The live WSOP is in full swing in Las Vegas, and despite some hiccups, the first week of the series went well.
Today, the attention of poker players was split between the Rio and the start of the WSOP.com Fall Online Super Circuit Series. Event #1, a $320 buy-in, double-stack, 2x re-entry tournament, was won in spectacular fashion by Josh “Kenjiboi7” Faris.
The event saw 245 entries and 122 rebuys, producing a total prize pool of $110k. With blinds beginning at 20/40, the starting stacks of 20k gave players an enormous 500bb stack depth to begin play. However, with blind increases every ten minutes, and an aggressive blind structure, the final table began relatively shallow.
The final nine were led by Don “blonde2020” Himpele with 24bb. Faris began the final table in seventh with a little over 10bb.
With play eight-handed, Ronald “Ceek100x” Ellis open-shoved his button with QJo, and Faris defended the big blind with A9o. A queen on the flop was enough to give Ellis the pot and leave Faris with a meagre 4bb.
After an emergency double-up, Faris employed impeccable push-fold strategy to pull himself back into contention. Once he had some chips, Faris quickly exerted his authority on the medium stacks to earn a significant chip lead.
When Faris and one-time chip leader Himpele faced off for the heads-up tussle, Faris had more than a 6:1 chip advantage over his opponent. Himpele fought back gamely, aided by an all-in preflop hand where his K4 ran out a straight, beating Faris’s A8.
Having brought the match back to only a 2:1 chip deficit, Himpele was favorite to take the lead when he got his A7s all-in preflop against the JTs of Faris. The flop gave Faris top pair, then the turn helped Himpele, adding a straight draw to his ace outs. Faris didn’t need the flush on the river to win, but it looked pretty and capped an enthralling heads-up battle.
Something about $320s?
There are four WSOP.com Online Super Circuit Series in 2021, each tagged with one of the seasons. In the summer series last June, Event #15 was a $320 buy-in tournament in which Faris won his first gold ring. On current pace, he will run out of fingers for additional jewelry in summer of 2023.
In last summer’s event, Faris topped a field of 382 entrants. The field of 245 entries today therefore marks a considerable drop. Indeed, even with rebuys, the prize pool barely scraped above the $100k guaranteed by WSOP.com.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the lineup of 245 runners today is significantly smaller than the field of 291 runners who competed in the weekly $320 tournament on WSOP.com last Sunday.
Conventional poker wisdom suggests that WSOP jewelry added to a prize pool increases the attendance. The number of entrants today is therefore somewhat puzzling.
It will be interesting to see how the remainder of the Online Fall Super Circuit Series plays out. It’s conceivable that competition from the “Millionaire Maker” at the live WSOP suppressed today’s online numbers. Or maybe we are simply reaching a point of poker saturation.