Since opening their state-of-the-art PokerGO Studio at the Aria Resort and Casino in 2018, Poker Central has worked hard to turn the venue into the premier place for televised high roller events. Popular high roller series like Super High Roller Bowl, Poker Masters, and the US Poker Open now form the major legs of the PokerGO Tour, and they will all originate from the PokerGO Studios. High rollers from around the world will look to make up for lost time with a full slate of events throughout this Summer and in the Fall, starting with the U.S Poker Open from June 3-15.
This week’s US Poker Open (USPO) is entering its third “year” after COVID-19 canceled a series that was planned to kick off on March 19, 2020. The high roller series has grown each time out, with eight high-stakes events in 2018, ten in 2019, and a planned twelve in 2021. As with the previous two, an additional cash prize of $50,000 and the new Golden Eagle trophy are at stake for the 2021 US Poker Open Champion.
This year’s expanded USPO begins a summer of PokerGO Tour action that will also include the PokerGO Cup, the Wynn Millions, the PokerGO Heads-Up Championship, and other high roller events at the Aria and the Venetian. The tour culminates in the Fall with the Poker Masters and the Super High Roller Bowl, with the top points earner claiming the title of Player of the Year and a $100,000 prize.
In its short two-year history, the USPO has awarded over $21 million in prize money and has seen victories from some of poker’s most recognizable high rollers. Previous USPO Champions Stephen Chidwick and David Peters have each amassed more than $30 million in live tournament earnings, and other USPO event winners include Nick Schulman, Bryn Kenney, Ali Imsirovic, Justin Bonomo, Lauren Roberts, and Mike Gorodinsky.
A Look Back at the 2018 USPO
The first USPO was held in February 2018 at Aria Casino and Resort prior to the opening of PokerGO Studios. The made-for-PokerGO tournament series offered eight events, with buy-ins of $10,000 and $25,000 for the preliminary events and $50,000 for the Main Event. Every final table was broadcast on PokerGO and the series handed out over $8 million in prize money.
Keith Tilston beat 33 entrants to win the inaugural $50,000 Main Event and Daniel Negreanu finished in third, but the results had no effect on the race for the series championship. That’s because Stephen Chidwick had earned enough money from the previous seven events to prevent any other player from catching him.
Chidwick dominated the 2018 series with five final tables and two victories, which came back-to-back in the $25,000 NLH and $25,000 Mixed Games Championships. His winning money total of $1,256,600 was good enough to claim the first USPO Championship trophy without much of a sweat from the rest of the field. Other 2018 side event winners included David Peters and Justin Bonomo.
2018 U.S. Poker Open Winners
|USPO #1: $10,000 NLH||68||Justin Bonomo||USA||$190,400|
|USPO #2: $10,000 PLO||64||Mike Gorodinsky||USA||$179,200|
|USPO #3: $25,000 NLH||44||Stephen Chidwick||UK||$374,000|
|USPO #4: $25,000 Mixed Game Championship||45||Stephen Chidwick||UK||$382,500|
|USPO #5: $10,000 NLH||67||Ben Tollerene||USA||$187,600|
|USPO #6: $25,000 NLH||49||Benjamin Pollak||France||$416,500|
|USPO #7: $25,000 NLH||50||David Peters||USA||$400,000|
|USPO #8: $50,000 NLH Main Event||33||Keith Tilston||USA||$660,000|
A Look Back at the 2019 USPO
The success of the 2018 series and the opening of PokerGO Studios led to a bigger USPO in 2019, which was back at the Aria Casino and Resort with two more tournaments and a $100,000 Main Event. The second annual USPO awarded an additional $100,000 prize to the series champion using the High Roller of the Year points system, a change from the previous year’s championship having been awarded to the overall money leader at the end of the series. The ten events in 2019 included an additional $50,000 NLH tournament and a brand new $10,000 Short Deck event.
Short Deck was introduced at the 2019 USPO and Sean Winter won $151,200 for first in the brand-new event that attracted 42 entrants for a prize pool of $419,900. Short Deck will be back in the 2021 USPO as a $10,000 event as part of the twelve-tournament lineup.
Chidwick began his title defense with a win in the opening $10,000 NLH event, but David Peters ultimately won the 2019 USPO Championship with a dramatic victory in the $100,000 Main Event. Peters beat 32 other players in the finale and brought his total series winnings to $1,584,000, more than doubling any other player in the field.
Chris Hunichen had an impressive run in the Main Event finishing in second place for $858,000, while 2018 USPO Main Event champion Keith Tilston placed third. Nick Schulman won the $25,000 8-Game Mix Championship, beating a field of 20 entrants for $270,000. Other 2019 tournament winners included Bryn Kenney, and this year’s current PokerGO Tour points leader, Ali Imsirovic.
Despite his massive series winnings, Peters had no easy path to the 2019 championship, needing a victory in the Main Event to claim a place at the top of the overall leaderboard. Winter, winner of the $10,000 Short Deck tournament, went into the Main Event as the points leader, looking to stave off a finale run from Schulman and Peters. Winter finished eighth and watched as Peters, who needed the win to pass him on the overall points leaderboard, won the tournament and the series by just 10 points.
2019 U.S. Poker Open Winners
|USPO #1: $10,000 NLH||90||Stephen Chidwick||United Kingdom||$216,000|
|USPO #2: $10,000 PLO||64||Jordan Cristos||United States||$179,200|
|USPO #3: $10,000 NLH||91||Lauren Roberts||United States||$218,400|
|USPO #4: $10,000 Short Deck||42||Sean Winter||United States||$151,200|
|USPO #5: $25,000 NLH||59||Ali Imsirovic||United States||$442,500|
|USPO #6: $25,000 PLO||39||Stephen Chidwick||United Kingdom||$351,000|
|USPO #7: $25,000 NLH||60||Bryn Kenney||United States||$450,000|
|USPO #8: $25,000 8-Game Mix||20||Nick Schulman||United States||$270,000|
|USPO #9: $50,000 NLH||41||Koray Aldemir||Germany||$738,000|
|USPO #10: $100,000 Main Event||33||David Peters||United States||$1,320,000|
Pandemic Preempts 2020 USPO
Prior to COVID-19, the 2020 USPO was set to be the first leg of the High Roller Triple Crown, which included the Super High Roller Bowl and the Poker Masters, a relatively new high roller series that was launched in 2017. The plan was to offer a USPO with twelve events and a $50,000 prize to the series winner, with an additional $100,000 prize to the High Roller of the Year. The shutdown of casinos in Las Vegas put plans for the 2020 series on hold, but the USPO is back in 2021 as part of the brand new PokerGO Tour.
The 2021 USPO will include twelve events, with buy-ins from $10,000 to $50,000, and the player that accumulates the most PokerGo Tour points over the course of the series will be crowned the US Poker Open Champion. All twelve 2021 USPO final tables will be broadcast live on PokerGO and PokerNews will offer daily recaps.
Remember, an annual subscription to PokerGO costs $99.99, but you can save $20 off by using promo code “USPO21” at checkout. Sign up by going here.