The Weekly Round-up – 21 June 2021:
The Tip Top Fox brings you the top poker and gambling industry stories of the week; Ivey Beats Antonius To Take WPT $25K Heads Up Championship; WSOP Releases 88-Bracelet Event 2021 Schedule; GGPoker Overtakes PokerStars As World’s Biggest Online Poker Site
Ivey Beats Antonius To Take WPT $25K Heads Up Championship
Iconic poker player Phil Ivey marks his return to the live poker arena by taking on and beating the equally iconic Patrik Antonius in a thrilling finale to the recently concluded 32-player World Poker Tour $25k Heads Up Poker Championship.
Running 18-22 June, the invitational-only event run as a collaboration between WPT and PokerKing saw a mix of the world’s best poker players, influencers, and online qualifiers pitted against each other in an aggressive best-of-three format where blinds increased every seven hands.
As reported last week, one of the most hotly anticipated heads-up battles in the poker world saw Doug Polk pitted against Tom Dwan in the first round of the much anticipated WPT $25k Heads Up Poker Championship.
However, that was just the hors d’oeuvres, with Ivey facing off against Antonius in a mouth-watering final that had poker fans everywhere salivating in anticipation. The thrilling match saw two of poker’s biggest names clash in a best of five format, battling it out for a $400,000 top prize.
The Road To The Final
Both players had to battle through a tough field to give fans the dream showdown. Ivey defeated Germany’s Manig Loeser, three-time WPT champion Anthony Zinno, the UK’s most successful poker player in the form of Stephen Chidwick, and online specialist Chris Kruk to reach the final.
Antonius saw off Japanese pop star Gakuto “GACKT” Oshiro in the first round, finding himself up against Polk in the second round after the latter defeated Dwan. Antonius defeated Polk with a 3-0 sweep to find himself up against Stefan “Stefan11222” Burakov in round three. This proved to be a tough match, with both players winning one apiece before Antonius managed to edge out the win. Antonius defeated Sam Greenwood in the semi-final to set up the mouth-watering finale.
Both players had already locked up $200,000 in prize money and the stage was set for an epic showdown. While the format changed slightly to a best of five instead of a best of three, the match was all done and dusted in around three hours, with Ivey sweeping Antonius 3-0 to take the title.
You can follow all the action as it happened via the WPT YouTube channel.
2021 WPT $25 Heads Up Championship Results
|1||Phil Ivey||United States||$400,000|
After a quiet few years, Phil Ivey announced his comeback to the world of live poker with a decisive win in the WPT $25K Heads Up Championship against one of the game’s greats in the form of Antonius, prompting many of the watching viewers to call him the greatest player of all time.
Of course, invitational small field high stakes tournaments with aggressive blind structures are possibly not the best indicator of how good a player is, but Ivey is certainly up there with the best in the game – as is Antonius.
If Ivey’s two recent (and rare) candid interview appearances on DAT Poker Podcast and on Joey Ingram’s Poker Life Podcast were subtle reminders to the poker world that Ivey was back, then this win marks a serious statement of intent for the upcoming 2021 World Series, which Ivey has announced he intends to play.
WSOP Releases 88-Bracelet Event 2021 Schedule
While everyone knew that the World Series of Poker would return in 2021 – running September 30 – November 23 – with dates announced back in April, what remained unknown was the number of events and the exact schedule details.
However, the WSOP released the full schedule details on 15 June, with a sizeable 88 bracelet events set to run over close to a two-month period. Buy-ins range from $400 to $250,000 with online and in-person registration beginning in August.
Once again the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas will host the world’s largest and longest-running poker tournament series and this year anticipation is at fever pitch.
The much-anticipated $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, better known as the “Main Event”, attracted over 8,000 runners for only the second time in series history in 2019, and with the 2020 WSOP played online due to Covid-19 restrictions, organisers are expecting another sizeable field. There is some speculation on whether or not this could be the largest WSOP in history.
“Make no mistake, the 2021 WSOP will be the real deal and we’re preparing for a full house. Throughout the storied history of the WSOP, this year will be particularly memorable and we’re preparing for a poker reunion all players can celebrate,” said Ty Stewart, the WSOP’s Executive Director residing over his 16th WSOP.
“We’re beyond thrilled to offer a complete schedule of can’t-miss events including all our flagships and the variety players deserve.”
“We could not be more excited to welcome everyone back to Las Vegas and the Rio,” said WSOP Vice President and Tournament Director, Jack Effel. “The entire WSOP team is hard at work to ensure players have the absolute best experience possible.”
The Main Event
The $10,000 Main Event will run from Thursday, 4 November through to Wednesday 17 November, with four starting flights instead of the usual three: Day 1A starts on Thursday, 4 Nov, Day 1B on Friday, 5 Nov, Day 1C on Saturday, 6 Nov, and Day 1D on Sunday, 7 Nov. The tournament will continue to play through the Main Event Final Table on Tuesday, 16 Nov, and Wednesday, 17 Nov.
Anticipation and expectations are high for the 2021 WSOP, following a 26-month absence. The 2019 WSOP set marks for tournament entries and prize pool with 187,298 entries and $293,183,345 in prize money awarded.
The average WSOP gold bracelet event in 2019 featured a $3,257,592 prize pool with $533,613 going to the event’s winner. The 2019 Main Event attracted 8,569 players (the second largest in history and largest since 2006) and the total prize pool was $80,548,600 with $10,000,000 going to the winner.
1 Oct: $500 “The Reunion” $5,000,000 GTD – Only the WSOP could put a guarantee on opening weekend requiring more than 10,000 participants. Players can choose from three starting flights on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – or play them all.
8 Oct – 19 Nov: Return of the Record Breakers – Each Friday and Saturday of the 2021 WSOP will see one of the WSOP’s flagship No-Limit Hold’em events. The Millionaire Maker, Monster Stack, Double Stack, Colossus and The Closer all return with multi-million dollar prize pools and significant value.
5 Oct: $25,000 Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship – The WSOP’s annual heads up championship goes for prestige with an increase to $25,000 and a cap of 64 players, certain to be a roster of the world’s elite.
10 Oct: $1,000 Flip and Go Presented by GG Poker – The popular online format is galvanized into a live event. Each player will be all in preflop on the first hand, dealt three cards, and select two. One player will win the table and immediately fast forward into the money, where the tournament will then play out under a traditional structure.
27 – 28 Oct: $1,000 Seniors Doubles Up – The record-smashing Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship will for the first time offer two starting days, with players allowed one optional re-entry per flight.
Oct 6, 13, 18, 21, and 24: “Old School Freezeouts Return” – No Longer is the Main Event the only pure freezeout at the WSOP. Beginning 6 Oct, every popular buy-in level from $500 to $5,000 will offer participants a true freezeout.
31 Oct: Deuce to Seven Single Draw NL Returns – The Poker Players’ Championship will expand to nine games with the return of 2-7 Single Draw NL. A $2,500 version of this format will also be available on 28 Oct.
17 Nov: Poker Hall of Fame Bounty – In homage to the Poker Hall of Fame (PHOF) that started in 1979, living Hall of Fame members will be invited to freeroll into the $1,979 No-Limit Hold’em tournament open to all players. Each participating player will have a bounty corresponding to the year they were inducted into poker’s most exclusive club and the 2021 PHOF inductee will be announced.
19 Nov: Nosebleed PLO – The WSOP’s highest-ever buy-in for a PLO tournament ($50,000 event 84) punctuates a prestigious High Roller series scheduled after the Main Event, which also includes $50,000, $100,000 and $250,000 No-Limit Hold’em events.
In addition, a quartet of Daily Deepstack tournaments return at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m., and 10 p.m. on most days in the Pavilion Room, which will continue to host satellite tournaments and live-action daily.
The full 88-event schedule can be found online at WSOP.com.
GGPoker Overtakes PokerStars As World’s Biggest Online Poker Site
As reported at the end of last month, GGPoker was closing in on PokerStars for the online industry’s top spot. Well, according to an article on PokerFuse utilizing data from GameIntel and Poker Industry PRO, that has finally happened and GGPoker has eclipsed PokerStars to become the world’s largest online poker room.
According to the latest data, GGPoker has overtaken PokerStars for most cash game players averaged over the last seven days – the way the industry measures the market share of online poker rooms.
GGPoker averaged over 5006 concurrent cash game seats based on its seven-day moving average, while PokerStars dipped below 5,000 for the first time in over 15 years, its seven-day moving average dropping to 4,981.
While this metric is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to site traffic, with cash game trends, and player numbers for tournaments and sit and gos also used to measure how wide an online sites reach is or how successful they are, it is certainly a solid indicator of how things stand in the competitive world of online poker sites.
It’s also worth taking into consideration the fact that GGPoker has access to more markets than PokerStars. Under the new ownership of Flutter Entertainment plc, PokerStars have pulled out of many world markets considered “grey” in the last 12 months, exiting Cyprus and several French overseas territories in early 2020, and exiting the China, Taiwan, and Macau markets back in September of 2020.
While GGPoker has also left some of the riskier market places, they still offer services in several areas considered too risky by their public traded company rivals such as partypoker and PokerStars.
The Rise of GGPoker
Best known for its Natural8 skin, the Good Game Network (GG) launched back in 2014 with a focus on the Asian market. By 2016 GGPoker had become the more popular skin and built up to 700 regular cash game players.
This increased to over 1,000 players by March 2017, increasing further later that year by obtaining a UK gaming license. By the summer of 2019, this had increased to 1,300 players
Following the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 World Series of Poker, PokerStars was enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to the worldwide lockdown, peaking at 12,104 cash game players. GGPoker was in a distant second with 3,709.
However, after seizing the exclusive rights to host the 2020 World Series Online, GGPoker’s star began to rise. While the series had some teething troubles, with several of the initial events having to be postponed due to server issues and a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, it proved to be an overwhelming success.
The 2020 WSOP online Main Event set a Guinness World Record for the largest prize pool for an online poker tournament, drawing an impressive 5,802 participants who competed for $27,559,500 in prize money.
The Sky’s The Limit
As we mentioned in the previous news article, GGPoker and PokerStars have been competing head-to-head for close to 12 months.
PokerStars has held the title of the world’s largest online poker site since partypoker pulled out of the US market in 2006 following the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). This is the first time in over a decade and a half that PokerStars has been usurped for the top spot.
Even in the pre-Black Friday heydays of 2011 when Full Tilt came close to a similar market share PokerStars still maintained its market dominance, regularly accounting for close to two-thirds of all daily real money cash play around the world.
This achievement by GGPoker is a momentous one, proving that the sky really is the limit for one of the industry’s newer entrants. Now it all depends on how PokerStars chooses to respond to the challenge, but competition for the industry’s top spot can only be good for online poker players everywhere.