First-Ever WSOP Online Event Down to Final Table
Thursday was a historic day at the World Series of Poker. Well, not exactly “at” the World Series of Poker, so let me rephrase that: Thursday was a momentous day in World Series of Poker history. On July 2nd, the WSOP held the first-ever bracelet event to take place on the internet.
Run on WSOP.com, the tournament was officially Event #64: WSOP.com Online No-Limit Hold’em. It is a real event, complete with a gold bracelet awarded to the winner. The only difference between it and traditional WSOP events is that the vast majority of the tournament is played online (and, as a result, proceeds much faster than a regular event). Action kicked off at noon Pacific (3:00pm ET) and was paused when there were just six players remaining about nine and a half hours later. Those six players will play it out to the end live at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where the rest of the World Series of Poker is being held.
The way timing of the event was slightly different than the original plan. When the event was first announced, the plan was to play the entire tournament on the internet until just two players remained. Those two players would then conduct their heads-up battle live at the Rio the next day, which, if you are following along with your calendars, would have been today. But some grumbling in the poker community led to a change; in March it was announced that the online tournament would be paused with six players remaining instead of two and the final table would be contested live on Saturday, July 4th, rather than Friday.
No reason was given for the switch from a two-player to a six-player live portion, but it could just be that it gives those six players more play at such a crucial point in the tournament. As you may well know from playing online, blinds increase much faster on the internet, causing players to get into “all-in or fold” situations much sooner than they do live. Additionally, a heads-up match could conceivably end very quickly; a six-handed final table could just be more entertaining for both players and spectators.
The shifting of the final table to Saturday from Friday, though, had a very obvious purpose. The competitors needed time to travel from their online locations in Nevada to Las Vegas. Vegas is in the southeastern corner of Nevada – many areas of the state are several hours away by car. A tournament finalist could have had a drive of eight hours or more. Considering the tournament ended at about 9:30pm Pacific, that doesn’t give much of an opportunity to pack, travel, check-in to a hotel, and rest up before having to compete the very next day.
It appears that it also originally planned for the tournament to be open only to people in Nevada, but players on WSOP.com in both Nevada and New Jersey were permitted to play. (Update: According to the WSOP’s Seth Palansky, only people physically present in Nevada were allowed to participate.)
A total of 905 players registered for the online bracelet event, producing a prize pool of $859,750. An even 100 players made the money with $197,743 going to winner.
One fun thing about playing most of the tournament online is that the World Series of Poker gets to publish the names of the participants, so seeing the screen name “Stonerboner” on the leader board is high comedy. Most of the real life identities of the participants are unknown, but according to the WSOP, Greg Merson, Dutch Boyd, Mike Gorodinsky, Shannon Shorr, and Jesse Sylvia were amongst the notable names who took a shot at the online bracelet.
The tournament did experience one slight hiccup. When the player “MrTerry07” was eliminated in seventh place, the tournament did not automatically stop as it should have. It did not take too long, though, for the event to be paused, so in the end, it wasn’t too big of a deal.
Here is a look at the six remaining players and their chip counts:
Craig “imgrinding” Varnell – 2,572,767
Anthony “casedismised” Spinella – 2,290,637
Ryan “Stonerboner” Franklin – 1,832,138
Andrew “SLOPHOUSE” Rose – 1,104,863
Hunter “GringoLoco72” Cichy – 1,059,089
David “TuttyBear” Tuthill – 467,813
The final table will begin at noon Pacific at the Rio on Saturday, July 4th.