Inaugural US Poker Open Draws to a Successful Conclusion

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Inaugural US Poker Open Draws to a Successful Conclusion

The inaugural US Poker Open has drawn to a close at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, with Stephen Chidwick awarded the competition’s overall title and trophy following an impressive performance in which he reached four final tables and claimed two victories for a combined $1,202,250 in winnings.

While the series has received wide spread praise from those players who took part in its eight event schedule, a number of commentators have questioned the US Poker Open’s future potential considering the small fields which its high stakes tournaments ultimately attracted.

High Stakes Events

Last September, the Aria hosted its inaugural Poker Master Series, which featured four events with $50k buy-ins, as well as a single $100k tournament. With such expensive buy-ins, the high-stakes tournament series naturally drew some of the best players in the world, with German pro Steffen Sontheimer eventually awarded its purple jacket after winnings two tournaments, and finishing 4th and 5th in another two for a grand payout of $2,733,000.

At the US Poker Open which took place from February 1-11th, however, the buy-ins were much lower with three $10k tournaments, four $25k tournaments, and a $50k Main Event. Nonetheless, the buy-ins were still high enough to ensure only poker’s very best players could afford to take part, which was reflected in the small sized fields packed with recognizable pros.

US Poker Open Results

$10,500 NLHE: Justin Bonomo
$10,500 PLO: Mike Gorodinsky
$26,000 NLHE: Stephen Chidwick
$26,000 Mixed: Stephen Chidwick
$10,500 NLHE: Ben Tollerene
$26,000 NLHE: Benjamin Pollak
$26,000 NLHE: David Peters
$52,000 MAIN: Keith Tilston

Stephen Chidwick Victorious

Stephen Chidwick is the UK’s second most successful player behind Sam Trickett, and his enormous talent was certainly on full dispaly in Vegas with a performance which included back-to-back wins at Event #3: $26,000 No Limit Hold’em for $374,000, and Event #4: $26,000 Mixed Game Championship for $382,500. Chidwick also finished Event #6: $26,000 NLHE in 3rd place for $183,750, and Event #7: $26,000 NLHE as the runner-up for $262,000 to cap off an incredible run at the US Poker Open.

As a result, Chidwick now boosts his career live earnings to $11,285,613, and has clear daylight on the UK ‘All Time Money List’ between himself and a third place Jack Salter on $6,779,816. Commenting upon Chidwick’s remarkable performance, Daniel Negreanu, who earned $621,500 from five cashes at the UPO, tweeted:

“If you asked me before this series who was the unluckiest player on the high roller circuit, Stephen Chidwick would be on a short list. After his USPO run he is no longer on that list! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”

Small Fields

While the US Poker Open has received ample coverage by the poker media, and caused a certain amount of excitement amongst poker fans, the biggest disappointment of the series has been its low attendance figures. In fact, Events #1 through to #7 attracted just 68, 64, 44, 45, 67, 49, and 50 entries respectively, with its $52k Main Event then having  a total of 33 entries to create a prize pool of $1,650,000.

Event #8: $50,000 NLHE Main Event was subsequently won by Keith Tilston for $660,000, with the player having cashed in four tournaments throughout the week for a combined $1,047,100 in winnings.

“It means a ton. All these guys are pretty much the best players in the world. I feel I played pretty well, but you have to get lucky to beat these guys,” said Tilston after his win.

The US Poker Open may have featured some of the best pros in the world, but the timing of the series ensured that many other big name players would not be in attendance, though. This is because the start of the year is usually jam packed with other well established tournament series, such as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Aussie Millions, Borgata Winter Poker Open, and L. A. Poker Classic, thus bringing the timing of the US Poker Open into question.

Shark Heavy Fields

Another questionable element of the US Poker Open is the fact that its buy-in and structure ensures that only small fields of pros will ever take part in the series, unlike the other tournaments just mentioned. This ultimately results in a negative EV situation for such pros who traditionally have to rely upon taking advantage of numerous weaker players in a tournament field in order to secure their profits. The 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $10,300 Main Event, for instance, boasted 582 players and was won by its first female player this year after Maria Lampropulos claimed the title for $1,081,100.

The US Poker Open is the creation of Poker Central who broadcast it over its channel, as well as via its streaming channel PokerGO. As Joe Kakaty, president of Poker Central, announced last year:

“The U.S. Poker Open is our newest marquee tournament positioned to kick off the high-stakes tournament calendar. Our lineup of quarterly majors give PokerGO subscribers year-round access to some of the best high-stakes poker in the world.”

Whether the series has the legs to become well established going forward or ultimately ends up fizzling out, however, remains to be seen.

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