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WSOP Online Awards 16 Bracelets In Michigan And Pennsylvania

by Erik Fast |  Published: Sep 07, 2022

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The World Series of Poker has been awarding official gold bracelets on the internet since 2015, when Anthony Spinella won the first-ever online bracelet in a $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament. Since then, the amount of online events included in the schedule has expanded.

2021 saw the first gold bracelets awarded in Pennsylvania, following the Keystone State’s legal online poker market opening for business last summer. In March of 2022, WSOP.com launched in Michigan, paving the way for another state with official gold bracelet events played out online.

A total of 16 online bracelets were awarded in PA and MI this year, with eight for each state’s players. The two schedules of events mirrored each other, with the same events taking place on the same day in the two (currently) segregated markets. These joined the 13 online events played in the shared markets of Nevada and New Jersey to bring the overall total of online events to 29.

The 16 MI and PA events collectively attracted more than 3,200 total entries, with $1.6 million in prize money paid out along the way. Below is a closer look at those events and their champions.

The first event on the schedule was the Big $500 event. The MI running saw 310 entries made, building a prize pool of $139,503. In the end, Brett Blackwood emerged victorious with the title, his first bracelet, and the top prize of $35,559. This was the second-largest score of his career, behind the $188,314 he earned for taking down the 2016 Michigan State Poker Championship main event.

To celebrate the historic occasion of the first bracelet ever awarded in the Great Lakes State, longtime WSOP commentator and Poker Hall of Fame nominee Norman Chad flew out to Michigan to present Blackwood with his new hardware.

The PA version of the Big $500 saw Joseph Kuczewski defeat a field of 270 total entries to earn his first bracelet and a career-high payday of $30,970. He overcame a final table that included the likes of bracelet winner Michael Lavin (8th – $2,734) and WSOP Circuit Choctaw main event winner Dave Alfa (7th – $3,657).

Todd Estes reportedly only signed up for a WSOP.com account on the day of the MI $400 no-limit hold’em Ultra Deepstack event. The decision paid off in a big way, as he beat out a field of 326 total entries to earn his first bracelet and the top prize of $27,896. A few weeks before finishing as the runner-up in the $1,000 tag team event at the in-person WSOP in Las Vegas, Corey Paggeot finished second in this event for a $17,314 payday.

The PA running saw Chris Perkins come out on top of a field of 272 entries to earn his first bracelet and $24,960. This was Perkins’ largest recorded score. Just a fortnight after this win, he took down a $525 buy-in online circuit event for his first ring and $21,650. Another two weeks after that, he earned another ring by winning a $500 buy-in online circuit event for another $9,159. He now has more than $236,000 in recorded tournament earnings.

The only pot-limit Omaha event on the schedule featured a $500 buy-in and a six-max format. The MI running attracted 188 total entries to build an $84,599 prize pool. The lion’s share of that money, and the bracelet, went to John Macleod. He earned $21,387 as the champion.

In PA, the PLO event drew 152 entries, with Mark Dellavecchio coming out on top to secure the gold and the top prize of $17,292. 2022 WSOP Tournament of Champions winner Benjamin Kaupp finished third in this event nearly a month before he went on to secure his breakout victory in Vegas for a quarter of a million dollars.

Next up on the agenda was the $600 buy-in deepstack event. In MI, the tournament saw 221 total entries made before the end of registration. Adam Kittle came out on top for his first bracelet and $30,420 in prize money as the champion.

The PA $600 Deepstack attracted 196 entries, building a six-figure prize pool. Stephen Jarrett came away with the bracelet and the $26,979 top prize. This was the largest score of his career. WPT champion Ryan Van Sanford finished sixth in the event for $4,255.

During the holiday weekend in early July, the two states hosted a $500 no-limit hold’em deepstack tournament. There were 227 entries in MI’s version of the tournament. Freddie Kirkland was the last player standing, earning his first bracelet and $26,038 for the win.

In PA, the same event drew 171 entries. In the end, five-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Jonas Wexler closed out the victory. The Southhampton, PA resident earned his first bracelet and $19,615 as the champion. The 2019 WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee main event champion now has nearly $1.3 million in lifetime tournament earnings to his name.

The MI $1,000 no-limit hold’em online bracelet championship event drew 130 entries to create another six-figure prize pool. The largest share of that money ($28,829) was ultimately awarded to Cade Lautenbacher, who was making his first recorded tournament score in this event.

The PA online bracelet championship attracted 122 entries. Wexler nearly went back-to-back, but ultimately was defeated heads-up by Alex Schwint. The Philadelphia resident, a two-time ring winner, earned his first bracelet and $27,055 for this victory. Wexler added $19,314 to his career tally thanks to this runner-up finish.

The penultimate pair of bracelet events were the $777 buy-in Lucky 7’s second chance event. The MI running saw 123 entries made, building a $86,105 prize pool. Ryan Hiller came away with the bracelet and $21,947 as the champion. This was the second-largest score of Hiller’s career, behind the $35,194 he earned as the 21st-place finish in the 2020 WSOP main event.

The PA $777 buy-in tournament closed registration with 115 entries. Peter Williamson won the bracelet and the $20,519 top prize, defeating Ryan Messick heads-up for the title. Messick was just getting started, though.

Daniel Ott finished fifth for $4,371. The 2017 main event runner-up now has more than $4.7 million in lifetime earnings, with nearly all of that coming from his deep run in the big dance.

The final event on the schedule was the $500 buy-in Summer Saver. The last-chance dance in MI attracted 229 entries to create a $103,055 prize pool. Matthew Garza, who finished fourth in the $777 buy-in a day earlier, came away with the bracelet and the top prize of $27,824.

The PA Summer Saver was won by none other than Ryan Messick. He beat out the field of 200 entries to earn his first bracelet and $24,300, just one day after finishing runner-up to Williamson.

The victory also gave Messick a seat in the 2022 WSOP Tournament of Champions, which was starting later that same day. Messick hopped a flight to Las Vegas and managed to finish third from a field of 470 entries in the $1 million freeroll invitational event that was only open to bracelet and gold ring winners from this year. The deep run resulted in a $100,000 payday for him, bringing his earnings for the week to more than $136,000.

“Still haven’t slept enough to process all this, but what a week,” said Messick in a social media post after the dust settled.

While the summer is now in the rearview mirror, players won’t have to wait that long for another crack at a bracelet. A new slate of WSOP Online offerings was recently announced for the fall. Check out page 10 for more information on those series. ♠