Weekly Poker Update: December 7, 2020

BUSC Weekly Poker Update Image and Dan Bilzerian
GGPoker has quickly risen to among the top of the list of real money online poker sites that have gained so many new players in the past six months, as most live action has fallen by the wayside. Part of their strategy has been about hiring brand ambassadors who understand the power of social media and have a kind of polarizing persona. It’s the idea that you can love them or hate them but you can’t ignore them.

Their latest signing falls right in line with that ethos. This week, the company announced the hiring of Dan Bilzerian as their latest sponsored pro. And they’ve wasted no time in putting him to work with an event that begins this week.

Bilzerian Blitz Begins

Starting on December 7th, you can enter a tournament featuring Bilzerian, who claims to have made the vast majority of his fortune playing in high-roller cash games. This tournament sets up like many others you might see online, with cash prizes for the best performers. But GGPoker also structures it in such a way to play off what many people, even those who might not know a flush from a straight, know about Bilzerian.

Bilzerian has gained a lot of fame through his massive social media following, which has earned him the unofficial title of “King of Instagram.” Those Instagram posts feature him living the high life. GGPoker is offering the person who knocks Bilzerian out of this tournament the chance to party with him as part of his 40th birthday celebration.

It should be noted that the announcement that GGPoker would be hiring Bilzerian was met with some scorn in both the media and from other players. You can get the negative take pretty well from this Deadspin article. But it basically boils down to the notion, held by those opposers, that Bilzerian’s brand might not be what’s best for online poker at large, especially when the legality of the enterprise is always in jeopardy.

Whatever you think about it carefully, it’s hard to deny that GGPoker has been aggressive about pushing forward and trying to assert itself in a crowded field. Its association with the World Series of Poker gives it further legitimacy.

The addition of Bilzerian gives them another big name on their roster. Whether or not it has the desired effect and drives business to the site remains to be seen. Evidence should start to trickle in with the tournament that begins this week.

Polk Still in Control

The good news for Daniel Negreanu in his Grudge Match of the Century against Doug Polk is that he has managed to bank three session wins in a row. But the bad news is that the success hasn’t done much to cut into Polk’s overall solid lead in the match.

This past week was capped off with a Friday Hold’em session in which Negreanu managed a victory of nearly $47,000. But the three wins he scored this past week were all of that narrow variety. He hasn’t been able to pull out the kind of significant win that Polk did two weeks ago, where he really burnished his advantage.

Poker Pocket Aces

And time is not on Kid Poker’s side by any stretch. The match is now nearing 7,500 hands played. The first big milestone is at 12,500 hands, where the player who is behind at that point can concede. Or they can play on for another 12,500 hands for a total of 25,000, doubling the pot in the process.

For those who aren’t too familiar with head-to-head marathon Texas Hold’em events like this, the idea is to play so often that luck evens out and you can determine the better player fair and square. Right now, we are more than halfway to the decision-making point of 12,500. And after another session or two, this match will be more than one-third complete, even if it goes the 25,000-hand distance.

In other words, Negreanu might need a session like one Polk had the week before last, when he rolled up over $330,000 in one round to properly get back into it. That would at least put him in shouting distance where he might be able to grind his way back in. Right now, he is in danger of losing touch, even after a solid performance this past week.

World Series of Poker Begins…Again

If you’ve been following this column the past few weeks, you know that we’ve been talking about the somewhat surprising revival of the World Series of Poker. After an online series was held at the end of summer, including a Main Event, most assumed that would be that. But then, in the last month, the WSOP made the announcement that it would be returning for another Main Event in hybrid form, part online and part live.

The online portion of the latest World Series of Poker Main Event action got underway this past week with a pair of flights held on the international side. Flight 1A, featuring 246 players anteing up the $10,000 buy-in, took place last weekend and featured Julian Menhardt out in front with the chip lead at the end of the day’s play. Flight 1B, which included 171 fresh entries, ended up with a chip lead for Blaz Zerjav of Slovenia.

For those who are wondering about the schedule, a third international flight was taking place at press time. That will set the final table, which will be played live coming up on December 15. Barring anything unforeseen, King’s Casino in Rozvadov in the Czech Republic will be the host.

Remember that the international action is only part of the World Series of Poker scene. There will also be a US version of the event coming up on the heels of the international action. The first and only beginning flight in the US, for players who are located in Nevada and New Jersey, takes place on December 13th.

After that, the US final table is scheduled for the Rio in Las Vegas on December 28th. Two days later, the winners of the international and US final tables get to it in a one-on-one matchup for all the marbles. Of course, the live portions of the events will be subject to the possibility of postponement, cancellation, or even a move back online should world events dictate the need to do so.

Nonetheless, the solid number of entries in the international flights indicates that there is definitely a lot of interest in this second round of World Series of Poker action, even as it takes places just a few months after the first. It’s all better late than never in a year where poker action at the tables has been noticeably scarce.