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The 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event is still some nine months away, but WSOP.com is already working to get players qualified for the event. Over the past several weeks, players in New Jersey and Nevada have been able to play in $215 satellites which have guaranteed at least one seat for the 2020 WSOP Main Event. The early start to qualifying players via their own online platform is in response to player demand and could be a sign of bigger things to come through the rest of the winter and spring. "We started with Main Event satellites in October because we had enough player feedback to suggest they would appreciate and participate in this offering. We plan to continue to ramp up closer to the WSOP as well," said Danielle Barille, WSOP.com’s Senior Manager of Product and Operations. "Satellites are a great way for players to have a chance to play in events they may otherwise not have. If the players respond favorably, we will certainly look to continue to add them more throughout the year." [ptable zone="NJ Online Poker Promos"][ptable zone="888poker"][ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"] 2020 Main Event Field Could Be Record Breaker The 2019 WSOP Main Event was the second largest of all-time, falling just 204 players short of the record-setting 2006 Main Event which drew 8,773 runners. Increasing the number of players qualifying online from WSOP.com could help close the gap and make 2020 the biggest Main Event ever and may even push the total field size within striking distance of 10,000 players. Getting American players into the WSOP Main Event hasn't been easy for WSOP.com. In November 2018, WSOP began offering the rake-free $80 ALL-IN satellites but had trouble getting the 129 players needed for them to run. In the weeks before the 2019 WSOP Main Event, those tournaments did run and were popular with players already in Las Vegas. Those satellites will be back in the client soon and Barille is hopeful they will be successful this year. Once the calendar turns to 2020, WSOP.com players will find even more opportunities to win their way into the Main Event. Barille admits that could include more mega-satellites patterned after the one they run every summer that sends 25 players to the Main Event. "One of our big goals is to always increase satellites to the Main Event, and focus heavily on giving players access to satellites at low buy-ins, especially focused on the 25 Seat Scramble," Barille said. "With the success year after year of the Scramble, we may also start focusing on more mega satellites throughout the year and summer." Players who manage to win a satellite get a $10,000 seat to the 2020 Main Event but unlike how some online operators have run qualifiers for their live events, there is no money included for airfare or hotel. "We have tried these in the past, and there was not as much appetite for these, so we have continued to stick with straight $10K ME satellites," Barille said. "We have done some smaller packages in the past where players can win seats to multiple events in one satellite, called Kick-off packages. They include entry into the events for opening weekend. We plan to continue to offer these types of satellites in the future." Could Pennsylvania Players Get In on the Action? Online poker players in Pennsylvania are still sitting on the sidelines waiting for their chance to play on regulated online poker sites. Barille remained tight-lipped about WSOP.com's plans for the Keystone State but did admit that adding Pennsylvania to their inter-state network would lead to increased traffic and send even more players to poker's most prestigious event. "Adding the PA market to the NV-NJ compact would allow for bigger prize pools as well as more opportunity to add more satellites to the growing liquidity. It would be great for poker players," Barille said.
The opening event of the 2020 World Series of Poker Online events had a little bit everything that makes the WSOP so special. A huge field, a deep run by none other than Mr. WSOP himself, Phil Hellmuth, and a final table that saw a new member, Jonathan Dokler, join the bracelet winner club. Event #1 ($500 No Limit Hold'em Kickoff) drew 1,715 total entries from 1,195 unique players to create a $771,750 prize pool. Dokler's eventual first place prize of $130,426 is the largest single prize on WSOP.com this year, beating the $130,410 score that Champie Douglas earned in the $525 Main Event of the Super Circuit Series earlier this year. As the field dwindled down to two tables, the field included Hellmuth gunning for a 16th bracelet, former World Poker Tour champ Taylor von Kriegenberg looking to add a WSOP bracelet to his resume, and WPT commentator and WSOP bracelet winner Tony Dunst hoping for a second bracelet. Hellmuth was the only one of those three to not make the final table. Taylor von Kriegenbergh moved all-in from the hijack for 751,580 with [poker card="kd"][poker card="ts"] only to have Justin 'MadTitan' Turner call from the cutoff with [poker card="ac"][poker card="kh"]. The board ran out [poker card="tc"][poker card="6c"][poker card="4c"][poker card="2c"][poker card="jh"] to give von Kriegenbergh top pair on the flop before Turner made the nut flush on the turn to pick up the first elimination of the night. A few minutes later, Jonathan 'Art.Vandelay' Dokler picked up his first victim of the final table. Action folded to Mark 'NostraDonkus' Liedtke on the button and he moved all-in for 1,017,824 with [poker card="qh"][poker card="7s"]. Dokler called from the big blind with [poker card="9h"]][poker card="9s"]. The [poker card="ad"][poker card="5d"][poker card="2d"] flop missed Liedtke and he could do nothing but watch as the [poker card="2h"] turn and [poker card="9c"] river gave Dokler a full house to send Liedtke out in eighth place. The fast pace of eliminations continued as a blind versus blind battle two hands later ended one player's tournament. Michael 'DDSpade' Balan opened to 390,000 from the small blind and 'djp1006' defended his big blind. The flop came [poker card="qc"][poker card="tc"][poker card="8s"] and Balan bet 460,000. 'djp1006' moved all-in behind him for 1,470,536. Balan called and tabled [poker card="th"][poker card="7d"] for middle pair while while 'djp1006' was ahead with [poker card="ac"][poker card="ah"]. The turn was the [poker card="jh"] but the river was the [poker card="td"] to give Balan trip tens to bust 'djp1006' in seventh. No one player was able to seize control of the final table to this point with the fourth elimination of the night coming at the hands of a fourth unique player ten minutes later. 'ChefShap' moved all-in from the cutoff with [poker card="ac"][poker card="5c"] with Shawn 'SayGoodNight' Daniels calling from the big blind with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qs"]. Daniels stayed in control through the [poker card="kh"][poker card="6h"][poker card="5d"][poker card="2c"][poker card="8h"] run out to send 'ChefShap' to the rail in sixth place. The final five players battled for 20 minutes with Dunst holding the chip lead despite not having been responsible for a single final table elimination. Two other players who had sent players packing battled in the next bustout. From the small blind, Balan raised to 555,000 and Dokler re-raised to 1,200,000 from the big blind. Balan called and the two players saw a flop of [poker card="kh"][poker card="td"][poker card="4d"]. Balan checked, Dokler bet 680,000 and Balan called. The turn was the [poker card="2d"] and Balan shoved his last 2,840,000 into the middle and Dokler called. Balan showed [poker card="qd"][poker card="ts"] for second pair and the third nut flush draw only to be shown [poker card="kd"][poker card="4h"] by Dokler for two pair and a better flush draw. The [poker card="3c"] river offered Balan no help and he was sent packing in fifth. Down to four players, Dunst finally found himself a victim. From the button, Dunst raised to 560,000 with [poker card="kc"][poker card="ks"]. Daniels moved all-in for 1,538,586 from the small blind with [poker card="ad"][poker card="td"] and Dunst called. The [poker card="9d"][poker card="8s"][poker card="6d"] flop gave Daniels all kinds of outs. The [poker card="6h"] turn was not one of them and neither was the [poker card="jc"] river to send him home in fourth place. Unfortunately for Dunst, his run didn't last much longer after an all-in preflop flip didn't go his way. Dunst bet 560,000 from the button with [poker card="9c"][poker card="9d"] and Dokler responded by three-betting to 1,800,000 with [poker card="ah"][poker card="kd"]. Dunst moved all-in for 9,450,881 and Dokler called. The [poker card="qc"][poker card="5c"][poker card="2s"] flop was a safe one for Dunst and the [poker card="th"] turn kept him in control. The [poker card="kh"] river however gave Dokler top pair and eliminated Dunst in third place. Heads-up play lasted just 20 minutes thanks largely to Dokler holding a better-than 3-1 lead over Turner after Dunst's elimination. On the final hand Turner bet his last 4,765,824 with [poker card="ts"][poker card="6s"] and Dokler called with [poker card="4h"][poker card="4s"]. The [poker card="6c"][poker card="5s"][poker card="3d"] flop gave Turner top pair but Dokler was now drawing to an open-ended straight. The [poker card="2h"] turn completed that draw and all Dokler could do was watch as the meaningless [poker card="5d"] river completed the hand to eliminate him and award Dokler the win and his first career WSOP bracelet. The win comes three months after Dokler picked up a WSOP Circuit Ring in the Super Circuit Series on WSOP.com and five months after his win in the Borgata Winter Poker Open High Roller for $100,829. Final Table Payouts Jonathan 'Art.Vandelay' Dokler - $130,426 Justin 'MadTitan' Turner - $80,416 Tony 'Panoramic' Dunst - $57,881 Shawn 'SayGoodNight' Daniels - $42,060 Michael 'DDSpade' Balan - $30,947 'ChefShap' - $22,998 'djp1006' - $17,287 Mark 'NostraDonkus' Liedtke - $13,120 Taylor 'ZeroTo100' Von Kriegenbergh - $10,110 Notable Finishes Hellmuth was certainly the biggest name to make the money on opening day but not the only familiar face starting off the Series with a cash. Jonathan 'havuuuuuc' Turner (12th - $7,782), Ryan 'Toosick' Tosoc (25th - $3,935.92), Dan 'feeltheflow' Sindelar (29th - $3,164.17), Mike 'mouth123' Matusow (44th - $2,623.95), Jesse 'MrJesseJames' Sylvia (137th - $1,003.27), Katie 'katelin' Lindsay (149th - $1,003.27), Napun 'javatini' Java (159th - $926.10), and Daniel 'centrfieldr' Lupo (247th - $771.75) and managed to work their way into the money on Wednesday night.