Like a fine wine, the World Series of Poker just continues to get better with age.
The 2019 edition — which was the 50th anniversary of the WSOP — drew a record number of entries and awarded more cash than any other WSOP in history. When the final numbers were tallied, the series paid out 28,017 places for nearly $300 million in prize money.
The 2019 WSOP also featured the second-biggest Main Event of all time, which saw Hossein Ensan earn $10 million for first place. The record-setting 2006 Main Event, which was buoyed by a huge influx of online qualifiers, appears in danger of potentially being dethroned.
While most of the big names had a relatively quiet year, Daniel Negreanu had a huge WSOP with two second-place finishes and over $1 million in earnings. He’s also top five in Player of the Year points and will likely head to Rozvadov for the WSOP Europe and attempt to win his record third WSOP Player of the Year title.
Biggest Tournament Ever, Most Money Awarded
To say the 2019 WSOP was a success would be an enormous understatement.
The series kicked off in May with an unusual tournament: the rake-free $500 buy-in Big Fifty.
The tournament proved to be a sensation with players and it attracted an eyebrow-raising field of 28,371 entries, making it the biggest tournament in poker history in terms of participation. That’s an important distinction because the Main Event remains the richest tournament by a large margin.
Still, the Big Fifty offered probably the best return on investment ever offered in a live tournament with eventual Sportsbook Femi Fashakin taking down $1.14 million despite only risking $500 in the event.
The Big Fifty was the first tournament to break records in the 2019 WSOP but certainly not the last.
This year’s Main Event was something to behold with 8,569 entries, which made it the second-biggest Main Event of all time. The 2006 WSOP Main Event still holds the record with 8,773 entries and it took place before more restrictive online gambling laws took hold in the USA.
If the Main Event keeps trending up, then there’s a legitimate chance the all-time record will fall next year.
Here are some of the more impressive numbers from the 2019 WSOP:
Daniel Negreanu Pays Out Fans
Daniel Negreanu tried something unprecedented for a big-name poker pro this year.
The longtime pro decided to sell some of his action to fans on the internet with no markup (most serious players charge a small markup percentage based on their elite skill). This is virtually unheard of for big-name pros who have no real financial incentive to sell action (Negreanu is doing just fine).
What that means is that you could invest anywhere from $5 to $100 in Negreanu and actually earn money based on Kid Poker’s performance in the 2019 WSOP. He also separated his action into three distinct packages based on buy-in: low stakes, middle stakes and high stakes.
It turned out that Negreanu was a very good bet at the WSOP. He cashed 16 times and recorded a net profit of $1.2 million over the summer. He made a profit for fans who bought into the middle- and high-stakes packages and nearly broke even on the low-stakes package.
Here’s how the payout broke down based on investing $100 (not including fees).
The high-stakes package offered the best sweat for investors as Negreanu failed to cash in any high-stakes tournaments until the final $100,000 buy-in tournament where he placed second for a huge $1.7-million score.
If you put $100 into each package, that means he earned you a solid $236.40 over the summer.
Strong Year for Female Poker Players
Female poker players had a very good year at this year’s WSOP, which is historically dominated by men.
The Main Event saw the number of female participants jump by 16 percent and it’s now up 39 percent over the last five years.
The Ladies Event also saw a huge influx of players with 968 entries, which represented an eight-year high with a 39 percent increase over 2018. South Korean Jiyoung Kim took down the tournament for a sizable $167,308.
That’s not even getting to 71-year-old Susan Faber, who outlasted a 1,723-player field to win the $500 buy-in Salute to Veterans tournament near the end of the series.
Faber took down $146,031 for her efforts and became one of the elite group of female poker players who have won open events at the WSOP.
Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth Struggle
Some of the biggest names in poker failed to gain much traction at this year’s WSOP.
Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth were both denied bracelets and failed to make much noise.
Ivey had somewhat of an excuse as he waited several weeks to make his debut at the WSOP and missed some of the early action. He ended up cashing eight times. The closest he came to winning a bracelet was finishing eighth in the Poker Players Championship.
Meanwhile, Hellmuth was all over the place at the WSOP with 12 cashes but he failed to make a six-figure score. The closest he came to a bracelet was finishing fifth in the $400 online tournament on WSOP.com. It was particularly notable because he is not known as a strong online poker player.
Hellmuth also final-tabled one of the last events at the 2019 WSOP — the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament — but ended up finishing sixth for $94,899. Bracelet 16 for the Poker Brat will have to wait.
Instead of the big names piling on bracelets, the 2019 WSOP was much more about long-overdue players finally winning their first bracelets.
Isaac Baron, Ismael Bojang, Stephen Chidwick, Ari Engel and Luke Schwartz were among the famous pros who finally picked up some jewelry at the WSOP.
WSOP Player of the Year Up for Grabs
One race that’s still very much undecided after the 2019 WSOP is Player of the Year.
Players have an opportunity to pick up points toward POY at WSOP Europe, which takes place in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, this fall.
It’s always been controversial that WSOPE awards POY points — as many players don’t want to make the journey — but this year’s race is particularly close.
Australia’s Robert Campbell is leading the way with 3,418 thanks to his nine cashes, four final tables and two bracelet victories but he’s got two former POYs close behind him.
Reigning POY champ Shaun Deeb is hot on his heels with 3,280 points. Meanwhile, Daniel Negreanu, who’s won POY twice, is in third place with 3,166 points.
Negreanu and Deeb have a strong dislike for each other, which adds a bit of spiciness to this year’s race.
If either Negreanu or Deeb can put together a strong campaign in Europe, they have a very good chance to take down POY.
WSOPE in Rozvadov will take place Oct. 13 to Nov. 4, 2019. Here’s a complete look at the top 10 players in contention for POY:
|8||David "ODB" Baker||2,480.06|