Sep 28, 2020
By Lisa Yiasemides
Earlier this summer when WPT and partypoker announced that they were putting on a $100M guaranteed World Online Championships, everyone knew it would be huge. With twelve Championship titles up for grabs, including five Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup events, and a whole host of side events, the inaugural series was offering players a multitude of opportunities to win big.
One of the core aims at the heart of the series was to create a festival that could be enjoyed by players of all buy-in levels, and that goal was delivered with dozens of examples showcasing just how achievable it can be for players to turn small sums into life-changing ones.
Through feeders, satellites, ticket drops and giveaways another set of protagonists could, and would, take centre stage. They joined world-class players to headline in some of the biggest poker stories of the year.
With the series coming to an end on Thursday, WPT would like to take this opportunity to cast the spotlight on each of the Championship winners, before highlighting some of our favourite success stories of the last ten weeks.
Event #01 – $3,200 PLO Hi-Lo Championship ($500K GTD)
The first Championship winner of the festival was Paul Tedeschi, after he bested a field of 145 to take the $92,105 top prize. Tedeschi’s victory came after he beat high stakes regular Dan Shak who won $87,720 for runner up, following a three-way deal that saw Anssi Kinttala also bag a big $86,628 payday.
Event #02: $3,200 Omaha Championship ($1M GTD)
Next up was the second of two PLO Championship events, and this time it was Alex Manzano’s turn to lift the trophy, winning $176,131 for doing so. A total prize pool of $1,026,000 was generated through 342 buy-ins. Paresh Doshi did his best to stop Manzano and scooped $167,272 for second place following a deal that left Manzano with the largest share of the prize pool.
Event #03: $3,200 8-Max Championship ($3M GTD)
Gavin Cochrane made history, becoming the first Sexton Cup winner after taking the top spot in the first No-Limit Hold’em event. Cochrane, who has a long record of crushing in PLO, got the chance to show off his NLH skills and banked an enormous $540,664. The prize pool was exceeded yet again, with 1,062 entries contributing to make a $3,186,000 pot. His win came at the expense of runner up placer Thomas Boivin, however, the Belgian was able to console himself with $388,188 for his efforts.
Event #04: $3,200 6-Max Championship ($3M GTD)
The Mix-Max Championship saw one of poker’s biggest names rise to the top after Nick Petrangelo beat all the other 998 entries. Petrangelo gave a masterclass in final table play and was rewarded with a handsome $494,550 pay packet. His victory came after he beat Artsiom Prostak, who took the runner-up prize of $368,250. Petrangelo entered the WPT Champions Club as a result of the win and became the second player of the series to have his name etched on the Sexton Cup.
Event #05: $3,200 Knockout Championship ($3M GTD)
This tournament was the first opportunity for players to become a WPT Champion in a Knockout structure. A total of 1,038 registrations were logged to surpass the guarantee with $3,114,000 awarded in prizes in the end. Daniel Smyth defeated German powerhouse Manig Loeser to take the title, trophy and $413,362 (including bounties) for the victory. Loeser picked up a very healthy $279,359 in cash to pad his bankroll with for coming second in the event. The third Sexton Cup event was full of excitement and drama, plus it generated one of the biggest stories of the entire festival, but more on that later.
Event #06: $3,200 Mix-Max Championship ($3M GTD)
Andrey Kotelnikov was one of the lesser known players coming into the final, but he has one of the biggest personalities as was displayed in his memorable winner’s interview. The Russian came out on top of a 989-strong field to bag the biggest chunk of the prize pool. Kotelnikov walked away $488,508 richer after he eclipsed the last of his opposition, Stuart Guite, who collected an also life-changing $366,604. Kotelnikov secured entry into the exclusive Champions Club as part of his achievement and his name will be forever etched on the Sexton Cup.
Event #07: $109 Micro Main Event Championship ($1M GTD)
The medium-stakes event featured an enormous seven-figure prize pool. That was a result of the biggest field witnessed (8,465) of any of the Championship events and it would be Brazil’s Luiz De Melo who would triumph, turning $109 into $148,985. De Melo wasn’t the only six-figure score in the payouts list: Kim Heidemann managed to ladder up to second place despite his small stack for most of the final table, to collect $104,299.
Event #07: $1,050 Mini Main Event Championship ($5M GTD)
It was back-to-back wins for Brazil when Renan Carlos Bruschi lifted the trophy following his heads-up victory over Nichita Verbitchii in the Mini Main Event, seeing off a total field of 4,600. Players entered deal discussions when there were four players were left. In the end, Bruschi went on to win it, banking $504,582, Verbitchii claimed $339,606 for second place, Arturs Balodis scooped $535,268 for third, and Liviu-Rodrig Bartha took $472,866 for fourth place.
Event #08: $10,300 Main Event Championship ($10M GTD)
The jewel in the crown of the entire series was up next and the four-day event was epic in scope, field size and the sheer number of life-changing prizes up for grabs. In the end, Phillip Mighall managed to do what everyone else had strived for, when he walked away with the largest prize awarded during the last ten weeks. With several hundreds of thousands of dollars separating first and second place, it was no surprise to see the Brit and Dutchman Teun Mulder do a deal. Mulder managed to negotiate a non-ICM deal of $1,396,968 for himself and a whopping $1,550,298 for Mighall, who also became the fifth and final player of the series to add his name to the iconic Sexton Cup.
Event #09: $3,200 Heads Up Championship ($500K GTD)
None other than superstar Steve O’Dwyer was the winner of the Heads Up Championship. The American displayed his prowess in the format that is widely regarded as the ‘purest form of poker’ to win $135,000 after toppling Jorma Nuutinen in the final match of the event. The Finn’s deep run was worth $75,000.
Event #10: $25,500 High Roller Championship ($5M GTD)
Another huge event with $5,000,000 GTD, with 199 players stepping up to the challenge. A buy-in of this size is not something you come across online every day and there were naturally a very talented bunch of players in the mood to challenge. It was partypoker’s own Mikita Badziakouski who claimed the top spot after tussling with teammate Jason Koon at the end. Another million-dollar prize was handed out as Badziakouski added $1,062,730 to his already healthy life-time winnings. Koon’s score may not have been seven-figures, but we can hardly imagine he was disappointed with the $810,869 result!
Event #11: $3,200 Turbo Championship ($1M GTD)
This was a popular one as 433 entries flocked to play the one-day event, smashing the guarantee with a final prize pool of $1,299,000. Hungarian star Dimitar Danchev was the victor, winning $188,316 for first place. Technically Aliaksei Boika finished runner up, but as a result of a three-way ICM deal, Boika took $156,843 for his runner-up finish, which was less than Alfred Karlsson ($184,832) banked for third place.
Event #12: $102,000 Super High Roller Championship ($3M GTD)
A $100K event is not an everyday occurrence and with a $3,000,000 guarantee, 30 entries were needed. That was knocked right out of the park with $4,000,000 in the pot by the time late registration closed, the result of 31 players and nine re-entries. To say that the field was stellar is an understatement and the final table featured some seriously accomplished players. After four and a half hours, all was decided and Michael Addamo and partypoker’s Isaac Haxton did a deal which meant they walked away with over a million dollars each: $1,284,113 for winner Addamo, and $1,216,286 for Haxton. Once again, there was another huge story that took place in the final, and you can read about it at the end.
Back when the WPT WOC was first unveiled, providing opportunities for players of all bankrolls to win big was always at the heart of the plan. True to form, WPT and partypoker have delivered on that goal with too many to choose from to list them all here. Instead, what follows are just some of the most memorable life-changing moments that the WPT WOC has produced over the last two and a half months.
Daniel Smyth is one of the most well-reported examples of ‘spinning it up’ this series. The Irishman, as noted above, took down the WPT Knockout Championship for $413,362, but the feat is an even more remarkable one when considering Smyth satellited into the event for just $33. That means he multiplied his buy-in by 12,526 times!
Smyth’s success story was far from being an isolated case, in fact, in the very same competition there was at least one other example that deserves special mention…
João Batista had won his seat via one of the many Ticket Drops that added a WPT seat to the first-place prize in selected tournaments on partypoker.com. Batista won a $22 Mini Masters ($15K GTD) event and used the $3,200 WPT seat to play the Knockout Championship. Little did the Brazilian know that the $4,246 he won in the Mini Masters would be dwarfed by the $174,510 (including $32,449 in bounties) payday he collected for third place.
A few weeks later the $1,050 Mini Main Event got underway and four of the final nine finalists were in with a shot of the title and insane levels of ROI having either satellited their way in, or won one of the many Ticket Drop giveaways on partypoker.com.
Runner up Nichita Verbitchii collected $339,607 after winning his seat via an $11 Terminator; Arturs Balodis won a seat via a $55 Gladiator, going on to win $535,268 for third place; and Ravil Tlimisov turned a win in a $22 Bounty into an eighth-place result worth $55,425. Not only that but Liviu-Rodrig Bartha who came fourth in the same event, qualified for $109 and spun it up into $472,886. That made a total of $1,403,186 for combined investments of $197!
The Main Event Championship didn’t just bring Phillip Mighall to the forefront of poker news. There were several satellite qualifications that deserved attention too. In fact, only three of the nine finalists bought into the event directly. Mighall, Teun Mulder, Damian Salas and Dzmitry Urbanovic all won a seat via the many satellites on offer on partypoker.com. They collectively won over $4 million ($4,038,943 to be precise)!
Meanwhile, Blaz Zerjav gained entry after winning a partypoker Passport. He went all the way to fourth place for $552,006, finishing just ahead of Victor Simionato who reached fifth place. The Brazilian’s story is one of the greatest rags-to-riches tales of the series. Simionato gained entry into the Main after turning a $22 buy-in into $10,300 after winning four satellites, going on to convert it into $391,257!
Earlier this week Aleksei Barkov made headlines after his thrilling performance in the High Roller Championship. Barkov managed to bag himself a seat after turning $265 into a $25,500 seat. Impressively Barkov appeared unfazed in the final, adopting an aggressive strategy from the start despite facing some particularly fearsome opponents. In the end, he came unstuck in sixth place, but that result was worth $197,667 to the Russian.
Last, but certainly not least, is arguably the most feel-good story of the series. Every poker player has dreamed about what it would be like to lock horns with the best in the game for the biggest buy-in. Last Friday Charlie Godwin got to turn the dream into a reality when she qualified her way into the $102,000 buy-in Super High Roller Championship from an incredible $109. A regular on the UK scene, this is the first time that Godwin has reached these supersonic heights. Coming into the final day on the bubble and the shortest stack, Godwin managed to ladder all the way to third place, notching up a life-time best $620,000 cash!