Many of poker’s finest shone brightly during the WPT World Online Championships, but they weren’t the only players who enjoyed some time in the spotlight during the recent online series. Thanks to an ongoing series of satellites, poker novices have also won big online.
The standout performer, so far, has been Daniel Smyth (not me). Although he’s far from an amateur, having won a Sunday Million 10 years ago, Smyth picked up a WPT title courtesy of a $33 qualifier.
His victory in the $3,200 Knockout Event was worth $428,391 and, according to the man himself, it’s a confidence boost he’ll use to play more big buy-in events. As impressive as Smyth’s victory was, he’s not the only qualifier to make a deep run in the WPT World Online Championships.
Mini Buy-Ins Lead to Mega Payouts
Liliane Figueiredo parlayed a satellite ticket into a third-place finish in the Six-Max Mini Warm Up. The Brazilian was trying her luck in Partypoker’s $3.30 satellites when she won a second-chance freeroll ticket.
That ticket turned into a $109 buy-in for the six-max tournament and the rest, as they say, is history. Although she finished third, the run earned Figueiredo a career-high payday worth $13,153.
At the most recent WPT World Online Championships final table, five players qualified via satellites. Liviu-Rodrig Bartha got into the $1,050 Mini Main Event courtesy of a $109 satellite, and went on to finish in fourth place for $472,866.
Even more impressive were the performances of Arturs Balodis, Nichita Verbitchii, Ravil Tlimisov, and Tobias Koerper.
- Koerper qualified for the Mini Main via an $11 feeder and won $45,600
- Tlimisov turned a $22 satellite entry into $55,425
- Verbitchii entered an $11 satellite and won $339,606 in the Mini Main
- Balodis qualified for the Mini Main through a $55 feeder event and won $535,268
Esmeril Going for Moneymaker-esque Victory in WPT Main Event
Another player seeking to write his own satellite success story is Willyam Esmeril. The online grinder will take part in Day 1B of the $10,300 WPT World Online Championships Main Event on Sunday.
If he manages to make it through the starting flight, he’ll be on course for a spin-up that might just top what Chris Moneymaker achieved when he won the 2003 WSOP Main Event. Why? Because Esmeril’s initial buy-in was just $0.55.
Esmeril’s Route to the WPT $10,300 Main Event
- Played a $0.55 WPT satellite and won an $11 seat
- Played an $11 satellite and won a $109 ticket
- Played a $109 satellite and won a $1,050 ticket
- Played a $1,050 satellite and qualified for the $10,300 Main Event
Esmeril’s story is reminiscent of those from the early days of online poker. During an interview (see video below), he explained how he went from play money chips to the first satellite ticket. His attitude throughout has been to have fun, but he used the interview as an opportunity to get some advice from those with more experience.
The overriding message: play without any pressure. The 2020 WPT World Online Championships have already produced some memorable moments. But, with more action to come, there may be more satellite stories to be written before the series is done.