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More Than $342 Million In Prize Money Awarded During 2022 WSOP

First-Ever World Series Of Poker On The Las Vegas Strip Wraps Up

by Erik Fast |  Published: Aug 24, 2022

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The 2022 World Series of Poker is now officially in the books. More than $342 million in prize money was paid out across the 89 in-person tournaments held at Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s and the 13 WSOP Online events held on WSOP.com for Nevada and New Jersey players. Those 102 total bracelet events drew more than 196,000 collective entries between them, including three of the largest fields in WSOP history: The Housewarming (20,080 entries, fourth all-time), the Million Dollar Bounty (14,112 entries, sixth all-time), and The Colossus (13,565 entries, seventh all-time).

This year’s $10,000 main event nearly set the record for the largest turnout ever but fell just 110 players short of the 8,773 entries made in 2006. For an in-depth look at the second-largest main event in poker history, check out our recap on page 12.

In addition to the main event, another 23 bracelet events came to a conclusion during the two weeks since our last update. Below is a look at the biggest stories from the final fortnight of the series.

Online Star Joao Vieira Nabs High Roller Win And Second Bracelet

Joao Vieira has long been one of the most dominant players on the online high-stakes tournament scene. While he has won plenty in live events, including winning a bracelet in the 2019 WSOP $5,000 six-max event, he remained best known as an internet crusher and is one of the highest earning players of all time in that arena.

With a huge victory worth $1,384,413 in the $50,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em high roller, the 32-year-old Portuguese poker pro added another marquee live victory to further establish himself as a massive threat in both disciplines.

“The first one was more like getting the monkey off my back,” Vieira explained to WSOP reporters. “I had already done a lot of stuff online, very accomplished, but I still needed the big one. So that kind of took my name off the list of guys that didn’t have [one]. This one was more enjoyable, not only because it’s my second, but it’s also a big score. I’ve had a horrible summer this year in terms of results, even though I came in really prepared and I was playing pretty good. But the results were not there.”

As one might expect in this high-stakes event, the 17 players that cashed were among some of the most accomplished tournament stars in the world. Among those that ran deep were last year’s main event champion Koray Aldemir (17th), Jonathan Little (16th), Chris Hunichen (15th), Henrik Hecklen (12th), Seth Davies (11th), and Justin Bonomo (10th). Vieira then had to contend with a final table that included the likes of Stephen Chidwick (8th – $158,278), Fedor Holz (7th – $203,107), Sean Perry (6th – $264,034), Brian Rast (5th – $347,658), Dan Colpoys (4th – $463,589), and Galen Hall (3rd – $625,941).

Neither Shaken, Nor Stirred: Martini Becomes Four-Time Champ

Julien Martini won his fourth career bracelet by taking down the $10,000 razz championship at this year’s series. Martini outlasted a field of 139 entries in a marathon event to bag the gold and the first-place prize of $328,906. This came just a few years after his third-place showing in the very same event.

“I know it’s very late, but I don’t feel tired at all,” said Martini. “I just feel very excited. What a final table, what a feeling! I was very close in 2018, but this year I felt like it could be possible and thankfully I ran well and things went my way.”

The French poker pro was already the leading bracelet winner from his home country before taking down this title. Now he has a two-bracelet lead on the nearest competitors in Bertrand Grospellier and Roger Hairabedian. With more than $5.4 million in career tournament earnings, Martini now sits in ninth place on the French all-time money list (led by Grospellier and his $14.8 million).

Martini’s four bracelets have all come in different formats. He earned his first by taking down a $1,500 Omaha eight-or-better event in 2018. He then won two events during last year’s WSOP Europe festival with the €2,500 buy-in short deck event and the €2,000 eight-game mix.

Lawrence Brandt Wins Second Bracelet Of The 2022 Series

Lawrence Brandt won his first gold bracelet by taking down the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better event on June 30 for $289,610. Less than three weeks later, the Arlington, Texas resident found himself in the winner’s circle at the WSOP yet again.

This time around he beat out a field of 327 entries in the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event to secure his second bracelet of the summer and the top prize of $205,139.
While this was Brandt’s second bracelet, it was actually his first time playing a live H.O.R.S.E. event.

“The only reason I played this tournament was because I won the first one and I was staying around until the Tournament of Champions, so just running deep was a dream. Getting to the final table was crazy, I came in third in chips but was feeling really good and confident and the cards just went my way,” said Brandt.

Brandt was the third player to win two bracelet events at the 2022 series, following in the footsteps of POY winner Dan Zack and main event champion Espen Jorstad. At least one player has won multiple bracelets every series for the past 23 consecutive years. The streak began when Chris Ferguson won both a $2,500 seven-card stud event and the WSOP main event in 2000. Last year four players managed to achieve the feat with Kevin Gerhart, Georgios Sotiropoulos, Josh Arieh, and Scott Ball all winning twice.

Sandeep Pulusani and Michael Wang Add To Their Bracelet Collections

Pulusani won his first piece of WSOP hardware by taking down a $3,000 no-limit hold’em event back in 2013. Just over nine years later, the Los Angeles resident emerged victorious from a field of 1,234 entries to take down the $1,500 pot-limit Omaha and no-limit hold’em mixed event for $277,949 and bracelet no. 2.

The score was the third-largest of Pulusani’s career, behind his first bracelet victory ($592,684) and a title run in the 2019 Bay 101 Shooting Star main event ($354,400). He now has more than $1.9 million in recorded tournament earnings.

“To win this one feels super special,” Pulusani said. “It kind of proves my first bracelet wasn’t a fluke, so it’s really nice.”

Michael Wang’s two victories at the WSOP have an interesting symmetry. In 2015 he won the first open-field bracelet event of that year’s series, a $5,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event. Seven years later, Wang won one of the final events of the 2022 WSOP, which was also a $5,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament.

This latest win saw the New Jersey native outlast a field of 573 entries to earn the hardware and a career-high payout of $541,604. His second-largest score was the $466,120 he earned alongside his first bracelet. Wang now has just shy of $4.5 million in career tournament earnings to his name.

“Two is better than one,” Wang said. “I didn’t have super strong expectations coming into today. It’ll take some time to process, but I’m feeling great right now.”

Mo Arani and Greg Jensen Win Big Down The Stretch

While multi-time champions dominated the headlines in the final days of the series, there were also several first-time champions who came out on top in big tournaments.

Mo Arani is a cash game player based out of Dallas, Texas. He came into this year’s series with more than $1.6 million in tournament earnings, with his largest score being a win in the 2013 Card Player Poker Tour Choctaw main event for $220,626.

Arani added to his tournament résumé in a major way during the final days of the series, besting a field of 756 players to win the $5,000 no-limit hold’em freezeout event for his first WSOP gold bracelet and a career-high score of $665,459.

“It feels surreal to win. I was getting out-played heads-up. I don’t have any heads-up experience, so I got some coaching and decided to take more spots and be ready to gamble more,” Arani told WSOP reporters. “I never gave up.”

Gregory Jensen is the co-Chief Investment Officer at the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. The 48-year-old helps oversee a fund with assets valued in the hundreds of billions. Needless to say, he’s more than accustomed to making strategic decisions when the stakes are high.

The Ridgefield, Connecticut resident has only played in a few high-stakes poker tournaments in his life, but has an impressive record. He made the final table of the first two super high roller events he ever played in, including finishing sixth in the 2013 PCA $100,000 event. Jensen reportedly donated all $286,200 that he earned to victims of the school shooting in Newtown, which is located roughly half an hour from his hometown.

At this year’s WSOP, Jensen took a second run at a high roller title and managed to make it deep in the $100,000 high roller event, earning $571,896 as the fourth-place finisher. He logged another cash at the series, this time in a $50,000 buy-in event, before securing his true breakout live poker performance in the WSOP $10,000 no-limit hold’em six-max championship event for his first gold bracelet and an $824,649 payout.

With this latest victory, Jensen has now accrued nearly $1.8 million in poker tournament earnings despite recording just 11 cashes so far.

Other Exciting First-Time Winners At The Series

The $1,111 buy-in One More For One Drop event was won by Mike Allis. The Idaho resident overcame 5,702 entries, defeating 2013 main event champion Ryan Riess heads-up to secure his first bracelet and the top prize of $535,610. This was by far the largest live tournament score recorded by Allis, whose previous best showing was a $32,882 payday for a 35th-place showing in the 2013 Millionaire Maker.

The $1,500 buy-in pot-limit Omaha bounty eight-max even attracted a total of 1,390 entries, building a prize pool of $1,855,650 that was paid out among the top 209 finishers. After three days of exciting four-card knockout action, Pei Li was the last person standing, earning $190,219 in prize money and his first gold bracelet for the win. This was Li’s second recorded live tournament victory, with both coming in PLO events.

France’s Gregory Teboul turned $777 into $777,777 thanks to outlasting a field of 6,891 entries in the no-limit hold’em Lucky 7’s event. This was Teboul’s first bracelet win and his first six-figure payday. Prior to winning this event, his largest recorded cash was a victory in a WSOP daily deepstack event earlier this summer for just over $31,000.

The $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame bounty event was first introduced at the 2021 WSOP. The unusual buy-in price point stems from the year the Hall of Fame was established in 1979. Hall of Fame members who participated each sported a bounty that corresponded to the year they were inducted. For example, 2011 inductee Barry Greenstein had a $2,011 bounty on his head that Jakob Miegel earned for knocking Greenstein out in 36th place. Greenstein was the last Hall of Fame member standing in this event.

This year’s running had 865 total entries, building a prize pool of $1,495,363. After three days of action, South Korea’s Jinho Hong emerged victorious with the title and the top prize of $276,067. The former professional StarCraft player, known to many in that world as ‘YellOw,’ earned his first bracelet as the champion of this event.

The win came two weeks after Hong took down the $3,500 buy-in event at the Wynn Summer Classic for a career-high payday of $696,011. With these two huge scores, Hong now has more than $1.3 million in career earnings to his name.

Montreal businessman Sebastien Aube was an unlikely candidate to take down the $2,500 no-limit hold’em event at this year’s WSOP, having only one small prior cash on his tournament resume. But thanks to some inspiration from fellow Canadian Daniel Negreanu, Aube was able to outlast a field of 1,364 to score his first bracelet and a huge $499,636 payday. Aube saw Negreanu’s video MasterClass online training course and used it to bring his game up to speed before making his way to the series for the first time.

Latvia’s Romans Voitovs defeated a field of 2,107 entries in the $600 buy-in no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha mix event. He is only the second player ever from his home country to win a WSOP bracelet, with two-time champion Aleksejs Ponakovs being the first.

The last $800 deepstack event on this year’s schedule attracted a huge field of 2,812 entrants, creating an overall prize pool of $1,979,648. Despite the massive turnout, it only took two days to crown a champion, with circuit grinder Richard Alsup dragging the last pot of the tournament to earn his first career bracelet and $272,065. With this win, the 38-year-old matched his travel buddy Rob Wazwaz, who had won the same event just a month earlier.

From start to finish, it took just 15 hours for the fast-paced $1,000 super turbo no-limit hold’em event to play down to a champion, despite a turnout of 1,288 entries. When the dust settled, it was Canada’s Jaspal Brar who came away with the title, the $190,731 first-place prize, and his first career bracelet.

The final big-field no-limit hold’em event of the WSOP was appropriately titled The Closer. The $1,500 no-limit tournament drew a field of 2,039, which created an overall prize pool of $3,962,280. After two starting flights and three days of play, the title and the $536,280 first-place prize went to Minh Nguyen. This was far and away the largest cash of the New Jersey poker pro’s career.

Six Final Online Bracelets Awarded

A total of six World Series of Poker Online bracelet events wrapped up on WSOP.com for Nevada and New Jersey players during the final two weeks of the series.

The $7,777 buy-in no-limit hold’em high roller event drew a field of 161 entries to create a final purse of $1,468,023 that was paid out among the top 30 finishers. In the end, the lion’s share of the money went to the UK’s Harry Lodge, who emerged victorious with his first bracelet and the top prize of $396,666. He reportedly won the event while playing at The Venetian further up the strip, beating out Andrew Robl heads-up to secure the gold.

The $1,000 no-limit hold’em championship event drew 1,476 total entries, building a prize pool of $1,328,400. After more than 11.5 hours of online action, Yevgeniy Minakrin came away with his first bracelet and the top prize of $238,315. This was Minakrin’s first recorded six-figure tournament payday.

Julien Perouse defeated a field of 340 entries in the $3,200 buy-in no-limit hold’em eight-max event, earning his first bracelet and the top payout of $324,767. This was the Frenchman’s largest recorded tournament score yet, surpassing the $113,465 he earned as the 16th-place finisher in the 2020 WSOP Online main event. He now has more than $700,000 in career earnings to his name.

Fred Li outlasted a field of 781 total entries in the $777 buy-in Lucky 7’s second chance no-limit hold’em event, earning $159,059 and his first WSOP gold bracelet as the champion. This was Li’s first six-figure tournament score. It surpassed his previous highest payday of $71,500, which he secured as the third-place finisher in a 2021 WSOPO $500 buy-in event that featured a $1 million guarantee. Li now has more than $320,000 in total recorded tournament earnings to his name.

The $5,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em freezeout high roller event drew a field of 245 entries, building a prize pool of $1,225,000 that was paid out among the top 35 finishers. Italian poker pro Gianluca Speranza took it down, earning his first gold bracelet and the top prize of $324,625. This was the fourth-largest recorded tournament score of his career. He had secured his largest payday just a few months earlier by taking down the €25,000 buy-in high roller event at the EPT Monte Carlo for $895,650. The 2017 WSOP Europe main event runner-up now has nearly $4.9 million in career earnings to his name.

The final event on the schedule was the $500 buy-in no-limit hold’em Summer Saver. By the time registration officially closed, 1,648 entries had been made to build a $741,600 prize pool. The largest share of that money was ultimately awarded to Shaun O’Donnell. The New Jersey resident earned his first bracelet and $125,330 as the champion. This was O’Donnell’s second-biggest tournament score ever, trailing only the $129,930 he earned as the 60th-place finisher in the 2018 WSOP main event. He now has more than $601,000 in recorded scores under his belt.

All told, the 13 WSOPO events open to players located in NV and NJ paid out more than $13 million in prize money thanks to more than 12,000 in total entries.

Benjamin Kaupp Takes Down Tournament Of Champions

In February of 2022, Benjamin Kaupp took down a $215 buy-in WSOP Online Circuit event on WSOP.com in Pennsylvania. The Feasterville-Trevose resident earned $14,954 and his first WSOPC gold ring, but perhaps more importantly, qualified for the $1 million freeroll Tournament of Champions event that closed out the 2022 World Series of Poker.

Kaupp managed to make the most of the opportunity, topping a field of 470 entries to nab his first gold bracelet and the top prize of $250,000.

“It doesn’t feel real yet. It just hasn’t sunk in quite yet,” said Kaupp. “Before this tournament, I was going to be just happy to cash.”

This was by far the largest score of Kaupp’s tournament career, blowing away the $53,072 he secured with an 11th-place finish in the 2011 $10,000 pot-limit Omaha championship event at the series. He now has more than $360,000 in career scores.

Philadelphia-based Ryan Messick was a last-minute qualifier, having won his bracelet in the final event of the online series just before 3 a.m. He immediately booked a flight for later that morning to Las Vegas, and managed to make it through on no sleep. Messick went on to finish third for $100,000.

Raul Garza, who earned his way into this event by taking down a WSOP Circuit title this year, earned $150,000 as the runner-up finisher.

A recap of the 16 WSOP Online events held exclusively for Michigan and Pennsylvania players will be included in the next issue of Card Player. ♠