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Alex Foxen Wins First Career WSOP Bracelet And $4.5 Million

More Than $143 Million In Prize Money Paid Out Through 55 Events At Series

by Erik Fast |  Published: Jul 27, 2022

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The 2022 World Series of Poker has already seen more than half of the total bracelets up for grabs during the series handed out. We recapped the first fortnight at the WSOP last issue. This time around, we are taking a close look at the 32 events that have finished since.

A total of 55 bracelets have been handed out (at the time of publishing), with 84,313 entries made and more than $143 million in prize money paid out along the way.

The standout storylines include big-name stars finally winning their first bracelets to seasoned WSOP vets adding to their collections. A 23-year-long streak was even maintained thanks to a victory by a rising mixed-game star. Without further ado, here is a closer look at everything you need to know about the recent results from the series.

Alex Foxen Wins His First Bracelet In Largest Buy-In Event Of The Summer

The ‘best player without a bracelet’ list has been dramatically reworked since the start of the series, with several of the most accomplished players in the game removing themselves from this dreaded discussion with breakthrough victories in 2022, including high-stakes crusher Dan Smith and the embattled Jake Schindler.

High-stakes poker tournament star Alex Foxen had also come into this year’s series as one of the most accomplished players in the game without a bracelet to his name. He had more than $22.2 million in recorded tournament earnings, including multiple seven-figure paydays and a win in a World Poker Tour main event.

The 31-year-old former college football player finally added a WSOP bracelet win to his résumé and did so in style taking down the $250,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em super high roller, securing a career-best $4,536,700 payday as the champion.

“It definitely means a lot to me,” Foxen told PokerGO reporters after coming out on top. “It has kind of been a bit of a monkey on the back. I’ve always wanted a bracelet and had some close spots. I was always disappointed to not get one and this feels like a really special one to get my first in.”

Foxen had been close to a bracelet on a few occasions, including a third-place finish in a $1,000 no-limit hold’em event back in 2017, but sat out last year’s series with his wife because of the WSOP’s vaccine mandate. Kristen Foxen, née Bicknell, has three bracelets of her own.

After returning to the WSOP this summer, Alex Foxen took fifth in a $3,000 no-limit event for $133,300. Along with this massive $4.5 million win, he increased his lifetime earnings to nearly $26.8 million, which is good for 21st place on poker’s all-time money list.

“I feel like the all-time money list can be a little misleading,” Foxen said when asked about moving up those rankings. “It’s not as important to me because it’s a lot of who wins the biggest field and the biggest buy-ins. But it’s still a metric that has some value and it’s cool to move up on that list. What means the most is just consistent performance at the highest stakes, and this is one of those. So, it feels really good.”

Speaking of consistency, Foxen earned 600 Card Player Player of the Year points for his third title and 14th final-table finish of 2022. As a result, he climbed to fifth place in this year’s POY standings. Foxen has been an impressively reliable performer on the live circuit in recent years, placing inside the top 20 in the year-end POY rankings each year since 2017. In fact, he has been among the top 10 for the past four years. He finished fourth in 2021, eighth in 2020, second in 2019, and third in 2018.

There were 56 entries overall in the most expensive event of the series, and Foxen overcame a tough final table on his way to securing the gold, outlasting the likes of 10-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey (7th – $597,381), bracelet winner Sam Soverel (5th – $1,001,142), defending champion of this event and four-time bracelet winner Adrian Mateos (4th – $1,367,206), and Chris Hunichen (3rd – $1,931,718). Brandon Steven, who bubbled the main event final table in 2010, earned $2,820,581 as the runner-up finisher.

Hastings Becomes 17th Player To Win Six Bracelets

On June 16, Brian Hastings joined one of the most elite groups in poker, which is players to have won six or more bracelets at the WSOP. Perhaps most incredible is the fact that Hastings has managed to achieve this milestone by the age of just 33.

The Florida-based poker pro emerged victorious in this year’s $10,000 deuce-to-seven triple draw lowball championship event to become a six-time champion at the series. He is just the 17th player in poker history to have won as many bracelets.

“I really love the World Series every year. It’s a lot of fun just trying to compete in all these events against great players; it’s an honor to be in that kind of company,” Hastings told reporters after securing the title to join the short list (see the chart below) of players with six or more wins.

Four of Hastings’ six bracelet wins have come at the $10,000 buy-in championship event level. He kicked off his spree of ‘championships’ by taking the 2012 no-limit hold’em heads-up championship for his first overall bracelet. His second came in the 2015 seven-card stud championship.

Last fall he won the 2021 stud eight-or-better championship, and this year he secured his fourth victory in triple draw. Hastings’ two non-championship wins saw him take down the $1,500 10-game mix in 2015 and the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. in 2018. Hastings is now 6-1 heads-up at the series, with his only runner-up finish coming in the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better championship in 2019.

The former online high-stakes cash player beat out a tough final table that included two-time bracelet winners Yuval Bronshtein (7th – $40,494) and Marco Johnson (5th – $70,139), five-time bracelet winner Shaun Deeb (4th – $94,606), and Dan Zack (3rd – $129,670). Speaking of Zack…

Dan Zack Keeps The Double-Bracelet Winner Streak Alive

Just four days removed from his third-place finish in the event won by Hastings, Dan Zack managed to keep alive a 23-year-long streak by earning his second bracelet of the summer. Chris Ferguson kicked off this streak of at least one player earning multiple bracelets at the series by taking down both a $2,500 seven-card stud event and the WSOP main event in 2000.

With more events each year on the schedule, the odds of it happening are approaching a near-lock. Last year, four separate players achieved the feat (Kevin Gerhart, Georgios Sotiropoulos, Josh Arieh, and Scott Ball).

Zack came into this year’s series with one bracelet under his belt. The 29-year-old poker professional from Princeton, New Jersey, earned his second earlier this summer, taking down the $10,000 limit Omaha eight-or-better championship after a marathon seven-hour heads-up battle for the title and the top prize of $440,757.

Just ten days after securing bracelet no. 2, Zack once again made it down to the final two players with a bracelet on the line. And, once again, he found himself embroiled in a seemingly endless heads-up battle for the title. This time around, it took eight hours for him to defeat David Funkhouser (2nd – $200,356) to take down the $10,000 buy-in seven card stud eight-or-better championship.

“I’m really happy, much happier and more energetic than the last bracelet,” Zack told WSOP reporters after it was all over. “I’ve had a lot of marathon matches heads-up. You just learn through experience to take it one hand at a time and do your best.”

Zack earned $324,174 and his third career gold bracelet for the win, extending the aforementioned streak and increasing his career tournament earnings to more than $2.4 million. With two wins and four final-table finishes this year, Zack now sits in 38th place in the POY standings. He has cashed for nearly $1.4 million in so far in 2022.

Ausmus, Hui, Cowen, Albini, Kolev, Ponakovs, and Simao Add To Their Collections

Hastings and Zack were far from the only players with previous bracelet wins that came out on top in recent weeks. In fact, eight other players managed to beef up their bracelet counts. The first was Jeremy Ausmus, who became a four-time WSOP champion by taking down the $3,000 limit hold’em six-max event for $142,147.

Incredibly, less than a year ago Ausmus had just one bracelet to his name, won at the 2013 WSOP Europe. In 2021 he added two more to his total, including taking down the $50,000 pot-limit Omaha event for $1,188,918. Ausmus’ most recent win also saw him earn 540 POY points. This was his 15th final-table finish of the year, with three titles won along the way. As a result, he now sits in third place in the 2022 POY race standings.

Phil Hui, a 34-year-old poker pro based out of Florida, secured his third title at the series by defeating a field of 1,437 entries in this year’s $1,500 pot-limit Omaha eight-max event. The $311,782 top prize saw Hui increase his career tournament earnings to more than $3.5 million. This win also helped Hui break a tie with his wife Loni Hui, née Harwood, herself a two-time bracelet winner.

There were six players with a single previous victory at the series who bagged their second. First up was Robert Cowen, who backed up his title run in last year’s $3,000 pot-limit Omaha event by taking down this year’s $50,000 pot-limit Omaha high roller event. In addition to the hardware, the 36-year-old PLO specialist based out of Swansea, Wales also secured a career-high payout of $1,393,816.

When combined with the points he earned as the champion of a European Poker Tour Prague high roller earlier this year, this recent victory saw him move within reach of the top 30 in the POY standings.

Musician and recording engineer Steve Albini is also now a multiple bracelet winner. The 59-year-old owner of Electrical Audio in Chicago is currently a member of the band Shellac, and has worked on thousands of albums, including acts like Nirvana, The Pixies, Joanna Newsom, and Jawbreaker.

He has played poker seriously for years, with WSOP cashes dating back to 2010. He earned his second gold bracelet and largest recorded score by defeating a field of 773 entries in the $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. event to earn $196,089. Albini’s first bracelet was won in the 2018 $1,500 seven card stud event.

Justin Pechie won his first bracelet in his mid-20s, taking down the 2011 $1,500 limit hold’em shootout. More than a decade later, the now 37-year-old beat out a field of 1,774 players in the $1,500 no-limit hold’em freezeout event for the largest live payday of his career with $364,899. The former online player, known to many as ‘looshle,’ now has more than $1.8 million in recorded live earnings and a couple million more online.

Yuliyan Kolev defeated a field of 7,961 entries in the $1,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em Millionaire Maker, earning his second bracelet and the top prize of $1,125,141. The Bulgarian closed out the victory to secure the seven-figure payday while wearing an upside-down KFC bucket on his head. Kolev’s supporters on the rail also donned the unique headwear, reportedly in homage to a popular Bulgarian musician.

Kolev had won his first WSOP title less than a year earlier, taking down the $777 buy-in Lucky 7’s event online for $146,163. With this latest win, he became the first player from his home country to win multiple bracelets.

Aleksejs Ponakovs was already an accomplished and respected player coming into this year’s series, with millions in tournament earnings and a high roller bracelet he earned last fall during the WSOP Online series. The 30-year-old Latvian poker professional’s success had primarily come online, though. In fact, he had not yet secured a title in the live arena before making his way to Las Vegas this summer.

He crossed that goal off of his to-do list with a flourish, defeating 10-time bracelet winner Phil Ivey heads-up to take down the $100,000 no-limit hold’em high roller event for his second bracelet and a career-best payday of $1,897,363.

Ivey earned $1,172,659 as the runner-up. It was his seventh second-place finish at the WSOP overall. He has been stuck on 10 bracelets since his last win in 2014.

With a seventh-place showing in the $250,000 event won by Foxen a few days after this, Ivey increased his career earnings to more than $37.1 million, good for 10th on the all-time money list. With ten final-table finishes and two titles, Ivey is now in 11th place in the POY standings, and sits first in the high-stakes PokerGO Tour rankings.

Brazil’s Joao Simao raced to his second bracelet victory, beating out a field of 788 entries in the fast-paced $5,000 buy-in pot-limit Omaha and no-limit hold’em mixed event, which took just two days to complete from start to finish. The 33-year-old poker pro secured $686,242 for the win, the largest score of his tournament career. As a result, he now has more than $5 million in cashes to his name.

This marked the 16th time a Brazilian player has won a bracelet event. Simao and Yuri Dzivielevski are the only two players from the country, a rising poker powerhouse in recent decades, with multiple bracelets won.

This was Simao’s third POY-qualified score of the year, having finished as the runner-up in a $3,500 buy-in event at the Wynn Millions festival in March and fourth in the $1,500 Monster Stack event. With $1,361,632 in year-to-date POY earnings and 3,624 total points, Simao now sits in seventh place in the overall standings. Marius Gierse, who finished as the runner-up in this event, climbed to ninth place, with six final tables and more than $2.5 million in cashes so far in 2022.

Other Notable First-Time Winners

Foxen may have been the marquee first-time bracelet winner in recent weeks, but he was far from the only player to make their breakthrough. Several other highly-accomplished players snatched their first bracelets, including Brian Altman. The three-time World Poker Tour main event champion and three-time WSOP Circuit ring winner finally came away with the gold roughly ten years after recording his first cash at the series. The 33-year-old poker pro from Longmeadow, Massachusetts outlasted a field of 1,641 entries in the WSOP Online $400 buy-in no-limit hold’em Ultra Deepstack event, earning $110,662 for the win.

The second online bracelet winner decided in the past two weeks was Matthew Szymaszek. The 43-year-old Redondo Beach resident defeated a field of 470 entries to win the WSOPO $1,000 pot-limit Omaha six-max event for $141,705.

Two-time WPT champion and WSOPC main event winner Daniel Weinman came close to winning his first during the first few days of this year’s series but ultimately finished as the runner-up in the $1,500 stud event. Just ten days later, however, Weinman made it back to heads-up play with the bracelet on the line. This time around, he emerged victorious with the title, the hardware, and $255,359 in prize money. Weinman beat out a field of 1,891 entries in the $1,000 pot-limit Omaha eight max event.

Like Weinman, Fabian Brandes also rebounded from a close call (runner-up finish in the $25,000 PLO event) and soon found himself in the winner’s circle. Just nine days removed from his second-place finish, Brandes took down the $3,000 PLO six-max event for his first bracelet and $371,358. His two big scores playing four-card at the series have propelled the German into 22nd place in the POY rankings.

He wasn’t the only player to make moves on the leaderboard as a result of this event, though. Sean Winter finished third for $156,401. This was Winter’s 12th final-table finish of the year, with two titles won and more than $2 million in scores made along the way. As a result, he climbed to 12th place in the standings.

While Brandes and Weinman were able to quickly wipe away the disappointment of falling just short with the bracelet on the line, Jonathan Cohen had to wait a decade for his second shot at the gold. The cash game player finished as the runner-up in the 2012 $1,500 shootout event. He was talked into playing this year’s $10,000 limit hold’em championship by Matt Schreiber, who finished third in this event. Cohen finished two spots better, earning the bracelet and $245,678.

Maxx Coleman had a number of noteworthy titles under his belt, including a win in the main event at The River Poker Series for $775,000 in 2015 and a victory in a $10,000 buy-in eight-game event at the 2021 Poker Masters. Coleman finally closed out a title at the series by taking down the $1,500 no-limit deuce-to-seven lowball event, earning $127,809 for the win.

Ali Eslami has WSOP cashes dating back to 2004, but hasn’t been playing as much poker in recent years. The L.A. resident and 2011 WSOP Circuit Western Regional Championship winner managed to hop back into the mix this summer and picked up where he left off. Eslami outlasted a field of 471 entries in the $1,500 seven card stud eight-or-better event, earning $135,260 and his first bracelet in the process.

Menikos Panagiotou wrote his name in the poker history books as the first-ever gold bracelet winner from his home country of Cyprus. The Limassol resident outlasted a field of 695 entries in the $1,500 eight-game mix event to grasp the gold and lock up a career-best payday of $180,783.

There have been plenty of other exciting moments over the past 14 days at the series, including when Michael Jukich made the ‘Jukich jump’ after taking down the $1,500 buy-in Monster Stack event. The 38-year-old briefly leapt onto the rail of the table after coming away with the bracelet and the top prize of $966,577.

Nino Ullmann took down the $3,000 six-max event, earning a massive $594,079 payday after topping a tough final table that included the likes of four-time bracelet winner David Peters (5th – $132,662) and four-time WPT main event winner Darren Elias (4th – $132,662). This was Elias’ eighth final-table finish of the year. With 3,135 points and more than $1.2 million in year-to-date POY earnings, he now sits in 13th place in the POY race standings.

Other first-time bracelet winners who took down no-limit hold’em events included $1,000 Flip & Go winner Christopher Chatman ($187,770), $800 Deep Stack event winner Rob Wazwaz ($358,346), $1,500 shootout champion Michael Simhai ($240,480), $1,000 super turbo bounty event champion Ramsey Stovall ($191,223), $500 freezeout event winner David Perry ($241,729), $5,000 six-max event champion Jonathan Pastore ($771,765), and $2,000 buy-in event winner Simeon Spasov ($527,944).

A number of mixed-game event winners also earned their first bracelets, such as $2,500 mixed big bet event winner Lok Chan ($144,338), $10,000 no-limit single draw deuce-to-seven lowball championship winner Pedro Bromfman ($294,616), $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship winner Andrew Yeh ($487,129), and $2,500 nine-game mix champion KT Park ($219,799).

Make sure to check back next issue for the next batch of results from the biggest poker tournament series in the world. ♠