wsope crowd

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) bandwagon might have left Las Vegas but the race for a bracelet isn’t over. The WSOP Europe (WSOPE) got underway inside King’s Resort late last week and, already, it’s surpassing expectations.

wsope crowd

The WSOPE has started strong with its three opening events smashing their guarantees with ease. (Image: Facebook/King’s Resort)

The first event started on November 19, and, despite COVID restrictions in the Czech Republic, it became one of largest WSOPE tournaments in history. A total of 1,789 entrants anted up in the €350 ($390) No Limit Hold’em event, which almost doubled the €300,000 ($336,000) guarantee.

It took a total of four days to whittle down the field to a single player. That player was Antonello Ferraiuolo and, as well as being the first Italian to win a bracelet since Max Pescatori in 2015, he banked €77,570 ($87,000) and a free seat in the forthcoming WSOPE Main Event.

Guarantees fall following strong start

The opener’s momentum spilled over into Event #2. Although it wasn’t as popular, the €550 ($620) Pot Limit Omaha event still attracted 623 entrants. Again, that was enough to beat the €200,000 ($225,000) guarantee by a healthy margin.

Bjorn Verbakel was the eventual winner, and, thanks to the unique re-entry format, he actually won two prizes. The structure of certain events at this year’s WSOPE is such that players can get into the money on Day 1A.

For example, in Event #3, Day 1A ran until just 15% of the starting field was left. Anyone that made it that far was guaranteed a payout, as were those who did the same on Day 1B and Day 1C.

The same dynamic was used for Event #2. As such Verbakel, anted up on Day 1A and lost his chips just before the end of the session. However, by that time, he was already in the money so was able to collect €1,003 ($1,125).

He reinvested that prize money by re-entering on Day 1B. This time he didn’t lose his chips, and, by the end of that session, he had one of the biggest stacks in the room. He continued to dominate on Day 2 and, by the close of play on Day 3, he was a WSOPE champion and €59,250 ($66,425) richer.

WSOPE is as popular as ever

Getting players from across Europe and beyond into King’s Resort was always going to be tough. With the Czech government introducing new COVID-19 restrictions earlier this month, King’s was forced to update its entry policy.

The original plan was to admit vaccinated players or those with provable immunity, or a negative COVID test. However, following the government’s change of tact, only the vaccinated and those with provable immunity can enter King’s Resort.

Those restrictions haven’t dampened spirits or the community’s appetite for live poker. The first two events beat their guarantees and Event #3 hasn’t bucked that trend.

Over 1,300 entrants entered the €1,350 ($1,510) Mini Main Event. That pushed the €600,000 ($673,000) guarantee to more than €1.5 million ($1.68 million) and means the WSOPE is still on course to be one of the biggest ever.

Written by

Daniel Smyth

Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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