For most players, the World Series of Poker Main Event is the culmination of a summer-long grind. For Mike McDonald though, the Main Event is his World Series. The online legend may not be in Las Vegas for the preliminary events but the Main Event is something that McDonald can’t and won’t ever miss.

One reason, it is one of the biggest events in the world. With $8 million for first, or around that most years, there is immense value for players with McDonald’s resume. Throughout his live tournament career, McDonald has amassed over $13 million in earnings, including major tournament victories and podium finishes from around the world, and online, McDonald is one of the most successful tournament players of all-time.

The other reason, what the Main Event means to the entire poker world, McDonald included.

“I almost feel like nostalgic playing the Main Event,” McDonald said during the last break, before joking, “That is coming from someone who has never even done well in the Main Event.”

For McDonald, the Main Event represents his own journey through the game.

“This poker journey has been quite a ride,” McDonald said. “I would love to see stats on how many times I would refresh WSOP.com, PokerNews, CardPlayer throughout the summer when I was like 16, 17, 18-years-old. There were like five years where I was playing reasonable stakes online and was serious about poker but I couldn’t participate.”

Now, poker fans, those of all ages, are given a different way to consume the year’s biggest event. The WSOP Main Event will be live streamed every day on both PokerGO and ESPN, meaning that the refresh button doesn’t have to be clicked as often as it used to.

That also means that made for TV hands can now be consumed in real time, something that the poker world likely would have went crazy about when McDonald and Jamie Gold clashed on the former’s 18th birthday in the WSOP Europe Main Event. (Video credit: PokerLegends)

“The Jamie Gold hand comes up a ton, I never thought that a hand that I played on my first day of live poker would be my most talked about hand ever!” McDonald said, adding, “It’s only two months away from that hand being 10-years-old, time flies.”

The hand in question pitted Gold, who won the 2006 Main Event for $12 million, making a move with pocket threes against McDonald’s pocket jacks. Gold turned a set to score the knockout but almost a decade later, McDonald has some thoughts about the entire hand.

“I was just such a young hot-shot, cocky kid and he was an established player,” McDonald said, looking back. “It’s interesting to see that we are now both faces of poker.”

Today, McDonald is one of the faces of the PokerGO live stream, just like Gold was yesterday. While he has become one of the best players in the world since he spent summers refreshing online updates, the passion, excitement and energy of the Main Event is still the same as it was a decade ago.

“You can see just how big of an event poker can hold,” McDonald said about the Main Event, “It is really impressive to see this environment, see this energy and I think even if it gets to the point where I’m hardly playing any poker, I’ll still come out and play because this is just so much fun.”