At 888poker, we kicked off the 2016 WSOP season well before the series official start date of June 1st (with the $565 Casino Employees Event #1). As the only officially sponsored online poker room offering satellites to WSOP events, our tournaments started in February and ran up until two weeks before the tournament series kick-off.
It was a crazy few months with players clamouring to win one of the two types of coveted packages – one for the Main Event and the other for the Crazy Eights, a new 8-handed event added to the 2016 schedule. With all the heavy competition, we ended up sending 148 hopefuls to the Main Event and another 100 to the Crazy Eights
Both packages offered a luxury deal to the winners:
888poker WSOP – Main Event Package
• $10,000 buy-in to the 2016 WSOP Main Event
• Five nights (July 10-15) accommodation at Vdara Hotel
• $1,500 for travel expenses
• Welcome toast
• 888Live poker kit
888poker WSOP – Crazy Eights Package
• $888 buy-in to the Crazy Eights Event with an $888,888 guaranteed first place prize
• Four nights (July 1-5) accommodation at the Rio Hotel
• $1,400 for travel expenses
• 888Live poker kit
Let's take a look and see how the numbers on package winners broke down.
888poker's Presence at the 2016 WSOP ME
All-in-all, 148 of the 134,000 Main Event satellite hopefuls made it to Vegas. The UK (from where 888poker's newest member, Chris Moorman, hails) was the most represented category with 28 players making their way to Sin City this summer. However, Germany (888poker ambassador, Dominik Nitsche's native country) and Canada weren't that far behind with 16 and 15, respectively.
The Swedes made their presence known with 12 potential WSOP champions and Austria added another 10 hopefuls to the mix. Brazil came in with 6; Colombia, Ireland and Spain were close on their heels with 4 each. The Ukraine and Slovenia (which Team888's Kara Scott currently calls home) each contributed 3 players, with the rest of the world accounting for the remaining 47 entries.
It is definitely a “rainbow alliance” with players coming together from 35 different countries with one common goal – to win a WSOP title and take home a gold bracelet.
Always one for innovation, we decided to sweeten the pot by offering an extra $5 million to the winner of the Main Event. Of the 888poker runners playing in the Main Event, 30 will be eligible for this offer- should they win.
WSOP Package Winners
888poker package winners include the top echelon of poker pros as well as the average Joe.
With all of the hoopla surrounding recreational and first-time winners at the WSOP – like Crazy Eights champ, Hung Le, you might be forgiven for thinking that pro players aren't as prevalent this year. But you'd be wrong. 8 of the 888poker WSOP package winners are notable pros, each with over $2 million in earnings.
In addition to the step satellites on 888poker, we ran a promotion in May and June that involved players spinning a wheel for a chance to win a WSOP Main Event package among other prizes. At least 3 players spun and won packages to either the Main or the Crazy Eights.
During the same period, we went “Nuts about Vegas” with our social media campaign that found fans testing their wits with our quizzes and questions to win a Crazy Eights package worth $3,000.
It certainly has been a “crazy” run-up to the 2016 WSOP, and we thank all our players who participated in the fun events. Those who made it can expect a fantastic Vegas trip, packed with poker, partying and rubbing shoulders with the poker elite.
Wearing an 888poker patch is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we are confident they won't forget.
888poker Ambassadors and Sponsored Players
Of course, we are set to make a big splash in the Main Event with 8 of our regular ambassadors ready to go for gold:
• Dominik Nitsche – 3-time WSOP bracelet holder
• Chris Moorman – all-time online poker earnings leader with over $13 million and over $4.1 million in live earnings
• Sofia Lovgren – over $270,000 in live earnings
• Bruno Kawauti – over $700K in live earnings
• Bruno “Foster” Politano – 2014 November Niner with $1,275,08 in live earnings
• Nicolau Villa-Lobos – Brazilian ambassador with $1,166,604 in live earnings
• Tom Cannuli - 2015 November Niner, placing 6th in ME with over $1.5 million in live earnings
• Jessica Dawley – over $400K in live earnings
And, we didn't stop there – we have also sponsored another famous pro, Jeff Gross, who has over $2.5 million in live earnings.
The following notable pros, with a total of over $20 million in live earnings between them, won packages through our satellites and will also be part of the 888poker team.
• Dzmitry Urbanovich – rated 19th on the GPI with $4,901,382 in live earnings
• Tobias Reinkemeier – $10,777,918 in live earnings
• Toby Lewis - $2,975,549 in live earnings
• Anton Wigg - $2,019,210 in live earnings
Quite a glittering array of poker royalty and celebrities! Hopefully, one of our 888poker family will take home the top coveted prize – the Main Event bracelet.
888poker 2015 WSOP Glory
At the 2015 WSOP, 888poker's presence was prominent with 3 sponsored players at the final table of November Niners. It was a very special occasion as Tom Cannuli finished 6th and Neil Blumenfield took 3rd. With two of the three patched players down for the count, it was left to Joe McKeehen to carry the flag for Team 888poker. And, didn't he ever!
A man on a mission, Joe went in as the chip leader. He was laser-focused as he took down the opposition, one-by-one, eventually getting heads-up with Josh Beckley. 12 hands and 30 minutes later, this one was in the books with McKeehen being crowned the 2016 Main Event Champ.
But Joe was the quintessential pro, what are the chances for one of our 888poker package hopefuls?
The Tommy Yates Story Could Happen Again
As much as we celebrated Joe McKeehen's win in the 2015 Main Event, we also watched in awe as Tommy Yates ran deep in his first-ever WSOP event. Tommy won his Main Event entry via a 1 cent satellite. Yes, you read that right!
The 58-year-old British-expat, living in Greece, didn't dream that that a 1-cent buy-in tourney he had entered would take him all the way to Vegas. It was any poker player's dream – and it came true for the bar owner. He not only won the 888poker package, worth $14,000, but he ran deep in the Main Event, managing to turn that 1 cent into $19,500.
So, could one of our package winners repeat in the 2016 Main Event?
We're holding our cards close to the chest while keeping our fingers crossed on this one.