Stoyan Madanzhiev took down the first ever online WSOP Main Event. In doing so, he won the largest first place prize in online poker history at $3.9 million. He also became a World Series of Poker bracelet winner.
After the final card was dealt, he was almost speechless. He shared the post-game celebration in a brief video on social media.
— WSOP (@WSOP) September 6, 2020
Anyone would be thrilled to win a major tournament for such a massive prize. But this victory was even more meaningful to Madanzhiev, who had never previously won big on the felt. He has just $31,000 in live tournament cashes, and doesn’t play high-stakes cash games. The Bulgarian, however, is now a millionaire thanks to a heater in the online Main Event.
Winning the Main Event required a mix of skill and luck. The field was massive, with 5,802 entries, many of whom were experienced, talented pros. But the cards went his way, and he also performed at a high level throughout the three days of play.
Main Event final table soft, relatively speaking
Considering the large buy-in — $5,000 is quite high for an online poker tournament — the final table was a bit soft. But there was one big-time poker pro among the final nine — Steffan Schillhabel, one of the top German high rollers in poker.
Fortunately, for Madanzhiev, Schillhabel was eliminated in 7th place ($467,825), weakening the competition. Joao Santos, a Brazilian, then went out in 6th place ($666,637). Satoshi Isomae from Japan was next to hit the rails ($949,937). New Zealand’s Thomas Ward then exited in 4th place ($1,353,634). Tyler Rueger, an American, fell just two spots shy of the bracelet but still earned $1,928,887.
That left Madanzhiev and Wengling Gao from China to battle for the bracelet. But there wasn’t really much of a battle even though one was expected given both players were deep-stacked and almost even in chips.
Poker is a funny game sometimes, however. In no-limit Texas hold’em, it can take just one cooler to finish off a heads-up match. And those coolers are always unexpected.
Just minutes after heads-up play began, Gao picked up pocket aces and raised to 1.6 million, Her opponent made the call with 6-7 and they both saw a flop of 3-4-5, giving Madanzhiev the stone-cold nuts. Gao, in a world of hurt, raised Madanzhiev’s flop bet of 1.7 million to 3,944,000 and her opponent again just called.
The turn was an irrelevant 8 except for the fact that it left Gao drawing dead. Madanzhiev checked this time and Gao bet 5,644,000. This time, Madanzhiev went for the raise, and bumped it up to 15,040,000 to which Gao shipped it all-in only to get snap-called and learn the bad news that she was eliminated in 2nd place.
Gao still received $2,748,604 for her runner-up finish. She technically became just the second woman ever to reach a WSOP Main Event final table, although it’s questionable if the World Series of Poker will acknowledge that fact. Barbara Enright was the first and only female to reach the final table in 1995. She finished in 5th place for $114,180.
Madanzhiev set an online poker tournament record with a $3,904,686 payday. He also won the tournament that had the largest prize pool in online poker history at $27 million.
Featured image source: GGPoker/Twitter