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Online Poker Streamer Espen Jorstad Wins WSOP Main Event And $10 Million

Norwegian Tops Second-Biggest Field Ever To Earn Second Bracelet

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Aug 24, 2022


Espen Jorstad has won the 2022 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in main event, outlasting the second-largest field in history to capture the championship gold bracelet and the $10 million first-place prize.

The 34-year-old was the last player standing out of 8,663 entries, and simultaneously became the first player ever from his home country of Norway to win poker’s world championship.

“It means a lot, it’s the biggest tournament in the world. It’s still sinking in,” Jorstad told the PokerGO cameras after the victory.

Jorstad couldn’t help but spoil the results for his mother, who was watching the stream from home on a delay, calling her shortly after he had closed out the win to let her know he had done it.

“She was instantly in tears,” Jorstad said. “I think she was already crying just watching it. She was so nervous, you know, way more nervous than me. It was very emotional hearing her, how happy she was.”

The career-best payday he earned in this event increased Jorstad’s lifetime recorded earnings to nearly $10.9 million, with millions more won online. Jorstad actually finished sixth in the 2021 WSOP Online main event last year, earning $603,058 for his second-largest recorded score. The former World of Warcraft standout now streams his online play on Twitch.

Earlier this summer, he and fellow online tournament star Patrick Leonard took down the $1,000 tag team event, splitting the $148,067 top payout between them. Now with two bracelets to his name, Jorstad has moved into a tie with the late Thor Hansen for the most bracelets won by a Norwegian player. He’s also now Norway’s all-time money leader, passing Annette Obrestad, who won the 2007 WSOP Europe main event, and Felix Stephensen, who finished runner-up in the 2014 main event.

The four most recent main event winners have all been international players. Germany’s Koray Aldemir won in 2021, Argentina’s Damian Salas took it down in 2020, and Iranian-born German citizen Hossein Ensan was the last man standing in 2019. John Cynn was the last American player to win, back in 2018.

Kicking Things Off

Poker players and fans had been waiting for the arrival of actor Vince Vaughn, who was named as the ‘Celebrity Master of Ceremonies’ for the WSOP late last year but had yet to make an appearance at the 2022 series.

The star of films such as Swingers, Dodgeball, and Wedding Crashers, made his entrance in style, showing up in a Julius Caesar costume. Vaughn not only gave the customary ‘shuffle up and deal’ announcement for the players in the day 1D field, but he also unveiled the championship bracelet for the eventual winner of the $10,000 buy-in main event.

When asked, Vaughn said his favorite poker players were Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, and Phil Hellmuth.

With registration open until day 2, many felt that the main event would surpass the 2006 record of 8,773. In fact, the turnout was so large that tournament officials were forced to alter the schedule slightly to accommodate all of the players. As it ended up, the count fell short by just 110 players, with 8,663 showing up for this year’s contest.

The huge field resulted in a prize pool of $80,782,475, which was paid out among the top 1,300 finishers. A min-cash was worth $15,000, while the eventual champion stood to walk away with $10 million, in addition to the championship bracelet.

Notable Runs

Despite not playing in the tournament, Vaughn’s entrance lasted nearly as long as Phil Hellmuth. In typical Hellmuth fashion, the 16-time bracelet winner made a late arrival to the tournament, starting on day 2. With an announcement from Tournament Director Jack Effel and John Williams’ Imperial March playing over the loudspeakers, Hellmuth entered the room dressed as Star Wars villain Darth Vader.

Unfortunately for the 1989 main event winner, the dark side failed to bring him any luck on the felt. According to him, he didn’t win a single pot during his approximately 90 minutes in the tournament.

Former main event winners Chris Moneymaker (1,198th), Ryan Riess (1,182nd), Greg Merson (610th), and John Cynn (550th) all finished in the money. The last two champions, Aldemir and Salas, made it even further, taking 75th and 27th place, respectively.

Other notables with a deep run included John Juanda (168th), Michael Ruane (147th), Taylor von Kriegenbergh (137th), Brian Rast (134th), Ari Engel (130th), Dan Smith (121st), Michael Rocco (94th), Andrew Yeh (77th), Eddy Sabat (59th), Marco Johnson (35th), Brian Kim (23rd), Kenny Tran (17th), and David Diaz (13th).

This year’s last-woman standing honor went to Efthymia Litsou, who banked $323,100 for her 18th-place finish. The New York resident had won a satellite and made the most of it, but didn’t necessarily like the attention she received for being the final female in the event.

Women continue to make up just 5 percent of the participants in bracelet events and only 3 percent of the field in the main event. Three-time bracelet winner Barbara Enright remains the only female to make the official main event final table, having done so back in 1995.

The Final Table

The official nine-handed final table was set with the elimination of Asher Conniff in 10th place. On the seventh deal of the day the 34-year-old poker pro moved all-in with pocket tens and Michael Duek called with AHeart Suit KHeart Suit.

Everybody else got out of the way, setting up a classic coin flip. The suspense was completely gone, however, when the KSpade Suit KDiamond Suit KClub Suit flop gave Duek quad kings to leave Conniff drawing dead. Conniff earned $675,000 for his deep run in this event, the second-largest score of his career. He now has more than $3.5 million in lifetime earnings.

There were eight all-in and calls during nine-handed play, with several short-stacked players finding crucial double-ups along the way. More than five hours after Conniff’s bustout, start-of-day co-leader Matthew Su ran his pocket eights into the pocket kings of Philippe Souki. Su earned $850,675 as the ninth-place finisher, by far the largest score of the 34-year-old poker pro from Washington D.C.’s career.

Despite busting Su, Souki was ultimately the next to fall. He picked up pocket aces on the button and moved all-in for just shy of eight big blinds, and Dobric was priced in with QSpade Suit JSpade Suit from the big blind.

Souki improved to top set on an AClub Suit 10Diamond Suit 8Heart Suit, but the KHeart Suit turn gave Dobric the Broadway straight for the lead. When the 4Diamond Suit didn’t pair the board on the river, Souki was knocked out in eighth place. The 33-year-old poker pro from the UK earned $1,075,000 for his strong showing in this event. He now has nearly $1.6 million in recorded tournament earnings.

Aaron Duczak was left with just over four big blinds after doubling up John Eames. His ADiamond Suit KDiamond Suit flopped a flush draw but could not improve any more against pocket aces. He was all-in moments later, with Duek scooping up the rest of his short stack to send him packing in seventh place. The 40-year-old logger and fireman from Kamloops, British Columbia earned $1,350,000.

Jeffrey Farnes, a 39-year-old from Dallas, Oregon, then flat called with pocket deuces from the small blind, facing a button raise from Eames. Jorstad came along in the big blind and the flop came down 6Diamond Suit 6Club Suit 5Club Suit. Farnes moved all-in and Eames called with 9Club Suit 8Club Suit for the flush draw, straight draw, and overcards to Farnes’ small pair.

The 3Diamond Suit on the turn kept Farnes ahead, but the 3Spade Suit on the river counterfeited his hand. Eames played his nine kicker with the sixes and threes on the board to secure the pot. Farnes was awarded $1,750,000 for his sixth-place showing.

Despite starting the final table strong, Dobric came into five-handed play as the short stack. The Croatian had finished 32nd in this event in 2021, and this time was ultimately knocked out in fifth place. The rest of his stack got in preflop with pocket sixes against the AClub Suit QSpade Suit of Jorstad. The flop brought a queen, and Dobric failed to catch his two-outer on the turn and river.

Dobric earned $2,250,000 as the fifth-place finisher. The 32-year-old poker pro now has nearly $2.5 million in live tournament scores.

Play came to an end for the day with the elimination of Eames in fourth place. The 33-year-old poker pro from Southport, England shoved over a raise from Jorstad. Jorstad quickly called with pocket kings, which was well ahead of Eames and his ADiamond Suit JClub Suit. The board came down jack high, but it wasn’t enough for Eames to overcome the overpair. Eames took home $3,000,000 for his fourth-place showing. He now has nearly $4.8 million in recorded earnings.

The next day, it didn’t take long for Duek to find himself involved in a big pot with his tournament life on the line. After getting a few shoves through in the first few orbits, the tenth hand of play proved to be the last for the 23-year-old Argentinian-born venture capitalist now living in Miami, Florida.

Attenborough min-raised on the button with AClub Suit JClub Suit and Duek three-bet from the small blind with KHeart Suit 8Diamond Suit. Attenborough called and the flop came down QDiamond Suit 10Club Suit 5Heart Suit. Both players checked. The KSpade Suit on the turn gave Duek top pair, and he bet. Attenborough, who had turned the nut straight, just called. The 3Spade Suit on the river prompted a big bet from Duek, leaving himself almost nothing behind. Attenborough put the rest in and Duek made the call to hit the rail in third place.

Duek earned $4,000,000. This was his second third-place finish of the summer, having also made a podium showing in the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha event just 11 days earlier for a then career-high payday of $548,015.

Heads-Up For The Title

Incredibly, the tournament almost ended on the very first hand back from the break. Although that’s not to say that it was quick by any means. The hand involved an agonizingly long 20-minute tank from Attenborough, who considered calling off his tournament life with just bottom pair.

Jorstad raised from the button with KClub Suit QClub Suit, and Attenborough three-bet from the big blind with JDiamond Suit 4Diamond Suit. Jorstad made the call, and the flop came down KSpade Suit 10Heart Suit 8Heart Suit. Attenborough bet, and Jorstad called with his top pair. The turn brought the 4Spade Suit to put a second flush draw on the board.

Attenborough bet 58,000,000 into the pot of 87,000,000 and Jorstad once again made the call. The river brought the 8Club Suit and Attenborough checked. Jorstad thought it over before going all-in to put Attenborough to the test for his remaining 133,000,000.

Attenborough was clearly uneasy with just his pair of fours, as he hunkered down for an extended stay in the tank. He began a monologue, mumbling to himself as he methodically went over the possible bluffs he could beat.

“Can I call the clock from Twitter?,” Joseph Cheong asked.

“I would have called and been in my car already,” added Phil Galfond.

The entire hand took longer than an episode of Friends. Jorstad never moved throughout the 20-minute stare down, and never considered calling the clock despite Attenborough mentioning it as a possibility. Eventually, Attenborough made the right decision and slid his cards away while Jorstad dragged the massive pot to take nearly a 3:1 lead.

“How long was he tanking?” asked Jorstad afterward. “It felt like an eternity. I was trying to focus on my breathing and do some meditation.”

Attenborough would be glad he decided to give up and fight another day, as four hands later he managed to double up into the lead. Jorstad fired all three streets with just jack high and Attenborough had no problem calling it off with kings up.

Jorstad wasn’t too far behind, though. The two actually traded the lead a couple times and Jorstad moved ahead just in time for the last showdown of the event. Jorstad limped in from the button with QDiamond Suit 2Spade Suit and Attenborough checked his option, once again holding JClub Suit 4Spade Suit.

The flop came down 4Heart Suit 2Heart Suit 2Spade Suit and Attenborough checked. Jorstad made a min-bet with his flopped trips, only to have Attenborough check-raise. Jorstad put in a small raise, and Attenborough made the call.

The 8Spade Suit rolled off on the turn. Attenborough checked and Jorstad put in almost a full pot-sized bet. Attenborough called and the QClub Suit completed the board to give Jorstad deuces full of queens. Attenborough checked and Jorstad moved all-in, putting the last of Attenborough’s chips in jeopardy.

The first time he held J-4 in this situation, he was able to get away. This time around, his tank was for roughly eight and a half minutes.

“Aw, fuck it,” the Australian said as he slammed in a handful of chips to indicate a call. He could not beat Jorstad’s full house and was eliminated in second place, earning $6,000,000 as the runner-up.

Attenborough has cashes dating back to 2014, the biggest of which was a third-place showing in the 2017 Bellagio Cup for $361,660. He also won a Macau Poker Cup event that same year.

In addition to the title and the money, Jorstad also earned 3,300 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this event. His win earlier this summer was in an event that didn’t award POY points, so this was his first qualifying score of the year. It alone was enough to see him surge up the standings and into 16th place in the 2022 POY race, which is sponsored by Global Poker. ♠

Final Table Results

Place Player Country Payout POY
1 Espen Jorstad Norway $10,000,000 3,300
2 Adrian Attenborough Australia $6,000,000 2,750
3 Michael Duek Argentina $4,000,000 2,200
4 John Eames England $3,000,000 1,650
5 Matija Dobric Croatia $2,250,000 1,375
6 Jeffrey Farnes United States $1,750,000 1,100
7 Aaron Duczak Canada $1,350,000 825
8 Philippe Souki England $1,075,000 550
9 Matthew Su United States $850,675 275

Largest WSOP Main Event Fields Ever

Year Entries Prize Pool Champion Top Prize
2006 8,773 $82,512,162 Jamie Gold $12,000,000
2022 8,663 $80,772,475 Espen Jorstad $10,000,000
2019 8,569 $80,548,600 Hossein Ensan $10,000,000
2018 7,874 $74,015,600 John Cynn $8,800,000
2010 7,319 $68,798,600 Jonathan Duhamel $8,944,138
2017 7,221 $67,877,400 Scott Blumstein $8,150,000
2011 6,865 $64,531,000 Pius Heinz $8,715,638
2008 6,844 $64,333,600 Peter Eastgate $9,152,416
2016 6,737 $63,327,800 Qui Nguyen $8,005,310
2014 6,683 $62,820,200 Martin Jacobson $10,000,000

How Much Cash Will Jorstad Actually Pocket?

Espen Jorstad banked a massive $10 million first-place prize. But how much of that cash did he actually pocket for himself? Did he sell any pieces or have backers? Action with other players? What about taxes?

As it turns out, Jorstad had no problem sharing the numbers, revealing his summer stats and explaining that he had swaps with 14 different players. The swaps varied from 1% ($100,000) to 7.5% ($750,000), and left Jorstad with 56% of his own action ($5.6 million).

“Very nice feeling to make my friends a lot of money!” Jorstad said.

Norway has a gambling tax rate of 28%, which would have represented $2.8 million of the total payout, or $1,568,000 of his share. Fortunately, the Norwegian won’t be hit with any taxes as he now resides in the United Kingdom. The UK does not tax gambling winnings. He follows in the footsteps of last year’s champion Koray Aldemir, who dodged a hefty tax bill from his native Germany by living in nearby Austria instead.

Jorstad also showed that he was up a modest amount in the 15 tournaments he played prior to the main event. At one point, he had played 10 tournaments in a row without making the money, but he broke the streak in a big way, earning his first WSOP bracelet in the $1,000 Tag Team event.

Jorstad and his partner Patrick Leonard earned $74,033 each. That was enough to turn his summer around and finish with a profit of $29,690 prior to the start of the $10,000 main event.

When asked what he planned to do with his winnings, the Run It Once coach stated that he was going to invest heavily in tech stocks and cryptocurrency, and hoped to play more high roller events.

“I’ve dipped my toes, but now I have a bigger bankroll to take some shots in those tournaments. I need to get in the lab and make sure I’m good enough to play them.”

*Photos courtesy of PokerGO / Antonio Abrego