2023 WSOP Opening Week: Peter Thai, Alexandre Vuilleumier, Tyler Brown, Ronnie Day, Chad Eveslage, Michael Moncek, Vadim Shlez, and Chanracy Khun emerge triumphant; Shant Marashlian and Patrick Liang among million dollar winners


Potentially the biggest season to come, the awaited World Series of Poker summer games is finally in full swing right in the heart of Las Vegas. Players from all over the world have begun flocking in for a chance of a huge payday and WSOP gold. From May 30th to July 18th, the 54th running of the esteemed series will host a total of 95 bracelet events at its new home, Horseshoe (formerly Bally’s) and Paris Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo Credit – WSOP

The festival’s opening week saw eight bracelets awarded to its respective champions with a few seven-figured scores already in the books. This includes three million-dollar winners from Event #3: $1,000 Mystery MillionsTyler Brown, and top bounty winners Shant Marashlian, and Patrick Liang. The popular Mystery Bounty tournament has also racked up the largest entry field so far at a whopping 18,188 entries. Combining results from the first eight events, $22,450,825 in total have been awarded with Peter Thai, Alexandre Vuilleumier, Tyler Brown, Ronnie Day, Vadim Shlez, and Chanracy Khun capturing their maiden WSOP bracelets. Events #1-8 results reported down below.

Festival update

Event #1 – 8 prize pool: US$ 22,450,825
Entries: 21,766
Multiple final tables: Tyler Brown, Sean Winter
Second career bracelet: Michael Moncek, Chad Eveslage

Event #1: $500 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em: Peter Thai – USD 75,535

Event 1
Peter Thai, Photo Credit – WSOP

Recording the third-biggest Casino Employees event in WSOP history, this year’s opening event collected 1,015 entries for a $426,300 prize pool. A good indicator of what’s to come, it was Livermore table games dealer Peter Thai who captured the first bracelet of the season after defeating James Urbanic in heads up play. Thai’s crucial moment came after he scored a double elimination five-handed, propelling him to the top of the ranks. Less than an hour later, Thai succeeded in busting his remaining opponents and bagged a dream come true along with an impressive US$ 75,535 payday.

I never expected to win,Thai said in his post-win interview with PokerNews. “I came here just wanting to have fun and one thing led to another. It was an unforgettable experience.”

I’m an avid poker player. I don’t play that often, but I still know how to play. I play more cash games than tournaments. I have a lot of tournament experience, mostly from playing a lot of online sit and gos from my college days.

Buy in: US$ 500
Entries: 1,015
Prize pool: US$ 426,300
ITM: 153 places

Event #1: $500 Casino Employees Final Table Results

Place Player Country Prize
1 Peter Thai United States $75,535
2 James Urbanic United States $46,690
3 Paul Blanchette United States $33,051
4 Bruce Jiang United States $23,738
5 Benson Tam United States $17,303
6 Sean Balfour Canada $12,802
7 Keith McCormack United States $9,617
8 Joe Pavan United States $7,337
9 Lisa Eckstein United States $5,686

Event #2: $25,000 High Roller 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em: Alexandre Vuilleumier – USD 1,215,864

Event 2
Alexandre Vuilleumier, Photo Credit – WSOP

With a price tag of $25,000, it was expected that Event #2: $25,000 High Roller 6-Handed No-Limit Hold’em would attract some of the industry’s fiercest competitors. The two-day tournament saw 207 entries join in, boosting the pot to over $4.8 million. Among those who made the final table are big name players Sean Winter, and Chance Kornuth who fell one spot short of the title. 

Switzerland’s Alexandre Vuilleumier kicked off the final table festivities sitting amongst the top chip counts and after six hours of play, the winner was in. Vuilleumier smooth sailed his way towards the victory and clinched the $1,215,864 top prize to start his WSOP journey. The million-dollar score would not only be this season’s first seven-figure payout but also, Vuilleumier’s first seven-figure cash as of late.

Obviously, the World Series is just fantastic,” said Vuilleumier following his win. “To win a bracelet is just the epitome of a poker career for sure.

I wouldn’t be as arrogant to say that, but for me, it is the year of my career for sure. I’m really happy with everything that’s happened,” he said. “I’m not one of the top players. Like in chess, you have to be here for years. I’m certainly growing and I’m excited to be part of these tournaments. I started playing tournaments in January 2022, so I certainly wouldn’t make any bold assessments.

Buy in: US$ 25,000
Entries: 207
Prize pool: US$ 4,864,500
ITM: 32 places

Event #2: $25,000 High Roller Six Handed Final Table Results

Place Player Country Prize (USD)
1 Alexandre Vuilleumier Switzerland $1,215,864
2 Chance Kornuth United States $751,463
3 Sean Winter United States $518,106
4 Axel Hallay France $363,326
5 Ren Lin China $259,220
6 Joey Weissman United States $188,219

Event #3: $1,000 Mystery Millions – No-Limit Hold’em: Tyler Brown – USD 1,000,000

Event 3
Tyler Brown, Photo Credit – WSOP

One of the most exciting events on schedule, Event #3: $1,000 Mystery Millions was a full fun-fledged WSOP affair with a large 18,188 entries vying not only for the $1 million top prize, but also the $1 million highest bounties. With over $10 million in both the prize pool and bounty pot, 1,0005 runners cut a share of the money but it was Shant Marashlian and Patrick Liang who took the spotlight early on Day 2. The two big Mystery Bounty winners bagged a $1 million bounty each, followed by Klint Teveraei who took home $500,000 and Eric Baldwin with $250,000.

It took a lengthy six days before a champion was crowned, and it was none other than USA’s Tyler Brown. To start the final day, Brown was ahead of the pack, ranking fifth in chips and eventually made his way to the final table in the middle of the pack. A crucial flip that sent Rhian Fineis exiting in 5th propelled Brown to the top. Upon reaching heads up play against Guang Chen, the third hand saw the festivities wrap up with a shocking hero call by Brown

The hand began with Brown raising on the button with Ac5s and Chen calling on the big blind with Kc9h. The two went on to see a flop of 3s3h2d and Chen check-raised 4x Brown’s continuation bet. Brown made the call, revealing the turn Qs. Chen put Brown to the test, shoving all-in for his opponent’s remaining 19 big blinds. Brown found the call and the Qh completed the board, awarding Brown the huge pot. With five big blinds left, Chen shortly busted in runner-up finish as Brown clinched his maiden WSOP victory.

I’ve played tournaments here and there, I’ve got, ya know, some idea of what I’m doing, but obviously, I’m a lot stronger PLO player. There were a lot better Hold’em players than me in this field, I obviously got insanely lucky with 18,000 people“.

A lot of my study came four or five years ago,” said Brown. “I took almost two years off poker, decided to come back at the end of last year, early this year, and it’s been unbelievable in these last six months“.

Buy in: US$ 1,000
Entries: 18,188
Prize pool: US$ 10,730,920
ITM: 1,005 places

Mystery Bounty Payouts

Bounty Prize Collected By Bounty Prize Collected By
$1,000,000 Shant Marashlian $1,000,000 Patrick Liang
$500,000 Klint Teveraei $250,000 Eric Baldwin
$100,000 Noah Hovick $100,000 Kenneth Mapoy
$100,000 Dan Shak $50,000 Nikolaos Angelou
$50,000 Cassio Pisapia $50,000 Kevin Towler
$50,000 Bill Murray $25,000 Viktor Kulish
$25,000 Christopher Lewis $25,000 Narayan Patel
$25,000 Narayan Patel $25,000 Aram Oganyan
$25,000 Daniel Glass $25,000 Roongsak Griffeth
$25,000 Kirk Acevedo $25,000 Rajesh Vohra
$25,000 Alejandro Jauregui Reynoso $25,000 Kultida Berman
$25,000 Kodey Hammer $25,000 Jaime Madrigal
$25,000 Russell McClean $25,000 Ryan McKnight
$25,000 John Riordan $25,000 Ryan McKnight
$25,000 Ron Moisecu $25,000 Lemarc Harrell
$25,000 Darin Utley $25,000 Nicholas Agnew
$25,000 Kenneth Mapoy $25,000 Todd Hoopfer
$25,000 Michael Clough $25,000 Kevin Schulz
$25,000 Joao Barroso Valli $25,000 Shahaf Nacson
$25,000 Baptiste Ozenne $25,000 Joseph Salvaggi
$25,000 Carmen Raiche Marsden $25,000 Patrick Liang
$25,000 Stephen Song $25,000 Guan Chen
$25,000 Tyler Brown    

Event #3: $1,000 Mystery Millions Final Table Results

Place Name Country Prize (USD)
1 Tyler Brown United States $1,000,000
2 Guang Chen United States $561,320
3 Ryan McKnight United States $429,360
4 Steven Thompson Costa Rica $330,150
5 Rhian Fineis United States $255,210
6 Tauan De Oliveira Naves Brazil $198,320
7 Dan Shak USA $154,940
8 Tam Ho Canada $121,683

Event #4: Tournament of Champions: Ronnie Day – USD 200,000

Event 4
Ronnie Day, Photo Credit – WSOP

The invitation-only event saw 741 past winners return to the field out of 989 qualifiers to play for the listed $1,000,000 prize pool. USA’s Ronnie Day emerged as the winner of Event #4: Tournament of Champions after defeating Brent Gregory in the heads up duel. Day qualified for the freeroll event by winning a WSOPC ring in Elizabeth, Indiana just last month. Adding to his previous win, Day received $200,000 in prizes in addition to his first career gold bracelet.

“It’s so surreal right now, it’s unbelievable, I don’t even know how to explain it,” Day told PokerNews. “I was sitting there thinking, this is very good practice for the Main instead of just jumping right into the fire,” 

Day started the final table almost last in chips but managed to overtake the lead before the first break of the day. By that time, there were only four opponents left in his way for the title. Day continued with his lead not once relinquishing it and carried on to eliminate three of the other four contenders to eventually seal the deal.

Buy in: US$ –
Entries: 741
Prize pool: US$ 1,000,000
ITM: 100 places

Event #4: Tournament of Champions Final Table Results

Place   Name Country Prize
1   Ronnie Day United States $200,000
2   Brent Gregory United States $120,000
3   Patrick White United States $87,000
4   Hunter McClelland United States $63,000
5   Wissam Gahshan United States $46,000
6   Justin Hotte-McKinnon Canada $35,000
7   Barry Schultz United States $26,000
8   Daniel Marx United States $20,000
9   Zachary Gruneberg United States $16,000

Event #5: $1,500 Dealers Choice 6-Handed: Chad Eveslage – USD 131,879

Event 5
Chad Eveslage, Photo Credit – WSOP

Not your classic variant, Event #5: $1,500 Dealers Choice 6-Handed saw 456 entries generate a $608,760 prize pool, listing a sizeable $131,879 top payout. The mixed game tournament commanded its share of bracelet winners with three (Andrew Kelsall, John Racener, and Chad Eveslage) out of the final seven looking for their second WSOP gold. Kicking off the final table gameplay, Eveslage was front and center of the pack with a significant advantage over his opponents. The final levels saw Eveslage dominate the table as he continuously widened the gap even more so and carried on to secure the bracelet win.

Not nearly as excited, but it’s fun, You know what I mean? The mixed atmosphere is much, much more laid back. We were joking around heads up. Like, you know, when I beat Jake heads-up or it was, no, I don’t think a single word was spoken, you know, but it’s nice, you know … I imagine it never gets old winning a World Series of Poker bracelet though,” compared Eveslage to his previous win.

Eveslage clinched his first bracelet victory in last year’s summer games after he topped the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em High Roller 8-Handed for $1,415,610. This serves to be the American pro’s career-best cash from a $7.6 million record of total live earnings. 

Buy in: US$ 1,500
Entries: 456
Prize pool: US$ 608,760
ITM: 69 places

Event #5: $1,500 Dealers Choice 6-Handed Final Table Results

Place Winner Country Prize
1 Chad Eveslage United States $131,879
2 Andrew Kelsall United States $81,509
3 Nick Kost United States $54,247
4 John Racener United States $36,953
5 Clayton Mozdzen Canada $25,779
6 James Johnson United States $18,428

Event #6: $5,000 Mixed No-Limit Hold’em; Pot-Limit Omaha: Michael Moncek – USD 534,499

Event 6
Michael Moncek, Photo Credit – WSOP

The sixth bracelet event on schedule ran through 26 hours of gameplay before USA’s Michael Moncek emerged as its rightful champion. Moncek outlasted the 568 – entry field and defeated Switzerland’s Fernando Habegger in heads up play to claim $534,499 in winnings. Moncek is no stranger to high pressure games with a bracelet win from last year’s festivities and three WSOPC rings under his belt to show for.

It means a lot and now I have a decent shot at going for Player of the Year,” Moncek commented to PokerNews. “Winning a bracelet in the first week, I’m excited about that.

The final table saw a few familiar faces with Kristen Foxen busting out in seventh, and Mystery Millions winner Tyler Brown making another deep run and finishing in sixth. Final day chip leader Habegger also held on to his tournament life all the way to heads up against Moncek. At almost a 1:3 disadvantage, Habegger was unable to overcome his opponent and was left to settle with a runner-up finish for $330,344.

Buy in: US$ 5,000
Entries: 568
Prize pool: US$ 2,612,800
ITM: 86 places

Event #6: $5,000 Mixed No-Limit Hold’em; Pot-Limit Omaha Final Table Results

Place Player Country Payout (USD)
1 Michael Moncek United States $534,499
2 Fernando Habegger Switzerland $330,344
3 Alex Livingston Canada $235,062
4 Michael Banducci United States $169,674
5 Christian Harder United States $124,266
6 Tyler Brown United States $92,362
7 Kristen Foxen United States $69,683
8 Ferenc Deak Hungary $53,377

Event #7: $1,500 Limit Hold’em: Vadim Shlez – USD 146,835

Event 7
Vadim Shlez, Photo Credit – WSOP

The first Limit event of the series attracted 527 runners competing for the lion’s share of the $703,545 pot. Among those looking to snag a second bracelet were Adam Friedman, David “ODB” Baker, Joe McKeehen, Jason Gola, Mike Leah, Nick Schulman, Yueqi Zhu, Patrick Leonard, Justin Pechie, Ryan Leng, Tom Schneider, Richard Alsup, Erick Lindgren, Jim Collopy, Ryan Hansen, Humberto Brenes, Nick Guagenti, and Kevin Song. None of them however, would reach the final table except for Baker who exited in eighth.

I’ve been working on it for pretty much my whole life,Shlez told PokerNews. “I started poker pretty much with the World Series of Poker. … I didn’t expect to win in this discipline, even though it was my favorite game when I started.

Ukraine’s Vadim Shlez started his climb to the trophy with the lead heading into the final table. After nearly six hours of grueling play, the field dwindled down to its last two players – Shlez against fellow countryman Rostyslav Sabishchenko. The two went back and forth for roughly an hour before Sabishchenko admitted defeat after failing to overtake his opponent. Shlez unbelievably bagged $146,835 for his performance and Ukraine’s first bracelet win of the series.

Buy in: US$ 1,500
Entries: 527
Prize pool: US$ 703,545
ITM: 80 places

Event #7: $1,500 Limit Hold’em Final Table Results

Place Player Country Prize
1 Vadim Shlez Ukraine $146,835
2 Rostyslav Sabishchenko Ukraine $90,753
3 Kerry Welsh United States $63,577
4 Raul Celaya United States $45,301
5 John Armbrust United States $32,840
6 Chairud Vangchailued United States $24,228
7 Jason Duong Canada $18,196
8 David “ODB” Baker United States $13,917

Event #8: $25,000 Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship: Chanracy Khun – USD 507,020

Event 8
Chanracy Khun, Photo Credit – WSOP

One of the heftier buy-ins on schedule, the $25,000 Heads Up No Limit Hold’em Championship attracted a number of the industry’s best players in contention for the biggest slice of the $1,504,000 prize pool. The final eight alone saw poker superstars Doug Polk, Chris Brewer, Anthony Zinno, and Sean Winter in search of WSOP glory. In the end, the final games saw Canada’s Chanracy Khun face off with heads up expert Doug Polk for the title. 

I feel really good. I’m relieved. And it’s tough to find any words, but it’s a mix of emotions. But at the end of the day, I’m really, really glad it’s over.” Chan stated.

The duo’s battle lasted a couple of hours before the final hand came to light. Interestingly, the hand started with a limp from Khun on the button with 8s6c and check from Polk on the big blind with Qd4d. Both players headed on to the flop 6d5c3h with Polk check-calling a one big blind (160k) bet from Khun. The turn revealed Kc and Polk checked once more. Khun fired another 250k bet and was answered with a raise to 900k. Khun made the call and a 9h completed the board. Polk went for a river bluff for all his chips yet failed to throw off his opponent. Khun made the call and won the massive pot with his pair of sizes. Polk exited in second place shortly after as Khun was crowned as the latest heads up champion.

I just went with my gut feeling,” said Khun of the hand. “I thought he was bluffing that hand for sure. If I had more time banks, it would have been easier. But for that hand in particular, I was quite confident that my hand might be good a lot of times. So yeah, I just went with the way I felt. It ended up being the right one.

Buy in: US$ 25,000
Entries: 64
Prize pool: US$ 1,504,000
ITM: 8 places

Event #8: $25,000 Heads Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship Final Table Results

Place Player Country Prize
1st Chanracy Khun Canada $507,020
2nd Doug Polk United States $313,362
3rd Chris Brewer United States $192,513
4th Sean Winter United States $192,513
5th Roberto Perez Spain $74,648
6th Anthony Zinno United States $74,648
7th Landon Tice United States $74,648
8th Eric Wasserson United States $74,648

More 2023 WSOP recaps to follow here at Somuchpoker.

Avatar photo

Janette Dee

Graduated from De La Salle University, Janette works as a full time teacher in Manila, Philippines. She has long joined the local poker community as a recreational player for the last decade. Having a natural love for the game, she decided to branch out into a different avenue of poker. Currently, Janette works for Somuchpoker as a content writer reporting local and international news for the site.

More Posts - Website