Poker news | Oct 09, 2020
Stoyan Madanzhiev Wins 2020 WSOP Main Event Online and $3.9m
By RTR Dennis
The 2020 WSOP Main Event became the first in WSOP ME in history to take place online. This format suited Stoyan Madanzhiev well as he battled through a field of 5,802 entries to win the $5,000 Main Event and $3,904,686.
2020 also marked the first time that players could rebuy into the ME. 3,471 unique players paid the original $5k buy-in. They collectively exercised their rebuy option 2,331 times for a total of 5,802 entries.
Madanzhiev’s Road to Victory
Bryan Piccioli, who drew plenty of attention for his controversial screen name ‘smbdySUCKme,’ entered the final day as the chip leader. He led the remaining 38 players and was in good position to make the final table.
However, Piccioli bowed out in 23rd place and collected $79,625. His relatively quick elimination paved the way for others to rise and make the 9-player final table.
Nobody who made the final table had won a gold bracelet. But Steffan Schillhabel does have plenty of online poker success. The German high-stakes grinder added to his career winnings by taking seventh place and earning $467,825.
Wenling Gao was trying to become the first woman in history to win the WSOP Main Event. She put herself in good position to do so after knocking Tyler Rueger out in third place ($1,928,887).
Gao and Madanzhiev were virtually even in the chip count. However, the latter won some big hands early to take a 2-to-1 chip advantage.
The Bulgarian continued pushing his edge until the final hand. Both players put their money into the middle on a flop of 3-4-5.
Gao held pocket aces while Madanzhiev did indeed have what he represented with 6-7. Madanzhiev’s straight sealed his victory. Meanwhile, Gao became the highest female finisher in a WSOP ME and collected a $2,748,605 payout.
Afterward, Madanzhiev celebrated his victory with a short video. He was at a loss for words while walking around his home following the victory.
2020 WSOP Main Event Online Final Table Results
1. Stoyan Madanzhiev (Bulgaria) – $3,904,686
2. Wenling Gao (China) – $2,748,605
3. Tyler Rueger (United States) – $1,928,887
4. Thomas Ward (New Zealand) – $1,353,634
5. Satoshi Isomae (Japan) – $949,937
6. Joao Santos (Brazil) – $666,637
7. Stefan Schillhabel (Germany) – $467,825
8. Tyler Cornell (United States) – $328,305
9. Samuel Taylor (United States) – $230,395
COVID-19 Dramatically Changes 2020 WSOP Main Event
Last year, Hossein Ensan won the ME along with $10 million in a crowded Rio casino setting. This year’s scene was much different.
Many casinos have reopened since COVID-19 began spreading throughout the world. However, WSOP organizers didn’t feel comfortable cramming so many players into the Rio for the 2020 edition.
Instead, organizers came up with a plan to hold 85 online tournaments—54 of which would offer gold bracelets. The first 31 tourneys ran on WSOP.com, while the 54 bracelet events happened on GGPoker.
The reason for the split is that WSOP.com can only accept players who are physically located in New Jersey or Nevada. GGPoker, on the other hand, is an international site that can accept most countries outside of America.
2020 Main Event Online Breaks Records
The 2020 WSOP Main Event is notable for more than just its internet format. First off, it became the largest online poker tournament by prize pool in history.
GGPoker guaranteed a $25 million prize pool. However, it ended up exceeding this amount with almost $27.56 million in prize money. This amount is the most money ever awarded through an online poker tournament.
The $27.56 million prize pool enabled Madanzhiev to win a $3.9 million payout. This $3.9 million marks the biggest single payout ever in an internet poker tourney.
Should Madanzhiev Count as a WSOP Main Event Champion?
Nobody can argue that Stoyan Madanzhiev is the champion of the 2020 WSOP Online series. He won the most-high-profile tournament and collected the biggest payout as well. However, some debate exists over whether he’s an official WSOP Main Event winner.
Multiple factors cast some doubt on his status as a true ME champ:
- The 2020 WSOP Main Event Online allowed rebuys.
- This is the first ME to happen online.
- Americans had to travel outside of the US to play.
Regarding the first point, GGPoker allowed rebuys to pump up the prize pool. After all, they knew that this year’s ME wouldn’t draw the same amount of entries as in years past.
The strategy worked from a financial perspective. However, some players feel that the rebuys violated the traditional Main Event format.
The WSOP faced a difficult choice with how to run this year’s series. If they ran it exclusively on their branded site, then they risked excluding most international players and many Americans outside of Nevada and New Jersey.
They chose a blended route that included staging events on both WSOP.com and GGPoker. This approach allowed a mixture of Americans and international players to partake in the WSOP.
However, the vast majority Americans were cut out of the Main Event. GGPoker doesn’t accept US residents. Only well-funded pros like Daniel Negreanu were able to stay outside the US just to play on GG.
No perfect solution existed for how to run this summer’s WSOP. Therefore, Madanzhiev should be considered a real champion under the circumstances. Nevertheless, many will continue to debate the validity of his victory.