Last year the World Series of Poker (WSOP) debuted an historic fusion of online and live poker, as the first ever Online No-Limit Hold’em bracelet event in series history managed to draw 905 players.
This time around, the tournament billed as Event #66 ($1,000 WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold’em) broke its own high water mark, attracting 927 entries to become the largest tournament yet played within America’s newly legalized and regulated statewide online poker network.
The total prize pool for this year’s WSOP.com Online event topped out at $1,184,650, shattering the previous high for an online poker tournament in the newly regulated domestic market set by last year’s debut ($859,750). Before the introduction of an online bracelet event, the previous record was only $247,000, held by a 2015 satellite tournament known as the 25 Seat Main Event Scramble.
Players located in more than 20 different jurisdictions throughout Nevada formed the record-breaking field, accessing the tournament through the WSOP.com online poker client.
Offering a unique opportunity to play for poker’s premier prize – the gold bracelet awarded to WSOP winners – over the internet, the WSOP.com Online event was structured in unique fashion. After signing up and creating an account through WSOP.com, recreational players and big name pros alike sat at their desktop computers, manned laptops, or carried tablet devices while playing under screen names.
Dozens of players even managed to “multi-table,” bringing a portable device with them to the Rio in order to play a live tournament while simultaneously working their way through the WSOP.com Online event.
During an action-packed Day 1, the large field was whittled down to a final table of six, each of whom then traveled to Las Vegas to play out the endgame live and in person on the famous “Mothership” stage.
In the end, it was successful Colorado-based semipro Clayton Maguire who claimed the crown, winning $210,279 along with his first WSOP bracelet. Maguire’s previous claims to poker fame include victories at the 2013 World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic ($159,563) and a European Poker Tour Grand Final event in 2009 ($368,159).
Rounding out the WSOP.com Online event final table results were runner-up Simeon Naydenov (2nd place – $150,569), Marc-Olivier Carpentier-Perrault (3rd place – $110,172), Spencer Taylor (4th place – $82,926), Richard Tuhrim (5th place – $59,233), and Park-Yu Cheung (6th place – $46,201).
The WSOP’s most anticipated tournament, and poker’s premier showcase, is the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Main Event. Known as the World Championship, the Main Event drew a typically massive crowd, with 6,737 unique players taking their shot at poker immortality.
After three separate Day 1 starting flights, followed by a pair of Day 2 flights, the huge field has been pared down to 2,186 hopefuls entering Day 3 on Thursday, June 14.
The chip leader to this point is Valentin Vornicu, who has spun his 50,000-chip starting stack up to 838,600 – putting him well ahead of Gustavo Lopes (630,700) and Raffaele Castro (587,000).
Vornicu is no stranger to WSOP success, winning eight Circuit Rings on the series’ lower tour to put himself among the Circuit’s all-time top performers. He’s still searching for his first gold bracelet though, and a big lead in the Main Event gives him a great opportunity to do so in fine fashion.
Other notable names still in contention as the Main Event continues are $50,000 Poker Players Championship winner Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi (549,400), 2013 World Champion Ryan Reiss (349,000), defending champ Joe McKeehen (183,900), and the “Poker Brat” himself, 14-time bracelet winner and 1989 World Champion Phil Hellmuth (82,300).