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WSOP Goes Online and Wins Big


World Series of PokerThe global pandemic brought enormous challenges to this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP), which was forced to go online with the closure of resort properties. Series organizers also had to create two separate flights, for domestic and international players, because of gaming regulations and travel restrictions.

But WSOP Online hit the jackpot.

The combined domestic and international events generated nearly $175 million in prize pools and over 280,000 entries; they set numerous records, including the largest-ever single tournament in online poker history. One of the big winners was Caesars Entertainment’s charity, Caesars Cares. WSOP and its international partner, GGPoker, raised more than $354,000 for the employee assistance fund aiding U.S.-based team members who have suffered unanticipated hardships, including loss of income during the COVID-forced closure.

“It was the biggest summer ever for online poker,” said Ty Stewart, WSOP’s executive director.

Setting up for success was a complex undertaking. U.S. online gaming regulations require players to be physically present in Nevada or New Jersey, offering a drivable option for either coast.

With the platform, organizers created one virtual poker room and authenticated the players’ physical locations. The arrangement made the tournament drivable from either coast.

That left the task of serving international players. “Given travel restrictions to and from the U.S.A.,” Stewart explained, “it would have been impossible to achieve international participation.” So international play was set up with GGPoker.

Players from 166 nations signed on, Stewart said—one indicator that online poker has a big future at WSOP. But live events aren’t going away, he added.

“We are very bullish about the future of online poker and regulations opening up in additional states,” he said. “However, we still look forward to one day soon, safely welcoming tens of thousands of guests once again to Las Vegas for the signature WSOP tournament experience as we have done for the past 50 years.”

“This brand has stood the test of time and we are confident we’ll be back bigger than ever. But our goal is to be the place where dreams are dealt, even if that’s right to your phone.”

WSOP 2020 Domestic Series Highlights

Total prize pool: $26,871,265

Average prize pool: $866,815

Average buy-in: $802

Biggest prize pool: $2,019,700 (No Limit Hold’em championship)

Number of events with $1 million prize pools: 6

2020 WSOP International Series Highlights

Total prizes paid across all 54 tournaments: $147,789,550

Average prize pool: $2,736,844

Biggest online poker tournament prize ever awarded: $3,904,685 to Stoyan Madanzhiev, winner of WSOP Online $5K Main Event

Number of tournaments with a prize pool of at least $1 million: 45

Number of tournaments with a prize pool of at least $5 million: 5

Number of tournaments with a prize pool of at least $10 million: 2

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