However, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a disaster involving a big guarantee.

Fortunately for WPT and the Wynn, it seems that a disaster won’t be happening here at the One Drop. The players are currently on dinner break on Day 1a and there are 235 players registered with another 200 players registered in Level 1 of tonight’s $1,100 Milestone satellite. Of course, players can enter Day 1 flights on Monday and Tuesday as well.

With all that being said, let’s take a look at previous tournaments to offer mammoth guarantees.

2022 WPT World Championship $15M GTD: Winner: Eliot Hudon ($4,136,000)

The record-breaking $10,400 2022 WPT World Championship absolutely demolished all expectations and created an unreal prize pool of $29,008,000 from 2,960 total entries, nearly doubling the guarantee. 

Eliot Hudon defeated Benny Glaser ($2,830,000) heads-up to win an incredible $4,146,400, which makes up an incredible 93.9% of his career earnings. 

Jean-Claude Moussa (3rd, $2,095,000), Adam Adler (4th, $1,608,000), Frank Funaro (5th, $1,301,000), and Colton Blomberg (6th, $1,001,050) all became millionaires in the process. The tournament was so huge that every one of the top-8 finishers took home career-high scores. 

It was such an exciting event that many players on Twitter were essentially calling it the winter WSOP Main Event. Of course, there’s one moment that went mega-viral and sparked tons of debate online, when Glaser open-shoved AJo for nearly 50bbs effective, only to run into Hudon’s KK, which had the two players essentially swap stacks.

The $10,400 WPT World Championship Main Event is already scheduled for December 12th of this year, though there hasn't been any announcement regarding the guarantee.

2021 Wynn Millions Main Event $10M GTD: Winner: Andrew Moreno ($1,460,106)

Andrew Moreno Jamie Thomson

Prior to the 2021 Wynn Millions, this event was seen as a reasonably large gamble in the poker world, with Ryan Beauregard, executive director of poker operations at Wynn Las Vegas, hoping to establish the Wynn as the undoubted king of poker in Vegas. 

"In its inaugural year, we expect the Wynn Millions to attract professional and seasoned amateur players from around the world. We’re hopeful that the super-sized guarantee of $10 million emphasizes our goal of making the Wynn Millions a staple event for years to come, adding to our already world-class tournament schedule."

Sure enough, they were able to attract a 1,328-entry field and create a prize pool of $12,483,200, setting the stage for future events to come. 

A new, bonafide superstar was created as well, as Andrew Moreno came back from starting 7th at the final table to win $1,460,106. A final deal was made, creating a trio of millionaires in the process (Clayton Maguire, $1,443,757; Toby Lewis, $1,235,204). 

Moreno had just shipped a 637-entry, $1,100 UltimateStack at the Venetian for $127,740 less than two weeks earlier and has since been one of the biggest names in poker. In fact, since Moreno’s Wynn Millions win, Moreno has 10 cashes of over $50,000, including finishing 2nd in the 2022 $3,500 Wynn Summer Championship for $460,529. Moreno is now up to over $4M in career earnings and is in the top-50 of the GPI standings despite hardly playing any tournaments of $25,000 or more.

2022 Wynn Millions Main Event $10M GTD: Winner: Tony Sinishtaj ($1,655,952)

A year later, the expectations were even higher for the Wynn Millions Main Event but, surprisingly, entries went down from 1,328 to 1,075. The prize pool quite literally scraped past the guarantee, “only” creating a prize pool of $10,105,000.

Tony Sinishtaj claimed the second major victory of his poker career, taking down $1,655,952 and defeating Isaac Kempton ($1,093,314) to top a tough field that included a star-studded final table. Alex Livingston (3rd, $745,749), Vanessa Kade (4th, $527,481), Tony Tran (6th, $304,161), and Sean Perry (8th, $202,908) all scored huge final-table cashes.

Sinishtaj previously won the 2017 $3,500 WPT Showdown Championship at the Seminole Hard Rock, topping a field of 1,207 entries to win $661,283.

The event barely reaching the guarantee possibly dissuaded the Wynn from providing a $10,000,000 guarantee for this year’s edition of the marquee event, which was a $3,500 $3,000,000 guaranteed tournament (which, to be fair, created a prize pool of $4,171,950).

2013 SHRPO $5,300 $10M GTD: Winner: Blair Hinkle ($1,745,245)

Up until 2013, Seminole Hard Rock was attempting to make a name for themselves and “only” brought in 542 players for their WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown. Naturally, they were seen as very ambitious in their pursuit of a successful $10M GTD tournament.

However, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (SHRPO) absolutely smashed it, attracting 2,384 entries and bringing in a prize pool of $11,920,000. In the end, Blair Hinkle would take down the biggest score of his career, defeating Justin Bonomo ($1,163,500) to win $1,745,245.

Mukul Pahuja notably came in 3rd for a career-high $872,625 in what could only be described as an epic final table.

2014 SHRPO $5,300 $10M GTD: Winner: Dan Colman ($1,446,710)

While it was an incredible success that appeared to make the Seminole Hard Rock the premier poker destination in the United States, nobody could predict what would happen next.

Despite all the success of 2013, the 2014 version of the SHRPO wildly missed the guarantee and only brought in 1,499 entries. This was a 37-percent decrease from 2013 and missed the guarantee by an insane $2,505,000.

While it’s known as possibly the biggest overlay disaster in poker history, the event also was a part of poker history for another reason as Dan Colman won the tournament and $1,446,710, which was part of Colman’s mystifying 99-day run where he won nearly $20,000,000 in tournament earnings.

Much of the overlay was blamed on scheduling errors as it conflicted with many other sizable events around the United States and Canada that had over $7,000,000 in guarantees on their own. EPT Barcelona was now running the week before instead of the week after so players were now spread out all over the world. 

Re-entry tournaments were also gaining popularity and received a little blame due to “significantly turning off recreational players” because of the “huge advantage” for deep-pocketed professionals. Of course, re-entry tournaments are pretty commonplace nowadays and it’s more normal than ever for players to play smaller tournaments that they can fire multiple times.

Regardless, the 2014 SHRPO was a flop of epic proportions that has yet to be matched in the poker world.