Was the PokerStars Blowout Series a success?

Was the PokerStars Blowout Series a success?
Poker writer Geoff Fisk profile photo
Geoff Fisk
Posted on: January 24, 2021 06:00 PST

Final three Big Blowout events clear guarantees after the first creates a record-breaking overlay

One of the most ambitious online festivals ever put on by PokerStars wrapped up this week, with the PokerStars Blowout Series coming to an end. The 88-event festival ran from Dec. 27 through Jan. 19 and offered four different $5 million guaranteed tournaments along the way.

Those big guarantees came in the series’ weekly Big Blowout tournaments, as PokerStars certainly went “big” to end 2020 and ring in the new year. The Big Blowout events, however, started with a thud from PokerStars’ perspective as an operator.

The first of the four Big Blowout tournaments ran as a $109 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event, which needed 50,000 entries to reach the $5 million guarantee. Actual attendance fell well short of that mark, with 37,673 entries for the Dec. 27-29 event.

That shortage of players created more than $1.2 million in overlay for the tournament. That's the largest overlay ever recorded for a tournament in the history of online poker. While that start to the Blowout Series didn’t bode well for the rest of the festival, the other three Big Blowout events drew plenty of interest.

Slow start, successful finish for the Big Blowout events

All three subsequent Big Blowout tournaments far surpassed the $5 million guarantee.

The second of the four came as a $215 buy-in event that ran Jan. 3-5. One of the first big tournaments of the new year drew big numbers, with the prize pool ending up at $6,371,000.

The tournament yielded 31,855 entries, with the final six players agreeing to a multiway chop at the final table. All six finalists took more than $200,000, with tournament winner Cosmin ‘UnHuman3’ Voinea emerging with the win and a $456,346 payout.

Next up was the $530 Big Blowout, which took place from Jan. 10-12. Both the final prize pool and the first-place prize saw an increase from the $215 event.

A total of 12,938 came out for the $530 Big Blowout, and the top seven finishers all took home six-figure paydays. Netherlands-based player ‘Gwolde’ took down the win, earning $721,692 per the terms of a heads-up deal.

Runner-up finisher ‘Escapemissio’ ($680,231) also came away with a massive payout per the terms of the deal.

Final Big Blowout produces the biggest prize pool of the series

The overlay from the first Big Blowout can likely be chalked up as an anomaly based on how the series finished. The final of the four Big Blowout tournaments yielded the biggest overall prize pool and top-end payouts across the festival.

The $1,050 Big Blowout ran from Jan. 17-19 and drew 6,922 entries. That pushed the final prize pool to $6,922,000, which has to be considered a major success for PokerStars.

Lithuania’s ‘arbaarba’ won the tournament and took home a $739,976 payday. The last remaining three players struck a deal at the final table.

Per the terms of the chop, runner-up Fernando ‘fviana’ Viana (2nd - $771,416) actually took home the biggest prize. Third-place finisher Lonnie ‘thx4urm0n3y’ Hallett (3rd - $646,189) also came away with one of the biggest payouts awarded across the series.

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