THE HISTORY OF POKER: A LOOK BACK AT THE US POKER OPEN
[Photo courtesy of PokerGO] Sean Winter, 2022
If you’re serious about poker—or want to be—the US Poker Open is one event every poker aficionado should have firmly etched into their calendar. If it’s not already, then do it now. Immediately. Don’t say we didn ’t give you a heads up. Or a final table.
Attracting some of the biggest names in poker—think Stephen Chidwick, Justin Bonomo, David Peters, Jake Schindler, Bryn Kenney, Daniel Negreanu and Ali Imsirovic—this annual poker event is without a doubt, one for the watch list. Not only does it guarantee some of the most tense, live poker action you’ll get to see on the circuit, you’ll also get to bone up on some serious strategy skills while you’re at it.
[Photo courtesy of PokerGO]
Tuning into this tournament will take your gameplay to dizzying new heights. These players really know their stuff and they aren’t afraid to show it. When you see the prizes they’re playing for, and winning we might add—the first series dished out a whopping $8 million in prize money—you’ll be scribbling down gameplay notes quicker than a dog at a race track.
This year’s colossal event kicked off in March, and as those who tuned in will know, it was one heck of a ride. Back with a vengeance, this was the biggest series to date, with over $12,805,000 in prizes. Ooh daddy!
Now here’s the rub—you’ll have to wait until next year for the follow-up season. Now here’s the rub down (and back up again)—if you missed it, don't worry, we’re keeping the action alive with Global Poker’s much anticipated follow up tournament—Global Poker x US Poker Open 2022, kicking off on August 22. You might not get to watch the high rollers live in action on this leg of the tour, but you’ll get the chance to compete in the online tournament yourself and bag yourself some epic prizes. Fancy your chances as the next Global Poker x USPO Champion? Yeah you do!
The countdown is officially on. But before we let you nosedive into the deep end, we thought we’d let you warm up with a quick look back at the history of the US Poker Open, and what it is that makes this annual championship such a coveted event. Have we got your attention? We hope so. Here’s everything you need to know. And more. We’re pretty thorough here at Global Poker HQ don’t you know.
WHAT IS THE US POKER OPEN?
It’s big, it’s brash and it’s bold. This annual poker tournament is where the high rollers come to crush their opponents, not to mention nab themselves some epic prizes and trophies while they’re at it.
Hosted by PokerGO, the world's biggest poker streaming platform, the US Poker Open—which now forms a major part of the renowned PokerGO Tour, alongside the popular Super High Roller Bowl and Poker Masters—has earned itself superstar status, not least for its big name line-up and action-packed event schedule, its mammoth prize pools certainly pack a hefty punch.
This tourney is where the world’s most elite poker players unite to battle it out for the esteemed US Poker Open Champion title. There’s action, there’s tension, there’s drama, and the prizes up for grabs are pretty phenomenal. Even for the ballers. In its short four-year history, the USPO has awarded over $44 million in prize money and amassed victories from some of the biggest players on the poker scene. And the best bit, well, for us at least, is that fellow poker players can tune in to catch the final table action. The final tables of each event are streamed live on PokerGO, so we get to watch as the drama unfolds.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE US POKER OPEN
2018 US POKER OPEN HIGHLIGHTS
[Photo courtesy of PokerGO] Stephen Chidwick, 2018
Kicking off its first event in 2018 at the ultra-slick Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, poker fans watched with bated breath as Keith Tilston beat 33 entrants to a pulp, including his rival Jake Schindler, to win the inaugural $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event and a hefty $660,000 prize.
Daniel Negreanu finished up in respectable third, picking up $264,000 in prize winnings.
But it was Stephen Chidwick who trounced the first series, which saw eight events in total, with buy-ins of $10,000 and $25,000 for the opening events, $50,000 for the Main Event, and over $8 million in total prize money. He crushed five final tables, winning two events in the $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em and $25,000 Mixed Games Championships. His total winnings of $1,256,600 sent him soaring into the lead, earning him the prestigious title of the very first USPO champion.
US POKER OPEN 2018 WINNERS
|Event #1: $10,000 NLH||68||Justin Bonomo||$190,400|
|Event #2: $10,000 PLO||64||Mike Gorodinsky||$179,200|
|Event #3: $25,000 NLH||44||Stephen Chidwick||$374,000|
|Event #4: $25,000 Mixed Game Championship||45||Stephen Chidwick||$382,500|
|Event #5: $10,000 NLH||67||Ben Tollerene||$187,600|
|Event #6: $25,000 NLH||49||Benjamin Pollak||$416,500|
|Event #7: $25,000 NLH||50||David Peters||$400,000|
|Event #8: $50,000 NLH Main Event||33||Keith Tilston||$660,000|
US POKER OPEN 2019 HIGHLIGHTS
[Photo courtesy of PokerGO] David Peters, 2019
Hot on the heels of the 2018 series, 2019’s Championship was a game changer, literally. The success of the first championship, along with the opening of the rather flashy PokerGO Studios (also held in the Aria Resort & Casino), meant the second USPO was back and bigger than ever, with two additional tournaments thrown into the mix—a $50,000 NLH tournament and a brand new $10,000 Short Deck event—and a $100,000 Main Event.
Packed with more events and an even bigger prize pot, the 2019 USPO series champion was also awarded an additional $100,000 prize using the High Roller of the Year leaderboard points system. 2018’s USPO awarded the championship title to the overall money leader at the end of the series.
After a heated 10-event series, the tournament reached a dramatic crescendo as David Peters triumphed over 33 runners—including Sean Winter, who was the favorite to win at the start of the final table—in the final $100,00 Main Event, for an impressive $1.32 million prize.
That wasn’t the only win for Peters, he also swaggered home with the overall USPO Champion title after soaring to the top of the USPO points leaderboard. This was thanks to his Main Event win, runner-up finish in Event #4: $10,000 Short Deck for $100,800, and fifth-place finish in Event #9: $50,000 NLH for $164,000. This not only secured him the prestigious Champion title, he got to walk away with an additional $100,000 bonus prize under his belt. Not bad for a hard day’s work. Or, more like, 10 days in Peters’ case.
Peters ended up winning a total of $1,584,000 during the 2019 USPO, which was $686,800 more than the next highest earner, Koray Aldemir. Aldemir finished up in fifth place in the overall leaderboard, taking home a grand total of $897,200 in prize money after winning the $738,000 prize in Event #9: $50,000 NLH, and $159,250 for second place in Event #3: $10,000 NLH.
Other notable highlights during the Championship include Jordan Cristos, Lauren Roberts, Ali Imsirovic, Bryn Kenney, Nick Schulman, and David Peters, who all collected U.S. Poker Open titles, along with Sean Winter, who made five final-table finishes—the most in the entire championships. Stephen Chidwick was the only player to win multiple titles during the series.
US POKER OPEN 2019 WINNERS
|Event #1: $10,000 NLH||90||Stephen Chidwick||$216,000|
|Event #2: $10,000 PLO||64||Jordan Cristos||$179,200|
|Event #3: $10,000 NLH||91||Lauren Roberts||$218,400|
|Event #4: $10,000 Short Deck||42||Sean Winter||$151,200|
|Event #5: $25,000 NLH||59||Ali Imsirovic||$442,500|
|Event #6: $25,000 PLO||39||Stephen Chidwick||$351,000|
|Event #7: $25,000 NLH||60||Bryn Kenney||$270,000|
|Event #8: $25,000 8-Game Mix||20||Nick Schulman||$270,000|
|Event #9: $50,000 NLH||41||Koray Aldemir||$738,000|
|Event #10: $100,000 Main Event||33||David Peters||$1,320,000|
US POKER OPEN 2020 — canceled due to Covid
Before the pandemic hit, the 2020 USPO was pinned to be the first leg of the High Roller Triple Crown—a trifecta of big high roller series, including the Super High Roller Bowl and the Poker Masters, the new kid on the block, having just launched its first series in 2017.
The 2020 series was set to kick off with 12 events, a $50,000 prize to the series winner, plus a bonus prize of $100,000 to the High Roller of the Year. But the shutdown of the casinos in Las Vegas meant that the 2020 series was put on hold, returning in 2021 after a brief hiatus.
US POKER OPEN 2021 HIGHLIGHTS
[Photo courtesy of PokerGO] David Peters, 2021
Despite its rather long recess, the 2021 USPO catapulted back onto the poker scene at record speed, launching its 12-series event schedule with buy-ins ranging from $10k to $50k, and a slight twist to previous event prizes. As with previous events, players still earned points for their wins—the player with the most points was set to win the prestigious championship title—but 2021 threw a new lure into the mix with the maiden flight of its Golden Eagle trophy and an additional cash prize of $50,000 awarded to the overall leaderboard winner.
As the reigning champion, David Peters came in at full throttle (in the second half of the tournament at least) to defend his title. He may have got off to a slow start, but he wowed the crowds—and when we say crowds, we mean viewers, the final tables were all streamed live on PokerGo.com—in the second half of the series after smashing his way through not one… not even two… but THREE events, taking down the largest field in USPO history. He outgunned 99 entrants in Event #7: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em to win the title, securing a prize pool of #217,800, followed by back-to-back wins in both Event #10: $10,000 Short Deck and winning $124,200, and Event #11: $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em, with an even bigger prize pot of $465,750.
The 2021 USPO was undoubtedly the David Peters show—on top of his three main event wins, he also seized the top spot on the leaderboard with 646 points and $832,950 in earnings, earning him the overall prestigious US Poker Open champion title against his fellow opponents Sean Winter, Ali Imsirovic and Stephen Chidwick.
US POKER OPEN 2021 WINNERS
|Event #1: $10,000 NLH||95||$950,000||Jake Daniels||$218,500|
|Event #2: $10,000 PLO||65||$650,000||Sam Soverel||$175,000|
|Event #3: $10,000 NLH||77||$770,000||Joe McKeehen||$200,200|
|Event #4: $10,000 Big Bet Mix||48||$480,000||John Riordan||$163,200|
|Event #5: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em||85||$850,000||Joey Weissman||$204,000|
|Event #6: $10,000 8-Game||68||$680,000||Eli Elezra||$183,600|
|Event #7: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em||99||$990,000||David Peters||$217,800|
|Event #8: $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha||63||$630,000||Jared Bleznik||$189,000|
|Event #9: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em||99||$990,000||Ali Imsirovic||$217,800|
|Event #10: $10,000 Short Deck||27||$270,000||David Peters||$124,200|
|Event #11: $25,000 No-Limit Hold'em||69||$1,725,000||David Peters||$465,750|
|Event #12: $50,000 No-Limit Hold'em||42||$2,100,000||Sean Winter||$756,000|
But wait, there’s more. 2021 also saw the launch of the PokerGO Tour—a tour of poker events featuring a new points system that determines the world's top high roller tournament player. Players compete in over 100 poker events all over the world, earning points for each event.
To figure out the world’s top baller, PokerGO simply decided to start a points-based leaderboard. The player who racked up the most points at the end of the year was awarded not only the ‘PokerGO Tour Player of the Year’ title, they were also given an extra bonus of $200,000 for topping the season-long leaderboard, along with additional bragging rights of course. That goes without saying.
The winner of the 2021 Tour was Ali Imsirovic. He was crowned the first ever PokerGO Tour champion and awarded the Guaranteed Rate Cup and $200,000 in prize money.
And if that wasn’t enough to send your poker mind berserk, 2021 was also the first year we, Global Poker, partnered with PokerGO to bring you the very first Global Poker x US Poker Open. This meant that for the time ever, players got the chance to battle it out against the best of the best in our exclusive online version of the series.
[Photo courtesy of PokerGO] Luke Williams and Phil Helmuth
In keeping with the US Poker Open style, we launched our own set of leaderboards awarding a glut of prizes to event finalists. Prizes included a silver crown trophy, a collection of limited-edition Global Poker x US Poker Open apparel, free Global Poker tournament entries, and rather majestic golden crowns awarded to the Leaderboard Champions. But it was the 1st place Sweeps Coin Leaderboard Champion prize that got heads turning. The crowning victor won $5,000 to fund a dream vacation to the party capital—Las Vegas, along with an exclusive golden champion trophy, a framed USPO felt and a $5,000 check presented at the PokerGo Studios. Pretty impressive, if we don’t say so ourselves. Don’t worry, we’ve got the second tournament launching soon. You can check out all the details here.
[Photo courtesy of PokerGO] Luke Williams
US POKER OPEN 2022 HIGHLIGHTS
That brings us bang up to date with this year’s recent Championship. The fourth series kicked off in March at the Aria earlier this year, with 770 players competing in 12 action-packed events, and a total prize pool of $12,805,000. After finishing runner up in the last two championships, Sean Winter came up trumps as the crowning champion after two unwavering wins in Event #11: $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em and Event #12 $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em.
After failing to cash in during the first 10 events, Winter made a spectacular sprint finish to win the $25,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em event for $440,000. He also snagged another win on the final table of the $50,000 buy-in No-limit Hold’em series finale against 42 opponents, some of which included Jake Schindler, Masashi Oya, Shannon Shor, Dan Smith, Zuang Ruan and Vikenty Shegal.
It was a nail-biting, tense finish to say the least. Heading into the final day of Event #12, the Golden Eagle trophy and USPO title were still up for grabs. Both Sean Winter and Shannon Shorr were fighting head-to-head, gathering enough speed to overtake Tamon Nakamura on the 2022 USPO leaderboard. Nakumura had the points lead at the start of the day; he needed to hold his ground against Winter and Shorr to take home the title—the only two players that had a chance of overtaking him. In the end, Shorr went out in fifth place, but Winter needed to win the finale outright to get his hands on the Golden Eagle.
He held his ground, knocking out chip leader Zhuang Ruan who wound up in third place in the final event, leaving Masashi Oya and Sean Winter in a heads-up battle for the win. Oya gave a damn good fight, but it was Winter who walked away victorious, leaving Oya in second place (don’t worry, he pocketed a respectable $504,000 as runner-up).
Winter walked away in first place with a hefty prize worth $756,000, but his spectacular finish in the final event meant he earned an additional 453 points, sending him soaring into the lead to snatch the championship title and the commemorative Golden Eagle trophy, along with an additional $50,000 for topping the leaderboard.
Nakumura wasn’t too far behind him, he finished second overall with 588 points, followed by Alex Foxen, Chino Rheem, Phil Hellmuth, Shorr, Erik Seidel, Dylan Weisman, Oya and Adam Hendrix.
[Photo courtesy of PokerGO] Sean Winter
US POKER OPEN 2022 WINNERS
|Event #1 - $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em||93||$930,000||Shannon Shorr||$213,900|
|Event #2: $10,000 PLO||77||$770,000||Justin Young||$200,200|
|Event #3: $10,000 NLH||88||$880,000||Adam Hendrix||$211,200|
|Event #4: $10,000 Big Bet Mix||53||$530,000||Tamon Nakamura||$169,600|
|Event #5: $10,000 No-Limit Hold'em||66||$660,000||Jeremy Ausmus||$178,200|
|Event #6: $16,000 8-Game Mix||47||$705,000||Tamon Nakamura||$239,700|
|Event #7: $15,000 No-Limit Hold'em||70||$1,050,000||Alex Foxen||$283,500|
|Event #8: $15,000 Pot-Limit Omaha||67||$1,005,000||Chino Rheem||$271,350|
|Event #9: $25,000 No-Limit Hold'em||63||$1,575,000||Erik Seidel||$472,500|
|Event #10: $25,000 Short Deck||49||$1,225,000||Dylan Weisman||$416,500|
|Event #11: $25,000 No-Limit Hold'em||55||$1,375,000||Sean Winter||$440,000|
|Event #12: $50,000 No-Limit Hold'em||42||$2,100,000||Sean Winter||$756,000|
US POKER OPEN 2022 FINAL LEADERBOARD