In a press release issued on May 21, PokerStars predicted that the day would go on to become the largest in online poker history, with more than $28 million in guaranteed payouts on the line.
And after 1,275 tournaments were put in the books, PokerStars proudly proclaimed the record-breaking attempt to be a success, having smashed that guarantee by paying out over $39 million.
To achieve those results, PokerStars expanded its schedule of standard tournaments to coincide with the site’s 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) series and its three-tiered Main Event.
Like all SCOOP tournaments, the Main Event is divided into (L)ow, (M)edium, and (H)igh categories, with buy-ins set at $109, $1,050, and $10,300, respectively. The guaranteed prize pools for Sunday’s trio of Main Events were tabbed at $1.5 million (L), $3 million (M), and $5 million (H), and the High version guaranteed a first-prize payout of $1 million to the eventual winner.
The previous record for combined payouts in a single day was $35 million, set on May 22 of 2016 – when that year’s SCOOP series concluded.
Ahead of the May 21 record rush, Severin Rasset – who serves as director of poker innovations and operations for PokerStars – commented on the undeniable allure that massive guarantees hold for recreational players and professionals alike:
“This is a really special day for us and our players, which will go down in online poker history as a record breaking moment.
The huge prize pools on offer further cement our position as the biggest and the best and on Sunday when players compete for $28 million we will be delivering millions of winning moments too.”
And when the once lofty benchmark was surpassed by over $11 million, or more than 39 percent, Rasset was quick to thank PokerStars’ player base for turning out in record numbers:
“Thank you to all our players who participated in our tournaments making it possible for us to break these records. Being able to offer the biggest day in the online poker history is a victory for everyone in poker and we’re delighted that so many of our players joined us to make this a reality.
We are proud to have been able to provide so many winning moments to so many of our players and we’re looking forward to providing even more for a long time to come.”
Per the most recent press release, the 2017 SCOOP schedule generated $29.5 million of the $39 million in payouts distributed across the entire platform.
Those figures included the aforementioned Main Events and their $9.5 million in combined guarantees, along with the conclusion of three SCOOP-01 opening events.
Buy-ins for the (L), (M), and (H) tiers of SCOOP-1 were set at $11, $109, and $1,050, respectively, and each event was played out under PokerStars’ popular “Phase” format – allowing for multiple reentries over a series of starting flights spread throughout the schedule. The guaranteed prize pools for these three events were also in the seven-figures, set at $1 million (L), $1.5 million (M), and $5 million (H) to pump up SCOOP’s contribution to the new record.
The largest of these SCOOP-01 Phase tournaments was designed with a $1 million guarantee for the winner. In a rare show of cooperation, however, the last five players at the final table agreed to chop the remaining prize pool after surviving a massive field of 5,821 entrants.
Holding twice as many chips as his nearest competitor, Germany’s “girafganger7” claimed the lion’s share at $745,000, while none other than Gordon “holla@yoboy” Vayo actually won the tournament to take home $692,460. Playing from Canada to access PokerStars legally, the American-born Vayo is best known for his runner-up finish in last year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.
As for the grand finale, the Main Event (H) final table concludes on May 23, and in an interesting twist for poker fans, decorated pros Harrison “gibler321” Gimble and Connor “blanconegro” Drinan are sitting in first and third on the chip leaderboard, respectively.
Gimble and Drinan are linked as prior winners of the Florida State Poker Championship, and both have recorded live cashes larger than the $1.35 million guaranteed prize for winning the SCOOP Main Event (H).