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Ezequiel ‘EZ’ Waigel Earns Career-Best Score With CPPT Venetian Main Event Victory

Argentinian Poker Pro Defeated 975 Entries To Bank $417,004 In Las Vegas

by Steve Schult |  Published: Dec 15, 2021


For the last several years, Ezequiel “EZ” Waigel made the trek from Argentina to Las Vegas to play the World Series of Poker and other tournaments around Sin City. His 2021 trip to Vegas is more enjoyable than previous trips for multiple reasons.

For one, Waigel is enjoying the desert’s autumn climate much more than the piping hot summer months thanks to the delay in the traditional summer schedule because of the pandemic. But on top of that, he earned a career-best score in the $2,500 Card Player Poker Tour Venetian main event in mid-November.

“This is a great time of the year to be here, and I’m having a lot of fun,” Waigel said after his victory.

Waigel defeated a massive 975-entry field and Scottsdale, Arizona bar owner Kevin O’Donnell heads-up to take home $417,004. The score came about a month after he finished runner-up in the $2,200 no-limit hold’em mystery bounty at the Wynn Fall Classic for $263,627, which at the time was his first six-figure score.

Since Waigel landed in Las Vegas at the beginning of October, he began racking up deep runs. While playing events at the WSOP, the Venetian, and the Wynn this fall, Waigel cashed nine times for $733,303, made two final tables, and earned his first career live tournament victory.

The win pushed his earnings over the $1 million mark and moved him into 39th place in the Card Player Player of the Year race with 2,373 points. His runner-up finish at the Wynn was worth 900 points in that race and the victory at Venetian added an extra 1,368 to his total.

Waigel’s performance over his three days of poker was one of the most dominant in CPPT history. He finished the first starting day second in chips, and headed into day 2 third overall of the 163 players remaining. At the end of Day 2, Waigel was once again in third out of the final 15 players.

At the final table, he nearly went wire-to-wire with the chip lead and was never worse than second in chips. He only lost the top spot on the leaderboard for a brief period when eventual fifth-place finisher Donovan Dean held a slight chip advantage over him. By the time the field was down to six-handed play, Waigel held roughly half of the chips in play and never relinquished the lead again.

From the outside looking in, it seemed like it was a foregone conclusion that Waigel would walk away with the title. Even when he thought he was given the wrong seat card during the three-table redraw, he ended picking up a bunch of big hands and continued to chip up.

“You never know your destiny,” said Waigel. “I was supposed to get seat 3 yesterday during the redraw, but they gave me seat 6 instead. That ended up being a good seat.”
Aside from O’Donnell, who picked up $287,247 for his second-place finish, there was tons of top-notch poker talent in the field.

WSOP bracelet winner and WPT champion Keven Stammen finished sixth, and Fabian Gumz, a German pro with seven figures worth of career earnings, finished third. Young up-and-coming pro Michael Rossitto finished eighth and recently crowned WSOP Online bracelet winner Justin Saliba made a deep run in the tournament, but busted a few spots shy of the final table in 13th.

Other notable pros to finish in the money included Shankar Pillai (99th – $5,324), Kyle Cartwright (97th – $5,324), Matas Cimbolas (92nd – $5,324), Vojtech Ruzicka (75th – $5,757), Elio Fox (73rd – $5,767), Aaron Massey (70th – $5,989), Jonathan Tamayo (51st – $7,098), Adrian Mateos (49th – $7,098), Martin Jacobson (46th – $7,098), Joe Serock (41st – $7,985), John Phan (24th – $12,200), and Sergio Aido (19th – $13,974).

At the final table, Waigel raced out to a massive chip lead mostly by winning non-showdown pots. The chip distribution allowed him to apply plenty of pressure to middling stacks while the handful of short stacks played very tight because of ICM considerations. Even though he only scored one knockout of the first three players, Alexander Villa in seventh, he was still able to accumulate about half the chips in play six-handed.

After Stammen’s AClub Suit 5Diamond Suit couldn’t hold up against Dean’s QHeart Suit 6Heart Suit, the final five players took a 60-minute dinner break. When they returned, there was a brief period where the action stalled, but it wasn’t long before Waigel ran away with the tournament.

Waigel eliminated Dean when he picked up KSpade Suit KClub Suit on the button and bet all three streets, including a river shove, on a board of QHeart Suit 3Spade Suit 2Spade Suit 3Heart Suit JDiamond Suit. Dean called all three barrels and mucked his hand when Waigel showed his.

A few hands later, a short-stacked Tibor Nagygyoery was out in fourth when he called off his last four big blinds with QHeart Suit 10Spade Suit from the small blind against a shove from Waigel on the button. Waigel’s KClub Suit 2Heart Suit held up on a AHeart Suit KHeart Suit 2Club Suit 9Diamond Suit QDiamond Suit runout.

Waigel sent Gumz packing in third when he shoved ASpade Suit QClub Suit from the small blind and was looked up by Gumz’s KHeart Suit 6Heart Suit. Neither player flopped anything and Waigel won the pot with unimproved ace high.

Gumz’s elimination set the stage for a very lopsided heads-up match. Waigel started heads-up play with 34,000,000 against O’Donnell’s 5,000,000. The two were soon playing 150,000-300,000 with a 300,000 big blind ante, which left O’Donnell with an even shallower stack.

It wasn’t long after the increase that O’Donnell three-bet shoved with AClub Suit 4Heart Suit and was looked up by Waigel’s ADiamond Suit JClub Suit.

The JSpade Suit 7Heart Suit 5Heart Suit all but sealed the tournament for Waigel, and the 7Diamond Suit on the turn ended it as O’Donnell was drawing dead to the 5Spade Suit river.

Final Table Results

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Ezequiel Waigel $417,004 1,368
2 Kevin O’Donnell $287,247 1,140
3 Fabian Gumz $210,722 912
4 Tibor Nagygyoery $157,487 684
5 Donovan Dean $117,561 570
6 Keven Stammen $88,725 456
7 Alexander Villa $66,544 342
8 Michael Rossitto $48,799 228
9 Marco Bognanni $36,821 114