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Finishing Fourth at WSOP Still Makes One Top All Blacks for a Whole Year

For some, life just doesn’t seem fair. They work hard and do what they can to try to get ahead, only to see a person rake in a huge amount of money in a few days. It can be quite aggravating, and is something that many have to be questioning after the most recent World Series of Poker No-Limit Hold’em Main Event tournament.

There is no doubt that poker is a game of skill, and most would agree that a person is deserving of monetary rewards for performing well in such a tournament. Someone who finished in first or second, maybe even in third deserves a great deal of money, but someone finishing in the fourth should not be making way more than an entire team. That is exactly what happened in the most recent tournament held in September.

Online Poker Is Very Popular

The Covid-19 pandemic has made this a very odd year to say the least. Practically every facet of society has been affected in some way, even in the gaming industry. Casinos have closed across the globe, sending many to online casinos.

For poker players, large numbers have turned to these websites to play their favorite version of the game. There are hundreds of different poker sites offering several versions of these games, as this reliable source of information explains. No matter what version of the game one plays, it is available out there.

Serious poker players not only like to play, but they enjoy the action of these tournaments. They love to monitor the action, guessing who will win or dreaming how well they would do in such a tournament. This is why many had to be extremely excited when the World Series of Poker opted to play their tournament online.

A Different Way to Compete

The pandemic changed just about everything. Any type of competition was dramatically impacted as well. Major sports were shut down for a time and, once they resumed, were forced to implement a series of measures to protect players, staff, and fans. This is why many leagues played without fans at all or had very small numbers.

Many premier sports leagues were forced to change dates for tournaments and championships. This included the NBA, English Premier League, and the Dream 11 IPL.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) was first to make changes as well. Because tournament organizers were concerned about players’ health, the WSOP was moved online for the first time in its history. This proved the worth of these online gaming sites, adding a bit of prestige to them.

All 5,802 players competed online. This included each player paying a $5000 buy-in fee the first time in tournament history that participants were required to do. Tournament organizers also change the rules to allow players up to two re-entries, the first time this was offered as well.

A Lot on the Line

While some grumbled about the buy-in, no one could argue with the cash prize. Over $25 million was guaranteed in prize money but, by the time the tournament got underway, that amount had risen to nearly $28 million, the largest ever for a poker tournament held online.

The tournament gained a great deal of attention when Wenling Gao became the first woman to reach the final table. This was a big moment, and one that was hailed by organizers as a giant step forward for gender equality in this predominantly male dominated game.

After 23 starting flights and a total of two days of full online competitions, the victory went to Europe. Bulgarian Stoyan Madanzhiev was the winner, defeating such highly regarded players as Stefan Schillhabel and Tyler Cornell.

For his work, Madanzhiev came away with over $3.9 million for winning the competition. Gao represented women well, finishing second in the tournament while earning nearly $2.75 million. American Tyler Rueger finished third, taking in just over $1.9 million while New Zealand’s Thomas Ward finished fourth, earning $1.35 million.

Ward Got How Much??

Ward was thrilled by his take. The $1.35 million (NZ$2 million) was the largest cash prize ever awarded to a fourth-place finisher in such a competition. It was truly remarkable, but adding to the eye-popping number is the fact that he earned more money in the two day tournament than the All Blacks rugby team will earn for the entire year. In fact, they will not come close to approaching that number.

Adding to the incredible amount of money that Ward earned was the fact that this was 150 times more than he had earned at the WSOP combined prior to the 2020 event. Twice, Ward had earned cash prizes in July of this year, taking home $3066 and $2580 on July 26, then earning $3400 on August 16. In each of those competitions, he finished no better than 47th, even finishing 319th in August.

Yet, he saved his best performance for when it mattered most, taking home $1,353,634 for his fourth-place finish. Amazingly, all it cost him was a little more than half of the overall prize money he had earned in previous competitions this year.

Ward has been competing professionally since 2011, earning his first prize in August of that year when he took home $27,360 as part of the Main Event. During the first nine years of his professional career he took home about $300,000, but multiplied that times four with September’s huge victory.

A Tough Year for New Zealand’s Rugby Team

Ward’s haul was amazing, presenting a sharp contrast with his fellow countrymen playing for New Zealand’s national rugby team, known as the All Blacks. When the pandemic hit, this team was forced to shut down their season, as several of the top players were asked to help support the rest of the team as dramatic pay cuts were instituted. With no matches and no revenue, major pay cuts were expected and the team called upon their top players to help.

The top player on the team was earning $195,000 with the lowest paid players coming in at $75,000. With 15 players on the club, the combined salary was reported at just over $1 million, falling about $300,000 short of what Ward took in in the span of about 48 hours.

It is a truly remarkable comparison. What makes this all the more amazing is that Ward may not even have several major tournaments across the globe that will still go on as scheduled before the end of this year. Coming off of his impressive finish at the WSOP, the New Zealander has a golden opportunity to increase his winnings, maybe even approaching the $2 million mark. For a player who would never earn more than $175,000 in a single tournament, this definitely puts him on the map.

Don’t Let Your Boys Grow Up to Be Rugby Players

What this disparity proves is that maybe Rugby isn’t the way for a young New Zealander to go. If one is really good in mathematics, has a great memory, and a hardened disposition, they may have just as much success as Ward had. They can earn a lot of money, and do not have to take the kind of beating that rugby players must endure.

No doubt it is a lot of fun to play in front of thousands of people, especially doing so when representing your country. However, you can’t deny that Ward made earning his money look a lot easier.

Written by Marie Foster

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