The dedication to online poker action that helped the World Series of Poker overcome the obstacles of 2020 is already evident in the new year. With the monthly circuit action that usually takes place in live settings moving online to GGPoker, it was anybody’s guess as to what the popularity of the first events would be like. Luckily, the $1,700 buy-in main event that helped things get started was a ringing success.
The tournament drew almost 6,400 total entries. As a result, the guaranteed purse of $10 million ended up soaring to over $10.3 million. That meant even the lowest payback in the top 700 would earn over $4,000.
Online WSOP Action in Gear in the New Year
The action was typically hot and heavy as the field was narrowed down by degrees. When the final nine appeared at the virtual final table, Lithuania’s Paulius Plausinaitis sat in the chip lead. For much of the final table, however, Joseph Cheong did the damage with four eliminations.
As a matter of fact, Cheong actually took the chip lead away from Plausinaitis during his stretch of knockouts. But an all-in move on another hand failed him and brought his chip total back down to earth. Cheong was ripe for the picking when Plausinaitis took him out and had to settle for third place.
That left Plausinaitis in head-to-head action with a player known only as turkey1. (Such is the nature of real money online poker,you’ll get some players who don’t use their real names.) And he frittered away a significant lead to the quasi-anonymous player once they went at it.
But the Lithuanian player eventually fought back and took a big lead of his own. He wouldn’t give this one away again, as he knocked out his opponent with an ace on the turn of one hand that gave him two pair and the championship. Plausinaitis’ earnings for his efforts were over $1.2 million and a WSOP Circuit gold ring.
Polk Stopping the Comeback
On Monday of this past week, Daniel Negreanu won his fifth consecutive session in the Grudge Match of the Century against Doug Polk. If you haven’t been following the match, you might hear that and think that Negreanu was in control. In actuality, he was still trailing by just shy of $500,000 at that point.
But it was still progress. At one point, “Kid Poker” had seen his deficit bloat to around a cool million to Polk, the heavy favorite in the match because of his prowess in the world of online Texas Hold’em head-to-head action. The fact that Negreanu had scrapped his way back into it in that manner had some believing that the match might tighten up to an even closer degree.
On Wednesday and Friday of this past week, Polk put a temporary stop to that talk. Wednesday saw him take back almost $120,000 to push his lead back over $600,000. He then followed it up with a more modest winning session on Friday, capturing another $26,000.
At this point, Polk doesn’t need huge session wins to capture the whole thing against Negreanu, his longtime target of social media abuse. It’s more a matter of just running out the clock. The matchup has now reached the point where the duo has played around 16,500 hands.
Basically, Negreanu is running out of time. He’ll either have to score a couple of massive wins on a single session or else win almost every session from here on out. It’s not out of the question that he could make the thrilling comeback for the ages, but the percentages aren’t looking good for the underdog in this entertaining battle.
High Stakes Poker Lives Up to Its Name
We reported throughout last year about the return of High Stakes Poker. Every Wednesday night on PokerGo, some of the top cash-game players in the world are playing, in a live setting (with all the proper health protocols in place), for huge pots in front of the cameras. This is, of course, the rehash of the show that ran for years on broadcast television back in the poker boom years at the turn of the millennium.
We’re happy to report that the action at High Stakes Poker has been just as enjoyable, unpredictable, and lucrative as it was back in the day. Wednesday night’s action was typical of that. In fact, on a single hand, Tom Dwan was able to win just shy of $1 million.
The hand occurred when five players originally bet into the pot. After some initial betting, two payers dropped out, leaving Dwan, Jean-Robert Bellande, and Lynne Ji to battle it out, the latter two going all-in first. Dwan decided to cover and then some to set up the highlight hand.
Remember that the High Stakes Poker format doesn’t require adherence to strict tournament rules. Instead, they decided to have three different flops to decide the main pot and the side pots. And incredibly, Dwan, who went in with a slight lead in the hand with his pocket queens outranking Ji’s suited queen-10 and Bellande’s suited ace-king, won all three flops.
The end result was a $985,000 score in the blink of an eye. Hey, the name of the game is High Stakes Poker, after all. What did you expect?
Michigan Joins the Online Poker Party
It took a while, but the grind of state gambling laws often does. To set the table, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer put things into motion at the end of 2019 by signing a bill that legalized online gambling. But it took the whole of 2020 for regulators to come to terms with how the rollout would play out.
Of course, there’s more to online casino gambling than poker. But it is the biggest draw of all. We’ve seen in the past year how players gravitated to online play in the absence of much love action.
Once Michigan does go live, it will be interesting to see how aggressively they enter the market in terms of big events. Another big get for them would be if they allow player-sharing pools from other states, which would really make them huge. In any case, the announcement that the date for liftoff is nearby should please poker players in the area to know that they should be able to play for real money at Michigan websites soon.