Poker stories of the year: Stoyan Madanzhiev wins main event… or does he?

This year was a great one for poker in many ways, as despite the difficulties faced by the industry on the back of the Coronavirus outbreak, players embraced an online culture and played in some of the biggest events that have ever taken place in poker history.

One such event was the World Series of Poker Main Event… or was it? Because in the midst of the 85 WSOP bracelets events in the 2020 World Series of Poker Online Series, was a $5,000 re-entry Main Event. No-one was told there would be another one, no-one had any clue of the Hybrid drama to come.

Especially not Stoyan Madanzhiev.

The Bulgarian won the WSOP Main Event and took home $3.9 million by doing so – the largest online poker prize in history.

Creating history is one thing, but for four months, Madanzhiev got to call himself World Champion… only for the world Series, who had sent him a certificate signed by Daniel Negreanu proclaiming him as the champ, to announce that there would be a $10,000-entry single entry freezeout Main Event in November and December.

To say that Madanzhiev wasn’t happy is an understatement, and a war of words boiled over between him and Negreanu, with Kid Poker refuting his claim to be called World Champion.

We spoke to Madanzhiev and the pain was still raw in this incredible interview.

The Hybrid WSOP Main Event would come along and create two more big winners, with an International leg won by Damian Salas for $1.5 million at King’s Casino in Rozvadov and Joseph Hebert leading the American players who have made the final nine in Las Vegas.

Whoever wins, they won’t rake in the $3.9 million that Stoyan Madanzhiev. In all apart from official name, perhaps that does make him this year’s WSOP Main Event world champion.

Let’s hope that in 2021, the world champion is undoubtedly the person who triumphs in person in Las Vegas in the summer. Then we can all just enjoy their achievement and enjoy the hoopla that comes with it. If Hossein Ensan could do so, it would bookend the World Series of Poker’s lost period of time due to COVID-19 quite nicely.

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