It’s that dazzling time again when poker players worldwide converge in Sin City for the industry’s biggest poker festival of the year. On May 31, the 53rd Annual World Series of Poker opened its doors, and in a blink, early birds rushed in to get a feel of the festival’s new home at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas Casino. For 51 days, this will be the space where dreams are fulfilled as players aspire for the glory and the gold.
Back on its summer schedule, the series is expected to be bigger than previous with covid-19 restrictions now lifted. Opening games saw the first four of 88 bracelets claimed and the first seven figure payout. Notable pros David Peters, Scott Seiver, and Brad Ruben each locked up career fourth golds while Kate Kopp snatched up her first. Also on the felt were Koray Aldemir (2021 WSOP Main Event champion) and 10x bracelet winner Phil Ivey, both players picking up their first series cash. For Asia, India’s Aditya Agarwal and Japan’s Naoya Kihara were off to a strong start both with a final table finish.
Currently underway is The Housewarming No Limit Hold’em featuring a mighty US$ 5,000,000 guarantee. This is the only event in the schedule extending a guaranteed prize pool. The first three starting days pulled in 3,368, 3,913, and 5,526 for 12,807 entries, and with buy in at US$ 500, the guarantee was history as the pot swelled over US$ 6 Million. One starting day left to join the action. Among the combined 555 Day 2 qualifiers are Asian players Joseph Gustilo (Philippines), Nobuaki Sasaki (Japan), Cheli Lin (Taiwan), Neel Joshi (India), and Ke Chen (China).
Here are highlights of the completed events.
Event 1: Casino Employees NLH – KATIE KOPP – US$ 65,168
As always, the annual celebration opened with the first bracelet up for grabs at the Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em event. The US$ 500 buy in drew 832 entries for a prize pool of US$ 349,440. After two days of competition, American player Kate Kopp rallied on her second bullet to capture her first ever gold bracelet and a career high US$ 65,168 payout. This was another impressive run by the Ohio dealer who placed 3rd in this event back in 2018.
The final day kicked off with 82 remaining and Kopp wedged undetectably in the middle with 39 BB. By the time the final table was formed, she was running second from the bottom. As players tumbled, Kopp gripped hard as her stack swung wildly. After her second double up, she settled down and went on to rail the last three players blocking her golden hunt.
Buy in: US$ 500
Prize pool: US$ 349,440
ITM: 125 places
Final table payouts in USD
Event 2: $100K High Roller Bounty NLH – DAVID PETERS – US$ 1,166,810
A new addition to the roster was the US$ 100,000 High Roller Bounty which hit the felt on opening day. This was the crowd’s first look at elite players muscling for the gold. Among the 46 entries was 10x bracelet winner Phil Ivey whose return to the series, especially this early, was a treat to many fans. Ivey reached the money round and was first to cash in 7th place. Last year’s WSOP Main Event champion Koray Aldemir fared better in 5th place; 2021 GPI Player of the Year Ali Imsirovic was one spot higher; and Dario Sammartino missed a maiden gold once again with a 3rd place finish.
The title and jaw dropping seven figure US$ 1,166,810 first prize came down between David Peters and Chance Kornuth, both players seeking their fourth career gold. Kornuth was fresh from a huge victory at the WPT Choctaw Championship which he carried into this event. On Day 2, Kornuth dominated, delivering multiple knockouts including a crushing bad beat to 6x bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu just two spots before the money. During the hand, Kornuth‘s ace-queen rivered the queen to outdraw ace-king. On the final day, Kornuth’s luck dried out while second ranked Peters charged northward. It took a quick ten minutes of heads-up action for Peters to clean out Kornuth with the final hand tabling pocket Kings over pocket Eights. In addition to the massive payout, Peters also collected a minimum of 10 bounties, each one awarding him US$ 25,000 each for US$ 250,000 total. Among the players he railed were Bryn Kenney, Dan Shak, Laszlo Bujtas, Bill Klein, Justin Young, and the last three players of the final table.
Peters is one of the highest ranked tournament players in the world with live tournament earnings eclipsing US$ 40M. His earliest cash was back in 2006 while his first bracelet arrived ten years later at the 2016 WSOP US$ 1,500 No Limit Hold’em event. During the pandemic, he won his second and third gold, the US$ 10K Heads Up NLH Championship at the 2020 WSOP-GGPoker Online international series and the US$ 7,777 Lucky Sevens High Roller at the 2021 WSOP.com domestic series.
Buy in: US$ 100,000
Prize pool: US$ 3,300,500
Bounty pool: US$ 1,150,000
ITM: 7 places
Payouts in USD
Event 3: Freezeout NLH – SCOTT SEIVER – US$ 320,059
The first of ten freezeout events pulled in 752 players at US$ 2,500 each to build a burly prize pool of US$ 1,673,200. Among the top 113 places paid were a long list of multi bracelet winners however only three reached the final table, 3x bracelet winner Nick Shulman (6th), 2x bracelet winner Steve Zolotow (4th), and USA’s Scott Seiver who clinched it for his career fourth gold bracelet. Seiver pocketed the champion’s cut of US$ 320,059 to boost his total WSOP earnings past US$ 5.6 Million. For runner up Alexander Farahi, it was his career fourth WSOP final table, this was his closest attempt at a gold. Also running deep was Indian pro Aditya Agarwal who placed 9th to turn his buy in 9x over for a US$ 23,634 payout.
The final table opened with Seiver in high command, David Goodman overtook after booting Agarwal (9th) and Chris Hunichen (8th). Several hands later, Seiver reclaimed it by cleaning out Lewis Spencer (7th) and dragging in a big pot against Sergio Aido. The hit to Aido’s stack was costly and he was sent out next. Goodman stormed back up top again by knocking out Zolotow leaving the final three players. On the first showdown, Seiver doubled up through Goodman with a lucky Ace-Nine spiking the nine to outdraw Ace-Jack suited. Goodman was unable to recover eventually losing the rest of his chips to Seiver. Heads up kicked off with Seiver slightly ahead and proceeded to dictate the action. He drained Alexander Farahi to capture his fourth bracelet.
Seiver is one of the most highly regarded poker players in the world boasting over US$ 24 Million in total live earnings. With cashes dating back to 2007, his first bracelet came the year after at the US$ 5K No Limit Hold’em event. At the time, the US$ 755,891 payout was his largest score until 2011 when he bagged his first WPT Championship title that awarded seven figures. Since then, his resume has grown with a PCA High Roller title and a runner up finish at the 2015 US$ 500K Super High Roller Bowl for a personal best US$ 5,160,000 payday. In 2018 his second bracelet materialized at the US$ 10K Limit Hold’em Championship and the following year a third one at the US$ 10K Razz Championship.
Buy in: US$ 2,500
Prize pool: US$ 1,673,200
ITM: 113 places
Final table payouts in USD
Event 4: Dealers Choice 6-Handed – BRAD RUBEN – US$ 126,288
To be considered one of the best poker players in the world, a player must be able to succeed in multiple variants. The Dealers Choice 6-Handed certainly puts everyone to the test with 19 games to choose from. 430 came out for the challenge and out of the 65 that reached the money round, four bracelet champions claimed the top four spots. 4x bracelet winner USA’s Ben Yu took 4th, Japan’s Naoya Kihara was 3rd, and Canada’s Jaswinder Lally fell in runner up to USA’s Brad Ruben. This was Ruben’s career fourth gold bracelet which came with a payout of US$ 126,288. This boosted his total series earnings to over US$ 800K.
Looking back at his accomplishments, Ruben has been cashing at the series since 2013 at mostly No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha events. He landed his first bracelet during the pandemic at the 2020 WSOP – GGPoker Online US$ 1,500 Pot Limit Omaha and a second one on the following year at the WSOP Online – USA US$ 600 Pot Limit Omaha 6-Handed. At last year’s 52nd WSOP, he finally locked up his first gold on the live felt with a victory at the US$ 1,500 Razz event. His fourth win was quite impressive as it makes for four bracelets within the past three years. To lift his brand new shiny, Ruben cleaned out Lally at Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better.
Buy in: US$ 1,500
Prize pool: US$ 574,050
ITM: 65 places
Final table payouts in USD
More 2022 WSOP recaps to follow here at Somuchpoker.