When it was announced that 54 events of the 2020 World Series of Poker would be held on GGPoker, it meant that for the very first time players outside of the United States could compete for a gold bracelet online. It also opened the door for elite online poker players all over the world to bracelet chase without having to make the trek to Las Vegas.
With that in mind, prior to the start of the series, PocketFives staff attempted to make some predictions of players that we thought would make a serious impact on the 2020 WSOP. We dove into the player pools from the online poker powerhouse countries of the United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia, and Canada to take our best guesses as to who would make headlines and history in 2020.
Here’s how we did.
Score…A Direct Hit
From the thousands of potential entries in the 2020 World Series of Poker, we picked 20 players and two of them binked themselves a gold bracelet.
Canada’s Kristen Bicknell already had two WSOP gold bracelets on her resume and had been running extremely hot on GGPoker prior to the series, winning thousands upon thousands in side events from the recently completed WSOP Super Circuit Online Series.
During the WSOP, she outlasted the 892-entry field in Event #44 ($2,500 NLHE 6-Handed) to win her third career bracelet and the first-place prize of $356,412. She continued to play after the victory and put up a total of seven cashes for a total haul of $382,391.
Another one of our picks that grabbed gold was Brazil’s former #1-ranked Yuri Dzivielevski who just one year ago made a splash at the 2019 WSOP with his impressive play on the televised table of the Main Event.
Even though Dzivielevski had won the first bracelet of his career just one year ago, we were convinced he was going to do it again, this time in the online arena. He proved us right. The Brazilian topped the 4,356-entry field of Event #42 ($400 PLOSSUS) for $221,557 and his second bracelet. In total, Dzivielevski racked up 14 cashes, including two final tables, for $347,714.
While Brazil’s Brunno Botteon didn’t win a bracelet, it’s safe to say he made a major impact on the series. Botteon had already been red hot in 2020, earning six of his seven-largest cashes this year and he only took it to the next level in the WSOP.
Botteon finished as the runner-up on two different occasions including Event #67 ($500 Limit Hold’em) where he earned $41,855 and Event #79 ($25,000 NLHE Heads-Up) where he fell to Fedor Holz in the Heads-Up finals but walked away with $622,300. He also made the final table of the $25,000 NLHE Poker Players Championship, finishing in sixth place for more than $388,000. He may not have grabbed a gold bracelet this year, but Botteon finished the series with 15 cashes and over $1,105,562 in earnings.
A Solid Series
Some of the players we selected had a very respectable series that didn’t include winning a bracelet or earning a million dollars.
When it came to picking players from the UK, it would be downright silly to pass over high-stakes crusher Stephen Chidwick. While he didn’t repeat his 2019 $25,000 PLO High Roller bracelet performance that brought him a $1.6 million score, he did manage seven series cashes for $147,679. And sure, perhaps it wasn’t the Chidwickian of his outings as we’ve seen in year’s past, but far be it from mere mortals to call six-figures in earnings anything less than success.
Mike Watson fared a little better. The Canadian found himself at three final tables this summer, however, he was unable to lock down that first career bracelet. He scored a series-high cash of $115,117 in a fourth-place finish in Event #35 ($5,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship) which contributed to the bulk of his $202,455 in total earnings over 11 cashes.
Watson may be frustrated with not yet winning a bracelet. He has finished as the runner-up no fewer than four times in his WSOP career. But with a player of his caliber, we’d be sure to pick him again next year should the series take place live or online.
Mike Leah was another of our Canadian picks that climbed over six-figures in earnings. Leah, who was promising to play just about every event prior to the start of the series, made good on his word. He racked up 18 total cashes for a total of $141,204 and made his deepest run in Event #82 ($1,050 NLHE Beat The Pros Bounty) finishing in sixth place for $41,892.
What Were We Thinking?
Some of our picks just didn’t pan out. Who knows why? We don’t. A bad run of cards? Bankroll fatigue? Or simply living life outside of poker? Whatever it was, our high hopes for these players will have to wait for another series.
Take for instance the UK’s Sam Grafton who we were pretty sure would thrive in this kind of international series. But it looks like Grafton didn’t put in much if any volume and therefore didn’t notch a single result during this year’s WSOP. (However, it didn’t take him long to book a win during the current PokerStars WCOOP.)
We also missed on picking Russia’s Alexander Mordinov and Vladimir Troyanovskiy. When it came to Mordinov, who goes by ‘NoPlanB’ online, we knew it might be a stretch for him to play in the bigger buy-in tournaments of the WSOP. However, with the ability to be staked right in the client, we felt it could have been perfect for him to sell pieces of himself after pointing investors to his over $6 million in lifetime online earnings.
We also felt like Troyanovskiy, one of Russia’s premier players, and his extensive poker resume would excel in an online series but from the looks of it, the Russian poker legend simply took the summer off.