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Eliot Hudon Wins Massive WPT World Championship At Wynn Las Vegas

$15 Million Guarantee Nearly Doubled With 2,960 Entries

by Erik Fast |  Published: Jan 25, 2023

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This summer the World Poker Tour announced an ambitious revamp of its season-ending championship. The WPT Championship has had different buy-ins and host locations in recent years, with the one throughline being that the event usually took place sometime in the spring.

This year’s $10,400 buy-in WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas was revealed as the centerpiece of a massive 23-event festival running from Dec. 1-20, with the marquee tournament making history thanks to an unprecedented $15 million guarantee, the largest ever attached to a live poker tournament.

The already-ambitious guarantee ended up being unequivocally blown away, with 2,960 total entries made across the event’s three single-entry starting flights. The huge turnout, the largest in WPT main tour history, resulted in a staggering $29,008,000 final prize pool. As a result, the top six finishers would all cash for seven-figure paydays, with the eventual champion walking away with the largest top prize ever awarded on the WPT of $4,136,000.

It was ultimately Canadian online tournament grinder Eliot Hudon whose name was added to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup thanks to this trailblazing tournament. As it turns out, the victory and the trophy meant more to Hudon than securing the multi-million dollar payday.

“I really like my life in general. I like my apartment, my friends… I might buy a new computer, but besides that, I still need to pass my driver’s license test. So, I can’t even buy a car,” Hudon told Card Player after coming out on top. “The one thing I know for sure is [I’m] going to be investing part of it and also just keep playing more live poker. This is my dream, right? So I don’t really care that much about the money. For me, the money is just a tool to play some more and win more and collect some trophies.”

Prior to this event, the Montreal, Quebec resident’s largest live tournament score had been the $113,800 he earned as the 63rd-place finisher in last year’s World Series of Poker main event. Now, thanks to this massive win, he is already among the top 25 on Canada’s all-time money list.

“I’ve been playing for three and a half years,” said Hudon when asked about his tournament experience. “I started playing $1 tournaments. One day I won the $5 ‘Marathon’ on PokerStars. I just kept winning at lower stakes. So eventually I could play up to $1,000 tournaments, which has also been going well. With that money, I decided to start playing some live poker.”

Below is an in-depth look back at how Hudon came away with the title in the largest WPT main tour event ever held.

“Sweating” The Record $15,000,000 Guarantee

The WPT World Championship ran from Dec. 12-20, which meant that 11 preliminary events on the schedule had already seen registration come to a close. The numbers from those tournaments boded quite well for the marquee championship event. The tournaments collectively featured $3.35 million in guarantees, but with over 12,000 entries, they brought in more than $9.3 million in prize money.

Given those stats, WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage was understandably optimistic that the guarantee would be surpassed. Midway through day 1A, Savage said, “After seeing the numbers that we got early on and the way these satellites have been performing, I just don’t see any chance we miss [the guarantee]. I really feel like we’re going to be over $20 million.”

Savage also noted that this tournament saw hundreds of qualifiers from live and online satellite events.

“The great partnerships we have with WPT Global, ClubWPT, and all of the partner casinos that have sent players here is something that we can expand on. I’m really excited about that,” said Savage.

Day 1A ended with 615 entries, which ended up being by far the smallest starting flight of the tournament. Day 1B saw another 1,053 entries made, bringing the total to 1,667 entries. That meant the prize pool has already grown to $16,346,400, surpassing the lofty guarantee already with an entire third starting flight left to play.

Day 1C saw another 1,293 entries tallied. With the guarantee nearly doubled, the top 370 finishers were set to make the money and take home their share of the more than $29 million that was up for grabs. The top six, as previously mentioned, would all become instant poker millionaires, while the top 32 would all earn at least six figures.

Bursting The Bubble, Narrowing The Field

The three starting flights all saw players battle it out for ten, hour-long levels. Day 2 got underway with 1,185 remaining from the 2,960 entries, with the plan being for five 90-minute levels to be played. When the dust settled that evening, just 399 contenders remained, with the UK’s Adrian Sorel-State in the lead.

Day 3 began with just 29 knockouts needed to burst the bubble. Hand-for-hand play began late in the first level of the day. With 371 remaining, two simultaneous eliminations took place to bring hand-for-hand to a close. As a result, the 370th-place prize of $17,400 was split between Yi Klassen and two-time bracelet winner, WPT champion, and WPT commentator Tony Dunst. Dunst’s top pair was outrun by an open-ended straight draw, while Klassen’s pocket aces were cracked by the pocket tens of Freddy Deeb.

With the remaining 369 competitors all in the money, the eliminations came fast and furious. The day ended after another five 90-minute levels, with just 128 left in contention. Benny Glaser, a four-time WSOP bracelet winner, bagged up the largest stack heading into day 4.

Glaser also ended with the largest stack heading into day 5, with just 37 still in with a shot. Glaser’s day 4 was hardly a cakewalk, though. His stack was heading in the wrong direction during the early levels of the day. He looked to be falling even further down the leaderboard when his pocket queens ran into the pocket kings of three-time bracelet winner Kristen Foxen, but Glaser spiked a set and held from there to eliminate her in 97th place.

Longtime WPT anchor Lynn Gilmartin’s run in this event concluded in 91st place when her K-J suited failed to overcome the A-Q of David ‘ODB’ Baker. A queen high flop extended Baker’s lead in the hand, and blanks on the turn and river sent Gilmartin to the rail with $36,500.

Marathon 18-Hour Playdown Day Sees Glaser Lead Final Six

The playdown from 37 to six took more than 18 hours. One of the early knockouts of note saw WPT ambassador and popular poker vlogger Brad Owen sent to the rail in brutal fashion, with his pocket kings losing an all-in to two-time bracelet winner Drew O’Connell.

An ace on the flop gave O’Connell a lead that he never relinquished and Owen was eliminated in 35th place, while O’Connell surged toward the top of the leaderboard. Owen fell just short of securing his first-ever six-figure tournament cash, earning $99,600 for his efforts.

The last female player in the field, LoriAnn Persinger, was knocked out in 30th place when her A-K lost a race to the pocket queens of Jean-Claude Moussa. Persinger, a Navy veteran and former poker media member, earned a career-high score of $119,300.

Plenty of other big names fell in the early hours of action, including Igor Kurganov (31st – $119,300), Aaron Massey (29th – $119,300), Jean Gaspard (27th – $119,300), Isaac Kempton (23rd – $144,300), Garrett Greer (20th – $176,200), and Nate Kogel (19th – $176,200).

The most accomplished tournament player in the field, however, was eliminated one spot shy of the final two tables. Two-time WPT champion and six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu raised on the button with pocket deuces and Lucas Foster three-bet to 2.3 million from the big blind with pocket kings.

Negreanu called and the flop came down 10Club Suit 4Club Suit 2Diamond Suit. Foster bet and Negreanu called with his set. The 10Spade Suit paired the board to give Negreanu a full house. Foster moved all-in and Negreanu quickly called off his chips.

The 48-year-old was a huge favorite to win the hand and double up, but the KSpade Suit rolled off the deck on the river to give Foster a higher full house. Negreanu was eliminated in 17th place ($176,200). The score saw him increase his career tournament earnings to just shy of $49.2 million, maintaining his hold on the third-place spot on poker’s all-time money list. The Hall of Famer trails only Justin Bonomo ($60,990,541) and Bryn Kenney ($57,469,229) in total earnings.

Plenty of big names joined Negreanu on the rail down the stretch, including Soheb Porbandarwala (14th – $217,100), Jason Gooch (13th – $269,900), Bryce Yockey (12th – $338,500), Michael Rocco (9th – $429,000), Drew O’Connell (8th – $547,000), and the aforementioned Foster (7th – $704,000), whose pocket nines lost a flip to the A-Q of Hudon to bring the long day to a close with Glaser once again in the lead.

Crowning A New WPT Champion

It didn’t take long for the action to heat up after cards got back in the air at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20. On just the fourth hand of the day, the two largest stacks at the table collided in a massive preflop showdown that shifted the balance of power at the top of the leaderboard.

Glaser open-shoved from under the gun with ADiamond Suit JSpade Suit, targeting the short stacked players at the table. Second-biggest stack Hudon woke up with a monster, however, and called all in from the hijack with KSpade Suit KHeart Suit, setting up a massive pot with the lead on the line. The board came down 10 7Club Suit 5Spade Suit 10Diamond Suit 2Heart Suit and Hudon’s big pair held up to see him double to over 157.6 million while Glaser slid to 72 million.

The first knockout of the day saw Colton Blomberg get all in with ADiamond Suit 8Diamond Suit facing the JSpade Suit 9Heart Suit of Glaser, who called Blomberg’s small blind shove of just over six big blinds from the big blind. The board brought four spades to give Glaser a winning flush, eliminating Blomberg in sixth place ($1,001,050). This was by far the largest tournament score ever for the cash-game-focused Arizona resident.

The next bustout saw Hudon pick up pocket kings for the second time in the first 14 hands. He min-raised on the button and bracelet winner Frank Funaro three-bet all-in from the small blind with A-10. Hudon made the call and the runout improved him to kings full of jacks. He chipped up to over 177 million after the hand, which was just shy of 60 percent of the total chips in play. Funaro earned $1,301,000 as the fifth-place finisher, growing his lifetime earnings to $2,860,255 in the process.

Adam Adler’s run came to an end when his nut flush draw failed to improve against the second pair of Hudon. Adler had defended his big blind with KClub Suit 5Club Suit facing a button raise from Hudon, who had 10Diamond Suit 3Diamond Suit. The AClub Suit 10Club Suit 9Heart Suit flop saw Adler check and Hudon bet with his pair of tens. Adler check-raised all in and Hudon called. The ADiamond Suit turn and 7Heart Suit river kept Hudon ahead and Adler was knocked out in fourth place ($1,608,000). The Myrtle Beach, South Carolina resident now has nearly $2.8 million in recorded cashes to his name.

J.C. Moussa was the next to fall. The two-time WPT L.A. Poker Classic final tablist was left short after his A-2 was unable to win a battle of the blinds against the pocket queens of Glaser, who had slid to the bottom of the counts during three-handed play.

Moussa managed one double up after that hand, but soon was all-in for about eight big blinds with AClub Suit 3Heart Suit facing the 6Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit of Hudon, who had shoved from the small blind. The flop came down 4Club Suit 3Diamond Suit 2Club Suit to give Hudon a six-high straight. The QSpade Suit on the turn meant Moussa was drawing dead. He cashed for $2,095,000 as the third-place finisher, which was roughly six times larger than his previous top tournament score.

With that, Hudon entered heads-up play with 228,200,000 to Glaser’s 67,500,000. After an early chopped pot, Glaser managed to string together a few wins in a row to grow his stack to over 90 million in time for the final hand of the tournament.

Hudon limped in from the small blind with 7Club Suit 4Diamond Suit. Glaser checked from the big blind with QDiamond Suit JSpade Suit and the pair saw a flop of 8Heart Suit 6Club Suit 2Diamond Suit. Glaser checked and Hudon bet with his gutshot draw. Glaser called.

The 9Diamond Suit on the turn improved Hudon to an open-ended draw, while Glaser picked up a higher gutshot straight draw. Glaser checked and Hudon bet. Glaser check-raised, and Hudon mulled it over before making the call.

The 5Club Suit on the river completed Hudon’s nine-high straight. Glaser went into the tank before moving all-in as a bluff. Hudon quickly called and just like that, the tournament was over. Glaser earned a career-best payday of $2,830,000 as the runner-up. The four-time WSOP bracelet winner from the UK now has $6,507,656 in recorded earnings.

Final Table Results

Player Payout (POY)
1 Eliot Hudon $4,136,000 (3,000)
2 Benny Glaser $2,830,000 (2,500)
3 J.C. Moussa $2,095,000 (2,000)
4 Adam Adler $1,608,000 (1,500)
5 Frank Funaro $1,301,000 (1,250)
6 Colton Blomberg $1,001,050 (1,000)
7 Lucas Foster $704,000 (750)
8 Drew O’Connell $547,000 (500)
9 Michael Rocco $429,000 (250)