A version of this article was originally published on Poker Industry PRO.
Two weeks remain. And while this past weekend was notable for both the first overlay and the return of technical issues, they have not offset the successes thus far.
Last time PRO checked in on the series it was just over halfway through. The first-weekend jitters, causing the suspension of two events, were already a distant memory. The operator had completed seven of its 13 guaranteed tournaments, all of which had easily covered, some by a factor of two or more.
In the two weeks since then, this strong turnout has mostly continued. The operator has awarded 14 bracelets during this period. All but three had prize pools in excess of $1 million.
Highlights include the #67 Limit Hold’em, the first LHE event of the series, with a $500 buy-in (unsurprisingly it built the smallest prize pool of the series so far, at $335,000); three big tournaments targeting the Asian markets; and another $800 Turbo Bounty, which attracted 2208 players to build a prize pool of $1.77 million (it marked a repeat of Event #44 in week two, which attracted 174 more entries).
However, the big standouts were, as always, the bracelet events sporting guarantees, of which there have been three in the last two weeks: The Mini Main Event, the Big 50, and the NLH Poker Players Championship. The first was a smash hit; the second proved too successful for the servers to handle; the third was a surprise overlay.
Meanwhile, turnout for the Day 1 flights of the audacious Main Event – set to conclude in a week—has been strong; it is on course for covering the record-setting $25 million guarantee.
GG WSOP 2020 Bracelet Events: Weeks 4 and 5
|#58 NLH 6-Handed Championship||$4,750||$250||1||672||$3,192,000||$168,000|
|#59 Double Stack NLH||$2,375||$125||1||1061||$2,519,875||$132,625|
|#60 Bounty NLH 6-Handed||$500||$25||1||3170||$1,585,000||$79,250|
|#61 Monster Stack NLH Asia||$279||$21||1||3491||$973,989||$73,311|
|#63 Mini Main Event||$475||$25||15||15,205||$5M||$7,222,375||$380,125|
|#64 Turbo Bounty NLH||$800||$40||1||2207||$1,765,600||$88,280|
|#65 NLH Deepstack Championship||$570||$30||1||2911||$1,659,270||$87,330|
|#67 Limit Hold’em||$475||$25||1||706||$335,350||$17,650|
|#68 Deepstack NLH Asia||$475||$25||1||2315||$1,099,625||$57,875|
|#69 Marathon NLH Asia||$1,425||$75||1||1438||$2,049,150||$107,850|
|#70 Poker Players Championship||$24,500||$500||1||407||$9,971,500||$203,500|
|#71 BIG 50||$46||$4||15||44,576||$2,050,496||$178,304|
Event #63, the Mini Main Event was, as the name would imply, a low-stakes warm-up to the Main Event, with a tenth-sized buy-in of $500. With a guarantee of $5 million, it needed to attract just over 10,500 entries to cover.
Spread across 15 Day 1 phases, as is standard for most of the guarantees bracelet events, the Mini had no issue generating the necessary interest. By the 13th Day 1 (M) the prize pool had exceeded the guarantee; day N saw another 980 players join to push the prize pool to $6.1 million; Day O was by far the largest, with 2357 entries jumping in on the last flight.
It ended up generating over 15,000 entries, a turnout second only to the first week’s The Opener. It built a prize pool of $7.2 million, almost 50% over the guarantee. It was second only to the Millionaire Maker in terms of prize pool.
Event #71, the Big 50, was another low stakes, high volume event. The buy-in was a tenth the size again: A $50 buy-in with a $1 million guarantee, requiring almost 22,000 entries across the 15 Day 1s. Again, this proved to be no issue for the operator.
Every day brought in at least 1750 entries; the more popular phases saw turnouts exceed 3000. The guarantee was covered by the ninth Day 1, but that did not slow down the registrations: After a few more huge days—with the last alone attracting over 5000 – a final tally of 44,576 entries resulted in a final prize pool of $2.05 million, more than double the guarantee.
This is, by far, the largest turnout for any bracelet event, live or online, in any market, in World Series of Poker history.
In fact, turnout was apparently so large that the operator’s technical issues with large Day 2 fields, which first reared its head with The Opener, returned on Sunday. With 4140 players trying to take their seat in Day 2, reportedly GGPoker’s tournament server had issues assigning players in seats and getting the tournament started.
As it became clear that there were technical issues, it first took to social media to recommend players restart their clients and try various routes to launch their table. Some players managed to take their seats while many others could not, meaning they were blinded down.
After 90 minutes, the tournament ultimately got underway and it ran smoothly for the remainder of the tournament. GGPoker have refunded the $50 buy-in to all Day 2 qualifiers at a cost of just over $200,000. It collected $178,000 in rake so the tournament ultimately ran at slight cost after this compensation (though not counting satellite rake).
The operator also chose to suspend other tournaments underway, including the GGMasters and two Bounty Hunters, to free up server resources for the WSOP events. The operator will compensate players as per their standard refund policy, and in addition credit all players with tournament dollars worth their buy-in as a way of further apology.
Last weekend also hosted Event #70, the NLH Poker Players Championship. It was the first tournament of the series with a five-figure entry fee on the schedule; and with a $10 million guarantee, it is also t*he largest guaranteed prize pool outside the Main Event*.
It was also one of the few to not have multiple phases, meaning it needed to attract 408 entries to its single Day 1 to cover.
It missed by one. It attracted 407 entries to build a $9.97 million prize pool, a miss of 0.3%. GGPoker had to make up the $28,500 shortfall—though with its rake of over $200,000 from that tournament alone it was little hardship.
Still, it is currently – and may well be the only – missed guarantee of the series. To date, there have been 10 guaranteed bracelet events. They have attracted almost 130,000 individual entries and amassed total buy-ins just shy of $45 million.
GG WSOP 2020: Bracelet Events with Guarantees Turnout
|NLH Asia Championship||$980||$52||14||3,247||$1,000,000||$3,182,060||$2,182,060|
|GGMasters WSOP Edition High Roller||$1,425||$75||1||2,153||$2,500,000||$3,068,025||$568,025|
|GGMasters WSOP Edition Freezeout||$138||$12||1||9,835||$1,000,000||$1,357,230||$357,230|
|Mini Main Event||$475||$25||15||15,205||$5,000,000||$7,222,375||$2,222,375|
|NLH Poker Players Championship||$24,500||$500||1||407||$10,000,000||$9,971,500||-$28,500|
Three guaranteed tournaments remain. There are special WSOP editions of the operator’s weekly mega-phased tournaments, the Super MILLION$, and MILLION$. These guarantee $5 million and $2 million, with buy-ins of $10,000 and $100, respectively.
And then of course there is the Main Event. The $5000 buy-in tournament has a guarantee of $25 million, the largest ever in the history of online poker. It needs to attract over 5250 entries to cover.
As with the other big events, there are a lot of Day 1 phases: 23, by the last count (the operator has switched between 25, to 21, to 22 flights since first deploying the schedule; it only very recently added a 23rd). However, unlike the others, these are played as individual freezeouts, and the operator has committed to only allowing players to enter up to three Day 1s total. This sets a much higher bar.
Still, so far, it appears to be on track. There have been ten flights so far—43% of the way through—and there have been 1857 entries to generate a prize pool of $8.8 million, approximately 35% of its guarantee.
In one sense, that is a little under – if entries were equally distributed, it should have attracted closer to 2300 entries by now and generated prize money nearing $11 million. Arguably, with the cap on number of entries per day, the operator will find it increasingly difficult to find players to play the final flights.
However, traditionally later flights get much higher turnouts, with more players can be expected on flights held on the weekend of the event itself. The operator will continue to run satellites throughout this week, and many players will be holding back their second or third bullets for the last day.
For example, the Millionaire Maker had generated just $3.5 million of prize money after 7 of its 15 days (less than half way through), just 33% of its eventual total; The Mini Main was at 36% of its final prize pool half way through.
So, while the Main Event does have the three-entry max stipulation, it is still looking good: It seems on course to slightly surpass its guarantee and if the operator has heavily loaded satellites or prizes into the final weekend of Day 1s, it could comfortably exceed it.
Either way, it will be a remarkable achievement—assuming the servers can stand up to the action.
GG WSOP 2020 continues until September 6. Day 2, the final day, of the Main Event runs on August 30.