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Josh Arieh Leads WSOP POY Race After Winning Second Bracelet Of Series

More Than $125 Million Paid Out Through 77 Completed Events

by Erik Fast |  Published: Dec 15, 2021


The 2021 World Series of Poker is in the home stretch, with less than two weeks of action remaining at the time of publishing. The WSOP $10,000 main event is well on its way to narrowing down its 6,650 entries to a single world champion, which you can read about next issue.

There have been 70 in-person bracelet events at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and another seven WSOP Online bracelet events that have already determined their winners. Those tournaments have collectively attracted 101,253 entries, with more than $125.7 million in prize money paid out along the way. There are 18 live events yet to finish, including the main event, as well as four more online events.

Multiple Bracelet Streak Continues

At least one player has won two or more bracelets in a single year since Chris Ferguson kicked off this streak by taking down both a $2,500 seven-card stud event and the main event at the WSOP in 2000. In fact, a whopping four players have achieved this feat so far in 2021, with all of them earning their second bracelet in the 17 events that have wrapped up since our last update.

American poker pro Kevin Gerhart won his third career bracelet earlier this fall by taking down the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship event for $361,124. He backed up that feat by emerging victorious from a field of 725 entries in the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better event for his fourth overall bracelet and second of the series, along with a $186,789 payday.

It’s been a fast rise for the mixed-games specialist. Gerhart only secured his first bracelet in 2019, and added another during the 2020 online series. He now has a bracelet in razz, PLO, PLO8, and H.O.R.S.E. He is just the 58th player in poker history to have earned four or more bracelets.

The second player in recent weeks to have won multiple bracelets this year is Georgios Sotiropoulos. The Greek player earned his second career bracelet earlier this year by taking down the WSOP Online $200 buy-in Flip & Go, topping a massive field of 6,368 to win $117,022.

He secured his third career bracelet in one of the final tournaments leading up to the main event, the $1,000 buy-in ‘mini main event’ freezeout. For the win he banked $432,575 and his second bracelet of 2021. All three of Sotiropoulos’ bracelets have been won in no-limit hold’em, but he has the distinction of winning a bracelet in three different series: the classic WSOP in Las Vegas, the WSOP Online, and the WSOP Europe.

Josh Arieh continued his incredible run at the Rio by taking down the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better event for $484,791 and his fourth career bracelet, becoming the 59th player to have won as many at the series. The Atlanta, Georgia pro did it in the shadows of the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship final table, an event he had finished sixth in just days earlier for $161,422.

The 47-year-old is putting together one of the best series of his career, arguably even better than his 2004 main event third-place finish. Arieh had already won the $1,500 buy-in PLO event just a few weeks earlier for his third bracelet and $204,766. He also managed a ninth-place showing in the $10,000 Stud8 event, a fourth-place finish in the $3,200 online high roller, and a deep run in the main event for an additional combined $156,000.

Arieh’s lifetime tournament earnings have grown to $8.6 million after his impressive run this fall.

“I really want my kids to be able to say that their dad is a Hall of Fame poker player,” Arieh told Card Player after his latest win. “I knew that I had to do a lot more than I had already done. Hopefully, this run 25 years into my poker career will give me a chance. Bracelets are cool. Nobody asks you how many [other] tournaments you won. They count bracelets. And we all do too.”

Scott Ball became the fourth player to win multiple bracelets this year. Ball, who is credited with helping to promote poker on the Twitch platform, had his breakout live tournament victory in the $5,000 buy-in six-max no-limit hold’em event for $562,667 on Oct. 14. Just a month later he backed up that huge victory by securing his second bracelet of the series, topping a massive field of 3,797 total entries to win the $1,111 Little One For One Drop no-limit hold’em event. Ball earned $396,445 and his second piece of WSOP hardware for the win.

Zyrin and Yoon Add To Their Bracelet Collections

Russian poker pro Anatolii Zyrin won his second bracelet by defeating the second-largest field of the 2021 WSOP in Las Vegas. Zyrin topped 9,399 players to win $314,705 in the $400 buy-in no-limit hold’em Colossus event. The 31-year-old had previously emerged victorious in the $1,500 mixed Omaha event in 2019 for $199,838. He now has more than $2 million in lifetime earnings.

Brian Yoon came into the 2021 series with three bracelets to his name. Each of those came in a no-limit hold’em event, with two wins in lower buy-in, large field events (the 2013 $1,111 Little One For One Drop and the 2017 $1,500 Monster Stack), and another coming in a $5,000 buy-in eight-max event. The 31-year-old poker pro diverged from that pattern with his fourth win at the series, which came in the $10,000 buy-in deuce-to-seven triple draw lowball championship event. Yoon defeated a field of 90 entries to earn $240,341.

“It’s official, I’m a ‘mixed game player’,” said Yoon in a post-win social media post that was accompanied by a pensive-face emoji. His latest victory saw his lifetime tournament earnings grow to more than $5.4 million.

Standout Stories Among Recent First-Time Winners

A total of 10 first-time bracelet winners were decided in the past fortnight. However, one of the nine events that minted new bracelet winners actually produced two champions: the $1,000 buy-in ‘tag team’ event.

The WSOP first introduced the $1,000 no-limit hold’em tag team event in 2016, 34 years after the ‘mixed doubles’ tournament was last held in 1982. The fifth running of the modern version of this event was held at this year’s series. A total of 641 teams turned out for the event, with ‘Team Ruter’ coming out on top in the end. Mike Ruter and Samy Dighlawi both earned their first bracelets and their respective shares of the $113,366 top prize.

Likely the most noteworthy first-time winner in recent weeks was high-stakes cash game regular Dan ‘Jungleman’ Cates. For a close look at his victory in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship, head to pg. 26.

2021 was the first year that 22-year-old Cole Ferraro was able to compete in a live and in-person WSOP, having come of age during the live poker shutdown of 2020. Ferraro celebrated his debut by finishing runner-up in the $1,000 buy-in no-limit freezeout event. He ultimately fell just short of securing his first bracelet, finishing second to earn $123,142.

Less than three weeks after that close call, however, Ferraro managed to make it through an even larger field of 3,916 entries and back to heads-up play with a bracelet on the line. This time around, Ferraro came out on top to secure the hardware and the top prize of $252,491 in the $600 buy-in no-limit hold’em deepstack championship event. The victory increased the newcomer’s lifetime earnings to $397,441.

Eelis Parssinen is a regular on the high-stakes online poker scene, where he is best known by the screen name ‘EEE27.’ The Finnish pot-limit Omaha legend emerged victorious from a field of 579 entries in the inaugural running of the $5,000 no-limit hold’em and PLO mixed event, earning $545,616 and his first gold bracelet for the win.

Parssinen overcame a stacked final table that included several other top online stars from Scandinavia, such as PocketFives’ second-ranked all-time online tournament earner Niklas ‘lena900’ Astedt from Sweden and fellow top Finnish player Joni Jouhkimainen.

Two online bracelet event winners were also decided in recent weeks. John ‘Relevancy’ Ripnick defeated a field of 720 entries in the $666 buy-in no-limit hold’em online event to earn $114,898 and his first bracelet. Jacob ‘incel4life’ Neff topped 319 entries in the $3,200 buy-in online high roller event to earn $318,889 and his first piece of WSOP hardware.

The other first-time bracelet winners decided in the past two weeks included Jean-Luc Adam ($1,000 Super Seniors NLH – $255,623), Eric Zhang ($500 Salute to Warriors NLH – $102,465), Jermaine Reid ($1,500 stud eight-or-better – $113,459), Mourad Amokrane ($1,500 pot-limit Omaha bounty – $132,844), and Motoyoshi Okamura ($1,500 NLH / PLO mix – $209,716).