2021 WSOP: Jason Koon strikes gold on third deep run; Ari Engel and Yuval Bronshtein score second career bracelets; Zhi Wu wins one; Another ft for Hellmuth

It is full throttle at the 52nd Annual World Series of Poker with over US$ 19.1 Million already paid out and twelve bracelets snatched up at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino. Opening week brought together some of the biggest names including 15x bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth who impressed his fans with three deep runs, of which two were final table finishes. Also matching up was 4x bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi. However, outshining them were the series’ latest victors. 

Image courtesy of

Ari Engel and Yuval Bronshtein captured second career bracelets, Zhi Wu landed his maiden major, and newly signed GG Poker ambassador Jason Koon closed out the Heads Up NL Hold’em Championship for his first ever gold bracelet. Koon also became the first player to reach three final tables. Among the Asian contenders, Korean pro Steve Yea got on the board with one cash. 

*Information collected from, PokerNews live updates, and The Hendon Mob 

Event #8: $600 NL Hold’em Deepstack – ZHI WU – US$ 281,406

Zhi Wu, Image courtesy of

The eighth bracelet event $600 NL Hold’em Deepstack created the largest entry field for an unphased event with a roaring 4,527 hitting the felt. In turn, it also built a substantial US$ 2,308,770 prize pool with the top 608 players earning a piece. After three days of work, Zhi Wu sealed it to lift his first ever gold bracelet and a career high US$ 281,406 payout. Based on his THM tracked stats, Wu has sixteen prior cashes since 2012. His first noteworthy score was US$ 19,000 for his victory at a local tournament in Connecticut. Two years later, he nearly won another at a WPT event, placing 2nd for US$ 21,015. Wu’s latest triumph marks his first major title. 

Reviewing the final table action, every player was seeking their first bracelet including Daniel Lowery who was decorated with an impressive nine circuit gold rings. Lowery’s hopes however vanished in 9th place. Day 2 ended with Wu getting lucky on Alexander Tafesh (6th) to bag up the biggest stack for the final day. When play resumed, Wu continued to dominate, eliminating Nicholas Zautra (5th) and Ryan Chan (4th), then faced Ari Mezrich for the title with an 8.5 to 1 chip advantage. Despite the lead, seizing the gold was no easy task as Mezrich chipped away and cut the gap to near even. Ultimately it was still Wu’s game, taking it down with pocket aces. For the top 9 players, they each banked their largest WSOP score. Also cashing in were Korean players Hwany Lee (20th for US$ 9,738) and Steve Yea (122nd for US$ 2,243). Min-cashing were Ting Yi Tsai (267th),  Japanese players Taisei Yamaoto (268th) and Hiroki Soto (415th). 

Date: October 4 to 6
Buy in: US$ 600
Entries: 4,527
Prize pool: US$ 2,308,770
ITM: 680 places

Final table payouts

1st Zhi Wu – USA – US$ 281,406
2nd Ari Mezrich – USA – US$ 173,960
3rd Chrishan Sivasundaram – Canada – US$ 131,646
4th Ryan Chan – USA – US$ 100,308
5th Nicholas Zautra – USA – US$ 76,957
6th Alexander Tafesh – USA – US$ 59,453
7th Amalim Onyia – USA – US$ 46,251
8th Hannes Jeschka – USA – US$ 36,235
9th Daniel Lowery – USA – US$ 28,589
10th Jeremy Pappano – USA – US$ 22,718

Event #9: $10K Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship – ALANA “ARI” ENGEL – US$ 317,076

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Ari Engel, Image courtesy of

Another star filled event as high profile players pulled up seats for Event #9: $10K Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship. 134 entered for a prize pool of US$ 1,249,550. After four days of action, it was a second bracelet for Canada with Ari Engel earning the victory and his second career bracelet. Along with the shine, Engel pocketed US$ 317,076 to boost his WSOP earnings over US$ 2 Million. 

Based on his WSOP record, Engel has been cashing in the annual series since 2006. He won his first WSOP circuit ring that same year then went on to snatch eight more until he landed his first gold bracelet in 2019 at the $2,500 NL Hold’em event. The win also gave him his largest WSOP score to date of US$ 427,399. Aside from the series, Engel boasts a long list of poker achievements from around the world, amounting to ~US$ 5.6 Million. In 2016, he shipped the Aussie Millions Main Event for the biggest payout of his career worth A$1,600,000 (~US$ 1,120,110). 

Recapping his latest win, the event paid out the top 21 players. Among those denied were multi bracelet winners Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Shaun Deeb, Brazilian pro Yuri Dzivielevski who first had to spend two weeks in Costa Rica before entering the country, and Tom Koral as the bubble boy. During the money round, Engel eliminated Ryan Laplante (20th), and once the final table of 10 was set, he was second in chips to Andrew Yeh while 4x bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi was a close third rank. This was Mizrachi’s second final table having placed 3rd at Event #5: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better. First to go was double bracelet winner Christopher Vitch (10th) and Mizrachi went on to finish 7th. 

The final day opened with five remaining. Engel was in high command and went on to eliminate the first three starting with 15x bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth. Like Mizrachi, Hellmuth was on his second final table, he also placed 6th at Event #2: $25K H.O.R.S.E. Out next was ring winner Eddie Blumenthal in 4th place then Andrew Yeh in 3rd to bring about heads up with a near 5:1 advantage against ring winner Zachary Milchman. Milchman gave Engel a sweat as he grinded the leader and overtook. Once Engel regained the lead, he held on to lock up his second bracelet. 

Date: October 4 to 7
Buy in: US$ 10,000
Entries: 134
Prize pool: US$ 1,249,550
ITM: 21 places

Final table payouts

1st Alan “Ari”  Engel – USA – US$ 317,076
2nd Zachary Milchman – USA – US$ 195,968
3rd Andrew Yeh – USA – US$ 143,988
4th Eddie Blumenthal – USA – US$ 107,204
5th Phil Hellmuth – USA – US$ 80,894
6th George Wolff – USA – US$ 61,877
7th Robert Mizrachi – USA – US$ 47,987
8th Ben Landowski – USA – US$ 37,738
9th Khan-Ar Xaythavone – USA – US$ 30,102
10th Christopher Vitch – USA – US$ 24,358

Event #11: $10K Heads Up NL Hold’em Championship – JASON KOON – US$ 243,981

Jason Koon, Image courtesy of

Having just been announced as the newest GG Poker ambassador, Jason Koon went back up on stage, this time to claim his first ever gold bracelet. It was a nail biter finish with Koon defeating Hungary’s Gabor Szabo at the finals of the $10K Heads Up NL Hold’em Championship. He also became the first player to reach three final tables. Koon’s other deep runs were 9th at Event #6: High Roller NL Hold’em 8-Handed and 6th at Online Event #1: $5,300 NLH Freezeout. 

As one of the most talented players in the industry, it is a surprise that Koon had yet to win his first bracelet. His chase began in 2009, and through the years, he reached several final tables and near victory moments. Having finally bagged it, Koon is certain there are many more to come. Interviewed by PokerNews, he said, 

It’s one of those things when you’re on an airplane and a person is like, ‘Do you have a bracelet?’ I’m just like, ‘Nope.’ At least I can finally say yes to that. I love coming here. I think I’ll play poker forever, and when it’s all said and done I think it’s inevitable I’ll have several of them.

Koon now has 53 WSOP cashes and ~US$ 2.6 Million in series earnings. At other events, he has amassed over US$ 30 Million with numerous seven digit payouts to boast of. His largest was US$ 3,579,836 for his victory at the 2018 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Montenegro HK$ 250K NLH Short Deck. This past summer, Koon racked up over US$ 1.4 Million in winnings with his biggest score of US$ 336,000 at the PokerGO Tour US$ 50K NLH, and US$ 324,000 for his victory at the US$ 25K NLH. 

The $10K Heads Up NL Hold’em Championship drew 57 players for a prize pool of US$ 1,346,625. Among the players were title holders Adrian Mateos and David Peters. Mateos lost to Bin Weng in Round of 32 and Peters fell to Gabor Szabo in Round of 16. To lock up his first bracelet, Koon defeated the following: 

Chris Brewer in Round of 50
Nicolai Morris in Round of 32
Johannes Becker in Round of 16
Jake Daniels in the Quarter-Finals
Henri Puustinen in the Semi-Finals
Gabor Szabo in the Finals

At the finals, Koon was up against Szabo who denied Belarusian pro Mikita Badziakouski in the quarters and Dan Zack in the semis. Both players were seeking their first gold bracelet. At the start, the lead exchanged multiple times with Szabo first to create the widest gap. Koon recovered with a monster double up with 5c5s surviving AcQc on a nerve-wracking board Jc10c4hJdJs. Szabo challenged back to overtake Koon once again then on the next shove, Szabo plunged to under 2 BB with A-J losing to A-Q. From there, Koon went on to ship it. 

Date: October 5 to 7
Buy in: US$ 25,000
Entries: 57
Prize pool: US$ 1,346,625

Top 8 finishers

1st Jason Koon – USA – US$ 243,981
2nd Gabor Szabo – Hungary – US$ 150,970
3rd Henri Puustinen – Finland – US$ 89,787
4th Daniel Zack – USA – US$ 89,787
5th Mikita Badziakouski – Belarus – 36,820
6th Bin Weng – USA – US$ 36,820
7th Benjamin Reason – USA – 36,820
8th Jake Daniels – USA – US$ 36,820

Event #12: $1,500 Limit Hold’em – YUVAL BRONSHTEIN – US$ 124,374

Yuval Bronshtein, Image courtesy of

First bracelet of the series for Israel as Yuval Bronshtein overcame a deficit at Event #12: $1,500 Limit Hold’em event to capture his second career bracelet and US$ 124,374. A well known all around player, Bronshtein has been cashing in the series since 2007. Most of his deep runs were mainly in H.O.R.S.E. and other mixed games. In 2012 he placed 23rd at the $10K World Championship NL Hold’em Main Event for US$ 294,601 which remains his largest career payout. In 2015, Bronshtein won his first circuit ring, then four years later, he clinched the 2019 WSOP $1,500 No Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw for his first ever gold bracelet. To date, Bronshtein has over US$ 1.4 Million in WSOP earnings. 

The event drew 422 entries for a prize pool of US$ 563,370. Among the players in the money were triple bracelet winners Joe Mckeehen (45th) and Rep “Ralph” Porter (18th), double bracelet winners Marco Johnson (19th) and Anthony Zinno (38th), and bracelet winner Jorden Fox in 14th place. 

Date: October 5 to 7
Buy in: US$ 1,500
Entries: 422
Prize pool: US$ 563,370
ITM: 64 places 

Final table payouts

1st Yuval Bronshtein – Israel – US$ 124,374
2nd Kevin Erickson – USA – US$ 76,868
3rd Tom McCormick – USA – US$ 53,558
4th John Bunch – USA – US$ 38,011
5th Ian Glycenfer – USA – US$ 27,488
6th Zachary Gruneberg – USA – US$ 20,262
7th Guy Cicconi – USA – US$ 15,230
8th Tony Nasr – USA – US$ 11,677
9th Anh Van Nguyen – Canada – US$ 9,137
10th Mike Lancaster – USA – US$ 7,299

Here’s a look at some series numbers and player achievements including bracelet winners and multi final tables.

2021 WSOP Tally

Event #1 – #12 prize pool: US$ 19,136,845
Online Event #1 – #2 prize pool: US$ 1,260,150
Entries: 21,565
Online entries: 898
Largest prize pool: Event #7: $500 The Reunion $5M GTD – US$ 5,448,660
Largest payout: Tyler Cornell – US$ 833,289
First time bracelet winners: 8 (live) 

Second career bracelet won

Jeremy Ausmus – Event #3: $1K Covid-19 Charity Relief
Connor Drinan – Event #5: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better
Martin “BathroomLine” Zamani – Online #1: $5,300 NLH Freezeout
Mark “NJ_AcesmarkA” Herm – Online #2: $500 NL Hold’em BIG 500

Ari Engel – Event #9: $10K Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship
Yuval Bronshtein – Event #12: $1,500 Limit Hold’em

2021 WSOP Winners

Image courtesy of

Event #1: James Barnett – USA – Casino Employees – US$ 39,013
Event #2: Jesse Klein – USA – $25K H.O.R.S.E. – US$ 552,182
Event #3: Jeremy Ausmus – USA – $1K Covid-19 Charity Relief – US$ 48,687
Event #4: Long Ma – USA – $500 The Reunion 5M GTD – US$ 514,604
Event #5: Connor Drinan – USA – $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better – US$ 163,252
Event #6: Tyler Cornell – USA – $25K HR NL Hold’em 8-Handed – US$ 833,289
Event #7: Jaswinder “Jesse” Lally – Canada – $1,500 Dealer’s Choice 6-Handed – US$ 97,915
Event #8: Zhi Wu – USA – $600 NL Hold’em Deepstack – US$ 281,406
Event #9: Ari Engel – Canada – $10K Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship – US$ 317,076
Event #10: Michael Perrone – USA – $1K Super Turbo Bounty NLH Freezeout – US$ 152,173
Event #11: Jason Koon – USA – $25K Heads-Up NL Hold’em Championship – US$ 243,981
Event #12: Yuval Bronshtein – Israel – $1,500 Limit Hold’em – US$ 124,374

Online #1: Martin “BathroomLine” Zamani – $5,300 NLH Freezeout – USA – US$ 210,600
Online #2: Mark “NJ_AcesmarkA” Herm – $500 NL Hold’em BIG 500 – USA – US$ 89,356

Multiple final tables

Jason Koon
9th – Event #6: High Roller NL Hold’em 8-Handed
6th – Online Event #1: $5,300 NLH Freezeout
1st – Event #11: $10K Heads Up NL Hold’em Championship

Phil Hellmuth 
6th – Event #2: $25K H.O.R.S.E
5th – Event #9: $10K Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship

Robert Mizrachi
3rd – Event #5: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better 
7th – Event #9: $10K Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Championship

Stay tuned to Somuchpoker as we bring you updates and recaps throughout the series. 

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Tricia David

Tricia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits in Asia. She spent one year working part time with Poker Portal Asia then became editor and lead writer for all event coverage of the Philippine Poker Tour (PPT). Under the PPT, she overlooked content for their website, and produced live updates on all their events. In addition, she served as the live and online events website content writer for the Asian Poker Tour. Currently, she does live events reporting in Asia for online news site Somuchpoker and is also one of their news contributors.

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