‘Grande Finale’ Trumps ‘Main Event’ In End To WSOP Online Bracelet Series

Series was down compared to 2020 in terms of entries and prize money awarded
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The 2021 WSOP Online bracelet series had its main event over the weekend, with New Jerseyan Drew “dudeguydrew” O’Connell, who resides in Middletown, sitting with all the digital chips at the end of the 32nd event from the exactly month-long schedule.

O’Connell won the $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em championship for $146,893. The event drew 537 players, with 284 re-entries. According to WSOP.com reporting, the entire tournament took 11 hours.

Below are the results, according to the WSOP:

1. Drew “dudeguydrew” O’Connell — $146,893
2. Jason “jayriv” Rivkin — $90,811
3. Felix “madenspauwke” Vandeput — $63,545
4. Alex “OrcinusOrca” Foxen — $45,147
5. Kfir “Nahumus” Nahum — $32,512
6. Dan “omg_its_dan” Gallegos — $23,793
7. Michael “annie_r_u_ok” Trivett — $17,660
8. Kyle “Kpcp22” Phillips — $13,300
9. Millard “meekmill” Hale — $10,197

Awkward main event?

Typically, a main event of a series is the top tournament in terms of prize pool or first-place prize outside of any so-called high rollers. It is the main attraction of a series. That wasn’t the case this past weekend for the WSOP Online series, which is a bit awkward for promotional purposes.

Event 33, a $500 buy-in tournament dubbed the “grande finale,” actually was bigger.

That tournament, which had a $1 million guarantee, attracted 1,355 players with 669 re-entries, according to WSOP reporting. The 2,024 total entries were the most for any one event on the schedule. Dan “Feeltheflow” Sindelar won for $159,100, more than O’Connell’s $146,893.

It seems noteworthy that the WSOP elected to make the finale a bigger draw than the main event the previous day. In 2020, the same main event awarded a first-place prize of $310,832 from a field of 2,126 entries. The $500 grande finale was held before the main event last year and awarded $164,494 from a field of 2,502.

The most expensive of the high roller events on the schedule this year was a $7,777 buy-in won by poker pro David “dpeters17” Peters on July 26 for $283,940.

Total turnout

NJ OnlineGambling added up the entries from all 33 events and got 26,886 total entries. That was an average of 814 players per event. Last summer, there were 31 online bracelet events for the U.S.-facing schedule. The entries numbered 44,179, for an average of 1,425 per event.

The total prize money this year was $18,265,187, down from $26,871,265 last year. (It’s worth noting that in 2020 the WSOP held a hybrid online/live $10,000 buy-in main event with both domestic and international fields that was not part of the U.S. online series.)

Ouch for online poker? Not really.

The 2020 series was held when there were no vaccinations yet from COVID-19, meaning that people were spending more time at home. Live poker has returned to casinos across the country — though not at all properties — and the return of live poker likely meant a bit of a hit for the WSOP Online bracelet series in a year-over-year comparison. Furthermore, the WSOP is planning to hold its flagship live series in Las Vegas this fall, which likely caused some poker players to save their time and money in anticipation of participating in those events.

The 2021 WSOP Online bracelet series is apples-to-oranges compared to last year.

But like last year, only people physically located in New Jersey, Nevada, or Delaware could compete.

Image: WSOP.com

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