WSOP 2020 Main Event
POKER

Does New WSOP Main Event Snub Stoyan Madanzhiev?

Last week the World Series of Poker made a surprising announcement that it would be holding a 2020 WSOP Main Event starting late this month through December.

Many poker fans were confused by the news, given that there seemed to be a Main Event winner crowned on GG Poker in September. His name? Stoyan Madanzhiev.

Apparently poker fans weren’t the only ones perplexed that the December tournament would crown the official “2020 WSOP Main Event Champion.” Since the new WSOP Main Event was announcement, Madanzhiev has taken to Twitter to voice his displeasure and also share some humor in what is a tough spot.

So what happened?

Just like much of the live poker world, the World Series of Poker was severely impacted by the global pandemic. As a result, the World Series of Poker that is set every year in Las Vegas was postponed and ultimately canceled.

In it’s place, the WSOP ran 89 online bracelet events as a bit of a consolation for the WSOP being canceled. It was also convenient for the WSOP given that it has increasingly been adding WSOP Online events over the last few years.

The first 31 events were held on WSOP.com, which were held every day in July. GG Poker then took over the focus for the rest of the summer, with events held from late July into September.

During Event #77 on GG Poker, Stoyan Madanzhiev won the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event in early September. Many assumed that he was defacto champion with even some WSOP language referring to him as the “champion.”

That belief remained in effect until the WSOP revealed earlier this month that it would be holding a “WSOP Main Event” and crown a World Champion for the 51st year.

How does the 2020 WSOP work?

The WSOP might be crowning a champion this year, but the format will be far different than anything we have seen before for a WSOP Main Event.

For starters, it will be held online on two different sites, the same two sites involved in this summer’s events — WSOP.com and GG Poker. WSOP.com players will need to play from Nevada or New Jersey while GG Poker players can in the event from outside of the United States, where available.

The two tournaments will play independently in their respective locations. Once down to a final table, play will move to a live format, where it will be broadcast by ESPN. The U.S. portion will be held at the Rio, per usual, whereas the non-US portion will be held at King’s Casino.

A winner will be crowned for each tournament with players paid according to each tournament’s prize structure. Here’s where it gets interesting.

The winner of each tournament will then met up for a live heads-up showdown on December 30th with an extra $1 million and the 2020 WSOP Championship bracelet up for grabs. Like the U.S. tournament, it will be also be held at the Rio.

Here are the relevant dates…

The non-US tournament (on GG Poker):

  • Day 1A – Sunday, November 29, 2020 on GG Poker
  • Day 1B – Saturday, December 5, 2020 on GG Poker
  • Day 1C – Sunday, December 6, 2020 on GG Poker
  • Day 2, Play down to 9 players on GG Poker, Monday, December 7
  • Final Table – From King’s Casino, Tuesday, Dec.15. Tournament will play down to a winner with regular prizes paid.

The U.S. tournament (on GG Poker):

  • Day 1 – Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020
  • Day 2 – Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, Play down to 9 players
  • Final Table – Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Monday, Dec. 28, Play continues to a winner with regular prize paid.

Heads-Up Championship for the title

  • December 30th
  • $1 million in prizes to the winner

Does Madanzhiev have a point?

First of all, Madanzhiev has every right to be upset by the new “World Championship” event. At best, it was very unclear what sort of prestige came with the event that Madanzhiev won in September.

Madanzhiev winning his event was absolutely the closest thing when we had to a “World Champion” prior to the announcement. WSOP language at the time also didn’t make things very clear either calling a him a “World Series Champ” in this tweet:

On the flip side, most, if not all of WSOP’s messing referred to him winning the “WSOP Online Main Event,” a notable distinction. Further evidence of it not being a true Main Event was the fact that the buy-in was “only” $5,000 and multiple reentries were allowed (Madanzhiev bought in twice). The WSOP Main Event famously has a $10,000 buy-in and is a single entry event.

This can probably most accurately be described as an unfortunate situation given its unique circumstances. The WSOP may not have intended to have a normal WSOP Main Event during the summer, but perhaps wasn’t sure until they were comfortable they could pull something else off.

Madanzhiev certainly has every right to be upset and screwed out of being a WSOP Main Event champion and everything that comes with it. The WSOP did not handle the situation optimally by any stretch of the imagination, but there is at least enough ambiguity that they can hold this event without a true revolt over who is actually the 2020 Champion.

Madanzhiev may have to settle for his “Online” title and $3.9 million first place prize.

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