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World Series of Poker To Award 85 Online Bracelets in 2020

Poker World Has Mixed Reaction To Moving Poker’s Most Prestigious Series Online

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jul 29, 2020

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In April, the World Series of Poker announced that the 51st running of the largest and richest poker tournament series of the year would be postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The schedule for the live WSOP at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino was supposed to feature a record 101 gold bracelets, with the marquee $10,000 buy-in main event planned for July 1-14.

In an alternate universe, this year’s poker world champion would have already been decided by now. Instead, the live version of the WSOP remains indefinitely postponed, with no further announcements about specific target dates for rescheduling this fall or winter. In an attempt to help fill the void left by the missing live series in Las Vegas, the first-ever World Series Of Poker Online was announced on June 8.

“It wouldn’t be summer without the WSOP,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart.

The inaugural online-only series will award a total of 85 WSOP gold bracelets, which will run from July 1 through Sept. 6 across two separate online sites. The unprecedented amount of online bracelets now up for grabs will be a dramatic increase from the planned total of 14 that were originally to be awarded this year.

The very first WSOP bracelet awarded for an event played online was handed out in 2015. Anthony Spinella outlasted a field of 905 total entries in the $1,000 buy-in event that was primarily played on the internet. The final table of this event was held live and in-person at the Rio. Spinella earned $197,743 and his first bracelet as the champion while writing his name in the history books.

The WSOP used the same format the following year, with the tournament playing down to a final table online before switching to live. All online bracelet events from 2017 on have been played entirely online, however. A total of 18 online bracelets have now been awarded, with the nine won in 2019 being the most for any single year thus far.

Of the 85 online bracelets to be awarded as a part of this series, 31 will be competed for on WSOP.com during the month of July. A bracelet will be awarded each and every day of the month, with buy-ins ranging from as low as $400 all the way up to $3,200. The championship event of the series is a $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament that is set to kick off at 3:00 p.m. local time on Friday, July 31.

All 31 events will feature either no-limit hold’em or pot-limit Omaha, as some of the non-flop, mixed games commonly spread at the live WSOP are not currently offered on the online site’s poker client.

Players looking to participate will need to be within the borders of Nevada or New Jersey in order to play in the WSOP.com bracelet events, but need not establish residency there. Delaware shares online poker player liquidity with New Jersey and Nevada, but does not have a WSOP-branded poker platform. Players located within the state will not be eligible to compete in the bracelet events.

There are now a total of six states in the U.S. now featuring licensed and regulated poker, with Pennsylvania being the fourth state to have operational poker sites available to consumers. Michigan and West Virginia both recently passed legislation to license and regulate online poker at the state level, but neither has opened for business yet. Michigan’s governor signed the bill in question into law back in December of 2019. The Great Lakes State has only just recently begun to accept applications for gaming licenses, and it is expected that it will take a year or more for an online poker site to be operational there. The state-by-state push for licensed and regulated poker has been slow-moving, and it is unclear if and when more states might be able to participate in future online events.

While the first 31 bracelets will be awarded domestically on WSOP.com, the remaining 54 events will be held on international-facing online site GGPoker from July 19 through Sept. 6. The centerpiece of the whole series is set to be the $5,000 buy-in WSOP no-limit hold’em main event, which will feature a record-breaking $25 million guaranteed prize pool.

The largest prize pool in online poker tournament history prior to this event was the 2018 partypoker MILLIONS Online, which paid out $21,780,000. That high-water mark is set to be surpassed when this event kicks off on Aug. 16 with the first of several starting flights, according to the release.

“The single biggest guarantee in the history of online poker is exactly what this once-in-a-lifetime event deserves,” said Stewart in the press release detailing the schedule.

The total number of flights has not yet been released, but six-time bracelet winner and ambassador for the site Daniel Negreanu communicated through a Twitter video that the event would only allow players to enter a limited number of times.

“No matter how many heats there are… you will only get to play three times. You get one shot, a mulligan – two shots, and then it’s three strikes, you’re out,” said Negreanu. “The $10,000 main event is the historic version that has been held since 1970, this is the online version. Having said that, we would love to see the $10,000 main event happen at the Rio later this year if things cool down with what is going on in the world.”

This statement was likely prompted by speculation on social media amongst poker pros that the event could have more than 20 starting flights, which would make it possible for a player to be in for six figures worth buy-ins in this $5,000 event if they were to play every starting flight.

Some of the other notable events announced included a $100 buy-in no-limit hold’em kickoff event called The Opener that features a $2,000,000 guarantee, a $1,111 buy-in charity event title Every 1 for COVID Relief that will award $111 from each entry to the Caesars Cares fund, the $400 buy-in Colossus event with a $3,000,000 guarantee, and the $1,500 buy-in Millionaire Maker, which has a guaranteed $1,000,000 first-place prize. Another staple of the live WSOP that made the schedule was the $10,000 buy-in heads-up no-limit hold’em championship.

The largest guarantees outside of the main event belong to the $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em Poker Players Championship ($10 million guaranteed), the $500 buy-in mini main event ($5 million guaranteed) and the aforementioned Millionaire Maker ($5 million guaranteed).

The most surprising additions to the schedule were the four People’s Choice Bracelet Events, events 47-50. The initial schedule announcement didn’t include much information about these events, their buy-in levels, or how participants will be chosen. The schedule does indicate that this info is expected to be announced soon.

Players that make WSOP Online final tables during the international segment of the series will be required to play under their real names for the sake of the poker fans following along with the live-streamed action. The real names of players that finish in the money are also going to be reported. The WSOP Circuit series held on the site earlier this year did not include real names attached to the results.

An 86th online bracelet will be awarded this year, but not as a part of this series. The WSOP Circuit’s season-ending Global Casino Championship event, which features a $1 million guaranteed prize pool and awards an official WSOP gold bracelet, was slated to run from Aug. 11-13 at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina. The WSOP moved the event online to WSOP.com, with a new start date of Sept. 13.

Here is a look at the schedule for the WSOP Online series:

Event Start Date Number of Days Buy-In
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Kick-Off 7/1/2020 1 $500
$1,000 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Eight Max Deepstack 7/2/2020 1 $1,000
$400 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em 7/3/2020 1 $400
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Super Turbo 7/4/2020 1 $500
$1,000 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout 7/5/2020 1 $1,000
$600 WSOP.com Pot-Limit Omaha 8 Six Max 7/6/2020 1 $600
$800 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Knockout Deepstack 7/7/2020 1 $800
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout 7/8/2020 1 $500
$1,000 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Six Max 7/9/2020 1 $1,000
$600 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em MonsterStack 7/10/2020 1 $600
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Deepstack Six Max 7/11/2020 1 $500
$500 WSOP.com The BIG 500 No-Limit Hold’em 7/12/2020 1 $500
$1,500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout 7/13/2020 1 $1,500
$3,200 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em 7/14/2020 1 $3,200
$1,000 WSOP.com Pot-Limit Omaha Eight Max 7/15/2020 1 $1,000
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Turbo 7/16/2020 1 $500
$777 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em 7/17/2020 1 $777
$1,000 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Turbo DeepStack Eight Max 7/18/2020 1 $1,000
$1,111 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Covid Relief 7/19/2020 2 $1,111
$100 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em $2 Million GTD [DAY 2] 7/19/2020 2 $100
$400 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em 7/19/2020 1 $400
$525 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty Six Max 7/19/2020 1 $525
$500 WSOP.com Pot-Limit Omaha Six Max 7/20/2020 1 $500
$5,000 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha 7/21/2020 1 $5,000
$777 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Six Max 7/21/2020 1 $777
$1,500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em FIFTY STACK 7/22/2020 1 $1,500
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Deepstack 7/22/2020 1 $500
$1,050 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha Bounty 7/23/2020 1 $1,050
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Knockout 7/23/2020 1 $500
$400 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Eight Max 7/24/2020 1 $400
$600 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack Six Max 7/25/2020 1 $600
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em 7/25/2020 1 $500
$1,500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em 7/26/2020 1 $1,500
$2,500 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha 7/26/2020 1 $2,500
$400 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em COLOSSUS $3 Million GTD [DAY 2] 7/26/2020 3 $400
$400 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha POLOSSUS $1M GTD [DAY 2] 7/26/2020 3 $400
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em 7/26/2020 1 $500
$400 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout 7/27/2020 1 $400
$10,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Short Deck 7/28/2020 1 $10,000
$1,000 WSOP.com Omaha 8 Six Max 7/28/2020 1 $1,000
$2,500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Six Max 7/29/2020 1 $2,500
$600 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Deepstack Six Max 7/29/2020 1 $600
$840 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Bounty 7/30/2020 1 $840
$500 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Seniors 7/30/2020 1 $500
$1,000 WSOP.com No-Limit Hold’em Championship 7/31/2020 1 $1,000
$500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack 8/1/2020 1 $500
$1,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Short Deck 8/2/2020 1 $1,000
$1,500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Millionaire Maker $5 Million GTD [DAY 2] 8/2/2020 3 $1,500
$500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack Turbo 8/2/2020 1 $500
$2,100 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Bounty 8/4/2020 1 $2,100
$400 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha 8/5/2020 1 $400
$1,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em 8/6/2020 1 $1,000
$800 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha Double Stack 8/8/2020 1 $800
HK$8,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em HK$8 Million GTD [DAY 2] 8/9/2020 2 $1,032
$150 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout $1 Million GTD 8/9/2020 1 $150
$10,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Heads Up (No Late Reg; 128 max) 8/9/2020 2 $10,000
$5,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Six Max 8/11/2020 1 $5,000
$2,500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Double Stack 8/12/2020 1 $2,500
$525 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Bounty Six Max 8/13/2020 1 $525
$300 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack Six Max 8/15/2020 1 $300
$1,500 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha 8/16/2020 1 $1,500
$500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em $5 Million GTD [DAY 2] 8/16/2020 2 $500
$840 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Bounty Super Turbo 8/16/2020 1 $840
$600 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack 8/18/2020 1 $600
$800 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha 8/19/2020 1 $800
$500 GGPoker.com Limit Hold’em 8/20/2020 1 $500
$500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack 8/22/2020 1 $500
$1,500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Marathon 8/23/2020 1 $1,500
$25,000 GGPoker.com Poker Players Championship $10 Million GTD 8/23/2020 2 $25,000
$50 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em BIG 50 $1 Million GTD [DAY 2] 8/23/2020 2 $50
$1,500 GGPoker.com Limit Hold’em 8/25/2020 1 $1,500
$1,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Six Max 8/26/2020 1 $1,000
$1,500 GGPoker.com Pot-Limit Omaha 8/27/2020 1 $1,500
$300 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Double Stack 8/29/2020 1 $300
$400 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em FORTY STACK 8/30/2020 1 $400
$5,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Main Event $25 Million GTD [DAY 2] 8/30/2020 3 $5,000
$1,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Six Max Turbo 8/30/2020 1 $1,000
GGPoker.com TBA People’s Choice Event (Most Popular) 9/1/2020 1 $0
GGPoker.com TBA People’s Choice Event (Pros Vote) 9/2/2020 1 $0
GGPoker.com TBA People’s Choice Event (Spin the Wheel) 9/3/2020 1 $0
GGPoker.com TBA People’s Choice Event (Most Popular) 9/5/2020 1 $0
$1,050 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em Beat the Pros Bounty 9/5/2020 1 $1,050
$10,000 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em $5 Million GTD 9/6/2020 2 $10,000
$100 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em $2 Million GTD [DAY 2] 9/6/2020 2 $100
$500 GGPoker.com No-Limit Hold’em 9/6/2020 1 $500

Poker World Responds To All-Online WSOP

When you are putting together an online poker series in response to a global pandemic that shut down your original plans, you are going to have a hard time pleasing everyone. After announcing a geographically-limited online series, consisting of mostly low buy-in, no-limit hold’em tournaments, the WSOP took some heat from those who felt the product was no longer the same.

Two-time WSOP bracelet winner Brandon Shack-Harris kicked things off with a self-proclaimed “rant” on social media. Shack-Harris was fine with having an online series, but felt that awarding bracelets was “short-sighted.”

“I worry I will find myself more apathetic to attending events if our most revered brand isn’t concerned about their own image and value,” he wrote.

The post proved to be popular with many members of the poker community, who shared Shack-Harris sentiments.

“I feel like the exclusivity and prestige of a WSOP bracelet needs to stay intact,” said mixed-games pro Melissa Burr (@burrrrrberry). “No one is saying that [online winners] don’t deserve something, but where do we draw the line?”

“I think it’s an awful brand decision,” said Daniel Zack (@dan_zack), who made three final tables and won his first bracelet last year. “[I’m] trying to care less about these things, but I got into poker as an 11-year-old watching WSOP on TV, and the past few years have been the first ever to dampen the magic of the series.”

“It’s over,” joked three-time bracelet winner Daniel Idema (@danodema). “You’ll get a WSOP bracelet for a 7 card 21 playing blackjack in the pit next year.”

Even two-time bracelet winner Greg Merson (@gregmerson), who won the 2012 main event for $8.5 million, had some harsh words for the series.

“I had been tweeting about stuff like this for the past four to five years as [the series] increased rapidly and buy-in size decreased while expanding total event size considerably each year. I have lost most of my love for the WSOP brand and I always considered myself a lifer of the series.”

Others, however, either weren’t buying the argument that the bracelet had been devalued, or at least felt that ship had sailed long ago.

“They’ve given out 29,216 Olympic medals. Somehow the medals have retained a modicum of prestige,” pointed out British poker pro Sam Grafton (@squidpoker).

“Everyone [is] complaining about the WSOP diluting bracelet value and that online bracelets shouldn’t count, yet somehow are still in agreement to definitely count the bracelet when John ‘Aces Up’ Smith beat eight people to win a five-card stud tourney in 1981,” joked Michael Gagliano (@gags30poker), who won his bracelet in 2016.

David Baker (@dmbakes), who has two bracelets, once boycotted the WSOP for other issues, but even he doesn’t feel like the bracelet argument holds water.

“I don’t feel like my achievement has been reduced in any way,” said Baker. “Were people from the old school complaining when the WSOP expanded? I’m happy there are more people and more events. I’ll be satisfied with my wins no matter what.”

Not only did some feel that live bracelets were not devalued, but they also felt that online bracelets should be given the same respect as those won in the traditional brick-and-mortar arena.

“Online poker is every bit as legitimate a discipline as live, if the series were invented today, it could conceivably all be online,” pointed out Ryan Fee, who won a tag-team event bracelet in 2016. “They should update to keep with the times.”

“Why shouldn’t the WSOP adjust to meet their customers’ needs, like many other companies that are prevented from normal operations right now?” asked Katie Stone (@katiestonepoker). “Also, [the] WSOP operating, in general, is good for poker.”

Criticisms that the series was only available to those within Nevada or New Jersey were quickly snuffed out. After all, in a normal year, players would still be required to travel to Las Vegas to compete. One criticism that the WSOP hasn’t been able to shake is the new online schedule’s commitment to no-limit hold’em. While hold’em is always the most popular poker variant at the series, the schedule traditionally offers plenty of options for those who play the other games.

“It’s also not a WSOP with only flop games!” wrote Randy Ohel (@randyohel), who won his bracelet in triple draw, and also has final tables in H.O.R.S.E., stud eight-or-better, pot-limit Omaha, and dealer’s choice events.

“It’s a joke to run a WSOP with virtually no mixed events,” agreed former online poker standout Jon Turner (@pearljammed).

“The WSOP missed the ball here,” four-time bracelet winner Shaun Deeb said to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There’s a lack of different games, which is what the World Series of Poker is all about.”

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart told the LVRJ that they didn’t anticipate having to move everything online, and as a result, were not able to get other games ready for the schedule, adding that “there is simply not enough demand” for those variations outside of the series.

Despite his criticisms, Deeb plans on traveling to nearby New Jersey and then abroad to once again compete for the WSOP Player of the Year title, an award he won in 2018 and narrowly missed out on again in 2019.

“I’m going to play, but I’m going to hate it.” ♠