The USPO is the abbreviation for the US Poker Open. It is a series of high-stakes live poker events hosted by PokerGO and now a staple of the PokerGO Tour (PGT). Buy-ins range from $10,000 to $50,000 per tournament, of which there are typically ten in every annual series.
The events take place on the Las Vegas Strip, specifically at the PokerGO Studio, a special studio created at ARIA Casino for hosting, livestreaming, and filming some of the world’s largest buy-in poker tournaments.
Players compete for significant prize pools in each of the USPO events, but there is also a $50,000 cash prize and USPO Golden Eagle trophy for the overall series winner. Competitors can also accumulate points on the PokerGO Tour (PGT), an annual year-long series of high-stakes poker tournaments that help determine the very best top-level poker players in the world.
The executives at PokerGO came up with the idea for the US Poker Open in 2017. After debuting the Poker Masters for high-stakes tournament poker players, PokerGO (then called Poker Central) announced that the US Poker Open would add a new level of high-stakes action into the mix.
The USPO would be a more concise series with six-handed poker tables, running for less than two weeks but offering a range of buy-ins from $10,000 to $50,000 and feature more than just
No Limit Texas Hold’em. The Main Event would be NLHE, but there would also be a Pot Limit Omaha tournament and Mixed Game Championship in the series. And while Poker Masters ran in the autumn, USPO would offer its high-stakes games in the spring.
Best of all for poker fans, PokerGO offered a live poker stream on its website of all of the inaugural eight events.
And for players, they were incentivized to register on time to avoid tournament fees.
Seven iterations later, the US Poker Open is going strong and attracting more players than ever due to the addition of satellites in the studio and the prestige attached to the Golden Eagle trophy.
The US Poker Open schedule 2024 is not yet available, and it likely won’t be released until much later in the year. Considering the current PokerGO Tour schedule runs through January 9, the PGT team has not yet settled on dates or details for the USPO 2024.
The 2023 US Poker Open Online ran August 21 through September 3 online at Global Poker, the sweepstakes-modeled online poker site for players in many parts of the United States. The 64-event series included Gold Coin events and Sweeps Coin events, with GC and SC each hosting a Main Event and leaderboards.
In the end, “FishSamich” topped the SC leaderboard and won the top prize available – a $5K prize to fund a trip to Las Vegas, where the player will visit the PokerGO Studio, receive a trophy and framed USPO felt, and claim another $5K in prize money.
|Year||Events||Main Event||ME Winner||Player of the Series|
|2018||8||$50K NLHE||Keith Tilston||Stephen Chidwick (2 wins, 5 final tables)|
|2019||10||$100K NLHE||David Peters||David Peters (1 win, 3 final tables)|
|2021||12||$50K NLHE||Sean Winter||David Peters (3 wins, 3 final tables)|
|2022||12||$50K NLHE||Sean Winter||Sean Winter (2 wins, 2 final tables)|
|2023||10||$50K NLHE||Martin Zamani||Martin Zamani (1 win, 2 final tables)|
The end of March worked well the previous year, so the 2023 USPO kept close to those dates. A very full high roller lineup for the entire year prompted PokerGO to reduce the USPO to just 10 events this time, and the mixed games left the docket. There were just two PLO events, with the rest reverting to the NLHE standard fare.
Event 1 had the strongest start of any USPO to date, drawing 105 entries for a prize pool that exceeded $1 million. Joey Weissman took it down for $231,000. Tony Lin took the next tournament, followed by Sam Soverel, Allan Le, Phil Hellmuth, Isaac Kempton, Darren Elias, Isaac Haxton, and Dan Smith.
Martin Zamani took down the $50K Main Event for an evil sum of $666,000. Even better, he finished the series with four cashes, two of which were final tables. The third place in Event 6 and Main Event win gave him the overall USPO championship title.
The schedule for the 2022 USPO didn’t change much from the previous year, though the series did move back to March – not as early as in the first years but still within the first quarter of the year. There were 12 events again, with the first 11 allowing double reentries and the Main Event just one reentry.
Starting strong again, Event 1 brought in 93 entries for a $930,000 prize pool, and it ended with Shannon Shorr beating Tony “Ren” Lin for the win and $213,900 in cash. From there, players like Justin Young, Adam Hendrix, Jeremy Ausmus, Alex Foxen, Chino Rheem, Erik Seidel, and Dylan Weisman won titles. Tamon Nakamura grabbed two wins.
And Sean Winter grabbed two wins right at the end of the series, taking down the $25K NLHE and then the $50K NLHE Main Event. Those two victories were worth $1,196,000 in prize money, but he also won $50,000 and the Golden Eagle trophy for becoming the overall 2022 USPO Champion.
As the poker world began to resume live tournaments in 2021, PokerGO was anxious to provide an opportunity for high rollers to return to the tables. The 2021 USPO was set for later in the year (June) and with many players wearing masks, but the schedule expanded to offer 12 tournaments. The highest buy-in was $50K for the Main Event, which was the only event that offered only a single reentry. All other events offered two reentries, and new events like Big Bet Mix and Short Deck joined the lineup.
Attendance was high, as 95 entries created a $950K prize pool for the $10K NLHE kickoff event. Jacob Daniels won that one, and subsequent events found the following players in pictures titled “Winner U.S. Poker Open”: Sam Soverel, Joseph McKeehen, John Riordan, Joey Weissman, Eli Elezra, Jared Bleznick, and Ali Imsirovic. David Peters, however, won Events 7, 10, and 11.
The Main Event was a $50K NLHE with 42 entries. From the $2.1 million prize pool, Sean Winter was the winner for $756,000. Winter was the runner-up for the series championship title, but he couldn’t surpass Peters’ three wins and four cashes. Peters captured back-to-back U.S. Poker Open POY – technically Player of the Series but POS feels wrong – titles.
The original plan was to push the 2020 USPO out to March, but the pandemic changed everything. The USPO was the first casualty for PokerGO, as they had no choice but to cancel it.
In preparation for the second USPO, the team at PokerGO increased the schedule to hold ten events and boosted the Main Event buy-in to $100K. And all events except the Mixed Game and Main Event allowed for double reentries.
Attendance increased for the second iteration of the series, as the first event brought in 90 entries for a $900,000 prize pool. Stephen Chidwick took down the first event for $216K. But his quest for another overall series title was thwarted by other event winners – Jordan Cristos, Lauren Roberts, Sean Winter, Ali Imsirovic, Bryn Kenney, Nick Shulman, and Koray Aldemir. Chidwick did win the PLO event to claim two series titles, but it wasn’t enough.
David Peters took down the $100K buy-in NLHE Main Event, which had 33 entries and a $3,300,000 prize pool. Peters won $1,238,000. Throughout the series, though, Peters had three final tables and a total of $1,584,800 in winnings, giving him the Golden Eagle Trophy.
The first USPO happened in early February 2018 and offered a series of eight tournaments, each allowing one reentry.
Justin Bonomo won the first event of the series, a $10K buy-in NLHE event that generated 68 entries and a total prize pool of $680,000. Bonomo earned $109,400 for his victory. Miki Gorodinsky picked up the second win of the series, while Stephen Chidwick took down Event 3 ($25K NLHE) and Event 4 ($25K Mixed Game Championship). Benjamin Tollerene, Benjamin Pollak, and David Peters took down the next three events, respectively.
The $50K buy-in NLHE Main Event brought in 33 entries for a prize pool of $1.65 million. Keith Tilston emerged victorious for $660K in prize money.
In the end, Chidwick won the overall USPO Player of the Series title and Golden Eagle trophy for his two wins, five final tables, and $1,256,650 in earnings.