The biggest tournaments in the history of online poker
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The biggest tournaments in the history of online poker

While live tournaments have come to a halt in Europe due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, poker fans have flocked to the online tables. While a few land-based casino festivals are still being held in the US and Asia, the biggest tournaments are now taking place on online poker sites. And records are being broken.

From online poker boom to global pandemic

It was in the early 2000s that the first boom in online poker was recorded, first with the victory of the American Chris Moneymaker in the 2003 World Series Of Poker Main Event, an amateur player who qualified for a handful of dollars on the Internet, then with the legalisation of the industry in Europe and the emergence of a multitude of operators. Until an initial decline due to market regulation, tax constraints and the compartmentalisation of players from the same country. But the year 2020 seems to have marked a new turning point for online poker. Limited for their leisure time, the confined populations have embraced online poker as a new hobby.

Record-breaking online tournaments

1/ The 2020 WSOP Online Main Event

Unsurprisingly, it is a tournament played in the summer of 2020 that is proving to be the biggest online poker tournament ever held in history. After the postponement and subsequent cancellation of the world series of poker held annually since 1970 in Las Vegas, USA, the US WSOP franchise has teamed up with online room GGPoker to offer a replacement festival in late summer.

A total of 85 World Champion bracelets were handed out in various formats and variations, including the traditional $5,000 Main Event (August 17 to September 5, 2020). For the occasion, the WSOP and GGPoker agreed on a guaranteed $25 million prizepool, making it the biggest tournament in the history of online poker. With 5,802 entries, a record-breaking $27,559,500 in prize money was finally recorded and it was Bulgaria's Stoyan Madanzhiev who won for a whopping $3,904,686, again the largest prize money for an online tournament victory.

2/ The partypoker MILLIONS Online 2018

Two years earlier, it was an emerging online poker operator at the highest level that was making news with a groundbreaking tournament with an exceptional guarantee. With an advertised prize pool of $20 million, the $5,300 partypoker MILLIONS Online took place from 25 November to 5 December 2018. With 4,367 entries, this tournament won by Portugal's Manuel Ruivo for $2,329,943 raised $21,358,000 in prizepool, the second largest tournament in online poker history to date.

A year later, French player Benjamin Chalot won the same event. With an entry fee of $10,300, 2,109 registered entries and a prizepool of $21,090,000, the 2019 partypoker MILLIONS Online ranks as the third biggest tournament in online poker history. As for Chalot's $2,259,113 win, it is quite simply the best French performance of all time.

3/ The Sunday Million Anniversary 2020

For many years, all the records were held by PokerStars, starting with the 2010 WCOOP Main Event ($12,215,000 prizepool) and the 2011 Sunday Million Anniversary ($12,432,000). Long considered the number one operator in the international online poker market, PokerStars has seen competition grow over the years. Nevertheless, the room has continued to offer some great festivals including its Sunday Million Anniversary.

Held from Sunday, March 22 to Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at a time when the entire planet was entering an unprecedented health crisis, the 14th edition of the Sunday Million Anniversary on PokerStars recorded a record 93,016 entries at $215 for a cumulative prize pool of $18,603,200. Finally, ten days ago, the 15th edition of the Sunday Million Anniversary (21 to 23/03) placed in the Top 5 of the biggest tournaments in the history of online poker with the victory of Canadian Vanessa Kade ($215 buy-in, $13,975,200 prizepool and 69,876 entries).

New records in perspective?

2021 will surely be a hybrid year for the poker industry with the resumption of live tournaments in the fall and the proliferation of online festivals. Indeed, the World Series of Poker has just announced the dates for its return to Las Vegas from September 30 to November 23 while renewing an online edition on GGPoker for the summer.

And from this Sunday, April 4, the biggest international online poker operators will host tournament festivals called "online series". From Winamax and its €21 million guaranteed festival to GGPoker and its Spring Festival with $150 million guaranteed and PokerStars' SCOOP ($100 million guaranteed), poker fans and professionals from all over the world will have their eyes glued to their screens to try and win the millions at stake and why not be one of the biggest winners in the history of online poker.

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