The Colossus has set records with its fields, created long lines for payouts, and caused controversy with its payout structure.
Now, the biggest event in live poker history has done the most important thing any tournament can do: it has crowned a champion.
Lance “Cord” Garcia outlasted a massive field of 22,374 entries in order to walk away as the first ever WSOP Colossus champion.
It was not only Garcia’s first ever WSOP bracelet, it was his first ever WSOP cash: exactly the kind of story World Series organizers were hoping for when they created a $565 buy-in reentry tournament designed to pack as many players into the Rio as possible.
That’s not to say that Garcia was a wide-eyed amateur who lucked his way through the tournament to win a life-changing prize. Garcia is a professional with plenty of success in recent years, particularly on the WSOP Circuit: in 2012, he won a Circuit ring in Bossier City.
But that’s nothing like winning at the World Series, either in terms of money or exposure.
“Definitely, it feels like it is my breakthrough, but at the same time, I feel like I am capable of doing bigger things,” Garcia told WSOP.com.
In order to secure his title, Garcia had to face some familiar faces at the final table. In particular, there was one person who Garcia knew quite well: they were rooming together for the WSOP.
That was Ray Henson, a WSOP Circuit veteran with four rings. Henson may have been the most experienced player at the final table: not only did he win the biggest WSOP Circuit event ever earlier this year, but was also no stranger to deep runs at the World Series, having finished 12th in the WSOP Main Event back in 2007.
But Hanson would ultimately go out in third place, when his T♠8♦ ran into the K♣T♥ of Brad McFarland. Henson couldn’t improve, meaning he had to settle for $308,761, making him the only player at the final table who didn’t take home their largest career cash.
That left a heads-up battle between Garcia and McFarland, with Garcia holding a small chip lead.
On the final hand, Garcia’s set of fours was enough to win an all-in pot; a quick chip count confirmed that he had enough to cover McFarland, who was eliminated in second place ($386,253).
For his victory, Garcia received a prize of $638,880.
This was actually one of the most controversial aspects of The Colossus: that prize amounted to only about 5.7 percent of the total prize pool, an extremely low amount for first place, and one that stunned most of the remaining field when it was announced on Day 2.
There were other issues with the tournament as well, such as long lines for those seeking payouts after the money bubble broke.
But these are problems that could potentially be solved if the Colossus is brought back next year, an outcome that seems likely given the extraordinary success of the event.
The WSOP hardly needed to point out that the Colossus was the largest field in live tournament history: that much was obvious to everyone.
But some of the other numbers to come out of the event were just as impressive, and showed how the Colossus might be just the kind of event needed to help grow the WSOP player base.
A lot of the players utilized reentries in the tournament, but even the number of unique players was easily a record: 14,284 players fired at least one bullet into the event. Of that group, 5,664 (or close to 40 percent) made their first ever appearance in a WSOP event.
The tournament also drew a diversity of players, as participants came from a record 98 countries and ranged in age from 21 to 91. There were also 968 unique women in the field, a number that should please organizers who have struggled to attract women to play in open events in the past.