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Dan Zack Crowned Inaugural PokerGO Tour Mixed Games Champion

Las Vegas Mixed Games Series A Hit With High Rollers

by Erik Fast |  Published: Mar 22, 2023


The debut running of the PGT Mixed Games series is officially in the books, and by all accounts, the festival was a marked success. A who’s-who of mixed-game tournament players turned out to the PokerGO Studio at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, with the kickoff event setting a turnout record.

In the end, it was New Jersey shark Dan Zack who was crowned the PGT Mixed Games champion. The 30-year-old cashed in five of the eight tournaments held, the most in-the-money finishes of any player. His total earnings of $524,700 were also the highest tally of any competitor. With 352 PGT points secured along the way, Zack was awarded the series champion’s trophy and $25,000 in added prize money as the player of the series.

“It’s incredible. It is so nice to have this,” Zack told PokerGO reporters when asked about this mixed-game-focused festival. “There are no mixed-game tournaments outside of the World Series of Poker before this at reasonable stakes. It’s incredible to have another chance each year to play these events, given how fun mixed-game tournaments are, and how much demand there is for them in the high-stakes mixed community.”

In addition to securing this player of the series award, Zack is also the reigning WSOP Player of the Year, having nabbed two bracelets and cashed for more than $1.4 million across 16 in-the-money finishes last summer. With the more than half-a-million dollars he won at this series included, Zack now has lifetime earnings in excess of $3.5 million.

“Unlike the WSOP, there is so little control you have over it because it’s only eight events,” Zack said on if winning Player of the Series was his goal. “At the WSOP, you can play so much volume that you give yourself a really good chance to win. But here everyone can play the same volume, so you really have to run hot. I was very happy to do that. Happy to win it.”

“I think it’s already becoming more popular each year at the series,” Zack said about the current popularity of mixed-game events. “The numbers have been going up, and the turnout here beat everyone’s expectations. I was trying to get ‘over’ bets down on all these events before the series started. I think the momentum that is already existing is just going to continue toward mixed games.”

Zack’s success in this series has also propelled him inside the top five in the 2023 PGT season-long standings, giving him a strong start on a bid to be one of the top 40 players in the final standings who will qualify for the $1 million freeroll PGT Championship this year alongside ‘Dream Seat’ winners whose entries will be awarded through special events and promotions.

Zack’s Series Scores

Event Place Payout PGT Points
Event #3: $10,300 Triple Stud Mix 3rd $84,000 84
Event #4: $10,300 Big Bet Mix 8th $27,600 28
Event #5: $10,300 Triple Draw Mix 7th $34,500 35
Event #6: $10,300 Dealer’s Choice 6th $33,600 34
Event #7: $25,500 10-Game Championship 2nd $345,000 171

Mixed-Game Madness Starts Strong

This festival featured eight tournaments from Feb. 4-13, with all but one event (event no. 8 – $5,300 no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw) spreading multiple games.

The series got off to a record-breaking start with the $10,300 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event. With 70 unique players, the most ever in a PokerGO owned-and-operated event, a total of 87 entries were made to build an $870,000 prize pool. Five-time bracelet winner Shaun Deeb earned the title and the top prize of $208,800.

Incredibly, despite Deeb’s high roller success, this was actually his first cash inside the PokerGO Studio. The victory saw the 36-year-old poker pro from Troy, New York increase his lifetime tournament earnings to nearly $12.4 million.

“Great event, obviously. Dealers and staff are awesome. I don’t get to Vegas too often outside of the WSOP. I was down in the Bahamas and my wife was nice enough to give me permission when I begged to also come to this series,” Deeb said.

Deeb defeated two-time bracelet winner and WPT champion David ‘ODB’ Baker ($147,900) heads-up for the title, with bracelet winner Nick Guagenti finishing third ($104,400). Those two contenders went on to further success in the series that resulted in them finishing inside the top five in the overall standings, but more on that later.

The second event of the series was one of multiple events that saw the final two players pause the action in order to avail themselves of late registration for the next event on the schedule. As such, it took a few more days than was originally scheduled for John Monnette to capture the title in the $10,300 buy-in eight-game mix event, which included the H.O.R.S.E. games, no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and limit deuce-to-seven triple draw.

Monnette entered the event on Sunday, Feb. 5, with the tournament scheduled to finish the following evening. The longtime mixed master made it down to heads-up play against Albert Daher on Monday, when the two agreed to pause the heads-up match in order for them to both participate in event no. 3, which was about to close the late registration window.

Monnette ended up making that final table, however, further pushing back his delayed showdown with Daher from the originally agreed-upon resumption time to Wednesday. Monnette finished fourth in event no. 3 earning $60,000 for his efforts before he returned to finish off event no. 2.

Event no. 3 was the $10,300 buy-in triple stud mix, a format that features rounds of stud, stud eight-or-better, and razz. While Monnette finished fourth and Dan Zack logged his first cash of the series with a third-place showing for $84,000, it was Poker Hall of Fame member and five-time WSOP bracelet winner Eli Elezra who ultimately came away with the trophy and the $155,000 top prize.

The 62-year-old is still going strong on the circuit, having won his fifth bracelet and more than $600,000 at the summer series. He also picked up a Bellagio high roller win in October, and now has over $5.4 million in career tournament earnings.

The fourth event of the series to get underway ended up being the very last to finish. The $10,300 buy-in big bet mix event kicked off on Tuesday, Feb. 7, but the action was once again paused to allow the final two to enter another tournament. This break ended up lasting six days, but eventually, Ben Lamb returned and overcame Maxx Coleman heads-up to earn the title and the top prize of $186,300.

Zack logged his second cash in this event, placing eighth for $27,600.

Points Race Heats Up In Events 5 And 6

The second half of the PGT Mixed Games schedule began with the $10,300 mixed triple draw tournament, which featured a rotation of deuce-to-seven triple-draw lowball, ace-to-five triple-draw lowball, and badugi.

Bracelet winner Nick Guagenti overcame a field of 69 entries in the event to earn $171,075. This was the fourth-largest score of the Ohio resident’s tournament career, and it grew his lifetime earnings to more than $2.3 million.

As the champion of this lowball-centric event, Guagenti secured 186 PGT points. When combined with his 104 points earned as the third-place finisher in the kickoff H.O.R.S.E. event, Guagenti’s total grew to 290. Zack managed his third consecutive in-the-money finish by placing seventh in this event for $34,500.

The next event was the tournament that featured the largest assortment of games in the $10,300 dealer’s choice. The event included 20 games for players to choose from. A total of 56 entries were made, and it was Scott Abrams who dragged the final pot.

Abrams came into this series with 39 live tournament cashes to his name, with most coming in mixed-game events at the WSOP. Abrams had managed eight top-five finishes in live events, including one third-place and three runner-up showings, but had never scored a title. More than 11.5 years after recording his first live cash, Abrams came away with the outright win in this event, earning $179,200 for the victory.

“I thought it might be a while before I get a first,” Abrams told PokerGO reporters. “But now it’s good to have it. It’s done. I’m very happy with it.”

Abrams now has more than $1.3 million in live tournament earnings to his name. Ben Lamb finished as the runner-up in the event, bringing his point total to 304 with $303,900 in total earnings. This was his final cash during the festival, but it was enough to see him wind up in third place in the final standings.

Lamb trailed only Zack and Monnette in points, both of whom also cashed in this event. Zack finished sixth for $33,600, while Monnette placed fourth for $44,800. This was Monnette’s third and final in-the-money finish for the festival, with $316,000 in total earnings and 316 points accumulated along the way.

Mercier’s Return To The Winner’s Circle

Jason Mercier is a five-time bracelet winner with more than $20 million in recorded tournament earnings. The 36-year-old father of three was a fixture on the live scene for a decade before stepping away from the life of a full-time traveling grinder to focus on his family.

He has only recorded six tournament cashes in the last three and a half years, with his most recent title run coming in August of 2019. Mercier finally got back in the winner’s circle on Saturday, Feb. 11 in the $25,000 buy-in 10-game championship event at this series.

The South Florida pro beat a field of 57 entries to earn his 27th career tournament title and the top prize of $367,500. This was the only event of the series that Mercier participated in, and like Deeb, also his first time in the PokerGO studio.

“This tournament was so much fun to play,” Mercier said. “It was my first time in the PokerGO Studio. I felt good playing. I played cash for two days before coming here, so I felt like my mixed games were oiled up and ready to go. I played well. I was never all in except for one time in no-limit deuce, where I had the guy dead. That was the only time I was all in and at risk during the whole tournament, so I feel like I played really well, ran well, and am super happy to get the W and a nice payday.”

Two-time bracelet winner Maxx Coleman earned $142,500 as the fourth-place finisher. His runner-up showing in event no. 4 and deep run in this tournament moved him into seventh place in the final points standings for the series.

Baker earned $199,500 for his second big score of the series. His total earnings for the festival, including what he earned as the runner-up in the kickoff event, grew to $347,400. He ultimately finished fifth in the points race.

Heads-up play came down to Zack and Mercier. The two came to a deal that redistributed the remaining prize money, with second to earn $345,000 while the winner would take home $367,500. They soon got it all-in blind in a hand of pot-limit Omaha and Mercier made a pair of aces to win the pot for essentially all of the chips in play.

Zack doubled up his short stack twice, but ran into a wheel for Mercier on the next all-in and was knocked out in second place. Zack had unofficially locked up the series championship title simply by making it down to heads-up play, even with the final event and the heads-up showdown from event no. 4 not yet concluded.

Event no. 8 was the $5,300 buy-in no-limit deuce-to-seven single-draw lowball tournament. 52 entries were made by the time registration closed. Cary Katz came out on top in the end, earning $83,200 for the win.

Katz is off to an extremely strong start in 2023. He took down the PokerGO Cup player of the series award thanks to cashes in five of the eight events that comprised that series, accumulating a total of $655,800 in earnings.

The 52-year-old businessman, poker player, and founder of PokerGO is now the leader in the season-long standings, with six total cashes, one title, and nearly $740,000 in to-date earnings for 2023. Katz now has more than $36.3 million in recorded tournament earnings after this win, enough to place him 12th on poker’s all-time money list.

Abrams backed up his win in the dealer’s choice with an eighth-place finish, which propelled him inside the top 10 in the final series standings. German poker pro Johannes Becker earned $54,600 for what was his fourth cash of the series, landing in ninth place on the festival leaderboard as a result. ♠

PokerGO Tour Mixed Games Festival – Aria Resort & Casino – Las Vegas, NV

Event Player Payout (POY)
$10,300 H.O.R.S.E.
Feb. 4-5
Entries: 87
Prizepool: $870,000 1 Shaun Deeb $208,800 (480)
2 David Baker $147,900 (400)
3 Nick Guagenti $104,400 (320)
4 Johannes Becker $87,000 (240)
5 Andrew Yeh $69,600 (200)
6 Michael Martinelli $52,200 (160)
7 Erik Sagstrom $43,500 (120)

Event Player Payout (POY)
$10,300 8-Game
Feb. 5-6
Entries: 88
Prizepool: $880,000
1 John Monnette $211,200 (480)
2 Albert Daher $149,600 (400)
3 Brian Rast $105,600 (320)
4 Craig Chait $88,000 (240)
5 Damjan Radanov $70,400 (200)
6 Mike Thorpe $52,800 (160)
7 Christopher Vitch $44,000 (120)

Event Player Payout (POY)
$10,300 Triple Stud Mix
Feb. 6-7
Entries: 60
Prizepool: $600,000 1 Eli Elezra $155,000 (360)
2 Yuval Bronshtein $145,000 (300)
3 Dan Zack $84,000 (240)
4 John Monnette $60,000 (180)
5 Philip Sternheimer $48,000 (150)
6 Yehuda Buchalter $36,000 (120)
7 Jennifer Harman $30,000 (90)

Event Player Payout (POY)
$10,300 Big Bet Mix
Feb. 7-8
Entries: 69
Prizepool: $690,000
1 Ben Lamb $186,300 (360)
2 Maxx Coleman $138,000 (300)
3 Adam Friedman $89,700 (240)
4 Craig Chait $69,000 (180)
5 Ben Yu $55,200 (150)
6 Sam Soverel $41,400 (120)
7 Brian Rast $34,500 (90)

Event Player Payout (POY)
$10,300 Triple Draw Mix
Feb. 8-9
Entries: 69
Prizepool: $690,000 1 Nick Guagenti $171,075 (360)
2 Alexander Livingston $153,225 (300)
3 Mike Thorpe $89,700 (240)
4 Mike Gorodinsky $69,000 (180)
5 Dan Shak $55,200 (150)
6 Damjan Radanov $41,400 (120)
7 Dan Zack $34,500 (90)

Event Player Payout (POY)
$10,300 Dealers Choice
Feb. 9-10
Entries: 56
Prizepool: $560,000 1 Scott Abrams $179,200 (300)
2 Ben Lamb $117,600 (250)
3 Daniel Negreanu $78,400 (200)
4 Nick Schulman $56,000 (150)
5 John Monnette $44,800 (125)
6 Dan Zack $33,600 (100)
7 Bryce Yockey $28,000 (75)

Event Player Payout (POY)
$25,500 10-Game
Feb. 10-11
Entries: 57
Prizepool: $1,425,000 1 Jason Mercier $367,500 (420)
2 Dan Zack $345,000 (350)
3 David Baker $199,500 (280)
4 Maxx Coleman $142,500 (210)
5 Jeremy Ausmus $114,000 (175)
6 Daniel Negreanu $85,500 (140)
7 Andrew Kelsall $71,250 (105)

Event Player Payout (POY)
$5,300 NL 2-7 Draw
Feb. 11
Entries: 52
Prizepool: $260,000 1 Cary Katz $83,200 (240)
2 Johannes Becker $54,600 (200)
3 Arthur Morris $36,400 (160)
4 Steve Zolotow $26,000 (120)
5 Nick Schulman $20,800 (100)
6 William O’Neill $15,600 (80)
7 Chino Rheem $13,000 (60)
8 Scott Abrams $10,400 (40)

PGT Mixed Games Leaderboard

Rank Player Points Wins Cashes Winnings
1 Dan Zack 352 0 5 $524,700
2 John Monnette 316 1 3 $316,000
3 Ben Lamb 304 0 2 $303,900
4 Nick Guagenti 290 1 2 $275,475
5 David ‘ODB’ Baker 268 0 2 $347,400
6 Jason Mercier 257 1 1 $367,500
7 Maxx Coleman 224 0 2 $280,500
8 Shaun Deeb 209 1 1 $208,800
9 Johannes Becker 192 0 4 $191,600
10 Scott Abrams 189 1 2 $189,600