With COVID-19 rendering international travel largely impossible, the World Series of Poker moved from its regular home at the Rio in Las Vegas to the online world in 2020 … and it didn’t disappoint.
The inaugural WSOP Online, held on the GGPoker platform, broke multiple records across its 85 bracelet events, including the largest ever online poker tournament prize pool at US$27,559,500, most entries for any WSOP tournament with 44,576 and biggest ever online poker prize at US$3,904,685.
That final figure was awarded to none other than the winner of the 2020 WSOP Online Main Event, Bulgaria’s Stoyan Madanzhiev, who outlasted a field of 5,802 players to claim top prize. It was quite a score for a man whose live tournament record included just US$10,800 in cashes (and US$5,500 in WSOP Online cases) coming in.
Madanzhiev’s victory narrowly denied the first ever female winner of a WSOP Main Event, with China’s Wenling Gao finishing runner-up and cruelly having her AA cracked in what proved to be the very last hand of the tournament.
New Zealand’s Thomas Ward finished fourth for a handy US$1,353,634 payday – comfortably beating the US$481,960 he won for a runner-up finish in the APPT ACOP main event in Macau in 2015.
Joshua McCully was Australia’s highest finisher in 29th for US$55,880, with high stakes pro and recently inducted Australian Poker Hall of Famer Kahle Burns finishing 52nd for US$39,214.
There was one bracelet awarded to an Australian during WSOP Online, with Andy Lee topping a field of 971 players in July to take down the US$1,050 Bounty Pot Limit Omaha event for US$161,886 (AUS$225,630).