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The recent announcement from the World Series of Poker of a hybrid online-live event that will crown the 2020 WSOP Main Event champion has drawn strong reactions from the poker community. Many players were quick to question the safety of holding a live event in Las Vegas given the current status of the global pandemic while others had questions about the confusion over the status of the title of the "Main Event champion". The new event, which has a $10,000 buy-in and will run on WSOP.com in New Jersey and Nevada and GGPoker.com in international markets, is a freezeout event similar in format to the traditional annual WSOP Main Event. With COVID-19 restrictions around the world making a traditional live Main Event impossible, the WSOP created a hybrid format The final nine players from the NJ/NV online event will travel to Las Vegas to play down to a winner while the final nine players from the international market will travel to Rozvadov, Czechia to play down to a winner. Those final two players will then meet for a heads-up match in Las Vegas with $1 million on the line. This follows a summer in which WSOP organizers held 85 bracelet events across the two online poker sites. The news was initially greeted with a mixed reaction from the poker community. Veteran pro David 'ODB' Baker tweeted his support for the idea and pushed back against some of the backlash directed at the WSOP for extending its brand even further. According to Stewart, each of the nine players who make the live final table in Las Vegas for American players will be subjected to testing prior to play. Any personnel involved in the production of the show will also be subjected to the same testing allowing the WSOP to create a "production bubble" where only those who have passed the testing will be allowed entry. Players will not be require to wear masks and plexiglass will not be in use. "There are only nine players in each bracket who are asked to voluntarily come to a live setting, where they will be protected by the most advanced Covid-19 testing prior to facing their competitors," Stewart said. "Our strategy here was intentional to keep the majority of play at home or in a controllable environment and keep the finale live environment small, manageable, and at the option of those with most to gain." Those same protocols will be used for the heads-up finale in Las Vegas on December 30. The decision to hold a made-for-TV WSOP Main Event before the end of the year lead some to wonder if a contractual obligation with ESPN forced WSOP's hand. Stewart dismissed this theory and indicated that the production costs are being absorbed by Caesars and GGPoker. "For the first time in over a decade, WSOP and its partner GG will be fully subsidizing all the costs of this production to guarantee the television coverage, given timelines and scope of programming could not be delivered in 2020," Stewart said. "Given that investment, and our $1M money added, the 51st Main Event will be a marketing expense. Which is fine with us. We are in poker for the long haul."
From 5,802 entries over 23 total flights in the 2020 World Series of Poker Online Main Event, former #1-ranked PocketFiver Bryan Piccioli holds the chip lead heading into Day 3 action. Just 38 of the 1,145 players who started Day 2 managed to work their way through Sunday's play. Piccioli, who held down the #1 spot on PocketFives for two weeks in May 2011, finished Day 2 with 18,417,494 and more than 2.5 million more than any other player. The 38 players will return to the felt on Saturday to play down to a winner. Thanks to the record-setting turnout, the prize pool swelled to $27,559,500 with the eventual champion walking away with $3,904,686 and the top four players all grabbing a seven-figure score. The Rest of Top 10 Just two other players crested the 15 million chip mark. Scotland's Michael Kane earned the prestige of sitting second in chips after bagging up 15,907,969 chips. Right behind him is Bulgarian Stoyan Madanzhiev with 15,299,783. One of just a handful of players whose real name is still not known, 'kellyyy' has the fourth biggest stack with 13,108,575. England's Craig Timmis is in fifth place with 12,809,181. He's already cashed 13 times in WSOP events this summer on GGPoker including a third place finish in Event #37 ($1,050 Pot Limit Omaha Bounty) and then a runner-up result in Event #53 ($800 Double Stack Pot Limit Omaha). Not surprisingly, Piccioli isn't the only big stack who has had previous online poker success. Dinesh Alt, who won the PokerStars Turbo Championship of Online Poker Main Event in 2016, sits sixth with 11,681,173. One of the most talked-about online poker players in the world also worked his way into the top 10. Benjamin Rolle, known as 'bencb789', finished with 10,789,181 and will start Day 3 on Saturday with the eighth largest stack. Rolle, the founder of the Raise Your Edge coaching site, booked a trademark win in 2016 when he defeated Fedor Holz heads-up to win the $102,000 buy-in WCOOP Super High Roller. Lauck, Schillhabel & Vousden Highlight Chase Group In 2016, Jonas Lauck had a deep run in the WSOP Main Event, eventually finishing in 37th place. He followed that up just a few months later by beating 2,090 other players to win the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker for a little more than $1.5 million. Now, the German sits with the 22nd biggest stack in the Main Event at 6,118,751. Samuel '€uropean' Vousden was the Day 1A chip leader. The WCOOP and SCOOP winner finished Day 1A of the Main Event with 717,497 and turned that into 4,241,694 through the end of Day 2. Both of those stacks pale in comparison though to the one owned by Stefan Schillhabel. The German poker pro, a regular in the biggest buy-in tournaments around the world with $9.35 million in live earnings, ended Day 2 with 8,412,841 and sits in 15th position heading into Day 3. Michael Lech Goes for History Way back in July, Michael Lech took down Event #13 ($1,500 NLHE High Roller) on WSOP.com to win his first career bracelet. The eight-time WSOP Circuit ring winner now has a shot at becoming the first player to win WSOP bracelets on WSOP.com and GGPoker.com after he finished with the 30th biggest stack at 4,192,636. 2020 WSOP Main Event Day 3 Chip Counts Bryan Piccioli - 18,417,494 Michael Kane - 15,907,969 Stoyan Madanzhiev - 15,299,783 kellyyy - 13,108,575 Craig Timmis - 12,809,181 Dinesh Alt - 11,681,173 TiroGiro - 11,116,489 Benjamin Rolle - 10,789,181 HappyDX - 10,553,281 Joao Santos - 10,433,786 Tyler Cornell - 10,152,249 Dingxiang Ong - 9,320,927 Xuming Qi - 8,842,916 WhyEsEl - 8,635,342 Stefan Schillhabel - 8,412,841 Satoshi Isomae - 8,359,674 Maicon Gasperin - 8,171,017 Joshua Mccully - 7,906,110 Tyler Rueger - 7,692,938 Tzai Wei Phua - 7,338,038 Martin Arce - 6,131,772 Jonas Lauck - 6,118,751 Avidan Cohen - 5,880,731 Manuel Saavedra - 5,847,283 Lucas Tabarin - 5,695,282 Phachara Wongwichit - 5,153,525 Chris Brewer - 4,908,096 Julien Perouse - 4,866,548 Samuel Vousden - 4,241,694 Michael Lech - 4,192,636 Thomas Ward - 4,083,422 Mateusz Rypulak - 4,079,246 Ricky Tang - 3,397,845 Arkadiy Tsinis - 2,394,388 Freek Scholten - 2,248,788 Julian Stuer - 2,111,979 Aleksandr Trofimov - 1,602,207 Evgeny Galakhov - 958,516
For the last five days, 38 poker players have been dreaming about having the possibility of becoming the 2020 World Series of Poker Online Main Event champion. That's how many players were left when the tournament was paused last Monday. Bryan Piccioli was the chip leader and online crushers Benjamine Rolle, Samuel Vousden, and Jonas Lauck were all still in contention. But as the 38 players began clicking buttons on Saturday afternoon, those four players were all pushed aside to make way for Serbian Stoyan 'Nirvana76' Madanzhiev. Piccioli was eliminated in 23rd place after coming out on the losing end of a massive pot with Julien Perouse before surrendering the remainder of his stack to Rolle. Lauck went out in 34th place while Vousden and Rolle went out in 12th and 11th place respectively. The final table started with Tyler Rueger in the lead and Madanzhiev in second place. Almost as quickly as Samuel Taylor took his seat at the final table, he was removed from it in brutal fashion. Wenling Gao raised to 1,400,000 from UTG+1 and Taylor, who started the final table with the sixth largest stack, called from middle position. The flop came [poker card="9s"][poker card="7h"][poker card="3c"] and Gao bet 1,750,000 and Taylor called. The turn was the [poker card="ac"] and Gao checked. Taylor bet 4,200,000 and Gao clicked back to 11,900,000. Taylor called. The [poker card="qs"] completed the board and Gao bet 8,750,000. Taylor moved all in for 9,918,268 and Gao snap-called. Taylor showed [poker card="9c"][poker card="9d"] for a flopped set but Gao showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="as"] for top set to eliminate Taylor in ninth. It was 24 minutes before the next player was eliminated. Rueger raised to 1,400,000 from UTG+1. Tyler Cornell shoved his last 4,796,374 into the middle from Rueger's direct left. Action folded back around to Rueger and he called and showed [poker card="qd"][poker card="jc"]. Cornell tabled [poker card="ad"][poker card="js"] but the [poker card="qs"][poker card="9c"][poker card="9d"] flop put Rueger in control. The [poker card="kd"] turn and [poker card="8h"] river changed nothing for Cornell and he was eliminated in eighth place. Gao found her second victim of the final table just a few moments later. Gao raised to 1,400,000 from UTG+1 before Stefan Schillhabel raised to 7,987,052. Gao re-raised to 25,606,156 and Schillhabel called off the last 2,100,000 in his stack. Gao tabled [poker card="ac"][poker card="kh"] and found out she was racing against Schillhabel's [poker card="tc"][poker card="ts"]. The [poker card="7c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="4c"] flop gave Gao the nut flush draw to go with her two overcards. The [poker card="kc"] turn gave her the nut flush and Schillhabel was eliminated in seventh place as the [poker card="5s"] completed the board. Rueger went back to work as the executioner just 35 minutes later. Rueger min-raised to 1,400,000 from the cutoff and Joao Santos moved all in for 9,061,138 from the big blind. Rueger called and turned over [poker card="ad"][poker card="kh"] which was bad news for Santos who tabled [poker card="ah"][poker card="2s"]. The [poker card="jd"][poker card="3d"][poker card="3s"] flop gave Santos some chop out and the [poker card="4h"] turn gave him extra outs for the win. The river was the [poker card="7s"] to miss both players to give Rueger the pot and eliminate Santos in sixth place. Four minutes later, Satoshi Isomae was sent to the rail. Madanzhiev raised to 1,540,000 from late position and Isomae re-raised from the small blind to 4,483,500. Madanzhiev called and the pair saw a flop of [poker card="js"][poker card="9s"][poker card="5c"]. Isomae bet 11,605,800 and Madanzhiev called. The turn was the [poker card="7h"] and both players checked to see the [poker card="6s"] river. Isomae moved all in for 23,411,295 and Madanzhiev called. Isomae showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="qd"] for ace-high which wasn't good enough to beat Mandazhiev who flopped top two pair with [poker card="jd"][poker card="9d"]. Isomae was eliminated in fifth. On the very next hand, Gao was once again in charge of ending one of her foe's tournaments. Action folded to Thomas Ward on the button and he moved all in for 9,508,960 before Gao called from the small blind. Ward tabled [poker card="6c"][poker card="6s"] and Gao was ahead with [poker card="7c"][poker card="7s"]. The board ran out [poker card="qd"][poker card="jh"][poker card="8h"][poker card="js"][poker card="kc"] to eliminate Ward in fourth place. The inevitable confrontation between Gao and Rueger happened 14 minutes later. Gao raised to 1,400,000 from the button before Rueger raised to 4,395,000 from the big blind. Gao made it 9,800,000 to go and Rueger replied by moving all in for 48,697,202. Gao called and showed [poker card="kd"][poker card="kh"] while Rueger tabled [poker card="ah"][poker card="qs"]. Rueger whiffed on the [poker card="8d"][poker card="7s"][poker card="6c"] flop and got no relief via the [poker card="8c"] turn or [poker card="2c"] river and was eliminated in third place. Madanzhiev held an eight big blind lead over Gao when heads up play began. Madanzhiever ceased control as the pair battled for a half hour. On the final hand of the tournament, Gao raised to 1,600,000 and Madanzhiev called. The flop came [poker card="5c"][poker card="4h"][poker card="3s"] and Madanzhiev bet 1,700,000. Gao raised to 3,944,000 and Madanzhiev called. The [poker card="8h"] turn got Madanzhiev to check. Gao bet 5,644,000 and Madanzhiev raised to 15,040,000. Gao moveda all in for 8X,000,000 and Madanzhiev called. Gao tabled [poker card="ac"][poker card="ad"] but Madanzhiev showed [poker card="7d"][poker card="6h"] for a flopped straight that improved on the turn. The meaningless river was the [poker card="8s"] and Gao was eliminated in second place giving Madanzhiev the 2020 WSOP Online Main Event bracelet and just over $3.9 million. After his victory, the Bulgarian 29-year-old was ready to celebrate. Final Table Payouts Stoyan Madanzhiev - $3,904,686 Wenling Gao - $2,748,605 Tyler Rueger - $1,928,887 Thomas Ward - $1,353,634 Satoshi Isomae - $949,937 Joao Santos - $666,637 Stefan Schillhabel - $467,825 Tyler Cornell - $328,305 Samuel Taylor - $230,395