In the past few weeks, news arrived that the World Series of Poker—which seemed like it would be confined to the online poker sphere in 2020—would indeed be taking on a live element this year. And the whole thing began on Sunday with the first cards dealt in the international portion of the event. It is all leading up to two Main Events where the final tables will be held in a live setting with players in the same room, one for international players and one focused on the United States.
International World Series of Poker Main Event Gets Underway
It seems all a bit of a mad rush to get things going on such short notice. But such was the desire to salvage some sort of World Series of Poker normalcy in terms of having live tables, especially in this chaotic year of 2020.
You have to keep in mind that these will not be live events from the get-go. In fact, the early parts of each of the two Main Events will come from online action taking place at WSOP.com and GGPoker. Hence, you’ll hear the word “hybrid” kicked around a lot in the next few weeks.
While this news has generally been greeted with excitement in the world of real money poker, there has also been some controversy as well. You see, there already was a Main Event conducted this year, and it took place entirely in the online sphere. That championship was captured by Bulgaria’s Stoyan Madanzhiev.
At the time, Madanzhiev’s conquest seemed to be the be-all, end-all of the WSOP for 2020. No one had any idea, considering the stringency of health protocols, that there would be any chance at some sort of live event. And the way these latest Main Events have been hyped, they have cast a bit of a pall on Madanzhiev’s win, which doesn’t seem fair.
The other thing to keep in mind is that there is no guarantee that the live final tables, currently scheduled for December 16th in Rozvadov, Czech Republic (for the international event), and December 28th in Las Vegas (for the domestic event) will take place. There is always the possibility that the health complications facing the world could cause a postponement or even a switch to the online sphere.
One other twist to all this—the two winners of these events are scheduled for a live head-to-head battle when all is said and done on December 30th in Vegas. It’s a new twist that could add some extra excitement to the proceedings. There will be a last person standing that can claim a kind of ultimate World Series of Poker champ.
The buy-in for these tourneys is $10,000. And unlike the online version of the Main Event, there will be no rebuys allowed for players who are eliminated. This certainly makes this version of the WSOP a bit more like what you would have expected in past years.
One other note: Players in the United States must be located within the states of New Jersey or Nevada to participate in the early, online portions of the contest. Remember, you don’t have to be a resident of those states. But you do have to be operating your connected device of choice within those two states at the start of the action.
Regardless of whether or not you believe that this version of the World Series of Poker is legitimate or is just a rehash of what we’ve already seem, the bottom line is that there will be big money on the line. And the action will likely feature the best of the best in the world of poker in terms of those playing the game. Certainly, we’ll be watching closely over the next month or so and letting you know, in the end, who comes out on top.
Polk Starts to Surge Past Negreanu
In the past few weeks, we’ve been telling you all about the so-called Grudge Match of the Century in poker. For those who haven’t been following, we’re referring to the battle between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk, who have long sniped at each other for various matters and finally decided to settle it on the felt. The Texas Hold’em battle has been raging since the beginning of the month.
For the most part, it had been a tight contest between the two. This flew in the face of what many oddsmakers at gambling websites had believed. Due to his relative inexperience in the online head-to-hear sphere, Negreanu was considered a 4 to 1 underdog to Polk, who thrives in that particular setting.
Yet Negreanu had been acquitting himself quite well. In fact, the lead seemed to be trading hands every single session. The two came into the week barely separated in terms of their totals over the course of the match.
But this week certainly changed things drastically. Polk took a significant lead with a couple of lucrative sessions. And then he really laid the hammer down on Saturday.
Let’s put that into perspective. There will be a minimum of 12,500 hands played. At that point, the loser can concede, or they can double the pot and go to 25,000 hands to complete matters.
In other words, Polk is starting to stretch it out to the point where Negreanu should be a bit concerned. Big leads can certainly be overcome in head-head matchups in the world of poker. But if you’re a Polk backer, you’re probably feeling pretty good about how things are turning out so far.
If you’re in Negreanu’s corner, you might be a bit encouraged by the fact that luck certainly seems to have been in Polk’s camp so far. Many lucky river cards helped him in the Saturday session. Polk, emboldened by that, played with a lot of confidence and started making all the right decisions even when the cards weren’t falling into his lap.
In any case, the next week of sessions could prove Negreanu. If Polk continues to widen his lead as the pair gets closer to that 12,500-hand mark, the pressure will be all on Kid Poker. A concession might have to be considered, which would be a tough pill to swallow, but might be a way to lessen the damage.