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To say it’s been a strange and unprecedented year on many levels would be an understatement. For the World Series of Poker (WSOP), it’s been one of adaptation. The COVID-19 pandemic quashed traditional plans for a summer WSOP festival in Las Vegas, but officials pivoted by moving things online.
From July 1 into September, 85 bracelets were awarded between WSOP.com (31 bracelets) and GGPoker (54 bracelets).
“It wouldn’t be Summer without WSOP,” Ty Stewart, executive director of the WSOP, said at the time. “While we are thrilled to be reopening our venues and optimistic about future offline events, we couldn’t be more excited about deepening our relationship with GGPoker and watching some history unfold online this summer.”
Players and fans wondered if the WSOP.com portion could hold its own given only those in Nevada and New Jersey could participate, and an action-packed month proved that they could as players traveled in from across the country to participate.
Through the 31 events on WSOP.com, the series catered to 44,179 entrants and awarded $26,871,065 in prize money. The average field size was 1,425 entries and the average first-place prize was $151,885. Event #19: $400 NLH had the biggest turnout with 2,545 entries, while Event #31: $1,000 NLH Championship (2,126 entries) had the biggest prize pool with $2,019,700.
Not only were the numbers solid, but the storylines that emerged from some of the bracelet events also helped give it that “WSOP summer” feel.
Early deep runs by both Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu helped energize the fanbase right out of the gate, and from there the headlines kept on coming. Below is a look at some of the more intriguing bracelet winners (in no particular order) to emerge from the WSOP.com portion of the 2020 WSOP Online series.
Ryan “joeyisamush” Depaulo
In the 2020 World Series of Poker Online Event #12: $500 The Big 500 No-Limit Hold’em, a tournament that attracted 2,427 entries, it was poker vlogger Ryan “joeyisamush” Depaulo walking away with a $159,563 top prize and his first gold bracelet.
Depaulo, who was literally playing from inside his car in a New Jersey Whole Foods parking lot, is a popular online poker personality, a self-described “degenerate gambler” who makes “+EV Vlogs about my -EV poker play.”
It was a bit of redemption for him as last summer he finished third in the 2019 WSOP Event #61: $400 Colossus for $208,643, which comprises the vast majority of his $225,644 in live tournament earnings.
This time, Depaulo won in impressive fashion entering the final table with the chip lead and eliminating all but two competitors. It wasn’t easy though as Depaulo had to overcome Jack “EarlGrey” Salter in heads-up play. The Brit, who has $8 million in lifetime earnings, was seeking his first bracelet as well, but despite claiming the chip lead at one point, Depaulo ultimately regained it and closed it out.
Joe “fanofdapoker” McKeehen
2015 WSOP Main Event champ Joe McKeehen captured the biggest first-place prize of the series ($352,985) after taking down winning Event #14: $3,200 High Roller.
The tournament attracted 496 entrants and generated a $1,507,840 prize pool, and after 14 hours of play, it was McKeehen coming out on top to win a $352,985 first-place prize and his third career gold bracelet. Anytime a former Main Event champ captures a follow-up bracelet it’s sure to capture headlines, and the East Coast pro was no exception.
Five years ago, McKeehen etched his name in poker history by topping a field of 6,420 players to win the Main Event for $7,683,346. Two years later, he showed just why he’s one of the best in the world by taking down the 2017 WSOP Event #38: $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship for $311,817.
Now he’s a three-time bracelet winner joining players like David “Chip” Reese, Dewey Tomko, and Lyle Berman – all Poker Hall of Famers.
Ron “MacDaddy15” McMillen
The first viral “feel good” moment of the WSOP.com bracelet events was no doubt Iowa’s Ron “MacDaddy15” McMillen, a 70-year-old businessman playing online for the first time. He was one of 1,026 runners in 2020 WSOP Online Event #9: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Max, and after 10 hours of play, McMillen came out on top to win a $188,214 top prize and his first WSOP gold bracelet.
McMillen, a regular on the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT), actually came fairly close to winning a bracelet in the past on a couple of occasions. In 2014, he finished 12th in Event #19: $1,500 NLH for $29,709, and a year later placed 10th in the 2015 WSOP Event #6: $1,000 NLH Hyper-Turbo for $14,255.
The defining hand of McMillen;’s victory was captured on camera, and the celebration video resonated with fans around the world.
Iowa’s Ron “MacDaddy15” McMillen had never played online poker before, but that didn’t stop him from winning tonigh… https://t.co/W7xPULMnYT
Ryan “Im.Sorry” Torgerson
Over the course of two days on July 9th and 10th, the poker world witnessed New Jersey’s Ryan “im.sorry” Torgersen accomplish a truly incredible feat. First, he navigated his way through a 1,026-entry field in Event #9: $1,000 NLH 6-Max only to finish runner-up to Ron “MacDaddy15” McMillen, good for $116,379 prize money.
A day later in Event #10: $600 Monster Stack, Torgersen was back at it and topped a 2,074-entry field to win that tournament for $172,362 and a gold bracelet. In a 24-hour period, he won a $288,741 in prize money.
Little was known about poker’s latest breakout star, who was awarded Performance of the Week right here on PokerNews, though PokerNews learned more when we were able to chat with the man.
Alan “GladiusIII” Goehring
In the 2020 WSOP Online Event #8: $500 No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout, a tournament that attracted 1,479 players and generated a $665,550 prize pool, it was Alan “GladiusIII” Goehring emerging victorious to capture his first bracelet and $119,399.67 first-place prize.
Goehring is no stranger to the poker world as he has a long list of accomplishments dating back to 1997 in which he has accumulated $5,346,961 in career earnings.
His two largest cashes came after winning two World Poker Tour titles (2003 $25,000 WPT Championship for $1,011,886 and the $10,000 2006 LAPC Championship Event for $2,391,550) but for Goehring, this may be the most important win of his career, as his last closest opportunity at WSOP gold came in 1999 when he was runner-up to Noel Furlong in the WSOP Main Event.
Goehring had to wait 21 years before finally winning a bracelet, and that moment coming full circle was certainly one of the summer’s more memorable moments.
Michael “miguelfiesta” Lech
In the 2020 WSOP Online Event #13: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller Freezeout, eight-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Michael “miguelfiesta” Lech topped a 649-player field to win the $164,248.92 first-place prize. Amazingly, it was his seventh cash through the first 13 events of the online series.
Since 2016, Lech separated himself from other WSOP Circuit grinders by winning five of his eight rings in different countries including St Maarten, Italy, France, Mexico, and the United States. According to The HendonMob, Lech has $1,384,826 in live tournament earnings. As for the WSOP, prior to the win, he had 79 WSOP-related cashes totaling $987,254. In less than four years, the Arkansas native has captured nine pieces of WSOP gold, including a coveted gold bracelet.
Lech’s celebration after the final hand was another viral moment from the summer action.
Pat “IchiiKawawa” Lyons
Forget “Hakuna Matata,” when it comes to poker “IchiiKawawa” is the motto to live by, or so believes one poker pro who struck gold this summer.
The 2020 WSOP Online Event #17: $777 No-Limit Hold’em drew 1,382 entries and generated a $967,400 prize pool. After 11 hours of play, it was Pat “IchiiKawawa” Lyons who came out on top win a $173,551 top prize and a WSOP gold bracelet.
“Flyin’ Lyons”, as he’s known, has more than $1.5 million in lifetime live tournament earnings including a World Poker Tour (WPT) title when he won the 2016 WPT Legends of Poker for a career-high $615,346. That came just a couple of weeks after he won the 12th Annual Arizona State Poker Championship for $241,700. In 2018, he also won a WSOP Circuit gold ring at the Bicycle Casino.
Nahrain “2Rivers” Tamero
The final tournament of the 2020 WSOP.com Online Series was Event #31: $1,000 NLH Championship, which attracted 1,455 players who rebought 671 times. The 2,126-entry field resulted in a $2,019,700 prize pool (the largest out of all 31 events) and after nearly 12 hours of play, Nahrain “2Rivers” Tamero emerged victorious to capture the bracelet and $310,831.83 first-place prize.
Prior to the win, Tamero had amassed over $158,000 in lifetime live tournament earnings, of which just a small $3,428 cash came from the WSOP for a 315th-place finish in the 2018 WSOP $888 Crazy Eights event.
Little was known about Tamero at the time, but after the win, she chatted with PokerNews to shed some light on who she is. A recreational player from San Diego, Tamero took a short break from spending time with her son to travel up to Vegas with her husband just to play the Championship event. It proved a wise decision as she became the first woman to capture a bracelet over the summer.
While the above players made headlines in July, there were plenty of other notable winners who made their poker dreams come true. While no player captured multiple bracelets during the WSOP.com portion of the schedule, a couple did come close. Both Ryan “im.sorry” Torgersen and William “SlaweelRyam” Romaine captured bracelets and also had runner-up finishes.
Former bracelet winners to claim online bracelets were Nathan “surfbum” Gamble, Joe “fanofdapoker” McKeehen, Kevin “therealkg” Gerhart, Tony “Panoramic” Dunst, and Nick “samadhi” Binger.
Jonathan “SugarJ” Lessin won Event #30: $500 Senior’s Event by beating James Moore in heads-up play. By doing so, he denied Moore a third bracelet. Moore had previously won the Super Seniors event in back-to-back years (2016 and 2017).
Here’s a look at all those who captured summer bracelets on WSOP.com:
|7/1/20||Event #1: $500 NLH Kick-Off||1,715||$771,750||Jonathan “Art.Vandelay” Dokler||$130,426|
|7/2/20||Event #2: $1,000 NLH Deepstack 8-Max||919||$873,050||Louis “PokeThese” Lynch||$168,586|
|7/3/20||Event #3: $400 NLH||2,091||$752,760||Robert “bustinballs” Kuhn||$115,850|
|7/4/20||Event #4: $500 NLH Super Turbo||1,179||$530,550||Matt “Bodeyster” Bode||$97,091|
|7/5/20||Event #5: $1,000 NLH Freezeout||854||$811,300||Allen “Acnyc718” Chang||$161,286|
|7/6/20||Event #6: $600 PLO8 6-Handed||883||$449,820||Nathan “surfbum” Gamble||$89,424|
|7/7/20||Event #7: $800 NLH Knockout Deepstack||989||$731,660||Joon “jykpoker” Kim||$103,127|
|7/8/20||Event #8: $500 NLH Freezeout||1,479||$665,550||Alan “GladiusIII” Goehring||$119,400|
|7/9/20||Event #9: $1,000 NLH 6-Max||1,026||$974,700||Ron “MacDaddy15” McMillen||$188,214|
|7/10/20||Event #10: $600 NLH MonsterStack||2,074||$1,119,960||Ryan “Im.Sorry” Torgerson||$172,361|
|7/11/20||Event #11: $500 NLH Turbo Deepstack 6-Max||1,691||$760,950||Raman “Acrogum” Afanasenka||$128,601|
|7/12/20||Event #12: $500 The BIG 500 No-Limit Hold’em||2,427||$1,092,150||Ryan “joeyisamush” Depaulo||$159,563|
|7/13/20||Event #13: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller Freezeout||649||$924,825||Michael “miguelfiesta” Lech||$164,249|
|7/14/20||Event #14: $3,200 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller||496||$1,507,840||Joe “fanofdapoker” McKeehen||$352,985|
|7/15/20||Event #15: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha||663||$629,850||Guy “PhilLaak” Dunlap||$133,780|
|7/16/20||Event #16: $500 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo||1,528||$687,600||Terrell “Heezahustla” Cheatham||$116,204|
|7/17/20||Event #17: $777 No-Limit Hold’em||1,382||$967,400||Pat “IchiiKawawa” Lyons||$173,551|
|7/18/20||Event #18: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo DeepStack||987||$937,650||Scott “BudLightLime” Hempel||$181,060|
|7/19/20||Event #19: $400 No-Limit Hold’em||2,545||$916,200||Kenny “Chopuh” Huynh||$133,857|
|7/20/20||Event #20: $500 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Handed||1,137||$511,650||Kevin “therealkg” Gerhart||$97,572|
|7/21/20||Event #21: $777 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed||1,361||$952,700||Tony “Panoramic” Dunst||$168,342|
|7/22/20||Event #22: $500 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Deepstack||1,579||$710,550||Allan “Treeoflife” Cheung||$120,083|
|7/23/20||Event #23: $500 No-Limit Hold’em Knockout||1,452||$667,920||Raymond “avant9201” Avant||$93,776|
|7/24/20||Event #24: $400 No-Limit Hold’em 8-Handed||2,408||$866,880||Nick “samadhi” Binger||$133,413|
|7/25/20||Event #25: $500 No-Limit Hold’em Summer Saver||2,155||$969,750||Nicholas “mrfinalt” Kiley||$149,245|
|7/26/20||Event #26: $500 No-Limit Hold’em Grande Finale||2,502||$1,125,900||Ethan “RampageP” Yau||$164,494|
|7/27/20||Event #27: $400 No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout||1,940||$698,400||Ian “ApokerJoker2” Steinman||$110,557|
|7/28/20||Event #28: $1,000 Omaha Hi-Lo 6-Max||525||$498,750||William “SlaweelRyam” Romaine||$110,673|
|7/29/20||Event #29: $2,000 NLH Deepstack||747||$1,419,300||Nick “shadowjacker” Guagenti||$305,433|
|7/30/20||Event #30: $500 NLH Senior’s Event||720||$324,000||Jonathan “SugarJ” Lessin||$64,411|
|7/31/20||Event #31: $1,000 NLH Championship||2,126||$2,019,700||Nahrain “2Rivers” Tamero||$310,832|
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